And all this science, I don’t understand. It’s just my job five days a week.

The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that my work is probably not best described as Science Fiction.

I consider it to be Science Fiction because I consider philosophy to be a science, but a genre description isn’t for me, it’s for readers.  Readers are looking for a short-hand way to quantify a product, not an apologetic or a manifesto.

I don’t really want to market my work as Horror, although it contains horrific elements, because I feel that Horror implies that the invocation of fear is a primary function of the work, and that’s just not what I do.

So I suppose that makes me a Fantasy writer by default.  I don’t like that description, either, but I have to say that Urban Fantasy is probably the least misleading genre for me to use.  There are certainly fantastic elements, and those elements are integral to the story.  However,  I set out deliberately to avoid all of the standard Fantasy tropes–I have no zombies, vampires, werewolves, elves, dragons, etc.

When people ask me to define my own work (rather than pick a category from a list) I use the term Speculative Fiction.  I think that fits the best–I always begin with speculation, a “What If?” I don’t confine myself to the probable or the provable or the real, my concern is the construction of a subjunctive universe that it internally consistent, not congruent with the known.

Unfortunately, Speculative Fiction isn’t usually available as an option.  So I think I’ll just go with Fantasy, and make it clear in my descriptions what that means to me.


About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in Artists That I Admire, On Promotion, On Publishing, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to And all this science, I don’t understand. It’s just my job five days a week.

  1. LindaGHill says:

    I took a Science Fiction course in high school that defined the categories as this:
    Science Fiction is plausible – i.e. 1984, 2001 a Space Odyssey etc.
    Sci Fi is implausible Science Fiction – i.e. Star Wars
    Fantasy has nothing to do with science.
    I don’t know if this helps, but I thought I’d throw it out there. You probably already knew this anyway. 😛

  2. Dave Higgins says:

    There will always be a dispute about the categories – however the people who care most strongly are usually more focused on taxonomy than utility. Throughout my mother’s decades as a librarian most libraries shelved (and still shelve) fantasy and science fiction together – there is some variation on horror (mostly for mature content), but that often goes in with science fantasy too. Sometimes they tried splitting but it caused more effort sorting than it saved in dealing with people who complained because they had not read the blurb so were expecting something more sciencey.

    If libraries and bookshops, ever avid to find a new way to increase reader to book pairings use the shelve everything together, read the blurb for specifics method, then I am fairly certain it will work for you.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      I’m old enough to remember when my local library put that little rocketship symbol on pretty much anything that was not obviously “realistic”– Heinlein, Tolkien, Bradbury, Ellison, all shelved together. Basically, as I recall, there was Science Fiction, Mystery, and… everything else.

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