PubCrawl Podcast: Genre – Science-Fiction & Fantasy

This week JJ and Kelly continue with their series on genre in publishing, this week focusing on Science-Fiction and Fantasy. It was a close shave as JJ spilled water on her laptop last week, but her computer pulled through! Also, more about reading ruts and Beyoncé’s LEMONADE.

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Show Notes

  • Science-fiction and fantasy is generally the genre of What If? Fantasy is the genre of What Could Have Been and science-fiction is the genre of What Could Be.
  • Broadly speaking, science-fiction is science-based, fantasy is magic, but these distinctions really lie on a spectrum.
  • When it comes to publishing, your book will either be shelved in Science-Fiction/Fantasy or it could be shelved in General Fiction. This comes down to a number of factors, including who the publisher is. Tor, Baen, Ace/Roc, and Del Rey are science-fiction/fantasy publishers, and imprints like Other Press, Grand Central, Putnam, etc. do more general fiction.
  • If the focus is more on the fantastic elements (as in, the fantastic elements are the point), then it would likely be pubbed SFF; if the focus is less on the fantastic elements (as in, the fantastic elements are in service of another point), then it would likely be pubbed general fiction.
  • Sub-categories of fantasy include:
    • Epic fantasy
    • High fantasy
    • Sword and sorcery
    • Portal fantasy
    • Urban fantasy
    • Paranormal
  • Sub-categories of science-fiction include:
    • Space opera
    • Hard sci-fi
    • Dystopian/post-apocalyptic
    • Speculative near-future
  • Note on magical realism: JJ considers magical realism a subset of literary fiction, not fantasy. Magical realism takes a fantastic element and uses it as an extended metaphor for emotions, the human condition, etc. A lot of novels called “magical realism” is what JJ considers “light fantasy.”
  • Alternate history, parallel universe, time-travel also fall under the science-fiction/fantasy umbrella.
  • Horror is perhaps more of a category (like YA) than a true genre, as it can encompass all genres: psychological, ghost stories, monsters, etc.

Fairy tales are more than true—not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.

—Neil Gaiman, paraphrasing G. K. Chesterton

Pro-tip: If you spill water on your laptop keyboard, immediately unplug your computer, turn it off, take out your battery, mop up as much of the water as quickly as you can, then put your computer with the motherboard and innards showing in front of a fan and let it completely dry for a few days. This worked for JJ’s computer, anyway!

What We’re Reading/Books Discussed

What We’re Working On

  • Kelly is working on her YA, and is apparently inspired and excited to delve into it after JJ laid down some tough love.
  • JJ wrote a personal essay for an anthology open submission call about doughnuts, Korean school, and shame.
  • JJ is also trying to write a horror short story, also for an open submission call.
  • JJ is also working on hand-lettering part titles for Wintersong! Her publisher using her artwork in the interior of the book.

Off Menu Recommendations

That’s all for this week! Next week we’ll be continuing our genre series with MYSTERY/THRILLER. Thanks for listening!

     

2 Responses to PubCrawl Podcast: Genre – Science-Fiction & Fantasy

  1. Beverley Burgess Bell May 12 2016 at 10:06 pm #

    What about contemporary fantasy? Do you think it is a separate genre or falls under the mantle of urban fantasy?

    • JJ
      JJ May 13 2016 at 7:34 am #

      I suppose it would depend? (I know this is not a particularly helpful answer, sorry!) Urban fantasy nowadays does contain established tropes and if your book doesn’t contain and/or you don’t feel comfortable identifying your book as urban fantasy, then just plain old “fantasy” works as well. Agents/editors will understand what you mean if you categorize your book as “contemporary fantasy,” so I wouldn’t worry so much. 🙂

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