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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 8:38 am 
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What do you call a genre that features


SF

the answer is always SF


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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 9:02 am 
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Why should it have to be put in the same genre when it doesn't have humans or advanced technology of any kind? It is practically the same as the numerous fictional stories set on Earth, it just takes place on another planet. I feel like I am letting people down when I call my conworld science fiction because they seem to expect a lot more speculation in terms of the technology. It almost makes the world seem more like fantasy, which - quite frankly - I find a little insulting because I put a lot of thought into making it seem realistic. I end up telling them things like "no...it doesn't have this" or "no...you can't do that." Then they ask me what's so exciting about it, so I tell them it is more like a historical drama. To be honest, it pales in comparison to most of the worlds that other science fiction are set in but it fits perfectly with the real life events of people like Alexander the Great, William Wallace, Erik the Red, Marco Polo, etc. Even stories that were in all other respects fictional, like Don Quixote and Dances With Wolves, seem to be better suited to this genre. Yet it is science fiction?


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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 9:51 am 
Smeric
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One problem with the whole SF / Fantasy distinction is that the label are badly defined and their content has shifted over time. There was a classical SF (end of 19th / early 20th century) that was concerned with the possibilities opened by science - both positive and negative. Based on that, standard settings and tropes evolved (future worlds changed by technical or biological engineering, space travel, alien contact) that, due to genre drift, simply became backdrops (vehicles) for all kind of other stuff - soap operas (most SF TV series), swashbuckling adventures (Star Wars & Space Opera in general), romance, existential angst novels, comedy (My Favourite Martian), family cartoons (Torco's Jetsons) whatever. Same is true with fantasy - as soon as it became a sufficiently familiar setting, it became usable as a setting and a vehicle for all other kinds of stuff.


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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 7:35 pm 
Avisaru
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Mashmakhan wrote:
Why should it have to be put in the same genre when it doesn't have humans or advanced technology of any kind? It is practically the same as the numerous fictional stories set on Earth, it just takes place on another planet. I feel like I am letting people down when I call my conworld science fiction because they seem to expect a lot more speculation in terms of the technology. It almost makes the world seem more like fantasy, which - quite frankly - I find a little insulting because I put a lot of thought into making it seem realistic. I end up telling them things like "no...it doesn't have this" or "no...you can't do that." Then they ask me what's so exciting about it, so I tell them it is more like a historical drama. To be honest, it pales in comparison to most of the worlds that other science fiction are set in but it fits perfectly with the real life events of people like Alexander the Great, William Wallace, Erik the Red, Marco Polo, etc. Even stories that were in all other respects fictional, like Don Quixote and Dances With Wolves, seem to be better suited to this genre. Yet it is science fiction?

Not science fiction, SF. SF means "non-mainstream shit that has aliens or robots or unicorns or is generally a bit peculiar".


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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 8:32 pm 
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"Mainstream"? Who reads mainstream lit?

The science fiction/fantasy market is bigger than literary fiction. (Though smaller than romance, mystery, and religious fiction.)


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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 8:46 pm 
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*real* people read mainstream books -- bookshops and charity shops, especially, are just *full* of real people books.

and yeah, i include romance, mystery, religious etc. in real people books because if you're going to Otherise something, do it properly.

also you're right SF people read more than real people weight for weight, but there are more real people so i GUESS it more than balances out. that's what it looks like in bookshops, anyway.

i also presume everyone has seen http://fora.tv/2008/05/08/Neal_Stephens ... rary_Genre

ninja edit: if stephenson's lecturer-drone does not turn you on, a transcript is at http://www.gresham.ac.uk/event.asp?Page ... ventId=728


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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 2:10 am 
Smeric
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zompist wrote:
"Mainstream"? Who reads mainstream lit?


self-evidently most people.


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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 5:59 am 
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Torco wrote:
zompist wrote:
"Mainstream"? Who reads mainstream lit?


self-evidently most people.


You can't have it both ways.

If you want to define "mainstream" as "what most people read", then genre fiction is mainstream fiction. The most read fiction is romance, covering half of all mass market paperback titles. Genre fiction as a whole is about 88% of the total fiction market.

If you want to define "mainstream" as "non-genre", then no, most people do not read mainstream; classic literary fiction is a smaller market than sf/fantasy.

Basically, if you want to roll around in the ghettoness of sf/fantasy, romance can out-ghetto you any day. Any of you boys ever read a single romance novel?


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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 6:04 am 
Avisaru
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zompist wrote:
If you want to define "mainstream" as "non-genre", then no, most people do not read mainstream; classic literary fiction is a smaller market than sf/fantasy.

So what? It is not having it both ways unless you are wed to the idea that mainstream books *must* have the highest readership. I am not -- the quantity that is greater is that there are more real people than SF people. SF people happen to buy more SF books than real people buy real books, but so what.

zompist wrote:
Basically, if you want to roll around in the ghettoness of sf/fantasy, romance can out-ghetto you any day. Any of you boys ever read a single romance novel?

That's *porn*.


Last edited by Pthagnar on Thu May 06, 2010 6:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 6:04 am 
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zompist wrote:
Torco wrote:
zompist wrote:
"Mainstream"? Who reads mainstream lit?


self-evidently most people.


You can't have it both ways.

If you want to define "mainstream" as "what most people read", then genre fiction is mainstream fiction. The most read fiction is romance, covering half of all mass market paperback titles. Genre fiction as a whole is about 88% of the total fiction market.

If you want to define "mainstream" as "non-genre", then no, most people do not read mainstream; classic literary fiction is a smaller market than sf/fantasy.

Basically, if you want to roll around in the ghettoness of sf/fantasy, romance can out-ghetto you any day. Any of you boys ever read a single romance novel?

How are you calculating the size of the market? Based on sales or reach?

I read somewhere in the depths of the internet/time that most people don't actually read books at all, thus making mainstream literature the back of a cereal packet, a spreadsheets, and whatever words FOX is overlaying on top of a pie chart right now.

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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 7:59 am 
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Åge Kruger wrote:
zompist wrote:
Genre fiction as a whole is about 88% of the total fiction market.


I read somewhere in the depths of the internet/time that most people don't actually read books at all, thus making mainstream literature the back of a cereal packet, a spreadsheets, and whatever words FOX is overlaying on top of a pie chart right now.


Which are not part of the fiction market.


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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 8:13 am 
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Pthug wrote:
zompist wrote:
Basically, if you want to roll around in the ghettoness of sf/fantasy, romance can out-ghetto you any day. Any of you boys ever read a single romance novel?

That's *porn*.


So the most popular genre is also the least respectable? This doesn't even make sense.

It's just silly to define "mainstream" as "all genres but SF".


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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 8:19 am 
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zompist wrote:
Åge Kruger wrote:
zompist wrote:
Genre fiction as a whole is about 88% of the total fiction market.


I read somewhere in the depths of the internet/time that most people don't actually read books at all, thus making mainstream literature the back of a cereal packet, a spreadsheets, and whatever words FOX is overlaying on top of a pie chart right now.


Which are not part of the fiction market.

Well, I don't know about the last one...

I also wrote:
How are you calculating the size of the market? Based on sales or reach?


Really the above was the interesting question, the rest was just tosh.

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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 8:22 am 
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zompist wrote:
So the most popular genre is also the least respectable? This doesn't even make sense.

Now you really *are* just being obstructionist. And maybe prudish. What is nonsensical about pornography being the most popular genre of book? Is it nonsensical that pornography is a popular genre of *website*? No, of course not; it makes sense, and the exact same kind of sense as with books.

zompist wrote:
It's just silly to define "mainstream" as "all genres but SF".

I am not saying that, precisely, it's just that other genres don't really seem to mean much to me compared to the split between SF and everything else. Crime/Mystery, okay that's kind of a separate thing at least according to the bookshops, so I suppose there is a case to be made for a tripartite Real People / Mysterons / SF Dorks split, but do you really want to go down the road of further subdivision? There is a pseudogenre in Britain of "Tragic Life Stories" and holding that to be a division on the level of that between SF and anything else is worthy of a metal fan.


Image

Prime Real People Books.


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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 8:22 am 
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zompist wrote:
Pthug wrote:
zompist wrote:
Basically, if you want to roll around in the ghettoness of sf/fantasy, romance can out-ghetto you any day. Any of you boys ever read a single romance novel?

That's *porn*.


So the most popular genre is also the least respectable? This doesn't even make sense.

It's just silly to define "mainstream" as "all genres but SF".

What are you doing, sir?
You are talking to a duck.

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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 8:24 am 
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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 9:01 am 
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"Hello, Mrs. Duck. I must say that I vehemently disagree with your lasted quacking on the subject of genre literature. What have you to say to that?"

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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 9:08 am 
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Pthug wrote:
Crime/Mystery, okay that's kind of a separate thing at least according to the bookshops, so I suppose there is a case to be made for a tripartite Real People / Mysterons / SF Dorks split, but do you really want to go down the road of further subdivision?


Publishers and readers certainly do. You don't seem to be able to say anything coherent about romance. I know almost nothing about it myself, but at least I don't confuse it with literary fiction or porn.

"Tragic life stories" is amusing though.


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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 9:37 am 
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if i can't say anything coherent about romance to you then then it's probably because you're being uncertain as to what you mean by it. What *I* mean by it is the stuff that is, in Britain, most famously published by the house of Mills & Boon -- I do not know what the main American publishers are; go and ask a girl. Harlequin, maybe?

It is sold mostly to real people, real women mostly, as a book to read. I would not confuse it with literary fiction, but that is why I am calling the non-SF genre "real people books" and not "literary fiction".

It *is* pornography.


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PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 9:39 am 
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fair enough, but I don't think mainstream means non-SF, and indeed it meaning no-genre is confusing and weird, since most stuff can be said to belong to some literary genre. Indeed SF is kind of on the margins of mainstream in my eyes.

LOL look at the titles: ugly, scared, naked, manic, fractured, cut, taken. I mean really, it's like all them women who write this kind of thing decided to Past Participle their covertitles.

zompist wrote:
Basically, if you want to roll around in the ghettoness of sf/fantasy, romance can out-ghetto you any day. Any of you boys ever read a single romance novel?


does Like Water for Chocolate count?

And I dunno what's so wrong with porn being the most common type of literature. I have no idea if it's true that it is, but what if it were? I mean have you read anything on fanfiction.net? [I haven't, but if my girlfriend's preferences are anything to go by, 90% of it is gay porn between harry potter and naruto characters]. People want to hear about sex, no matter the form. Granted, fanfiction isn't real literature, but it's an indicator of what millions of reading stuff consumers want.

Pornophilia ftw!


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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 12:10 am 
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zompist wrote:
If you want to define "mainstream" as "what most people read", then genre fiction is mainstream fiction. The most read fiction is romance, covering half of all mass market paperback titles. Genre fiction as a whole is about 88% of the total fiction market.


Disagree. The term "genre fiction" is closely analagous to "people who speak with an accent". For the same reason that all humans speak with some accent or other (even if they protest "I don't have an accent"), so all fiction is genre fiction. It has to be.

Terry Pratchett character Dorfl says (in Feet of Clay): "<i>Either All Days Are Holy Or None Are. I Have Not Decided Yet.</i>" I would make that: "Either All Fiction Is Genre Fiction Or None Is."

Some people do have definitions of "genre fiction" that covers a portion of fiction between 0% and 100%, for example people sometimes suggest that genre fiction is that for which there is a tradition of community between writers and readers (as seen e.g. at SF conventions). But I don't find these definitions to be coherent.


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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 1:45 am 
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Zerrakhi wrote:
Disagree. The term "genre fiction" is closely analagous to "people who speak with an accent". For the same reason that all humans speak with some accent or other (even if they protest "I don't have an accent"), so all fiction is genre fiction. It has to be.
'

Yes and no. I don't think your analogy works. Genres are pretty much by definition sub-types of fiction with their own conventions, generally starting from a small number of models, often with their own imprints and publishing culture, and last but not least, a chip on their shoulder. None of these need be true of fiction in general.

At the same time, sure, literary fiction has become something of a genre of its own-- especially, perhaps, as the other genres have peeled off most of the popular market, so that it's become a narrow, elite market, one which like other genres you probably won't appreciate unless you're read widely in it.


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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 4:49 pm 
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Pthug wrote:
Not science fiction, SF. SF means "non-mainstream shit that has aliens or robots or unicorns or is generally a bit peculiar".


I believe you are referring to the "fiction" and "non-fiction" distinction. Science fiction - for which "SF" or "Sci-fi" is an abbreviation of - is a sub-field. Basically, if the plot and/or setting was made up, then it is fiction. Or atleast that is how I draw the line. So yeah, my story is definately fiction. Problem is, what kind? How the heck do I describe it in a way that will let people know what to expect but that won't rely on some lengthy description? Personally I think a new genre needs to be invented...

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*real* people read mainstream books -- bookshops and charity shops, especially, are just *full* of real people books.

and yeah, i include romance, mystery, religious etc. in real people books because if you're going to Otherise something, do it properly.


I have to protest to this. Whether something takes place in a fictional setting or not does not decide whether it is "mainstream" or that it is generally read by "normal people." It is very much a matter of taste. But I will say this: narratives do seem to be more common in works of fiction than works of non-fiction. Historical dramas tend to be more about conveying a record of non-statistical data ([size=9]I.e. qualitative information[size]) than about telling a story because, whether you like it or not, it still happened. So it clearly didn't cater to anyone's interests. In considering this, maybe people read fiction for the story-telling aspect and non-fiction for the referential aspect? If I pull out a historical drama on...say, World War II, I am probably trying to find a piece of information to fulfill an inquiry I have, rather than to entertain myself with a story. All in all, maybe these two main genres are equally popular, but for different reasons?

zompist wrote:
classic literary fiction is a smaller market than sf/fantasy.


I agree. Sci-fi and fantasy are more like cultural concepts rather than merely literary genres, because they encompass so much more. Comic books, films, TV shows, radio shows, even music and visual art. Sort of like Anime and Manga.


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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 4:32 am 
Smeric
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Mashmakhan wrote:
But I will say this: narratives do seem to be more common in works of fiction than works of non-fiction. Historical dramas tend to be more about conveying a record of non-statistical data ([size=9]I.e. qualitative information[size]) than about telling a story because, whether you like it or not, it still happened. So it clearly didn't cater to anyone's interests. In considering this, maybe people read fiction for the story-telling aspect and non-fiction for the referential aspect? If I pull out a historical drama on...say, World War II, I am probably trying to find a piece of information to fulfill an inquiry I have, rather than to entertain myself with a story.

I don't follow. When I read historical drama or novels, I do it for mostly the same reasons I'd read other works of fiction - I'm interested in the narrative, the characters, the athmosphere, the setting. There may be the added benefit of learning more about a certain period, but that's an aspect that one needs to be careful about - historical reliability can vary very much in such works, and by definition, parts of the contrent are made up - otherwise it would be history or biography. And yes, the overall outcome of history cannot be changed - otherwise you'd have an AH novel. But the narrative in such works often concerns made-up characters, to whom all kinds of things can happen that are caused but not determined by the overall sweep of historical events (e.g., I just finished reading Amin Maalouf's "Samarkand", and although it doesn't change the outcome of the Persian Constitutional Revolution, and although everyone knows that the Titanic is going to sink, the fates of the narrator and of princess Shireen become clear (or not) only at the end).


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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 12:07 pm 
Sanci
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Pthug wrote:
if i can't say anything coherent about romance to you then then it's probably because you're being uncertain as to what you mean by it. What *I* mean by it is the stuff that is, in Britain, most famously published by the house of Mills & Boon -- I do not know what the main American publishers are; go and ask a girl. Harlequin, maybe?

Harlequin is the main Romance novel publisher in the U.S., or at least main publisher of "dime store romances" which like "dime store mysteries" are very short, formulaic, and popular, as well as inexpensive. Harlequin and Mills & Boon are apparently the same. Silhouette is another big one.

The only romance novel I have read cover to cover was a historical fiction/romance set in WWII Japan. I researched the subject of romance novels for a character in a story I was writing a few years ago. Harlequin even has free storiesonline. Romance novelsare clearly definedas a genre, btw, complete with subgenres.


Also, Mashmakan, your setting is speculative fiction. It's not fantasy, it could pass for soft sci fi if it isn't too history based. If it's really historical and uses Earth history at all it's alt-history. If it is historically set but on another planet with no sci fi or fantasy elements it's just plain odd. The publisher will probably put it in sci fi/fantasy with neither a planet nor a tree on the cover. Or it'll get put in literary fiction because th publisher doesn't know where else to put it (I am reading a series now that crosses so many major and minor genre lines that it is put in Fiction, not any of the genres). In short, let the publisher worry about it.

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