Author Topic: Define the Genres  (Read 8919 times)

wakela

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Define the Genres
« on: February 12, 2007, 09:18:47 PM »
Sometimes we touch on this in episode comments and elsewhere, but don't want to get too off topic.

What is science fiction?
What is SF, Sci-Fi?
What is fantasy?
What is horror?
Is it even useful to define them?

EDIT
What is Speculative Fiction?

This is not meant to be an all inclusive list of questions, just something to get the conversation going.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2007, 07:23:20 PM by wakela »

Russell Nash

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2007, 09:00:42 AM »
As a rule I hate to define Genres.  When a story is trying to be "in genre" it's limited.  Part of what kills regular TV is the need for shows to fit in a cookie cutter sub-sub-sub genre.  The best stories are ones that are written to be good stories and then the author looks at how many genres he wrote in.

ClintMemo

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2007, 10:07:34 AM »
I think broad genres are ok and perhaps useful, but overly specific ones only lead to limitations and imitations.

But to answer your questions, here's how I see them:

I see "Science Fiction" as what people often refer to as "Hard Science Fiction."  The story has to have some type of science or technology that doesn't currently exist but is plausible, consistent and central to the story.

SF and Sci-fi are stories that have technology that doesn't exist and is never likely to exist. In most cases, you could tell the same story in a different setting by changing the setting and replacing all the implausible tech with equally implausible magic, but you cannot tell the story without removing the elements.

Fantasy is any story that has some element that magic or an unreal element that is central to the story.

Horror is any story that is trying to scare or horrify the reader.

Even with definitions this broad, it's sometimes hard to determine which genre a story belongs in. For example, is the movie Alien a horror movie, a science fiction movie or a SF movie?

Having said all that, I don't have a favorite genre.  A good story, regardless of genre, has strong characters, a good plot, tension and makes a connection with the reader.

Life is a multiple choice test. Unfortunately, the answers are not provided.  You have to go and find them before picking the best one.

JaredAxelrod

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2007, 04:12:12 PM »
What is Science Fiction: Wank involving machinery that doesn't exist
What is SF, Sci-Fi:  Shortened or abreviated wank involving machinery that doesn't exist
What is fantasy: Wank involving that roleplaying game you never finished
What is horror:  Wank involving things that aren't nerely as scary as the world outside your mom's basement

As far as defining them, some people like knowing what they're wanking to. If you're that person, such distinctions help.

wakela

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2007, 07:21:32 PM »
I don't know if most do,  but a lot of posters on this forum say they don't like pigeon-holing stories into genres.   Obviously, I a good story is a good story.  But wouldn't you be annoyed to tune in to Escape Pod and hear something like a William Faulkner reading?  Sure the writing is brilliant, but it's not SF.

I would be interested to hear if Capt. Eley gets some borderline cases submitted, and how he decides to reject and otherwise good story. 

Heradel

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2007, 07:43:34 PM »
But wouldn't you be annoyed to tune in to Escape Pod and hear something like a William Faulkner reading?
Of course. Faulkner would be Psuedopod.
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SFEley

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2007, 11:21:09 PM »
I would be interested to hear if Capt. Eley gets some borderline cases submitted,

Occasionally.

Quote
and how he decides to reject and otherwise good story. 

Regretfully.
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Jonathan C. Gillespie

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2007, 08:06:17 AM »
I'd call "Alien" a sci-fi thriller.  Or, you could call it Dark Science Fiction.

I utterly love Dark Science Fiction. 
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Kronikarz

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2007, 02:23:53 PM »
Well, this maybe somewhat controversial:

I define:
Fantasy - when the plot revolves around, or is based on, a 'fantasy' element, that is, magic and/or the supernatural. That is - something that could never happen in a world without that fantasy element (ie. a great mage battle, deaths of gods etc, not: a drama within a elf-ridden land).
Sci-Fi - same as above, substitute fantasy for 'futuristic science/pseudoscience'
Horror - ditto, 'scare the reader, supernatural'

The others? - "<non-speculative genre name> in a fantasy/scifi/horror setting".
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FNH

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2007, 03:33:36 PM »
By example ...

What is science fiction?
   Scott Sigler's, Earthcore

What is SF, Sci-Fi?
  Scott Sigler's , Wolf

What is fantasy?
  Scott Sigler's, Splashing Contest
 
What is horror?
  Scott Sigler's,  Number One with a Bullet, Infection


What is Speculative Fiction?

  Scott Sigler's, Ancester

[Do you think I might be a Sigler Junkie? ;)]

Reap3r

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2007, 05:08:06 PM »
By example ...
What is science fiction?
   Scott Sigler's, Earthcore
What is SF, Sci-Fi?
  Scott Sigler's , Wolf
What is fantasy?
  Scott Sigler's, Splashing Contest
What is horror?
  Scott Sigler's,  Number One with a Bullet, Infection
What is Speculative Fiction?
  Scott Sigler's, Ancester
[Do you think I might be a Sigler Junkie? ;)]

Never would have guessed :P, but who in there right mind wouldn't be?(alright everyone because It's Scott Sigler, you can't be in your right mind, but that's why I'm a junkie too).
« Last Edit: February 14, 2007, 05:10:22 PM by Reap3r »
Thinking? I've never heard of that. Is it some kind of food? Please tell me it tastes better than those sick pop tarts filled with meat. You know, Hot Pockets. What, thinking isn't a food? Well then, what is it? Does it have to be built. I hate building things. JUST TELL ME NOW! O look, a bird.

wakela

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2007, 06:23:51 PM »
I've been toying with the idea of two types of genre.  One type describes the emotion that is illicited from the reader.  The other describes the setting or story elements.  Drama, comedy, horror, action, romance are emotion genres, and science fiction, fantasy, historical pieces are setting genres.  Aliens coming to Earth is science fiction, but are the aliens dangerous or funny or psycho or does some poor slob fall in love with one.
Under this system you can't have just a science fiction story.  There should be some kind of emotion involved.  It also means a movie like Alien can be 100% SF and 100% horror.

True that all this may be pointless.  Keep in mind I was an English major and took a whole class on movie genres.  But I at least think it's interesting. 

Heradel

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2007, 06:54:35 PM »
Speculative Fiction was explained to me as Hard Science Fiction with a tux.
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Brian Reilly

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2007, 02:23:00 PM »
Rod Serling, who created The Twilight Zone said
Quote
Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible
.

That works for me, as a way of distinguishing between the two.

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Planish

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Re: Define the Genres
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2007, 11:25:43 PM »
I see "Speculative Fiction" as something that has a premise of "what if...?"
What if we developed a technology that does such-and-such? - Hard SF
What if a certain (real) historical event happened differently? - Alternate History
What if there was a world where Magic behaved in the same predictable manner as technology? - some (but not all) Fantasy
Given conditions as we know them to be now, what might happen? - Future History

The main thing about SpecFic is that once the premise is nailed down, it has to be followed through to it's logical conclusion.
"If such-and-such, then this must happen...", and the premise (not the characters) has to take centre stage.
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