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Author Topic: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.  (Read 243053 times)  

Offline dgaughran

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #100 on: January 05, 2014, 01:36:10 PM »
You know it's a spec-fic group when the first argument is about genre labels :)

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Offline horse_girl

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #101 on: January 05, 2014, 01:48:51 PM »
You know it's a spec-fic group when the first argument is about genre labels :)

So true. Unfortunately, I think as someone else mentioned, there are two opinions in spec fic--those who think it should be purely hardcore tech/futuristic/otherworld/space/etc. issues and those who accept emotions and the explorations of various relationships in their spec-fic.

It's not an either/or world. It's whatever is right for the author's vision of a story.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 01:50:29 PM by horse_girl »
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Offline S. Elliot Brandis

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #102 on: January 05, 2014, 01:51:26 PM »
I don't think he was talking about Spec fic with romantic elements, I think it was just the romance genre that he was trying to exclude from the thread. And he wasn't even trashing romance or erotica, he was just saying that those genres already get enough attention, while Spec fic doesn't
It's a shame that you feel you've been excluded from spec fic, but I don't think that's what this thread is about.

Yes, I don't want to exclude anyone. I just thought spec fic writers really needed their own space on this board. If you think what you write is spec fic, then you write spec fic.  :D

Glad to see this thread booming already. So many authors, so many weapons.

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Offline MT Berlyn

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #103 on: January 05, 2014, 01:59:53 PM »
This is one of the reasons I've felt some Japanese horror was so successful about a decade back and continues to be so in certain circles, because there are no rules, no way of coping with the supernatural. Ghost shows up, you're screwed, end of story. You can't fight it, can't run from it, can't banish it, etc. However, that does limit a writer's storytelling possibilities.

You put that very well.  Japanese horror is very much like French fatalism reflected in literature...a zen of it is what it is and that the best that can be achieved is only another in a string of it is what it is...or is what it becomes.

But, I'm not convinced that this limits the storytelling possibilities, at least not entirely. The skillful use of irony is essential. Rod Serling was great at inevitable endings...in a grim sort of way.  
« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 02:04:51 PM by Thayer Berlyn »

Offline M T McGuire

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #104 on: January 05, 2014, 02:00:04 PM »
Hello... edges shyly onto thread. Is it OK for another spec fic author to join? I write what I call humorous science fiction fantasy, because it takes place in a parallel universe, and some of it takes place in this one, but the 'science' is sort of 'explained' by quantum and there are funny bits in it. So... guaranteed to  p*ss  off the purists in every single one of my target genres...

I agree with one of the early posters who said that we spec fic people don't seem to be as well organised vis a vis getting our stuff noticed. I have two books coming out in April which will bring the series I'm working on to a close. I suppose that sums it up, the 'trilogy' I've written which comprises 4 books. Maybe we're just all a bit scatty. Who knows. Anyway, hello.

Cheers

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Offline horse_girl

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #105 on: January 05, 2014, 02:00:10 PM »
Yes, I don't want to exclude anyone. I just thought spec fic writers really needed their own space on this board. If you think what you write is spec fic, then you write spec fic.  :D

It's a can of worms. Like everything in life, some people have strong feelings. Me, I could care less, as long as I get to visit other worlds  :D

So many authors, so many weapons.

*devilish smile* (No smiley for that)
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Offline Victoria Champion

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #106 on: January 05, 2014, 02:00:15 PM »
I'm a spec fic author. My stories have romantic elements, and are character-driven.

There's a lot going on subtextually and genre-wise in each story, and I struggled for a while with categorization and branding and now struggle finding appropriate venues to like-minded readers (visibility). I list my genre subcategories in my author bios and in bold in the blurbs, and hopefully the right readers will find their way to my books.

I read all kinds of spec fic, and don't see the need to exclude one subgenre or another as less valid. We're dealing with fiction. Anything goes. There are no rules. The most hilarious meme is 'real vampires don't sparkle' because hello, there are no real vampires. Stifling creativity is tantamount to censorship.

« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 03:00:06 PM by Victoria Champion »
    
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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #107 on: January 05, 2014, 02:10:12 PM »
Still trying to catch up on all the posts, but I wanted to say "hi" and that I look forward to getting to know all of the other geeks out there. :-) My current series is contemporary fantasy about the evolution of magic within an ever growing urban setting. Or better explained... It has fireballs, ice blasts, electricity whips, and lots of explosions.  ;D

-Craig


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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #108 on: January 05, 2014, 02:13:02 PM »
You know,  it  seems to me that anytime someone expresses an opinion evenly remotely related to  Romance novels, if it  isn't all gushing with love foor romance, the poster is accused fo excluding or trash talking romantica. I think  that's an oversensitivity on the part of romance writers.

All genres have merit, as  long as people buy them. But you shouldn't try and argue any one genre has more merit than another, just more sales.

For those of you who write "character-driven" specfic with romance subplots, etc, do  this: Sum up the point of your novel in one sentence. Exclude the setting. Now see if its romance or specfic.

I'll give some examples, using movies:

Titanic: Two lovers from different worlds try to stay together.
Alien: Marines battle monsters in space
Warm Bodies: (see Romeo and Juliet)

If someone wants to read spec fic and they end up reading about a romance set in the future, they are probably going to be dissapointed. Just having some scifi elements does not scifi make (the late Christopher Reeves' tiem travel movie springs to mind, as does Hugh Jackman's similar flick).  

The core  of your story,  the one thing you can't  remove without killing your story should determine your genre. After all, genre classifications are for the benefit of the reader, not to  trick  them.

Offline MT Berlyn

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #109 on: January 05, 2014, 02:21:08 PM »
So true. Unfortunately, I think as someone else mentioned, there are two opinions in spec fic--those who think it should be purely hardcore tech/futuristic/otherworld/space/etc. issues and those who accept emotions and the explorations of various relationships in their spec-fic.

It's not an either/or world. It's whatever is right for the author's vision of a story.

I very much agree.  It's easy to box in genres.  Emotion is a facet of human nature, and it is going to reflect itself in any literature to one degree or another.  Poe wrote Dark Romance that does not follow the trend of the happy ending. I see speculative fiction as often taking a common theme and bringing an uncommon component to it.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 02:25:32 PM by Thayer Berlyn »

Offline Victoria Champion

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #110 on: January 05, 2014, 02:21:54 PM »
You know,  it  seems to me that anytime someone expresses an opinion evenly remotely related to  Romance novels, if it  isn't all gushing with love foor romance, the poster is accused fo excluding or trash talking romantica. I think  that's an oversensitivity on the part of romance writers.

All genres have merit, as  long as people buy them. But you shouldn't try and argue any one genre has more merit than another, just more sales.

For those of you who write "character-driven" specfic with romance subplots, etc, do  this: Sum up the point of your novel in one sentence. Exclude the setting. Now see if its romance or specfic.

I'll give some examples, using movies:

Titanic: Two lovers from different worlds try to stay together.
Alien: Marines battle monsters in space
Warm Bodies: (see Romeo and Juliet)

If someone wants to read spec fic and they end up reading about a romance set in the future, they are probably going to be dissapointed. Just having some scifi elements does not scifi make (the late Christopher Reeves' tiem travel movie springs to mind, as does Hugh Jackman's similar flick).  

The core  of your story,  the one thing you can't  remove without killing your story should determine your genre. After all, genre classifications are for the benefit of the reader, not to  trick  them.

I've done this (and I just did it again based on your post). And my stories are definitely spec fic with romantic subplot. They are not romance with spec fic window dressing. I will however write romance without any paranormal elements if I have to. I've done it before in the erotica genre. And like I was saying in my earlier post, I agree that all genres have merit.
    
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Offline Victoria Champion

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #111 on: January 05, 2014, 02:22:31 PM »
I very much agree.  It's easy to box in genres.  Emotion is a facet of human nature, and it is going to reflect itself in any literature to one degree or another.  Poe wrote Dark Romance that does not follow the trend of the happy ending.

I love that term Dark Romance.
    
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Offline SLGray

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #112 on: January 05, 2014, 02:24:23 PM »
Yes, I don't want to exclude anyone. I just thought spec fic writers really needed their own space on this board. If you think what you write is spec fic, then you write spec fic.  :D


This.

Now. How do we go about promoting us? :)

Offline P.J. Post

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #113 on: January 05, 2014, 02:31:24 PM »
It seems to me that the best current definition of spec fic would be pretty much anything you might see at Comicon.

The problem is the category is much too large for general marketing purposes and definitely too large for promotional strategies.

We need to figure out what sub-genres the OP (or the group here in general) has in mind as far as discussing craft and marketing opportunities.

Sci-fi (with or without a romantic sub or main plot) has a very different audience than urban paranormal romance.

Genre definitions are important, in fact, they are crucial to understanding and leveraging target marketing opportunities.  The more narrowly one can define their audience, the more focused their strategies can be, especially when one considers the time investment required.

The reader defines the genre for themselves.  All we can do is to try and educate them (based on the reader's perceptions of spec fic) about which genre we write and why it might appeal to them.

Offline Annie B

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #114 on: January 05, 2014, 02:40:27 PM »
Who cares about the set dressing? I like set dressing. If I want to read a romance set in space, I'm gonna go read one. I don't feel tricked because I get romance AND spaceships.

I guess though this kind of arguing sort of QEDs my point about how insular and infighting things get. Meanwhile, readers read what they like and don't care about if something is this AND that if they get what they want.

Offline Cherise

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #115 on: January 05, 2014, 02:41:31 PM »
....fans are VERY specific about which flavor they enjoy and often HATE the other genres that fall outside of their preferred listening zone.

SF/F has gone through a similar splintering.  Twilight IS spec fiction, sorry, but for better or worse it is.

....And the important thing to remember is that there are tons of fans for every sub-genre.  But fans of hard sci-fi are probably not going to like (or admit to liking) certain paranormal elements within spec-fic.

It's sad, but it's the truth.

True.

So.

If we do create a site for advertising spec fic, then it needs to be segmented into the different sub sub sub genres.

I really hope this gets done!

Offline AngryGames

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #116 on: January 05, 2014, 02:41:40 PM »
Yay, a thread just for us.

I've loved science fiction for my whole life. I remember picking up some book in our junior high library that was sci-fi aimed at younger readers like me, and for the life of me, the only thing I can remember about the book other than a vague memory of the plot, is that the author had my last name (Hill).

From there I found the "Deathlands" series by James Axler (who unfortunately passed away at some point, but the publisher brought on other writers to keep the 'men's adventure' series going). As a child of the 80's, I grew up under the threat of global annihilation. Some of you younger folk probably hear about this, but don't really have an understanding like we and our parents do (it was probably worse for our parents, they were taught things like 'duck and cover' if a nuke ever detonated, which really just meant your DNA would become one with the desk before it too disintegrated into ash).

While our parents worried about Russian bombers and short-range missiles from Cuba, we worried about the "30 Minute War" and "Mutually Assured Desrtuction" that could come within minutes. Movies like "Threads" and "The Day After" filled me a strange kind of dread, yet awe. Even knowing that just a few warheads detonating would cause mass death on a global scale, I would read things like Deathlands, Roadside Picnic (classic Soviet post-apoc aliens, the video game series S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is based on it), Swan Song, The Wild Shore, continuing all the way up to The Road and Wool.

I began making up 'post-nuclear' stories when I was in junior high as a way to escape a terrible home life. I gave up writing for more than twenty years, but I never gave up my love of science fiction (nor horror, I read every single Stephen King book multiple times). Now, as an adult who spent twenty years at the top edge of computer technology, one that has consumed thousands of hours of movies, television, books, comics, and of course video games, it is easily my favorite genre to write in.

I like all kinds of different science fiction, yet with today's flood of self-publishing and indie movie making, I can't find enough to keep me interested. I'd like to think I've read/watched just about everything worth reading/watching, but then I'll find something new (like "Terms of Enlistment" by Marko Kloos) and for a little while I'll feel happy, satiated. I love time travel, space opera, cyberpunk, alternate history, even some romantic  sci-fi. I love the 'hard' stuff like "Hyperion" and my all-time favorite "The Forever War." I love the soft stuff that has barely any science fiction in it (as long as it has a good story). I love crazy, mind-bending stuff (yes, I liked Inception). I love gritty, sad, hopeless sci-fi like "Never Let Me Go" (book or movie, take your pick). I especially love Philip K. Dick and his drug-induced literary insanity.

Anyway, that's my $.02. Actually it ended up being about $19.28, but that's because I never shut the hell up, especially when it comes to science fiction. Now that I've babbled on and annoyed everyone, I'm hopeful that this is a long-lived thread.

PS I absolutely do NOT see my fellow sci-fi/horror writers as competition. You guys (and gals) are like my teammates, and these genres are a team game. If you keep writing great science fiction or spec fiction or whatever labels people want to put on what we do, then you are helping me out tremendously. I hope I'm returning the favor (slowly but surely!).
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Offline MT Berlyn

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #117 on: January 05, 2014, 02:41:53 PM »
I love that term Dark Romance.

Lovely book covers you have, Victoria!

I think Dark Romance holds a lot of room for experimentation.  Romance, like enchantment, tends to conjure a picture of lighter themes, but the definitions can be very dark, indeed.

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #118 on: January 05, 2014, 02:47:10 PM »
Lovely book covers you have, Victoria!

I think Dark Romance holds a lot of room for experimentation.  Romance, like enchantment, tends to conjure a picture of lighter themes, but the definitions can be very dark, indeed.

Thank you! And yes, darker romantic plots interest me because of the chance to twist things awry, especially in supernatural ways.
    
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Offline Ty Johnston

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #119 on: January 05, 2014, 02:57:16 PM »
The problem is the category is much too large for general marketing purposes and definitely too large for promotional strategies.

Quite true. One possibility might be to focus upon the various BISAC codes which, though not irrefutable, at least simplify the process for coming up with promotional possibilities. Using such for general marketing is a bit more difficult as the net tends to have a wider reach into broader audiences, but the BISAC codes usually don't get into sub-sub genres and the like, so this might not be as big a problem as I'm thinking it might. If that made sense.

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #120 on: January 05, 2014, 03:03:29 PM »
I don't think it is visuals, actually.  Here's the mini version of my rant.  Fantasy does well in both film AND novels and has plenty of both written and seen visuals.

What has killed the SF book market, in my opinion, is that we don't have enough things like space battles, larger than life heroes, sense of sheer wonder stuff, etc. That's changing now, with the self-publishing stuff opening up the genre again, but for a long time through the late 70's, 80's, 90's, and early 00's that wasn't true. There was the "new wave" of sf writers who turned away from the perceived "pulp" of the earlier genre books and went deeply self-referential, experimental, and cerebral in ways that don't really appeal to the general reading populace.  Science fiction for a long time has been a genre that if you read in it, you really have to read a lot and be educated in the genre.  If you look at where the popular, best-selling science fiction has been located on shelves for the last 20-30 years, it isn't in Science Fiction.  It's the Michael Crichtons and the James Rollins of the authorial world who are writing the popular SF which their publishers just call "adventure fiction" or "action/adventure" most of the time. They sell extremely well, use all kinds of tropes and cliches from science fiction, and just dodge the label because that label shoves you into a self-referential, incestuous ghetto these days (and if you really want to know what I'm talking about, join SFWA!).

So it isn't that space battles or alien invasions or time travel or apocalypses are boring to read about and way more fun to watch on the screen. It's that the people writing those things have snuck into other genre labels and ditched the tiny, murky pond of SF because they weren't welcome there by the people shouting "cliche!" "DONE!" "Boring!" "Derivative!"

When WOOL first broke big, there was a lot of grumbling in the SF trad trenches. Comparing it to Fallout, saying things like "but this has been done" "this is so derivative" "why can't people read something original", etc.  

In short, I think science fiction has shot itself in the guts over the last 30 or so years desperately trying to break new ground, be "original" and "experimental" and not actually hark to the things that make it awesome in the first place like sense of wonder, sense of discovery, crazy settings, exciting and exotic situations, and big-@ss, bad-@*ss heroes/heroines.

One of the best parts of the indie revolution thing is that now we are getting more of that back, and seeing hits breaking out. I think it'll keep on going, and now we have the freedom to write that stuff and call it what it is, and change the face of the genre for the better.

/off soapbox

Great rant. I agree with much of it. Indeed, from the mid 1990s I found it increasingly difficult to find SF I actually wanted to read. I tried a lot of SF and fantasy recommended by the "new, revolutionary, different" crowd and wound up hating most of it, which pretty much killed my desire to both read and write speculative fiction. After all, I could hardly write the stuff, if I couldn't even read it. And the speculative fiction I actually enjoyed was mostly decried by that crowd as cliched and old-fashioned.

Eventually, I ditched my "new, revolutionary, let's burn down the gates of the genre" pals and their recommendations and went back to reading whatever I enjoyed. By that point that urban fantasy and paranormal romance boom was just taking off (and there even was some SF romance as well) and the first works of speculative fiction I actually enjoyed reading again were urban fantasy with strong romantic elements, which is why I am so allergic to any attempts to shove those books out of the genre.

Offline P.J. Post

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #121 on: January 05, 2014, 03:26:48 PM »
Quite true. One possibility might be to focus upon the various BISAC codes which, though not irrefutable, at least simplify the process for coming up with promotional possibilities. Using such for general marketing is a bit more difficult as the net tends to have a wider reach into broader audiences, but the BISAC codes usually don't get into sub-sub genres and the like, so this might not be as big a problem as I'm thinking it might. If that made sense.

Perhaps we could break the market down. (Using broad strokes here for illustration purposes.)

The first tier is spec fic - a global label

The second teir, or primary 'parent categories' are splint into fantasy, sci-fi and horror

Fantasy splits into epic fantasy, traditional fantasy, sword and sorcery and the paranormal

Horror crosses over and also includes the paranormal, as does sci-fi.

The idea here is to identify the primary sub-genres, and then the sub-sub-genres so that we can isolate the commonalities within the various groups - who reads paranormal fantasy and paranormal horror and paranormal sci-fi?  Although they are all 'paranormal', they actually fall into different parent categories and therefore are not as directly related as it may appear at first glance.

Once an analysis like this is done, you'll be able to draw lines through the various genres with similar audiences and then redefine each of those groups as a market segment.  So where do paranormal urban fantasy romance readers cross paths with sci-hi horror fans?

Tracing the evolution of these categories from the original books that created them will help define reader expectations.  Vampires have a long history in literature and film (you must think in terms of film as well - readers watch movies too), but the vampire mythos changes as new sub-genres are born.

Nosferatu, Dracula, Lon Chaney, the Adams Family, the Last Man on Earth (I am Legend story) eventually Interview with a Vampire, Laura Hamilton, the Blade and Underworld series, and Buffy and Twilight.  The vampire went through a transformation, from horror to pop culture glittering icon.  But we still have "Let the Right One In", which is true to the vampire roots.  Do Vampire fans enjoy all of these stories equally, or do some like the romance ones and maybe not the adventure ones so much.  Some like the modern pop sensibilities, but not the historic horror elements.

That's target marketing analysis.

Offline Casper Bogart

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #122 on: January 05, 2014, 03:38:10 PM »
I don't think it is visuals, actually.  Here's the mini version of my rant.  Fantasy does well in both film AND novels and has plenty of both written and seen visuals.

What has killed the SF book market, in my opinion, is that we don't have enough things like space battles, larger than life heroes, sense of sheer wonder stuff, etc. That's changing now, with the self-publishing stuff opening up the genre again, but for a long time through the late 70's, 80's, 90's, and early 00's that wasn't true. There was the "new wave" of sf writers who turned away from the perceived "pulp" of the earlier genre books and went deeply self-referential, experimental, and cerebral in ways that don't really appeal to the general reading populace.  Science fiction for a long time has been a genre that if you read in it, you really have to read a lot and be educated in the genre.  If you look at where the popular, best-selling science fiction has been located on shelves for the last 20-30 years, it isn't in Science Fiction.  It's the Michael Crichtons and the James Rollins of the authorial world who are writing the popular SF which their publishers just call "adventure fiction" or "action/adventure" most of the time. They sell extremely well, use all kinds of tropes and cliches from science fiction, and just dodge the label because that label shoves you into a self-referential, incestuous ghetto these days (and if you really want to know what I'm talking about, join SFWA!).

So it isn't that space battles or alien invasions or time travel or apocalypses are boring to read about and way more fun to watch on the screen. It's that the people writing those things have snuck into other genre labels and ditched the tiny, murky pond of SF because they weren't welcome there by the people shouting "cliche!" "DONE!" "Boring!" "Derivative!"

When WOOL first broke big, there was a lot of grumbling in the SF trad trenches. Comparing it to Fallout, saying things like "but this has been done" "this is so derivative" "why can't people read something original", etc.  

In short, I think science fiction has shot itself in the guts over the last 30 or so years desperately trying to break new ground, be "original" and "experimental" and not actually hark to the things that make it awesome in the first place like sense of wonder, sense of discovery, crazy settings, exciting and exotic situations, and big-@ss, bad-@*ss heroes/heroines.

One of the best parts of the indie revolution thing is that now we are getting more of that back, and seeing hits breaking out. I think it'll keep on going, and now we have the freedom to write that stuff and call it what it is, and change the face of the genre for the better.

/off soapbox

Yes yes yes.

Not everything has to be "new."

(In fact, I'm not sure "new" exists, does it?  Hasn't new all been done before, genres smashed together to form some new kind of hybrid?)

I agree with you, Doomed Muse. If there's anything TV has taught us, it's that people like to see similar things again and again. I know I do. And it's the same with my taste n books. I'd read another take on the whole FOUNDATION idea, or THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES or [fill in name of my other favorite sci fi books.] I mean, why do I re-read Foundation Trilogy every few years? I know what's gonna happen. Why do I read WRINKLE IN TIME, every October, and why I have I never missed an annual reading of it since 1964?  ;D

« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 03:39:45 PM by Casper Bogart »

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Offline S. Elliot Brandis

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #123 on: January 05, 2014, 03:58:23 PM »
True.

So.

If we do create a site for advertising spec fic, then it needs to be segmented into the different sub sub sub genres.

I really hope this gets done!

I'd be happy to have a crack at this. We could create a website via WordPress and buy our own domain (it's cheap).

We would need to think about structure and content - it seems we definitely need to organise by subgenre.

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Offline Neil Clarke

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #124 on: January 05, 2014, 04:06:45 PM »
I think the tricky part here is getting people to agree on the assortment of sub-genres. I'm interested in seeing what people come up with.
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