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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A couple of the more recent reviews of my novel referred to it as science fiction, which surprised me, because I've always thought of it as a plain old action-heavy thriller. There are a couple of sci-fi elements (genetic alterations resulting in new abilities, engineered animals designed to terrorize and kill), maybe, but overall the story is "desperate father tries to save son from those who would kill him."

So what makes a novel science fiction? I'm not a big sci-fi reader, but I have read my share of Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and Adams, all of which are pretty firmly in that category, and I'm wondering if science fiction has branched out into more non-traditional areas.

When does a book crossover?


(this is where I hope my lackluster sales are because I mis-categorized, and not because my book really sucks :) )
 

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If you use a science that doesn't exist, you're into science fiction.

Doesn't have to be spaceships, robots, time travel, nano tech, lasers, aliens ... just something we don't have yet.

Just your blurb makes it sound like Sci Fi to me.
 

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It sounds sci-fi to me. Keep in mind that there are sub-genres within science fiction.

I don't read any science fiction outside of Star Wars, so I can't tell you what the sub-genres are or what the specifications of the genre require.
 

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basically, if you're a fictional science, you're crossing into science fiction territory.

but, like many things, it's in the eye of the beholder.

and science fiction can range from uploading of personalities to time travel to space travel...

and it's not all about the science, it's about the fiction.  some is hard science driven, but if you don't have a good story, the tech doesn't matter.

so, why shouldn't a story about a father trying to save his son not fall under science fiction?  to me, your blurb is science fiction/action. 
 

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I hear your predicament. The Sci-Fi, Thriller, and Suspense genres can cross lines. I guess if there are any sci-fi elements in your story, you should probably label it sci-fi. However, be prepared to disappoint readers who are expecting hard sci-fi elements. My novel, THE DEVICE, is mostly a character-driven suspense novel, but some sci-fi elements show up later on. I've just decided to call it suspense with elements of sci-fi.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I looked around on Amazon, and found that Jurassic Park and Lost World by Michael Crichton are called "sci-fi thrillers." Interestingly, his Timeline was just called a thriller.

My choices for categorizing under sci-fi are:

General
Adventure
High Tech
Military
Short Stories
Space Opera

Would high-tech be appropriate? Even though there's considerable genetic technology going on, I don't go into great detail because the key element to the whole thing is the chase. I love me a good chase. :)
 

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I've always heard that if the science isn't real yet, then the novel is science fiction, regardless of whether it's set in 2011 or 3011.

That said, I've often noticed that books like Michael Crichton's are shelved in general fiction, and I've yet to see a real dinosaur in an amusement park.

This issue hits close to me, as well, since one of the novels I'm preparing for publication is set in present day with a genetic twist.  Calling it science fiction doesn't feel right due to how grounded the rest of the story is in our world.
 

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This is all interesting to me, because my next book will be right in that area between action/adventure and science fiction. There is some technology just a bit more advanced than current use, putting together recent research and advances in several areas, and extrapolating a bit, to produce technology and applications with potentially quite far-reaching consequences.
All is so close to present day stuff that I've been wondering if it could be called science fiction at all.
Reading posts here, I think the concensus is what matters is the science, rather than the technoloy, or applications of that science.
 

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Fredster said:
I looked around on Amazon, and found that Jurassic Park and Lost World by Michael Crichton are called "sci-fi thrillers." Interestingly, his Timeline was just called a thriller.

My choices for categorizing under sci-fi are:

General
Adventure
High Tech
Military
Short Stories
Space Opera

Would high-tech be appropriate? Even though there's considerable genetic technology going on, I don't go into great detail because the key element to the whole thing is the chase. I love me a good chase. :)
I wouldn't put it in high-tech; to me that denotes space ships, or AI, or some such. I think Scarlet is right in calling it adventure.

I'm calling my WIP a science fiction thriller (To stop a pandemic, Jackie Davenport must uncover the truth behind a secret experiment). It is set present day, but the cause of the pandemic is a time travel experiment. The science for the transmission mode of the flu virus is stretched to near the breaking point, but it's still just barely plausible if you give "what if" free reign.
 

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and remember, it's not like a print book which can only be on one shelf.  with an e-book, you can call it whatever you want.
 

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One that doesn't include pirates, unless they are space alien pirates.
 

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I've always thought that what makes a book scifi is not just the use of futuristic technology, but also to have it at least somewhat central to the plot. Considering there's now a ton of sub-genres though, I don't think it needs to be central at all anymore. It's definitely worth branching out as far as marketing is concerned. My book is vampire science fiction, heavy on the scifi. But having vampires as a subgenre vastly increases my potential readership.
I'm apologizing now in case my signature is still wonky. I just signed up & I'm having problems with their link-maker making my book image HUGE. Hopefully it'll get fixed soon & not look completely ridiculous.
-Kate
 

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Jim Franz said:
I've always heard that if the science isn't real yet, then the novel is science fiction, regardless of whether it's set in 2011 or 3011.
That might work if you extend it to include non-existent technology that still abides by the current rules of known science.

From Definitions of Speculative Fiction:

SPECULATIVE FICTION: A form of fiction in which the story takes place in an imaginary world which exists as a result of one or more "what if?" questions.

SCIENCE FICTION: A form of speculative fiction in which the "what ifs" which define the imaginary world are based on science and/or technology. Usually this setting is an imagined future, but this is not always the case.
 

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Jim Franz said:
That said, I've often noticed that books like Michael Crichton's are shelved in general fiction, and I've yet to see a real dinosaur in an amusement park.
Thats because if they can sell a book as literary fiction they will. P.D. James writes some fantastic science fiction novels (The Children of Men), but never gets sent to the genre ghetto.
 

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Patty Jansen said:
Many SF novels are also thrillers. It's an excellent combination.
That is not what the editors at Baens Books think. I sent them my novel. They rejected it, because it "(u)ltimately reads more like a techno-thriller than strictly a science fiction novel(.) We of course wish you the best of luck submitting this novel to other markets, and we hope you will send us another novel that is more straight-up SF."

How did I read this? 'You writing is professional, but your book is not to my taste, and I don't know how to market it, so I can't see how I will make money from it, so please take it elsewhere.'

So I did.
 

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This is definitely a gray area. I've had exactly the same responses regarding the genre of Kiss of the Mamba, which features the transference of human memories and abilities from one person to another. To me the story is science fiction, but others have suggested futuristic thriller, medical thriller, and even mystery murder (from my agent!). I guess it doesn't really matter as long as the genre choice isn't compromising sales...
 
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