I know what some of you are thinking: Don’t worry about it! Labels are only that--categorical words slapped onto something.
Well, sorry, free-thinkers, but if I’m going to categorize something, I like to know I’m doing it the way the majority accepts and recognizes. And yes, I LIKE categories and labels. They help me orient myself in the world. It’s just the way I am. Don’t judge.
But back to genres....
Fantasy vs Science Fiction
The fantasy and sci-fi genres confuse me the most. Have you ever tried to look up info about the difference between fantasy and sci-fi? You think you know, right? But then you try to define them and it gets... blurry. And if you go out and read what other people have to say, well, have fun falling down that rabbit hole.
Here’s David Brin's take:
“What is my definition of the separation? I think it is very basic, revolving around the notion of human improvability. .... Do you believe it is possible for children to learn from the mistakes of their parents?”
“For all the courage and heroism shown by fantasy characters across 4000 years of great, compelling dramas — NOTHING EVER CHANGES!”
“Science fiction, in sharp contrast, considers the possibility of learning and change.”
I'd never thought of these genres in those terms. Brin’s take is miles more sophisticated than any of the criteria that ever crossed my mind. But I like it. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes.
So that’s nice. But then when I get into the sub-genres, I lose it again. This article on SF Site lists a few of the sub and spinoff genres. Science Fantasy??? I’d never heard the term before I clicked on that link.
What Genre is PYXIS?
You might have guessed that my worry over genres has everything to do with trying to classify my own books. I latched on to “paranormal” because, well, I’m writing YA and that’s kind of the hot thing right now, if you haven’t noticed. Yep, vampires and other paranormal creatures aplenty out there.
But PYXIS doesn’t have creatures. It’s fantasy-ish, maybe, but set in our modern world. And as to Brin’s definition involving improvability, well, as the PYXIS series progresses, yes, there will be some improvabilizing going on. But no creatures. And ironically--or maybe just confusingly--the series has paranormal elements in the OLD sense of that word: telekinesis, pyrokinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, and a sort of astral projection. Oh, and there will be more and more elements of hard science as the series progresses. Oh, oh, AND there’s also romance.
By the definitions here at Reader's Digest, my book falls squarely within Romance > Paranormal. But there’s another factor I don’t want to forget about: reader expectations. RD may agree my book is YA PR, but is a reader going to expect vampires and/or werewolves and/or fairies and/or mermaids if I give it that label? No idea. And for all I know, maybe readers don’t really care!
So... who wants to help me figure out the genre of my book? :)
Author K.C. Neal:: Pyxis Series :: YA Paranormal