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Posts tagged ‘subgenres of science fiction’

I Quit!

I. Quit.

No, no, not MGC.

But I’m taking a hiatus from my big series and trying some new things this summer.

Now, why would I do a silly thing like that? Well, it’s pretty simple. I’m a (nearly) complete unknown and as such my sales numbers are low. And since I’m in this for the money–yeah, I’ve got an husband bringing home the bacon, but he’s teetering on the brink of retirement, and I’d really like to bump up the projected (post retirement) household income. That means I need to do a number of things. Marketing . . . I’m also working on. But another (and much more fun!) thing I can do is broaden my fan base by publishing in other genres.

But how is a writer of a huge series to break the bad news to her fans?

Well it depends. If the series is at a natural stopping point, it’s easy. This is one of the advantages of an overarching Mega Problem. Once it’s solved, you can give your readers a brief glimpse into the Happily Ever After and then quit.

Hahahahaha! As if!

And the more popular, the more fans will want you notice that there’s a problem behind the problem and keep going.

In my case most of the stories are stand alones . . . but it’s one big saga with a fair amount of background that builds up. But there’s no clear cut end point. It’s just a Cross-dimensional Multiverse full of potential. It has been mentioned that it would make a great SF soap opera.

So again, why quit?

There’s a dozen reasons.

I need to broaden my reader base, so getting out of this specific sub- genre and into Time Travel, Space Opera, and Urban Fantasy sounds like a good idea. I mean, Regency Romance may sell better, but I seriously doubt I could tempt any of those readers to try my older work . . . where SO and UF have plenty of overlapping interests with my old series.

And then there’s the challenge. Something that will stretch my knowledge base and send my research in a new direction. Time Travel hurts my head, BTW. And I have zero knowledge of how Law Enforcement actually works. Which is really necessary when you’ve got a thin blue line standing up against demonically engendered werewolves. Space Opera will be the easiest, what with me being a space fanatic. All I have to do is check that what I know really is so. Ouch! Our knowledge of reality changes so fast it’s easy to fall behind.

I recommend this to all writers. It’s too easy to get into a rut, to coast. “Oh, I know everything about this Universe, after all, I created it. I don’t need to research anything!” Too easy to depend on the character building you did in the previous books and leave your character flat and uninteresting. Or viciously attack and maul him, to give some space for Mr. Perfect to (re)grow. Kill her, because you’ve come to hate her.

It’ll be a good separation, a refreshing vacation. I’ll come back to the Wine of the Gods with a new perspective, new enthusiasm.

I’m breaking the news to my fans gently. Umm, because, being an addict of my own series, I seem to have, umm, let me count. Oh bloody . . . eight stories in the pipeline. Not counting the novella that’s out with the Beta Readers. That will be published next month. So while I’m going to write other stuff this summer, I’ll also get out at least one more big Wine of the Gods book sometime this fall, and the rest at reasonable intervals. So it’s just a slow down, not really quitting.

I can get over this addiction. I can stop any time.

Can you? Tell me how that works, eh?

And, being unfortunately well acquainted with my subconscious, as soon as I post this, it will pop a story into the frontal lobes, crack the whip and make me write it . . . What’s that? Xen teams up with Ebsa, Ra’d . . . and Eldon! To defeat the Cyborg Empire!

Oh, just kill me now!
But first, buy a 99¢ short story. I promise I won’t leave [spoiler] in [spoiler] for too long.

Science Fantasy

high crusadeWhile it seems contrary, there really is a subgenre of science fiction where magic and science occupy the same plane. For about a decade, from roughly 1965-1975, there was a spate of books published by authors like Arthur Landis and Christopher Stasheff that blended the two into a harmonious whole. In a recent conversation, Christopher Stasheff revealed the reason: Lester del Rey had said not to do it. Turns out that author-fans then were as contrary as they are now, and there were promptly quite a few books written, including the Poul Anderson Three Hearts and Three Lions, which may have been the first of them. It makes me wonder if Heinlein’s Glory Road was inspired by this thrown gauntlet, as well. There are many old treasures if you haven’t read them, but they continue to this day, written by authors like Dave Freer (the Forlorn), Anne McCaffrey (Pern series), and Sarah Hoyt (Witchfinder). I’ll have a list of recommended titles up at my blog. Why am I breaking science fiction into subgenres? Well, I’m not, really. This started with the Hard SF discussion, rolled into Space Opera, and now I’m bordering on fantasy. Although I don’t plan to delve into that genre until I’ve at least covered Military SF. Science Fiction, as a genre, is like a tree. These are the branches on that tree. They may cross over one another, and be hard to pick out from a distance, but it will help a reader who likes one book to find others like it, by assigning books to branches. Each book like a leaf, rustling in the wind… Ok, enough of that metaphor. Let’s turn a new leaf and move on. Science Fantasy may be distinguished from other fantasy genres by the existence of scientific mindset at the same time as accepted magic. The magic may be explained, or not. Often in modern interpretations, like John Ringo’s Council Wars series (first book There Will be Dragons, free on Amazon) the magic is simply very, very advanced technology. I used Clarke’s Law in my young adult take on this, Vulcan’s Kittens. I wanted to introduce the concept to kids who never think about what’s in the little magic box they use for texting, and chatting, and gaming, and sometimes even making a phone call.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. —Arthur C. Clarke“Profiles of The Future”, 1961 (Clarke’s third law)

This is the driving concept behind Freer’s The Forlorn, as well. The technology has been forgotten, but the power still remains. The other book I remember vividly with a similar concept is the third in a series, David Weber’s Heirs of Empire, where fallen technology is worshipped as magic, and a stranded lifeboat of tech-savvy people have to make their way through hostile religious furor. There are a lot of this style of science fantasy out there, which border on the Space Opera branch, wielding tech like a magic wand. McCaffrey’s dragons may have been born of advanced science in the beginning of the story, but the later books certainly feel more like fantasy, even though magic is not part of the tale. On a twig near it hang the other sorts of science fantasy books, where a modern man is pitched suddenly into a world that has magic. The Wizard Recompiled by Cook is one such example, where a computer programmer is forced to learn the connections between magic and his programming skills as he struggles to survive. The parents of the genre, Anderson, Stasheff, and Landis among others, usually wrote books like this. Arguably, John Carter of Mars is science fantasy. Certainly the science bits seem far-fetched to us now, but the mindset is the same, a man of science and technology dealing with a vastly different world than his own through mysterious forces.  I’m sure there is more out there which is escaping my mind, or that I simply have not read yet. What are your favorites? I’ll add suggestions to my list.

List is now available! Click here…