The Lost Genre Guild on Tour, Day 3

As the third part of the CSFF Blog Tour featuring the Lost Genre Guild, I decided to continue the discussion of terms, specifically Biblical or Christian speculative fiction—with an emphasis on the speculative side of things—which makes up the lost genre at the center of the Guild.

For one thing, on a page defining terms LGG includes a list of subgenres I found interesting:

    Alternative History
    Apocalypse or Holocaust
    Coming of Age
    Contemporary Fantasy
    Cyberpunk
    Dark Fantasy or Horror
    Dystopia
    First Contact
    Genetic Engineering
    Hard Science Fiction
    Light Fantasy
    Light Science Fiction
    Military Science Fiction
    Post-Apocalyptic or Post-Holocaust
    Social Science Fiction
    Space Opera
    Traditional Fantasy

As noted below the list, the source for this information is one D. D. Shades who wrote an extensive article entitled “What Is Speculative Fiction?” Relying on material from an Orson Scott Card’s book, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, (Writer’s Digest Books, 1990), Shade defines the term as “all stories that take place in a setting contrary to known reality.”

My first thought as I looked over the list was, Where is the supernatural suspense? These are books that would include works by Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti. There is nothing of the intent to frighten as the core purpose, so books like House and The Oath don’t seem to fit the traditional definition of horror. Works like Tosca Lee’s Demon: A Memoir and Miles Owens’ Daughter of Prophecy also have supernatural elements that put these books in a category other than those listed. Some would add in Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind books, for certainly they speculate about the fulfillment of prophecy but don’t quite fit with Post-Apocalyptic or Post-Holocaust novels.

The second thing I noticed was that allegory isn’t on the list. True, there are few actual allegories, and most today can be categorized in one of the other sub-genres, so perhaps that isn’t a significant omission.

Next I noted “Coming of Age” as a speculative category. That’s one I would leave off, for certainly many contemporary and historical novels are coming of age stories. It could be that this coming of age has a different meaning, as in the coming of age of a planet or a world or a species rather than of a single character. Still, it surprised me that it merited a category all its own.

While all this naming is interesting (at least to me 😉 ), I think it probably doesn’t play a big role in anything but marketing. The thing is, some of these categories are highly specialized, and it would seem to me that books in those areas would then have a slim niche readership they are aiming for. This seems to me to be both a strength and a weakness of “speculative fiction.”

The strength would seem to be that those readers and writers of speculative fiction have a place to go where their work is accepted and made available. The weakness seems to me to be that an impression is formed in the minds of general readers that only the niche readers will find anything to their liking in the speculative category.

Tolkien and Lewis faced some disdain for their “fairy stories,” for example. How sad if those classic works had been left to languish in a section of the bookstore reserved for “books like that” (of which none existed).

It’s a dilemma, I think. Can speculative fiction break out and become widely popular? Well, silly me, I forgot for the briefest moment a children’s series that recently seemed to do quite well—some stories by a J. K. Rowling!

Take some time to see what others on the tour have to say about the Lost Genre Guild and its many services. I especially recommend Tim Hicks’ Monday post in which he asked Frank Creed some thought-provoking questions.

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Published in: on December 31, 2008 at 12:12 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 Comments

  1. Becky–
    I too think there’s much hope. There have been greater gains for Christian spec-fic in the last ten years than in the century before, and our snowball is rolling.

    Since the literary mark of spec-fic is fiction’s greatest creativity of character and setting, I’m not surprised that we have so many sub-genres.

    The list of spec-fic sub genres on the guild’s What is Biblical Spec-Fic page says at the top “Examples of Spec-Fic”. Below is our complete list. If anyone can think of a sub-genre we missed, please let me know!

    Science Fiction

    AI
    Alien invasion
    Alternate Reality
    Apocalyptic
    Apocalypse or Holocaust
    Astrobiology
    Biopunk
    Biorobotics
    Cosy catastrophe
    Cybernetic revolt
    Cyberspace
    Cyborg
    Cyberpunk
    Cyberprep
    Dieselpunk
    Edisonade
    Extraterrestrial life
    Hard
    Hollow
    EarthHyperspace
    Light
    Military
    Multiverse
    Mundane
    New-wave
    Parallel universe
    Post-Apocalyptic
    Post-cyberpunk
    Post-Holocaust
    Retro-futurism
    Robotic
    Soft
    Space Opera
    Steampunk: Clockpunk
    Spy-fi
    Time travel
    Voyages Extraordinaires
    Wetware computer

    Fantasy

    Arthurian
    Bangsian
    Contemporary or Urban
    Dark Fantasy
    Fairytale
    High
    Historical fantasy:
    Celtic Fantasy,
    Wuxia,
    Historical high fantasy,
    Medieval fantasy
    Light Fantasy
    Low Fantasy
    Magic realism
    Traditional Fantasy
    Sword and sorcery
    Sword opera

    Horror

    Creepy kid
    Classic monsters:
    Devil/ demons, ghost,
    lycanthropic, mummy,
    vampire, zombie
    Extreme or Gore or
    Splatterpunk
    Gothic
    Haunting
    Insanity
    Lovecraftian
    Noir
    Quiet
    Psychological
    Satanic or occult
    Slasher
    Surreal or Bizarro
    Suspense
    Visceral
    Witches or Warlocks

    Crossovers
    Below is another list that can be done by more than one genre, of combined with one of the above sub-sub-genres to further categorize a story. A crossover list is necessary because an author can do with magic or tech what another has done with the supernatural. Example: while Godzilla is big monster, it’s a sci-fi story.

    Alternate history
    Big monsters
    Comic, or humor, or
    satire
    Coming of Age
    Communalness
    Dark
    Dwarfpunk
    Dystopia
    Elfpunk
    Erotic
    Furry or fuzzy
    Gothic
    Heroic
    High
    Immortality
    Japanese or
    Oriental
    Juvenile
    Low
    Lycanthropic or
    shapeshifting
    Mannerpunk
    Mythic or folk
    Paranormal
    Philosophical
    Psychic/ mind control
    Science-fantasy:
    sword & planet,
    dying Earth
    Slipstream/
    new wierd
    Social
    Soulpunk
    Superhero
    Supernatural
    Utopian
    Weird or Pulp
    Western

    Faith,
    f

    thefinishers.biz

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  2. Thanks, Frank. You’ve put together an extensive list here.

    I know you were quoting from the D.D. Shades article, so I didn’t think you were leaving out any particular sub-genre for some devious purpose. 😉 I thought it would be helpful to consider particular categories, especially since I know there are books on the shelves in those areas—in particular, ones you aren’t likely to find on a secular list.

    Becky

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  3. Becky–
    Thanks.
    Terri Main pointed out that I neglected mystery, which belongs on the crossover list.

    Faith,
    f

    thefinishers.biz

    Frank Creed.com: the official site of Flashpoint: Book One of the UNDERGROUND

    The Finishers.biz: Polishing Manuscripts until they Shine

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