The Great Genre Debate

I’d have a hard time swallowing an argument that Game of Thrones and Dune aren’t in the same overarching genre. Maybe they’re not the same species, but at least the same genus. Would you disagree?

So what do we call that genus? Science-fiction? There’s not really any science in Game of Thrones. Though, there’s not really any hard science in Dune either—just some fantastical technology.

Fantasy? Both are set in mythical realms. However, the word fantasy brings to my mind dragons and dwarves and other magical creatures that dwell in our collective subconscious concept of medieval fairytale worlds. Dune clearly lacks those…or does it? Aren’t sandworms just another type of wyrm? And certainly there’s plenty of medieval-style feudal warfare in Dune.

I don’t have a great answer. But what to call the genre I’m a part of is a question I think about often as an SF&F writer. My own work especially eschews putting a hard line between the “SF” and the “F.” In fact, I like to bold that ampersand in the middle. And that’s not new ground to tread by any means. What is Star Wars if not an attempt to wrench outer-space away from those speculating about the future of the human race and put it back into the realm of fairytales?

What do you think? Speculative fiction? SF&F? Separate science-fiction from fantasy from speculative fiction entirely? And, if you’ve read my writing, what does my work fall into?

3 thoughts on “The Great Genre Debate

  1. Worldbuilding. And it encompasses Kulthea as well, even if it’s a game and not a book.

    It’s a skill in of itself — creating a world that is self-consistent, plausible — and real seeming.

    Of course, Jordan and GRRM have a subspeciality: writing for spergers.

    • A vote for world building. I tend to shy away from full on Jordan-level world building. But I definitely enjoy a good game world. I find guides to RPG worlds more fun than the RPGs they’re from sometimes.

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