The Marketing Category is Dead! Long Live the Genre!

Aug 8, 01:00 by IROSF
Comment below!
Aug 8, 06:31 by Philip Kaldon
Hear-hear! SF is SF because we say its SF. What shelf it sits on at the bookstore is most definitely a marketing decision and the industry's dirty little secret. Lots of people run from the SF label. The producer of Battlestar Galactica claimed it wasn't SF -- and tried to explain that it was about people. As if there is no SF about people. Sigh.

Dr. Phil
Aug 8, 16:18 by Blue Tyson
There are plenty of other libraries with rocket ship type stickers, don't worry. :)
Aug 8, 18:18 by Amy Jansen
I live in South Africa and my local library uses rocket stickers for science fiction books. (Fantasy-novels get castles...)
Aug 8, 19:44 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Oh, it's nice to know the rocket ship stickers still live. And I thought our small town library was the only one. :-)

Yeah, this not sf thing. I think we sf folks did a poor job marketing our category. We scared readers away--never a good thing. I really love this genre and want others to as well.

Kris
Aug 9, 02:48 by Blue Tyson
Nope, in small towns and big cities, in more than one country. :)
Aug 9, 14:28 by JM Cornwell
I loved Andre Norton's stories, be they science fiction or fantasy, especially the fantasy because there were still elements science in the fiction. She was one of my first favorite SF writers and still is. I go back to her stories time and time again.

I have no fear of science fiction and head straight to that part of the bookstore and I look for old favorites and wait to be enticed by new writers. I am never disappointed.
Aug 9, 23:11 by J Andrews
Our library uses 'S.F.' and 'Fantasy' stickers. Mysteries get 'M' and Westerns get 'W' (Yea, we have a Westerns section!!) Off the top of my head, I think only the Christian fiction gets any sort of picture on its sticker.

Very boring stickers, we have.

It's really hard to find a particular science fiction book at the library, because it might be in the sf/f section, or the sf/f paperback section, or the ya section, or the kid's room, or maybe it's hanging out in regular fiction.. but if it's Charlaine Harris's vampires, they could be mystery or romance or.. well, they're just all over the place.

What would it be like if libraries took a hard-nosed stance and any science fiction or fantasy element got a book over in that section? Well, it wouldn't be an alcove or two at the back of the library, that's for sure.
Aug 10, 20:36 by Bluejack
As a kid in the early 70's, my library had a nucleus & electrons sticker for SF. I don't remember fantasy.
Aug 11, 04:43 by Matt Bruensteiner
If your "good riddance" to "narratives that rely on lovely language without a character point" means no more Gene Wolfes, Samuel Delaneys or, say, Matt Hugheses, then I hope you've got it all wrong (though I guess in your world those guys could get shelved with Chabon or something).

If you mean "good riddance" to all the many replicators of E.E. Smith, then, well, sure, but has that stuff really made it in to print so often in the last 40 years?
Aug 11, 20:29 by D. Nicklin-Dunbar
Orson Scott Card . . . ha{s} blogged about this, {he} think{s} the cutting edge has moved away from SF.


The cutting edge has moved away from Card.

Other than that, "Science Fiction is dead! Long live Science Fiction" should be our rallying cry. Personally, I foresee a Speculative Fiction section at bookstores rather than the usual Science Fiction/Fantasy. Such a section would easily cover S/F, F and those darned slipstream/bestsellers that "aren't really science fiction, trust us". Just so long as Oprah and her ilk don't go near it, I'll be happy.
Aug 13, 11:48 by Nader Elhefnawy
Agreed about the publicity for BSG. It was truly pathetic and stupid (as I've written in many of my articles), which was oddly apt given that the show was such medicore SF.

I grew up taking the stickers for granted, too, though I think the ones my library uses now omit the graphic-and yeah, that kind of thing's always porous.

I do think the "speculative" label has its uses, but also its pitfalls-which I think quickly become apparent when one watches the stuff gathered together under the heading on the Sci-Fi Channel for any length of time (far too much C-grade horror, and now reality shows and wrestling); and would share your relief at Oprah staying far, far away.

I haven't previously read (or located) Card's essay, yet, but will look into it, having written at length about that issue myself.
Aug 14, 21:06 by Daniel M. Kimmel
I'm going to take a slightly different angle. I don't dispute anything you said (and am, sadly, all too aware of how the bean counters have taken over publishing) but as a film critic and as someone who teaches film at the college level, I feel genre is alive and well and not just as a marketing tool.

I made a point in my review of the movie of "The Time Traveler's Wife" that, of course, it's SF. And that its focus on characters and relationships proves it's *good* SF. I agree with observers like you and David Langford that there's a lot of snobbery and misinformation out there among mainstream critics and journalists, but when I look at the top 25 or top 50 box office hits of all time, it's hard to argue that SF is dead. Indeed, this is shaping up to be an outstanding year for SF film.

So I don't believe SF is going away. It may be redefined. It may overlap with other genres (as if that hasn't happened before) but it's alive and well in books, on TV, and on the big screen. And genre remains a useful *tool* -- not an end in itself -- in categorizing our expectations and our experiences with a given work.
Aug 18, 07:39 by Kaylene McInnes
There is of course another 'Genre' for the works of Mr Brown and the likes. Those books that are poorly written and have no literary value whatsoever. its called Collective, Raping, All, Personalities or C.R.A.P.

But i say good luck to him and his millions, it inspires some that may in the future be able to write a classic.

Andrew McInnes
Sep 4, 18:47 by Marta Murvosh
Regarding "... we should shelve the J.D. Robb books and Jasper Fforde and Linnea Sinclair in the SF section," it's already happening at least in my corner of the Northwest.

My local Borders Express here is Skagit County, Wa., has been shelving urban fantasies in both SF and romance and paranormal/SF romance in SF as well as romance for several months.

The manager, Shane, who loves SF, told me that this cross pollination has increased his sales in both sections.

His store is unusual in that SF outsells romance. The sailors at the nearby Navy base love SF and they stock up before they leave for those nine- to 12-month deployments.

Also, Shane and Pam owner of The Tattered Page, our local independent used/new bookseller refer their customers to each other adding to the cross pollination.
Jan 3, 04:12 by 18k@johnlunn.com
As a YA SF writer, I hope we aren't going extinct!
I know the genre has troubles but there is time and room for inclusion. Of course...I don't mind being recategorized as dypeptic or whatever. As long as the kids can enjoy my books.
   

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