The World in the Satin Bag has moved to my new website.  If you want to see what I'm up to, head on over there!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Crossing Genres: Is Cross Genre SF Killing Science Fiction?

Somewhere in the genre community there is someone blaming the death of science fiction on all those bastards mixing their filthy mysteries and romances with the hardcore awesomeness of SF. I don't know where they are, but knowing the SF/F community as well as I do, I have no doubt that they exist, frothing at the mouth every time an author like Michael Chabon or Richard Morgan or *insert cross genre author here* tosses out a new, critically acclaimed book. After all, cross genre SF is a terrible amalgam that is systemically tearing down science fiction, piece by piece, right?

Hardly. Cross genre is perhaps the best thing to happen to science fiction since the golden age, at least as far as being an intentional "movement." What cross genre does is exactly what science fiction needs to convince people that it's not the same thing it always was, that it's not the spaceships and explosions and Star Wars/Star Trek rip-offs that too many people have allowed to flood their minds. It's more than that. It's complicated narratives involving anything from intense murder mysteries to complex relationships to interstellar battles. Spaceships and explosions may exist, but they are not contingent; they are probably elements of a particular brand of SF, a brand that cross genre circumvents, or, perhaps less negatively, moves around to take the genre in new directions.

SF, ultimately, is better off with these non-traditional narratives injected into it. We need the mixture in SF as much as we need ideas and strong prose, especially if SF expects to survive and continue to be relevant. SF has to be able to move around, to work its way into the cracks of other genres and remind people that it's there and ready to cause some literary damage.

What do you think of cross genre SF? Do you hate it or think it's great? Let me know!

Related Posts by Categories

Widget by Hoctro | Jack Book


  1. Oh, is science fiction dead again?

    That keeps happening.

  2. I don't think it ever actually died. It's like the undead. You can keep shooting the body and burying it, but it will always come back when someone screws with a chemical weapon or an ancient book of death...

  3. Science Fiction will never be dead. There are certain authors that people will always love to read. There will always be novels and series people will read again and again. Crossing genres is a great idea. I think it brings new readers into the genre and will make them want to read more and more pure science fiction. Also vice-veresa. I always think its a good thing just to get people reading new authors and new genres.

  4. Anonymous2:25 AM

    Star Wars itself is arguably cross-genre, given the western/samurai/sea-saga/fighter-ace roots of the original movie.

    Of course, Lucas's favorite samurai filmmaker was influenced by westerns.

    Cross-pollination seems inevitable.

  5. Jodi: I agree. Not much to say except that :P.

    Tomag: Cross-pollination doesn't seem inevitable, it is inevitable. To be fair, I don't think cross genre is actually all that new. It's been around since the dawn of SF, we just didn't call it cross genre, or didn't draw attention to it as we are now.

  6. Science fiction is all about crossing genres. You've got sci-fi with romance, military, thriller, detective, and many others. It's not anything new, it's simply being referred to as something new, which is just a reader's way to identify what they like within the vast genre of science fiction.

    Personally I've not seen or heard this mentioned anywhere, so I was a little surprised to read your assumptions about what readers within the genre say when you haven't provided any examples...

  7. Mark: I wasn't blaming readers. I said somewhere out in the SF/F community there is someone throwing a fit. I never said that it applied to the readership as a whole.

  8. I appreciate what you're saying Shaun, it just felt like you were making a comment without any evidence as such.

  9. I didn't really need evidence. I was making a point. The point wasn't about SF's death or anyone making the claim that cross genre is doing it. The point was that cross genre is good for SF. I wasn't pointing to any particular individual, or any group, just making a general observation.

    If you wanted evidence, I suppose I could go off and point to those who dislike SF mixing with romance, but, again, that wasn't the point of my post.