Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Not sci-fi books. Honest.

When is a sci-fi book not a sci-fi book?

Last year (you may remember) I read and reviewed 'The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters' by G.W. Dahlquist. Well, the sequel - 'The Dark Volume' - is out now (hardback) and I popped into my local bookshop to see how much they were selling it for. But it wasn't in the 'Science Fiction and Fantasy' section of the shop. I found it in the 'General Fiction' section.

But the book is clearly SF. OK, it might be a pseudo-Victorian setting, but it is quite definitely 'steam-punk' SF. They have impossible technology. Characters in the book are transformed into super-human (or certainly non-human) beings. So why is this book not shelved with the rest of the SF?

Another SF book I read recently, 'The end of Mr Y' by Scarlett Thomas (hey, I don't seem to have blogged about that one; it was quite good) is similarly shelved in General Fiction, not in SF. Yet that one features time travel and rewriting history.

So when is a SF book not a SF book?

The only conclusion I can come to is that it is not considered SF when mainstream reviewers actually like it. Then they class it as literature.

I had thought perhaps it was when an author who had not previously written SF wrote a SF novel, but then I realised that G.W. Dahlquist hadn't written anything before 'Glass books'. He's never written non-SF.

Its the same on TV and in movies. You get actors being interviewed trying to play down the 'science fiction' aspect of the show or movie that they're in. You know, they might be in Heroes - which is all about superheroes - but they still make out that its not a SF/Fantasy show and claim its really all about character and drama. But so is almost all SF!

Aaaaargh! It makes me want to scream.

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At 6:43 pm, Blogger Marcus G said...

"Aaaaargh! It makes me want to scream."

So maybe it wasn't SF but Horror?

Speaking of which, three days to go to part two of the current Doctor Who story... And the dog wants me to apologise for the last comment I left.

At 7:29 pm, Blogger heather said...

And at my bookstore it was in the Historical Fiction section!!

(Even though Dahlquist clearly refrains from giving a specific time a place to his story.)

Ah, well...no matter where it's shelved it's stilled brillant! Brillant!!


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