Science Fiction and Fantasy Need a Divorce
As an author of contemporary fantasy and magical realism, I shudder in my boots every year when I see the best books in these separate genres mixed together in “top books” feature stories.
The genres can overlap, but at their basic levels, fantasy is about magic in our world or other worlds, science fiction is about science often in the distant future, and magical realism is a blend of realistic settings with an overlay of fully accepted magical events.
The reason I shudder in my books (not that I’m really wearing boots) when I see these year-end lists, is that it’s confusing to readers seeing apples and oranges listed together. Sometimes, the comments don’t make it clear which genre each book is in. But even when they do, one has to weed through the genre s/he doesn’t read to find the best of the genre s/he does read.
As I commented on one list, putting science fiction and fantasy together is like putting the year’s best tractors and the year’s best salad dressings on the same list. Doing that is unfair to both genres. Authors and readers are cheated because the lists have to make room for opposing genres instead of, say, giving us the top 25 fantasy and the top 25 science fiction. We get best 12.5 of each.
I don’t expect this to change any time soon. But I can hope.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Sarabande,” a contemporary fantasy that has nothing to do with spaceships, droids, or other “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” technology. By the way, check out the “Sarabande” giveaway on GoodReads up until November 26.