The other day I typed “fantasy” into the search bar on Flipboard (part social app, part magazine and news app—kinda like Alltop, Guy Kawasaki’s app for newsworthy topics) and got the icon of an open book with the label “Sci-Fi & Fantasy.” I thought—even here?
No matter if you’re searching through the aisles at Barnes and Noble or Amazon’s massive website or entering a writing contest, Sci-Fi is usually lumped with Fantasy as one genre. Some writing contests just list Science Fiction—no Fantasy mentioned anywhere. Does that mean you can submit your fantasy work under Science Fiction or are they not including Fantasy?
I heard a simple definition of how to distinguish between Science Fiction and Fantasy—one has machines and technology, one has magic and spells and fantastic creatures. Distinctive enough for each to have their own genre.
Would you recommend “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter” to the same readers as “The Martian” and “Ender’s Game”? Who decided to lump these mostly divergent types of fiction into one genre?
This clumping of such different types of fiction is a major disadvantage for writers of either genre when they enter contests. How would you like for your “Elves Rise Against Wizards in Glithland” fantasy to be judged against the science fiction “3020: Flight from Earth: Junk Space Stations Colonize Saturn’s Rings”? I wouldn’t. I also wouldn’t like to judge the entries—the old cliché of apples and oranges.
But it’s more like cotton candy and green beans.
I’m both a SciFi and Fantasy fan, love the nerdy techie stuff and, in another realm, soar with the magic. And there are many who feel the same way, but there are also SciFi fans who don’t get fantasy and vice versa.
Next time all of you SciFi and Fantasy writers enter a contest or you readers peruse the shelves at Barnes and Noble, think about how much simpler it would be for everyone if the powers that be would simply break up this category.
Here’s how it would look:
Science Fiction (Aisle 20-22)
Fantasy (Aisle 30- 32)