CaptureESFTSMButterflyDonnie DarkoTotalRecallMatrix

For awhile now, I’ve struggle to put what I write into a genre. None of the standard available categorizations ever seem to fit. The lack of accuracy perpetually grates on me, it feels like I’m forced to put stories in a category that is false advertising.

The problem is, I’m looking for a pairing of elements that isn’t named because its seldom done: Psychology and Science Fiction. These are the films/books I end up being the most excited about when I read their synopsis or see their trailer. I’d also argue it’s a pairing that is one of the most difficult to pull off successfully.

Science Fiction is generally described as: literary fantasy involving the imagined impact of technology on society.

This definition would fit in a general way, but I gravitate toward stories at the level of the individual. I want to experience characters in a situation that is feasible given the right technology (no magic required), and I want to explore what effects this has on a very isolated personal level.

Now, disclaimer, all the films I have included images of here are not necessarily “good” films. I put Transcendence in and I haven’t even seen it. The success or failure of these stories fell on the way the writer/director/actors explored the situations. What they all share is a very good idea that makes them interesting. Take The Butter Fly Effect: Great idea, poorly explored and acted.

I included The Game because, even thought there is no science fiction, one had to withstand a considerable amount of disbelief to buy that the ending was actually something that a group of people could pull off. Still, I love this movie.

Now, a lot of people could argue that a number of these are science fiction action adventure stories. I argue that Star Wars is a better fit for such a description. The difference being where the focus of the story lies. The puzzling out that a character has to do to achieve their end goal is the key difference. Star Wars plots are not about solving a complex mental puzzle, they’re about, for lack of a better description, action and adventure.

I like the idea of a Psy-Fi genera.  Admittedly, it couldn’t actually be named that as it would be confusing as hell in a conversation. I’d be happy with Mind Bending Science Fiction, its often used to describe these films/stories anyway.

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9 thoughts

  1. I worry that if my book can’t be placed in the most marketable, sellable pile, my MS won’t even be looked at. It’s gotten to the point where I may have to pitch it as paranormal romance just so that it gets a look in ( it’s young adult). It’s a sad reality, and although I wouldn’t change the MS and where I wanted it to head, it might allow me a second chance 😦

    1. Hi Lorelle! Thanks for the comment. I feel the same way. The closest option I had for The Never Hero was Sci-Fi – Superhero. It works, but wasn’t a mainstream category that I wanted the book listed in, mostly because it was a category targeted at adolescent males. I ended up switching it to Action Adventure which was a little broader. Though still, I’d say its more psychological than any of those other options. What’s the title of your book?

  2. I’m with you. First book I published would have suited a psychological sci-fi category. Now I’ve shot myself in the foot by writing a hard-boiled paranormal novel. Similarly, I look at examples of film and TV that prove there’s an audience (or at least there was an audience). I agree that there should at least be a catch-all sub genre that gives people a place to search for alternative titles under the parent categories. What if readers are like music listeners and seeking something different? The Alternative category in music is a parent category, and things get more obscure and twisted as you dig deeper. That’s the kind of choice I think readers should have.

    1. Hi Glenn, Thanks for the response. I’ve come to just refer to ‘my genre’ as science fantasy of late. It doesn’t really hint at the psychological side of things but I like the sound of it. Feel its gives a sense of surrealism within the realm of a scientific explanation of plot point as opposed to magic.

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