Writers of a certain stripe hate fiction genres. Committed writers focus on character and plot, and the fact that a story takes place in space or another historical era is secondary. Writers can live with basic genres, such as science fiction or mystery, but when things get fine-grained, such as paranormal romance (the Twilight series, for example), they have a tendency to go ape-shit. The labels are too constraining, too arbitrary, they complain. And when you bring up the newest sub-genres, such as “solarpunk” or “climate fiction,” you get strange looks or outright hostility, pure and simple.
I once thought I wrote science fiction, but my editor on Carbon Run convinced me that it’s a dystopian thriller, more in line with Hunger Games than Star Trek. In truth, only booksellers care about genre, apart from the readers they’ve trained. Genres are simply conveniences that writers have to live with. Put another way, genres are the old solution to the discoverability problem: How do writers find readers and vice versa? You want sci-fi, you look on the sci-fi shelf, or enter “sci-fi” in the Amazon search box.
As I reach the two-thirds point in the first draft of my current novel Antarctica 2261, I have to make a decision on where it belongs genre-wise. This will help with pitches to agents and publishers, and for discoverability should I decide to self-publish. In 23rd century Antarctica, desperate climate refugees set out to find a mythical utopia at the bottom of the world. Sento, a young woman with an obsessive drive to move south to find her lost identity, accompanies pilgrims searching for the mythical city, while a government official does all she can to stop them. Help me decide which genre my novel belongs in by answering the poll below.
None of these work for you? Suggest a genre in the comments.