Tweaking the Limits of Genre
Updated: Aug 2
Everyone from literary agents to Amazon algorithms seems to like books to clearly match a specific genre. They're easier to market, but does that make them better reading?
It's a question I've struggled with in relation to Three Kinds of North and the whole Shattered Moon series. I've written other stuff that's better-aligned with regular Science Fiction, but this saga refuses to be pigeonholed.
'Scientific romance' is an old name for what we now call science fiction, particularly the work of Jules Verne and H G Wells. But it occurred to me that, used a little differently, it could very well describe Three Kinds of North. The book is, after all, very much about the romance of science and the exhilaration of discovery. Specifically, it traces Jerya’s journey of discovery—and her subsequent realisation that all this comes at a price. There’s romance of another kind in the book too, in much more the 21st-century-fiction-genre sense—and further down the line (especially Books 3 and 4) you might even get a whiff of Jane Austen…
Alternatively, I did try calling it a cosy post-apocalyptic coming-of-age picaresque romance. How about that? Well, unless you're really into book-marketing-speak, 'cosy' probably suggests something that makes Pride and Prejudice look like Slaughterhouse Five. And 'picaresque' isn't really right either!
At least it qualifies as 'post-apocalyptic'—those moons didn't shatter all by themselves—but if you're expecting to see survivors fighting over the last morsels of rat-meat or trying to stay one step ahead of the killer robots, you're in the wrong place. It's been a long time since that apocalypse and no one really knows what happened. Things are relatively stable and even peaceful.
'Coming of age' is right too, for both the main characters, and we will follow their journeys further in Book Two and beyond.
Apart from that, my ideas on how to categorise it are still a bit misty…
UPDATE 2/8/23: I've continued thinking about this and my best one-line effort so far is: "A coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic world that may feel strangely familiar…"
Any thoughts welcome!