Over at Pimp My Novel, Eric recently did a multi-part analysis of book sales, broken down by genre.
He says science fiction is likely to be sold under another label, like fantasy or thriller. I think this is a good thing, because it shows that people still like it. The numbers on hard-core science fiction books are down, but I think that’s because it’s acceptable to have a little sci-fi in your mainstream now, or a science element in fantasy. We might stop classifying our sub-genres by subject matter, and start classifying them by writing style. This is probably already happening informally (like when they put in a blurb, “In the tradition of Stephen King” or whatever) but what if you walked into a bookstore and the signs over the shelves said, “Thoughtful,” or “Flowery” or “Hip” or “Wry”?
Or what if they started naming the sections after the big-name authors? I could read a book about knitting if I enjoyed the author’s voice, so I would go directly to the Stephen King section without worrying about a traditional genre. Realistically I know that wouldn’t work, because there are too many influential, distinct voices to have a section for every one, but you see where I’m going. The way we’ve classified our genres isn’t as cut and dried anymore. Look at Young Adult. It’s supposedly a genre unto itself, but YA can encompass anything at all, from vampires to drugs to cancer. Crossover is becoming the new norm.
Speaking of crossover, I have a book idea that melds fantasy and hard core science fiction, with a romantic element thrown in. Where would that go?