Defining Science Fiction and Fantasy
Science Fiction is often described as stories dealing with the scientifically possible where science takes a major role in the story. Fantasy, within the Sci-fi & Fantasy genre, is described as stories dealing with the scientifically impossible in a fantastic world. It is an incomplete definition, but it does leave a lot of room for interpretation, and hence my following words of opinion:
The other night I was doing a bit of marketing research and decided to do a head count of the types of books listed in the Amazon Kindle top 100 best selling ebooks in the Science Fiction and Fantasy category. One thing I encountered, and didn’t really expect, was the high percentage of Paranormal Romance novels that are being marketed in this category.
By Paranormal Romance, I mean books featuring wimpy, twilight-ish, 1000 year old vampires whose main interest is chasing down nubile young teenaged girls (I always thought that classified as pedophilia?). Those wimpy boy-toys are nothing like the original nosferatu written about by Bram Stoker…now that vampire was scary!
The other category of books in this grouping are what is now called shifting romances. I had to look that one up. Apparently what we used to just call plain old werewolves or, in spin offs, were-creatures, are today now sexy beefcakes that like to get it on with human females, who in turn are very excited by the idea of being ravaged by a hairy beast. Apparently it’s all the rage. Go figure.
My question after all this review of the contents of the Science Fiction and Fantasy to 100 best sellers was…what the hell does any of that romance/erotica crap have to do with the genre it is being marketed under? What does Amazon think it is doing? If you took those books out (I estimated it was between 10 to 15 titles) it would have made room for other books more appropriate to the genre in question.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind a little sex in a well written story, as long as the purpose of the sex is incidental and not the main focus on the book. Once it becomes the main selling point of the book, then it becomes smut (or erotica in polite circles).
I recognize that sex sells. How else can you explain the shear number of erotica titles being marketed on Amazon? How can you explain the runaway success of books like “50 Shades of Gray” except that women readers like to read something steamy? I get that. But take away the main character’s billions, then put him in a trailer park, and the story of 50 shades would be more appropriately shown on an episode of “Criminal Minds”, don’t you think?
I think that the idea of Fantasy, as discussed in the genre Science Fiction and Fantasy, has become co-opted by people who don’t understand our genre. It you look at is seriously, every novel is a fantasy. Amazon gives lots of virtual shelf space to paranormal romance, erotica, women’s literature, etc., all of which are code words for “smut for women”. Why do they need to take up valuable space in the Science Fiction and Fantasy category to market that stuff.
C’mon, Amazon. Give us a break, would ya?