In this month’s SFX magazine (issue 186) (I don’t normally buy sci-fi magazine but a front cover about Stargate is definitely going to get my attention) they have a great article called ‘Caught in the slipstream’ by Jonathan Wright.
The article looks at the difference between a literary and science fiction. Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is a prime example. Niffenegger’s novel has elements of science fiction but she is filed under the ‘fiction’ section in a bookshop.
Even George Orwell’s 1984 has this problem – straddling both genres.
Sterling coined the phrase ‘Slipstream fiction.’ I have also heard it being called speculative fiction.
A good definition from Wikipedia: “Slipstream falls between speculative fiction and mainstream fiction. While some slipstream novels employ elements of science fiction or fantasy, not all do. The common unifying factor of these pieces of literature is some degree of the surreal, the not-entirely-real, or the markedly anti-real.” Read more here.
My novel in progress would probably be classed in the same manner. A bit of both. I would probably be shouted at by a lot of writers and writing books – because YOU MUST WRITE TO A SPECIFIC GENRE. I’m sorry but we live in an age where genre borders have blurred and where writing should be judged for the quality. When I was a bookseller, I wished for crime, sci-fic and the classics to all be in one ultimate fiction section. I bet customers who would not been seen dead over in the sci-fi corner would have picked up a Neil Gaiman or two.