Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mundane SF

Perhaps you've already heard of Mundane SF? If not you may like to know that it's a "new" idea being touted by a guest editor of Interzone, the UK's foremost SF mag.

When my novel Hybrids was published I was bemused to learn that it was to be marketed as science fiction. Somewhat naively I didn't think I was writing SF.

It's obvious in retrospect, but the elements they think of as SF I thought were metaphorical. After all, is Kafka an SF writer?

My agent says that is what I must continue to write. This is fine by me. Except the thing is I don't read all the stuff people normally call SF - space opera etc.

Now I find there's Mundane SF, which Hybrids possibly fits into. This is because Hybrids, like MundaneSF, contains no faster than light travel, psi power, aliens, computer consciousness, teleportation or time travel.

The following usual suspects form some of my touchstones - Kafka, Orwell, Burroughs, Dick, Ballard. Perhaps they are 'Mundane SF'?

My reservation is that the term 'Mundane' seems a put-off - as if the subgenre isn't interesting.

HarperCollins thinks that SF will be the next big thing for kids - we've had enough fantasy.

I hope so. I plan to keep writing this kind of SF.

InterZone is now accepting submissions for their Mundane SF issue. I've submitted a short story. I'm not at all sure if it's SF, but really, why do we need labels at all?

> Want to read more?
> MundaneSF Blog


Will_Couper said...

Yeah, Mundane SF doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

When I read the title I thought you were going to start talking about SF stories that were run of the mill or the same as what everyone else is writing.

Something snappier like Streetlevel SF or Plainlife SF would be be more inspiring.


goatchurch said...

Hard SF could have been the correct term, but it is already taken by space opera.

"Mundane" is the term SF fans call those who are not SF fans, and who therefore might have the mistaken belief that SF has something to do with Science -- as in what Scientists are these days telling us about.

There are some major major big stories which the scientists are telling us about, daily, but the genre is too busy playing with its set of baubles to give it any consideration.

David T said...

So it's a contemptuous tag from the hardcore Sf fans rather than a selling tag for the general readership. That's not gonna shift many titles, if you ask me.

goatchurch said...

Well, for one issue of a subscription magazine (ie captive audience) after all the other obvious labels have been thought of by thousands of other people who have spent lifetimes thinking up such, it'll probably do for now, don't you think? At least it's short and unmistakable and annoys all the right people.

I'll leave the issue of "shifting many titles" to the experts who are in the business of doing that sort of thing, since they are subject to no other priorities whatsoever -- that's the key to their success. It's best not to make ones requirements so limited that you end up doing nothing.

David T said...

Ah, ok. Apologies. Having just come across the term I couldn't tell if it had just been created for this ish of InterZone or if it had a wider currency as a publishers' sub-genre. You've cleared that up for me, thanks.