Friday, May 18, 2018

New or Obscure Speculative Fiction Subgenres - A Guest Post by J.E. Purrazzi

Are you looking for some new genres to read? I hope so. This post is full of great book recommendations in new, cool genres and, by the time you're done reading it, you'll find yourself wanting to read all of them. You'll also find yourself wanting to read everything ever written by J.E. Purrazzi, the author of this post. Jill happens to know more about the written word than most people. Not only does she know how to write an amazing novel, but she knows an epic amount about genres, must-reads, and books in general. So take a deep breath, get a pen and notepad out, and dive into her brilliant list of subgenres and recommended reads: 

Genre is a tricky concept. It might not seem like it. I mean, A Science Fiction novel and a contemporary romance are pretty distinct from one another, right?

Yes and no. Genre is a tool for marketers to be able to best reach their audience, but often their reach is too broad.

For instance, “Science Fiction” could mean Star Wars, or it could mean “The Martian” by Andy Weir, or it could mean “The Host” by Stephenie Meyers.

That is why subgenres exist. For example, Star Wars and books like it, aren’t just Science Fiction, it’s a Space Fantasy.

But we know about subgenres? It’s not that strange of a concept. The problem is, unlike Genre, which tends to be really stable, subgenres are constantly shifting. New subgenres pop up every day. Books tend to bleed through one subgenre into another, or fit into more than one. And many subgenres have multiple titles, or are so wide that they almost need more subgenres. Worse yet, some subgenres fit under multiple genres. Like Dystopian, for instance, wich can fit under Science Fiction, or Fantasy, or even, at times, Realism.

Despite that, I still think it’s valuable, both as a reader and as a writer, to keep up to date with the changing subgenres and to always be on the hunt for more. The better you know what tones and tropes you enjoy, the more effectively you can find the books you love, or find an audience for the books you write.

In honor of that, and because I am a speculative fiction writer, I wanted to introduce you all to a few of my favorite new or obscure Speculative Fiction Subgenres.
New or Obscure Speculative Fiction Subgenres - A Guest Post by J.E. Purrazzi
Firstly, let me define “Speculative Fiction”, since not everyone knows what that is and how I am using the title here.

Speculative Fiction: A category of books that require imagination or speculation as opposed to “Realism” which assumes the constraints of the real world. Usually Science Fiction, Fantasy, and some Horror fall into these guidelines. Though books tend to fall on a spectrum and sometimes don’t fit entirely into one category or another.

And now, let me introduce you to some of my favorite new or obscure genres that fall into the Speculative Fiction category.

Animal Fantasy:
How many of you have read “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White as a child? Or who has read “The Animal Farm” by George Orwell in school?

These books belong to a subgenre of Fantasy known as “Animal Fantasy”. Usually used in children’s books and movies to great effect, it really is underestimated. There are not a lot of solid tropes associated with animal fantasy and it is quite a broad genre. Sometimes it takes place in an alternative version of the “real world” or it might be a totally different universe. Sometimes there is only one animal, sometimes it’s an entire cast of them. Sometimes you will see animals behaving as people. Other times the only difference from typical animals is that they speak.

But whether it is in a children’s book, or in a darker, adult tale, there are a lot of things that the presence of talking animals can bring to a story.

Nonsense: The “Nonsense” Subgenre is a collision between Speculative Fiction and comedy. Often taking form in some kind of Satire, the “Nonsense” subgenre derives humor from the out-of-place happenings in them, especially when those happenings are treated in a cavalier way. Comedic writings in general, will use an overtone of “Nonsense” to add a lighter tone to their books, even if they don’t fully fit into the category.

Nonsense books often use dry humor, a light tone, and take a very unique look at otherwise dark events. They are not just for humor alone. Many “nonsense” books use this style to face very dark themes in an endearing and comforting way.

Cyberpunk and Biopunk: The world has become familiar with Cyberpunk as of recently. It’s still relatively obscure but most of us would recognize what it looks like if we saw it. The reason why I include Biopunk in with it is because, even though we can argue that the very first “Science Fiction” book was a Biopunk book, Biopunk is just emerging and still often looks a lot like Cyberpunk, It often blends in with it, as writers test the new boundaries of the subgenre.

Cyberpunk and Biopunk both deal with the blending of humans and technology. Cyberpunk specifically with the concept of human colliding with machine. Biopunk with the effects technology has on the biological. Basically, expect a lot of really cool cyborgs and mutants. Both deal with the near future, often one that is dark or dystopian (thus the “punk” element), and usually on earth in an urban setting, though this is starting to change. Themes like “What is humanity?” “Technology is a double-edged sword” and “can we play God and get away with it?” are very common with dehumanization at the core of its storytelling.

Most people think “Blade Runner” almost exclusively when they think of Cyberpunk so the subgenre has very quickly stagnated. But as technology starts emerging that make these genres more and more a reality, these things are starting to change. And finally Cyberpunk is starting to reach out of the “Noir” setting and cliche “detective” storyline to take on new questions.

NobleBright Fantasy: NobleBright Fantasy is the answer to contentions caused by “GrimDark” Fantasy, a subgenre that emphasises darkness, death, and nihilism.

NobleBright, like LIT RPG and Biopunk, is in its infancy. Because of that, it's hard to nail down. Right now, it is more of a movement than anything. It’s an attempt to bring heroism, meaning, and maybe a bit of escapism, back into our fantasy books.

While GrimDark ignores the concept of good and evil and applies “morally gray” characters throughout the whole story, NobleBright clings to some modicum of right and wrong. While GrimDark denies us an escape into fantasy, filling the pages with rape, torture, murder and hopelessness, Noblebright tends to stay a bit more on the “light reading” side.

That isn’t to say that NobleBright doesn't use any of these tools. But what Noblebright does is present a clear picture of Good and Evil (even if it’s not a simplistic depiction) and gives a solid, positive message through the narrative. And often, because it’s calling back to older values, NobleBright uses classical “medieval” fantasy structure. Though it isn’t a rule for the genre.

Noblebright also tends to stay a bit on the “cleaner” side. While there might be some minor violence or some swearing, mostly this fantasy tends to stay pretty “light”. Probably the most important aspect of NobleBright, however, is the presence of a real “hero.”

Antiheroes don’t cut it in this genre.

Because of the themes and values, most Christian fantasy tends to fall in the lines of NobleBright fantasy. Most MG fantasy could be called NobleBright as well.
There are many more wonderful subgenres we could explore. As I said, they are always growing and changing. New subgenres are popping up daily as readers look for new ways to find their favorite books, and writers and publishers look for ways to provide them. What are some of your favorite subgenres? What tropes would you love to see turn into their own subgenres? And if you are a writer, where do your books fit? Or do they straddle a few?

I told you she knows a lot about writing. I'm curious: How many have you read of the books she listed here? I've read 26 and am feeling rather proud of myself. Leave a comment below and tell us which ones you're read! 

After you do that, be sure to follow J.E. Purrazzi everywhere to get more of her awesomeness: 

Also allow me to steer you towards her recommendations page on her website. She keeps a list of awesome indie published books there. It's organized by genre and it's glorious. She'll even make you a personalized list of book recommendations if you ask nicely. How cool is that? 

And that concludes our book nerd post for today. Be sure to follow Jill, subscribe to her site, read her books, and say hello!

Related articles: 
12 Fiction Genres You've Probably Never Heard Of
A List of Great Self-Published Books You Should Read (Part 1)
A List of Great Self-Published Books You Should Read (Part 2)

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  1. These kinds of lists are so helpful! Genre is really confusing sometimes. Thanks for sharing!

  2. You've read Methuselah's Gift and Methuselah's Heart?! I'm over here fangirling! I haven't met a fellow reader of these books since I was a kid. My third grade teacher first introduced our class to the books, then took us to meet the author. I've been hooking on writing ever since.

    Great post! I'll definitely be adding some more books to my list.


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