Sunday, 12 May 2013

Is it Future History?: I need a genre

 Editing The Ancestor’s Tale, the fourth in the series is a little late, you may think, for me still to be wondering what genre The Sefuty Chronicles should be slotted in. I myself have no care - I dislike labels with a vengeance but I do realise that for many folk this categorisation is essential. So my search has been continuing off and on. I lost last year for any kind of sensible work therefore picked up the research this year and maybe just maybe I have discovered where Ellen and her companions belong. At last.

Of course I maybe wrong.

I had wandered through dystopia and apocalyptic and reluctantly decided they were not quite right, had been rubbished when suggesting romance or historical. There are further sub division I have discovered, including soft sci-fi. This interested me as 'anthropological' and' social' sci fi was included, the feminist side of it I discarded immediately as in my world women are still having babies(they do fight sometimes) and men are still fighting( they are nice people as well) - The Chronicles are a story based on reality. But society, anthropology? yes, now I was creeping closer. The Chronicles are very much about how societies manage their affairs, cope with the ever present dangers of life. This didn’t though completely explain the books. I kept these new genres to one side for the moment and continued wandering through layers and layers of Wikapedia- I’m afraid none of my books seem to bother with these genre labels - Wikapedia has a great deal to say on the matter of genres , many a happy hour can be spent exploring.

Where has this exploration led me? I went back to the ‘topians. The list of authors published under this genre included many I had enjoyed in the past. Had I been influenced by such as Huxley, Orwell, Wyndham, Ballard and Atwood? My world is certainly difficult to survive in, food security is poor, physical security the same. I always call The Sefuty Chronicles hopeful dystopia - there is no sub division for that!
However a newish sub division has crept in, neutropia = a world which is neither terrible nor perfect , such as Brave New World. Well not a bad book to stand alongside - I kid, I kid:) Another sub division is ‘eco-dystopia’, a dystopian world caused by some ecological disaster rather than political, war etc.
I could live with either, but I am still thinking that ‘topia isn’t really the full picture, what of the history? the romance?

Further investigation just this month has uncovered a few more possibilities. There is a sub genre called Future History - now there a concept to juggle with. Wikepedia is at pains to point out that if one writes in this genre there is a possibility the story will end up as Alternative History if a different reality overtakes. I personally (though I don’t expect to be alive in 2100s) wouldn’t be at all displeased to find my doomsday scenario turned out to be Alternative History, after all I would be alongside George Orwell. 
I rather fancy Future History for my Chronicles, after all they are not only set in 2160s looking back at the events of 2111, they are also set in the Archives; the relevant source materials are letters, interviews and diary extracts, and the events being examined are being written up as History publications. Yay, Yay, - knew it was historical:)

So is it a Future History, eco-dystopian with a love story or two weaving their way through? I suppose I could drop the romance description and stick to calling it a love story, after all it is love in some form or other which drives the tales. Love between man and woman but also love for children, country, between soldiers, between friends.I cannot drop the love

Is eco-dystopian a good description, well eco-neutropia would be better, as I have said there is a great deal of hope and optimism mixed with the dreadful life. I’m not sure any of the other  ‘topians really capture it.

Then I found an even shorter sub divion Cl-fi(c) = climate change related fiction:)I like this a lot, not only does it draws away from science fiction and dystopia's, the label does not pin a tale down to being Apocalyptic - climate change might not be sudden, not always bad for everyone. Cl-fi may be a recent name but of course it is not new fiction, Ballard was writing about climate change before the issue had a name(early 60s). Further reading of cli-fi and future history and neutropia is needed and I will report in the future. However for the moment I am happy with these labels.

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