Jay Lake's Handy Guide to Genre Distinctions

I have found genre distinctions in fiction publishing to be sometimes confusing.

To aid others in their curiosity, and planning their reading lists, I present the following handy guide.

GenreDistinguishing Characteristics

General fictionNothing to explain

Literary fictionIf I have to explain, you wouldn't understand it anyway

MysteryExplain what happened

Thriller/TechnothrillerExplain how it happened

RomanceExplain who it happened to

WesternExplain what lily-livered varmint gone and done it

HorrorExplain what's about to happen

Science FictionExplain everything in technical detail

FantasyExplain everything in nonsensical detail

Magical RealismExplain nothing

SurrealismGo fishing for ice cream

With a nod to Kelly M...

jlake@jlake.com | Home | 2003-04-30