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Genre: Dystopia?

Posted: September 14th, 2010, 12:49 pm
by Netti
Does anyone know what genre dystopia falls under? I was thinking it's just literary fiction but am not sure. And my novel is in no way YA so it can't even fall under that category.

Thanks.

Re: Genre: Dystopia?

Posted: September 14th, 2010, 1:29 pm
by polymath
Dystopia generally falls under soft science fiction for its futuristic and fantastical social circumstance premises. However, mainstream fiction dystopias are not necessarily fantastical or futuristic. Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, for example, is a dystopian novel in the sense of its social circumstances' settings, ideas, events, and characters.

Re: Genre: Dystopia?

Posted: September 14th, 2010, 2:05 pm
by Netti
So when I start querying what agents do I query to? Because there's nothing particularly sci-fi about my novel. It's only fifty years into the future and there's some mention of hovering cars and solar power but that's it.

Re: Genre: Dystopia?

Posted: September 14th, 2010, 2:36 pm
by polymath
Futuristic pretty much puts it imprecisely in the science fiction camp. If a future setting is the only speculative premise, it's what I would call speculative fiction, where one speculative premise sets a narrative in a proxy reality that doesn't in any greatly intrinsic way impact the plot. If that's the case, many agents and screening readers will insist on rewrites or blanket reject on sight because the speculative premise isn't as intrinsic as they prefer.

Taking out a speculative premise shouldn't appreciably alter a speculative fiction narrative, though the speculative premise should enhance the narrative.

However, the fantastical genre crowd have co-opted the speculative fiction term for all science fiction, fantasy, horror, and supernatural genre.

Which agents? Ones who consider both soft science fiction and social fiction based premises. The narrowest target agents would be the ones who share my understanding of what speculative fiction means.

Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 is a noteworthy example of speculative fiction set in a futuristic dystopian society.

Re: Genre: Dystopia?

Posted: September 15th, 2010, 11:27 am
by Jaime
Hi Netti,

I think Dystopian is getting its own genre description these days. I specifically asked Jessica Faust what she was looking for right now (in #askagent on Twitter), and she replied:

"I'm looking for a great book that's different and exciting. I love dystopian right now as well as steampunk . . . but I'm open to all . . . "

I would think that if agents as reputable as her are describing it as a genre, then I would feel safe in doing the same :)