Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Magic Doors: Sci-fi or Fantasy?

Like most authors, I am pathologically fascinated by reviews of my books: moments of joy interspersed with episodes of tooth-gnashing fury and bewilderment. I've been enjoying the reviews of The Obsidian Blade (one week to pub date!) both because they have been generally positive, and because the reactions have been so wildly mixed. Two contradictory points of view that have come up repeatedly in some of the early blog reviews are (I am paraphrasing): "I don't usually like science fiction, but I loved this book," and "Suitable only for hard-core science fiction fans."
From Geeks are Sexy

Is The Obsidian Blade science fiction? That depends on how you define science fiction. It is a time-travel story, and the means of traveling through time are not explicitly defended or explained. Conservative sci-fi definers ask that their sci-fi have a basis in real science, and the "real science" of time-travel is both sketchy and enormously technical. The Obsidian Blade is more of a "portal fantasy"—a subset of the sci-fi/fantasy uber-genre. Portal fantasies, or magic door stories, can tilt toward fantasy (Neil Gaiman's Coraline), or in the sci-fi direction (H.G. Wells' The Time Machine), or be all over the map (Doctor Who).

The Obsidian Blade is more Wellsian than Gaimanian, but it does not have the hard core sci-fi chops of, say, Gregory Benford or Connie Willis or Robert Charles Wilson. While it uses both language and tropes familiar to sci-fi readers, it is not about the science, and therefore exists in the nebulous space between hardcore sci-fi and the more pliable worlds of fantasy. In fact, that is true of nearly all time-travel fiction.

The Obsidian Blade will be officially released next Tuesday (April 10), and then we will find out how the non-professional reading public receives it. I am anticipating the gamut.

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