Little Boxes On The Hillside

Hi, one and all and welcome to the first blog post on

Something caught my eye today on SffChronicles that I thought was interesting and tied in nicely with a discussion we’ve had here this week.

boxes The essence of the discussion on SFFChronicles was centred around a guy who has developed a Computer Program to determine just how ‘SciFi’ a book really is.

The idea is to compare the language used to a set of ‘science related’ words and phrases to determine whether a novel is Hard Science Fiction or not.

I’m not really going to comment on the value of otherwise of such an approach as the goodly people over at that forum are doing a fine job debating it themselves. But what it did bring home to us is that people, possibly a minority, do care about the sub-categories of the fiction they like. And, even more than that, do make judgements about a book based on that information.

As I said, this did intersect with a discussion here at SciFi365 Towers. We were considering, as part of the sign up process, asking people to tick a box for their favourite form of Science Fiction: Hard SF, Cyberpunk, Post-Apocalyptic, Steampunk and so on and so forth. We rejected this – and I think that’s the right decision.

The reason we did so is that every writer I’ve ever met or spoken to simply writes his or her story. They don’t, typically, think about whether it’s Hard SF or Cyberpunk or whatever. And, really, nor should you. After all, someone could write what is ostensibly a Steampunk Novel and include a huge amount of accurate scientific detail about the engineering of, say, trains. Would that make it Hard Science Fiction? Steampunk? Or both?

I don’t know and, frankly, don’t care. But what the thread on SFFChronicles did bring home to me is that some people do. We’re still not going to ask people to tick little boxes when they sign-up, but we will include the overall sub-category that a novel belongs to when we feature it in the newsletter. After all, it does matter to some people and I hope it will only add to a writer’s sales, not detract from them.

We’ll see!


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