DiscussãoScience Fiction Fans

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Jul 22, 2021, 4:28 am

If you've not seen it, TIM has released genre guides. At the moment it's all pretty high level and there's just Science Fiction (you can check how appropriate and adjust as necessary from Your Books).
But if it were to be useful, how many Sub-genres of SF should there be? (Fantasy aside it has it's own!) - books can be in multiple genres, so there's no need to argue where Star Trek goes.

Ones I can think of:
Spare Opera
Near Future
Dystopia (are there sub-subgenres?)
Hard SF

I'm sure there are more! Please add, and then we can start the campaign to get TIM to recognise them.
I'm not sure where the dividing line between tropes and genre is. I think Generational Ships are more of a trope than a genre, Alien invasions?

Jul 22, 2021, 4:35 am

>1 reading_fox: Feminist SF

Jul 22, 2021, 5:07 am

This is completely antithetical to the Genre feature. We can indulge in the discussion because it's fun to discuss and categorise, but this will never make it into the Genre feature, nor should it.

Jul 22, 2021, 5:29 am

I turned the feature off. There wasn't enough thought to it and it's got contradicting mandates to it. Real confusing.

Editado: Jul 22, 2021, 7:19 am

>2 SChant: and to distinguish from Afrofuturism, Nnedi Okafor's African Futurism.

I would add Sociological SF, Post-apocalyptic SF and Religion SF. And then there is Robots, Androids, Cyborgs and AI.

And Time Travel? Is New Weird fantasy or SF?

Editado: Jul 22, 2021, 9:30 am

Sword & Planet
First Contact
Alternate History
Shaggy God Story

But agreement with >3 anglemark: regarding the applicability of these to the genres feature.

Jul 22, 2021, 8:42 am

>3 anglemark:, >6 paradoxosalpha: ?? you think that labelling something 'science fiction' is useful? If you've liked one SF book you want to read them all? For me the joy of such possibilities is the granularity and details. There's a myriad of easy ways to tell if a book is SF or not - tags et al. But finding out if something is in a specific sub-genre is much tricker.

Jul 22, 2021, 9:07 am

>7 reading_fox: You have clearly not followed the discussion about what GenreThing is intended to do.

Editado: Jul 22, 2021, 9:26 am

Tags are great for identifying and indexing subgenres. I use them often thus.

Jul 22, 2021, 9:59 am

>8 anglemark: I've read both threads and asked a couple of times what it's intended to do. I'm still not sure. I know what I'd like it to do, as above.

Editado: Jul 22, 2021, 11:09 am

If you wait for a personalized, engraved answer from Tim personally rather than actually reading the threads, then you may have to wait.

What it is NOT intended to do:

* Replace tagging.

* Provide highly-specific details about the exact contents of a particular book.

* Provide information meaningful only to specialists.

What it IS intended to do:

* Provide very broad genre information useful for browsing. Think of bookstore or library top-level sections.

* Allow you to keep tabs on, say, new and popular books in a genre of interest.

* Potentially find someone else with genre interests similar to your own, without relying on their use of tags.

I would push back very hard against any "lobbying" to get subgenres included. That's why we have tags.

Jul 22, 2021, 12:01 pm

>11 lorax: - I don't see that sub-genres do any of the points in NOT, but sub-genres would massively help all the features of IS (and I've not seen anything from tim saying that those are the features for Genres). I acknowledge that there would need to be a careful GUI design to prevent a massive list of possible genres, but such things are possible.

We all have LT-ponies and I care much more about SF and Fantasy than I do about Non-fiction which has a much larger number of sub-genres, with lots of users pleading for their specialist category to be included. *shrug* as it stands it's one of many of LT's features that is of no use to me, but could be much better with my improvements ;-)

The above sub-genre suggestions are all good! Catchy name for: "Robots, Androids, Cyborgs and AI." I've come across Mecha-SF too which probably fits in somewhere. Techno-SF :-(

Jul 22, 2021, 12:31 pm

Science Fiction isn't equivalent to non-fiction, though. That would be "Fiction". SF would be more like "History", as a very broad top-level genre.

Jul 22, 2021, 1:49 pm

Think of it this way: The granularity corresponds roughly to a relative who knows about your reading habits what your sister/mother/son has told them, and who goes to a bookstore, looking for a book you would like, saying "Where's the XXX section? I'm looking for a book for someone who is interested in XXX."

Jul 22, 2021, 2:20 pm

>14 anglemark: ... and you have just stated why I, and apparently others including reading_fox, don't find the new genre stuff useful. I wouldn't go into a bookstore and say "I'm looking for a book for someone who is interested in history" because I'd wind up with a set of books so broad as to be useless.

Editado: Jul 22, 2021, 2:36 pm

Yeah, the answer is that genres are only going to ever be high-level concepts. Tags are best for other things.

The rationale for tags is that sometimes large buckets are best. And such buckets can be calculated for more books and for books that haven't yet been released and tagged.

Now, it might be cool to have some way of detecting or marking "genre" terms in tags, and then listing them on genre pages. Afrofuturism, for example.

Jul 22, 2021, 2:52 pm

>16 timspalding: The rationale for tags is

You mean the rationale for genres?

Jul 22, 2021, 3:57 pm

>16 timspalding: Now, it might be cool to have some way of detecting or marking "genre" terms in tags, and then listing them on genre pages. Afrofuturism, for example.

That's intriguing, and it would probably make the genres feature more useful to me personally. I think all significant subgenres probably already exist as tags, even if the tags are not thoroughly attached to relevant works. (The ones I mentioned in this thread certainly are.)

Editado: Jul 22, 2021, 3:59 pm

>16 timspalding: Redo of my original post here which was wrong: the tag clouds we already have on the genre pages give a good list of subgenres!

Jul 22, 2021, 4:04 pm

Here's the list I pulled from the tag cloud:

alternate history
apocalyptic/post apocalyptic
artificial intelligence
first contact
genetic engineering
near future
science fantasy
space opera
speculative fiction
time travel
virtual reality

(it's remarkably close to the high-level subject tags in my SFF collection, though I used different names for a couple of them & have a few more.)

Jul 23, 2021, 9:13 am

>20 melannen:. That's a useful list. I picture it as a tree, with Speculative Fiction being the name of the tree, and then various branches (starting with a split between Fantasy and SF). But lower level leaves and branches are critical for readers to select books.

Jul 23, 2021, 12:51 pm

This thread is reminding me of the readers advisory techniques taught by Joyce Saricks & Nancy Pearl, which focus not on genre, but on identifying the "appeal" factors that make a person like certain books. These include factors like characters, depiction of place, plot, pacing, good writing, etc. Definitely in this thread, world-building would be added (maybe a subset of "place"). One interesting thing is that it makes it possible to recommend titles completely cross-genre (i.e. for an SF reader, nonfiction or fantasy or historical) which the person is likely to enjoy.
A description can be found at , or by googling something like "readers advisory appeal factors". I wouldn't be surprised if there were a LibraryThing forum related to this, but not one I know.

Jul 23, 2021, 1:03 pm

I have to admit, this all will be baffling for me. I use some other book collecting software, and it uses 'Genre' the way I use tags here on LT and 'subject', where we seem to be going for genre. This likely follows the way libraries categorize, which is fine, but I've always found the proliferation of subjects confusing. From time to time I end up pruning the list of subjects as it just gets too long, with near duplicates and repetition. I'm not entering these values myself, the software does it when I look up the book.

While I understand it and I find it useful when I go to the library, I've not found it useful here on LT, I guess I just prefer broader tags with few sub-tags or subjects. I don't mind if all of my SciFi books are tagged as SciFi.

Jul 23, 2021, 1:07 pm

>22 rshart3: That approach would suit me. (I was going to write “appeal to me”, but thought someone might think I was being a smart-arse.) I find that many of the books I enjoy would challenge being put into a genre categorisation. While some people might find genre useful, I consider them of most benefit to book marketeers, and if I stuck to genres/ sub-grenres for picking a book to read I would miss many of the books I have enjoyed in life.

Jul 23, 2021, 1:46 pm

>22 rshart3:

I think it would be nice to have "appeal factors" on LibraryThing. But users can't really add them themselves--even if they couldn't they're not going to be motivated to--and they're not in or derivable from the data.* I also think librarians tend to overplay them. Readers who prioritize a books pacing over its genre or subject are not, I think, as common as many librarians think. And I think they're rarer still among heavier readers.

*A company called "BookLamp," which Apple bought and then did nothing with, did a lot of this programmatically. They could tell you that Jurassic Park was fast-paced, with a narrative climax at the end, and then suggested other books "like" it. I don't think it worked, but even if it worked in theory, it doesn't really work to tell a patron or customer that if they liked a book they're going to like something in a totally different genre because they have similar pacing. They're not going to trust that.

Jul 23, 2021, 1:56 pm

Okay, I'm ranting a bit, I admit it, but I think appeal factors common assume a certain sort of reader and attitude to the world and to what reading is and what it's for. To take your link, telling me a storyline is "thought-provoking" is a red flag for me. It's like when someone on social media starts out with the caveat "Unpopular opinion"; you know what follows will be the MOST popular opinion in their particular group. Anyway, according to Google, one of the most thought-provoking novels is The Five People You Meet in Heaven is in this category.

Kill. Me. Quickly.

Editado: Jul 23, 2021, 2:07 pm

>26 timspalding:

LOL. Agreed.

My most significant instruments for book discovery are intertextual reference and recommendations from trusted readers. If I know a reader as a fellow connoisseur of a subgenre and they are excited about a work well outside of that subgenre, that's a very positive marker.

"Thought-provoking" I'm happy to dismiss as marketing cant.

Jul 23, 2021, 2:16 pm

>26 timspalding: "thought-provoking" is one of those modern expressions that always makes me roll my eyes. As opposed to what - being brain dead or something? Plus if you had read 5 novels in your life, pretty much any novel you read will be new and fresh and interesting. If you had read a few thousand, it changes your view on a lot of things.

Which is to say that I agree - appeal is hard to calculate in a diverse group because it ends up being the same as being the most hyped... which is different from appealing for most people.

Jul 23, 2021, 3:59 pm

>25 timspalding:. I think that turn off factors are more important to me than anything else. I want to know if a book is romance or magical realism, because if so, I have zero interest, even if it is my favorite genre.

Editado: Jul 23, 2021, 5:14 pm

>26 timspalding:, >27 paradoxosalpha:, >28 AnnieMod: Apropos of nothing, discussion of "thought-provoking" reminds me of the UK book trade journal 'The Bookseller', which at one point gave the meaning of one-word blurbs.

My favourites were:
"charming" - there's a child in it.
"heart-warming" - a child AND a dog.
"heart-breaking" - they die.

Jul 23, 2021, 6:16 pm

>25 timspalding: " also think librarians tend to overplay them. Readers who prioritize a books pacing over its genre or subject are not, I think, as common as many librarians think. And I think they're rarer still among heavier readers."

I'm sure they're very rare among non-fiction readers. But I try to keep a very open mind when it comes to assessing what 'the general population' thinks because there are so many of them that every possible thought/taste is liked by some subset. Whether that's a large enough number to be worth the resource cost of creating a solution to it, can only be answered with data (admittedly hard to find).

I would certainly try a recommendation scheme based on style of books over particular genre/theme/subjects as although I have preferences I will read most settings if the story itself holds to my preferred characteristics. But then I think sub (sub sub)-genres are necessary to catagorise books usefully.

Jul 24, 2021, 12:09 am

>25 timspalding: Well, readers advisory has always been as much an art as a science. The appeal factor approach has been questioned a lot in the library profession too; but it's an interesting attempt to provide another way of analyzing what people like. What I like about it is that it avoids the simplification of "you like SF, so here's an SF book" which we all know is not necessarily true. So appeals give me another tool for finding out what someone will like. If I ask them what kind of SF they like, and they say lots of action with well-done central characters, and they've enjoyed some military SF (subgenre, I know!) I might not just recommend, say, Elizabeth Moon, but also Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series.

I would never recommend anything because it was popular -- I spent my career trying to convince people that the huge majority of good books are not current best-sellers.
And "thought-provoking" is dubious, though there is a kind of reader who especially likes works which explore serious issues.

I love this kind of thread! And I certainly have fun like anyone else considering the types of subgenres.
Thank you, by the way, for LibraryThingifying us.

Jul 24, 2021, 9:07 am

>31 reading_fox: I think there is something to it - as a library worker, I see a lot of people checking out books cross-genre in ways you can predict after awhile if you pay attention, and there are absolutely books that "read-alike" in a way that utterly crosses genre and subject - somebody who finds Author A's fantasy and Author B's romances compulsively readable will probably feel the same way about Author C's mysteries and Author D's litfic, and I think "compulsive readability" is the X factor that people are trying to say is plot structure and pacing (I think it has a lot more to do with language use and voice and characterization myself.)

But it's almost entirely about author, not title, even though for some reason most automated systems go for title. (And also sometimes A, B, C, and D are all secretly Nora Roberts.)
For the record, I would use automated author recs on LT way more than book recs, I don't know why everybody online puts their recs entirely on a book-by-book basis; with personal recommendations people are way more likely to name authors.

And it's also very hard to pin down what that factor is, or else the book publishing industry would be way better organized and we wouldn't need automated recs. Which is why people still do it! (And why I often side-eye libraries that separate the librarians who give recs from the librarians who check out books. You can't learn the first one well if you don't do the second, I don't care how many degrees you have.) another factor what I would love most is some kind of reading difficulty rating for adults. Adult readers have a lot of different levels of reading comprehension and skill! And I think that's a lot of why books like The Five People You Meet In Heaven come up in automated contexts that look weird to people with really high reading/comprehension levels. It isn't *bad* to write a book that people with different skill levels can enjoy reading easily. It would real be nice if we had a way we could sort on that (in a way that didn't come off as infantilizing to adult readers.)

Jul 24, 2021, 1:01 pm

>33 melannen: LT does have an author-to-author recommendation system (click "If you like..." on an author page), but I think it has some kinks that have never really been worked out. As far as I know, the feature has never been worked on since its debut. (I don't like that users can vote on recommendations; I don't see why that's true here when it's not with the main work-to-work recommendation system. I also don't like how it handles authors who are anthologized a lot; it ends up recommending you the people who edit anthologies, which doesn't seem right.)

Jul 24, 2021, 3:25 pm

>34 Stevil2001: Oh, thanks! It's so hidden I'd forgotten it's there.

It also doesn't have a library-wide version where you can see authors recommended based on your whole collection, like the works one - that's where it might get really interesting, I think.

Editado: Jul 24, 2021, 4:57 pm

>35 melannen: Yeah, good point. I feel, like a lot of LT features, there were plans to leverage it more that were never fulfilled and it was just left to dwindle.

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