When we begin the setup for publishing a book on Amazon we are asked which genre best represents the story. Quirni is definitely Science Fiction because it takes place in the future on a far away planet. There are space ships and space travel. The first thing Erica does is get off of a space ship.
By the end of the series Quirni has crossed into the world of Fantasy. That is when Erica’s nature as a Blessed One is revealed. Throughout the series there are a little references to this. People comment on how blessed they feel to have her with them or how inexplicably lucky they were. Erica doesn’t even know what she is until an incident that cements Vincent in place as her ‘keeper’. The relationship between a Blessed One and their keeper becomes a focus of the stories and therefore they could be called Fantasy.
Because we start out with space ships and tri-planetary governmental disputes, the books are advertised as Science Fiction first, sometimes Fantasy second, but they also have a western flavor. Quirni is a horse and buggy world. They have a steampunk flavor too as Quirni inserts odd bits of technology, custom, and dress into an otherwise Victorian culture. And the books are thick with political intrigue between claimants, the military, and the main characters. Oh, and there’s a love story.
In light of the many possibilities, what do I tell Amazon? We can only pick two. Quirni is Science Fiction first but I realize many people refuse to read Science Fiction. To advertise it as such may lose readers who would enjoy it if they weren’t subjected to reading Science Fiction.
I believe people like Science Fiction more than they realize. See my post about this here if you want to know why I say that. They like Science Fiction. In fact, they love it. I think snobbishness stops them from reading it.
There was a time in when reading anything but real life fiction was considered low-brow. At about the time Price and Prejudice was penned, anyone choosing to read fiction over poetry or non-fiction was obviously not cultured. It seems to me that attitude prevails when people consider Science Fiction. They won’t read it because it is too low-brow.
And yet, Farenheit 451 is a classic that forewarned of attitudes that lead to Nazism. Frankenstein questions medical ethics. 1984 raises the hackles when people read it and consider where our world might head. So much of it seems possible now. Are works that explore our political and cultural mindsets low-brow? Simply, no.
Science Fiction writers explore potential futures rather than current reality. They give real scientists ideas for inventions. The Smithsonian Institution has an article about this. Read it here. In it they tell how one of the great Science Fiction authors invented an idea of space travel.
Jules Verne proposed the idea of light-propelled spaceships in his 1865 novel, From the Earth to the Moon. Today, technologists all over the world are actively working on solar sails.
Other than that, need I say more on the subject? Science Fiction authors give insight and thought that is not low-brow but the reverse.
So advertising Quirni in a genre populated by such great thinkers may, in fact, be hubris. Quirni has no deep thought about technology or where our race is headed.
The core of Quirni is about a girl escaping her abusive past and learning how to trust love and friends. Her desire to enclose herself in a small, safe place are foiled repeatedly as her lover and her friends and her family resolve to make her the best person she can be.
Other core themes center around people lying to and hurting others, such as how Erica is treated by her father or how the miners on Marril are treated by The Consortium. In Quirni the protagonists search for the truth of their situations and use that truth to fight injustice. It’s a long story because no one fights their oppressor and wins quickly. There would be no oppression if that were the case. Instead, means are used to fight the injustice. They fail. New means are used to fight it and fail. And eventually Erica recognizes the oppressors tactics and uses that truth to overcome quicker than we can in real life.
Erica recognizes the truth because she straddles two worlds, one of wealth and one of poverty. She can fight the oppression because she is a Blessed One, a magical person whose powers may be God given, may be a freak of nature, or may be grown out of great struggle and need. Erica is the political intrigue in Quirni.
When Amazon asks us what genre Quirni is, we feel conflicted. We don’t want to sell the books short and include them in a genre many readers shun but that genre has authors who have literally changed the world. It is one of the best groups with which we could hope to stand. After that, Quirni doesn’t know how to be pigeonholed. It is a drama. It is a Space Opera. It has political intrigue. It has romance. It has mystery. There is Fantasy and it takes place in a world that looks like a western. However you see us advertise it, know we had to chose something and so we did.