Looking at fiction classification in a different way

I wondered how the fiction shelves would look like, if we classified novels by function, rather than subject matter… okay I’m having one of those quirky eccentric moments of lateral thinking that come my way, but let’s see where this leads…

First up is the conundrum function. This is for those people that like solving crosswords, patience games, chess problems, puzzles of any sort. The equivalent in our current classifications are clearly the mysteries and crime novels.

Then there’s those novels that give a better understanding of the way live together. And the equivalent of this? I should say equivalents really… romance, historical, literary, a lot of young adult and of course, contemporary e.g. chicklit. Strangely I would also include fantasy here. Why? Because it tries to teach us how we should live by parables and the like.

Then those novels that induce a very human response, somehow making us feel better. And the equivalents? Erotica obviously. But what about horror? This genre certainly indices a emotional response, or at least it should do, and it makes us feel better.

Then there’s the what if function. Clearly science fiction belongs here. Anything else? Well, not really.

Are there any other genres I should match? What about Westerns? Well they are a traditional good versus bad scenario and belong in the understanding function.

A couple of interesting observations to be here…

1) The only branch (of conundrum, understanding of life, what-if and inducing emotional response) that doesn’t have an obvious branch of speculative fiction is the conundrum.

2) Is there a pattern in the cross-overs using this break-down? I’m not that well-versed in what is going to market at the moment, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the most successful cross-overs are likely to be between these branches… and no I have no evidence to base this assertion on.

So wouldn’t it be nice to have more cross-overs between science fiction and conundrum, as in Asimov’s Elijah Bailey series… it may be one of the reasons why these are still so popular.

This sure does stir up some interesting conjectures… I’ll leave the rest to you, dear readers….

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3 thoughts on “Looking at fiction classification in a different way

  1. # Then there’s the what if function.
    # Clearly science fiction belongs here.
    # Anything else? Well, not really.

    Political/conspiracy thrillers often come under ‘what if’, I’d think.

    Colum

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