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I have a Wattpad account and I've been entering contests... I've been using the fantasy genre to describe my novel, but I just saw descriptions of fantasy and sci-fi and now I'm wondering if my novel is actually science fiction. The characters in charge are scientists, and they created basically a different realm? It's an island, and the only way in or out is for one character who has the power to move people from one place to another to move them. Here's the reason they have their powers:

One day, an MRI machine breaks in a hospital and radiation waves spread throughout the entire hospital, including the nursery. The babies in the nursery, since they were so little and their immune systems so weak, learned to live with all that radiation inside of them. Of those babies, the females grew up and had children of their own. Those children have been in a radiation-filled womb for nine months and so they have superpowers.

There are scientists trying to get them and experiment on them to figure out how to get powers of their own.

So, I'm not sure what genre my novel really fits in.

Does anyone know what genre I should be submitting my novels in?

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    Definitely sci-fi from the description. Radiation, superpowers, scientists, alternate dimension. – Sciborg Sep 20 '20 at 0:03
  • Hi Becca, welcome to writing.se! Take the tour and visit the help center for more information. It might help answerers if you can also include a brief description of why you initially thought your writing was fantasy. What elements do you believe all into the fantasy genre? – linksassin Sep 20 '20 at 1:21
  • Where does the bulk of the action occur? If it's in magical realm where technology, if exists at all, is helpless, then it's better categorized as "Fantasy". If it's in modern or futuristic high-tech world, then, even if magic is present, "Sci-Fi" a better categorization. – Alexander Sep 21 '20 at 18:23
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Science Fantasy:

I think your genre falls into a rather mushy category know as science fantasy. Sometimes this is called "soft" sci fi. While this relies on a scientific basis for the story, elements either do not conform to conventional science or have additional fantastic elements not reflective of science.

A publisher might have a different definition of it, but much of comic book action is based on handwavium to give characters pseudo-magical abilities explained by technical AND magical origins. I think this is the spot your story is landing in.

As a biologist, I can tell you up front the explanation for the babies developing radiation resistance doesn't fit biology and how it works. Change the causation of the altered babies to something else like (fill in the blank, aliens intervening to protect the babies, exotic non-standard radiation, etc) and you may have a cause that sounds scientific, and while not based in science, it has the ring of science to it because it relies on unproven but non-magical assumptions.

Most fantasy relies on some fantastical element to allow things not possible in the normal world, usually magic. Most science fiction relies on some derivation of technology as a substantial worldbuilding or story element to carry it along, and tries to be based on what is theoretically possible. In between is science fantasy. So called "soft" sci fi is sometimes lumped in this category, where it is in a sci fi setting, but science doesn't really matter except as a poorly detailed tool to carry the story along (I'm not judging, "hard" sci fi can be tough to read sometimes). There are frequently a blend of fantasy elements and magic along with rational explanations (spells become psychic abilities, etc, with guns vs magic swords, starships, genetics labs, and so on).

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To find out if your novel is sci-fi vs. fantasy, we must establish the rules of the world your characters live in (even when the story has multiple worlds).

  • If the rules/laws of the world are founded in mystical objects not created by man himself but by a higher being (can be evil, holy, good, bad, both, etc...), then your main genre is fantasy.
  • If the rules/laws are primarily founded in technology made by a human-like being (alien, A.I., squids with giant brains, etc...) then your main genre is sci-fi.

Sci-fi basically needs the characters to manipulate the world they live in with technology, it must be a plausible world which can exist in our reality; even if the technology is very improbable. An example would be: Spiderman compared to Thor. Spider man would be classified as science fiction because, although improbable, there is a chance that a radio active spider could theoretically bite a human and change that humans D.N.A.. Where as Thor would be classified as Fantasy, since he is the son of a god. That's not to say that both of these are strictly one or the other. You also have sub-genres in every story. I would say your story is definitely Sci-fi with Fantasy as one of its sub-Genres and depending on your style of writing, also a thriller sub-genre. Hope this sheds a bit more light on the differences, because I know how hard it is to differentiate these two particular genres. Also be aware of science-fantasy. That is when the world the characters live in are both governed by science and fantasy and the characters can actively manipulate the world using science and fantasy. So my answer is: Your story sounds like a great sci-fi with a fantasy sub-genre.

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This is certainly not hard science-fiction, but relatively few books/stories actually are. Most work will still be considered science-fiction as long as it's science-themed, rather than fantasy-themed.

Genre itself is not an exact science --it's a way of connecting a writer with their most probable audience. If you think that this story would connect better with a fantasy audience, you could re-classify it. My instinct, however, tells me that this is still "science fiction" with a sub-genre of science fantasy. It's probably best described as "superhero fiction" if that is an option --that is the subgenre that is the closest match.

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