Around the turn of the millennium, several of us authors-without-a-genre had a vision that we framed into words on the then-Yahoo Visionary Literature Forum.
Let’s suppose, as projected in Part 1 of this series, “The Bucket,” that Visionary Fiction has become as prominent a genre label as Science Fiction or Mystery. Now let’s consider the ingredients writers must put into a work to have it qualify for the Visionary Fiction bucket and what experiences or benefits readers can expect in a work pulled out of that bucket.
By Victor E. Smith
“We tried mightily to get the retailing powers to start a visionary fiction shelf. We came close with Walden, but the suits at B&N, alas, took the position of ‘no one is coming into the store asking for visionary fiction’,” said editor Bob Friedman of the situation as he saw it at Hampton Roads Publishing some years ago.
Perhaps those nerdy BISAC categorizers knew more than they let on when they gave VF and MF a joint address in their code. To paraphrase a famous biblical injunction: “What BISAC has joined together let no writer put asunder.” Instead of arguing whether it is VF or MF, perhaps we can settle for V&M, with separate studies and/or bedrooms provided for the persnickety.
It came to mind that a backdoor approach to the key question—What is Visionary Fiction?—might yield valuable insight into this genre’s elusive definition. So let’s take a look, for a lark, at what is not visionary fiction.