SF Word Watch

Paranormal romance. A subgenre of blending romance fiction with imaginative fiction. I found this in an article in the Internet Review of Science Fiction. One interesting (to me, anyway) thing about this term is that the subgenre it describes can include elements of either SF or fantasy/horror, even though “paranormal” usually refers to supernatural phenomena. Not that I think this is wrong, I just think it’s interesting. The history of SF/F/H nomenclature is full of modifiers that don’t necessarily make sense on their own, starting with “imaginative fiction.” I’m here to tell you, if you haven’t noticed already, that a great deal of SF/F/H shows very little imagination on the part of the author. But that doesn’t matter, really, because “imaginative fiction” doesn’t mean “fiction that’s imaginative,” it means fiction that is set in a world that is different in some way from our own. If you worry too much about these things, you can use “non-mimetic fiction” instead of “imaginative fiction,” but you’d still be stuck with “science (or speculative) fiction” which has its own problems. My own favorite of these terms is the doomed-to-failure “different” story (quite often with the quotes), which hung around for a few decades in the pulp era. (“Doomed” because a magazine can’t realistically keep promising different stories every issue, and expect readers to know, unequivocally, what they mean.

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