Recommending SFF Books – A Movement

The plan is simply this: to bring new readers into the SFF genre.

We’re at a tipping point. Genre is invading the mainstream – or so many articles in newspapers and on television would have you believe, yet the book industry is always anxious at sales performances. It’s a tough environment out there, at the front line. It seems that each year there are scare stories about people reading fewer books.

So I think we can certainly bring significantly more readers into the genre, and while we’re at it, tip genre more into mainstream culture. How? Well, Jeff’s site is pretty well connected as one of the top book blogs. All the right people read it – hell, you’re reading it, right?

What if all these interconnected people settled on one day a year to recommend a Science Fiction or Fantasy novel to a friend or colleague?

Anyone you know who looks down on the genre, or hasn’t even read a genre book, give them a copy of your favourite SFF novel, and tell them: “This is what you’re missing out on. You’ve not given the genre a chance before. Read this and you’ll change your mind.” It would be a conscious effort on your part.

If a small percentage of those who accept the challenge are converted, they might end up buying more SF and Fantasy novels in the long run. That’s good for the industry, and such a movement might drive genre books into mainstream literary culture. It will depend upon everyone rolling their sleeves up, though.

A mad experiment? Naivety? Maybe.

I think it will be the true test of the power of the internet on publishing.

Mark Charan Newton was born in 1981, and has worked as an editor for imprints covering film and media tie-in fiction, and later SF and Fantasy. His first novel, Nights of Villjamur, is published by Pan Macmillan (Tor UK), and will be released in June 2010 from Random House (Bantam Spectra).


  1. says

    I am a certified George R.R. Martin proselytizer. I’m giving Game of Thrones for a gift for the third time this year! Do you think wearing my Darth Vader outfit puts people off when I’m telling them how cool genre fiction is?

  2. says

    That is a good idea. I recently recommended Finch to a coworker who usually reads books by Grisham, Ludlam, and others like that. I had already told him about City of Saints & Madmen and Shriek. He said they sounded interesting, but didn’t seem anxious to read them. The other day, he mentioned watching some episodes of The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents on Hulu, so that was the last straw. I said, “You’ve got to read Finch and tell me what you think of it.” So, he said okay, but I couldn’t lend it to him yet, becaue I wasn’t finished with it. I’ll give it to him Monday and hope I get it back! Fine book, by the way. Fine book.

  3. says

    My mother has discovered she actually loves SFF this way. I gave her Gaiman’s “Fragile Things” first because it’s a short story collection, which she likes… Now she’d branched out to G.R.R.Martin, more Gaiman, and even a little urban fantasy (Patricia Briggs). So far she’s loved all of it, and I am vindicated for all those years she said she only liked literary fiction. *g*

  4. says

    I have the problem of recommending difficult novels, since those are the ones I like most. Not everyone wants to have to think too hard when they read a book, which isn’t a bad thing. I don’t think it detracts from their intellect.

  5. says

    Every time I do this it turns out they already like sf/f, although they usually haven’t heard of the specific titles I’m recommending.

  6. Daemon says

    I do this every time the opportunity arises. Why ghettoize a specific day for telling people about good sf/f books?

  7. Eric S. says

    Tons of people (literally) will watch movies based on comics, although most of them don’t read comics. More tons of people will watch movies based on sf/fantasy who don’t read the same. So there are plenty of folks out there who are potential converts. Mostly it’s finding the ‘right’ book for them.