Another Librarian As Silver Screen Hero?

Director Gus Van Sant sees "The Time Traveler's Wife", a popular sci-fi romance by Audrey Niffenegger, in his future. He's in talks with New Line Cinema to turn the book into a movie.

The story centers on an adventurous librarian, Henry, who suffers from "chrono displacement" disorder, which causes him to involuntarily travel back and forth through time. Throughout his journeys, he's anchored by his relationship to his true love Clare, who lives a normal, sequential life and must await his unexpected appearances and disappearances.

News on the movie-to-be.

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Sci-fi?

Anyone else see this less as sci-fi and more as contemporary literary fiction? Are there other examples of time-travel books--esp. love stories--that aren't shelved with science fiction?Seems to me that shelving it with Ender's Game might mislead many potential lovers of the book.RC

Re:Sci-fi?

What, exactly, makes it not science fiction?

It's got time travel, and an examination of the impact of involuntary time-traveling on the time traveler and his wife; it posits a scientific basis for the time-traveling, rather than just leaving it hanging as an inexplicable weirdness about Henry. So, what makes it "contemporary literary fiction" rather than "science fiction"?

And, yes, there are whole lines of time-travel romances, as well as other romance-skiffy and mystery-skiffy crossovers. Romance readers also have no trouble finding the books of Lois McMaster Bujold and Catherine Asaro (normally shelved in the sf section), just as sf readers have little difficulty finding Nora Roberts' "J.D. Robb" books (normally shelved in either mystery or romance), or the sf books of Margaret Atwood or Marge Piercy (normally shelved with contemporary or literary fiction). Philip Roth may even be nominated for the Campbell this year, because sf readers have had no difficulty finding his latest book.

Why is it only fans of contemporary literary fiction who have to be spoon-fed, rather than finding the interesting-to-their-genre stuff that's primarily shelved elsewhere on their own or via word-of-mouth from other readers?

Re:Sci-fi?

So, what makes it "contemporary literary fiction" rather than "science fiction"?

Well, this is all part of why I hate genre-ghettos. Split authors, or violate the genres. And it distinguishes between "genre" and "normal" fiction. When was the last time you saw Jane Austen filed in the "Romance" section, or even with a little heart on the spine (although I prefer stickers to genres, as long as they're done properly).

Time Traveller's Wife is clearly literary fiction and not science fiction for the simple reason that it was published by a real publisher and not by one of those icky little fly-by-night genre shops.

Re:Sci-fi?

Well, this is all part of why I hate genre-ghettos. Split authors, or violate the genres. And it distinguishes between "genre" and "normal" fiction. When was the last time you saw Jane Austen filed in the "Romance" section, or even with a little heart on the spine (although I prefer stickers to genres, as long as they're done properly).

Jane Austen doesn't have to be filed in the Romance section, because romance readers read outside their genre and talk to each other, and they'll find Austen's books in General Fiction or Literature. It's the "literary fiction" fans who apparently get hives at the prospect of reading something from another part of the forest.

I agree with you about judicious use of stickers (and/or real subject cataloging of fiction) rather than splitting fiction into various little ghettos. Everyone is still able to find what they want--and in most cases find even more of it, because they don't need the time, energy, or prior knowledge to go sifting through four or five different sections to find stuff they like that gets shelved elsewhere.

Time Traveller's Wife is clearly literary fiction and not science fiction for the simple reason that it was published by a real publisher and not by one of those icky little fly-by-night genre shops.

Indeed.:) Just like John Crowley's Little, Big, published by Bantam in 1981, was a crummy genre fantasy, while Mark Helprin's remarkably similar (in concept, treatment, and setting) Winter's Tale, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1983, was a completely original work of literary fiction unlike anything seen before!

It's amazing how seriously litfic fans take the marketing decisions of publishers. You'd think any serious reader would start chafing pretty quickly at the constraints imposed by doing that.

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