In my first Genre Wars post, I started trying to dissect my project, The Phoenix Warrior, to determine its genre. Not that I truly care about genre, because I don't. It's artificial. But that's another discussion. However, if I were to finally send this out to an agent (or publisher), it helps to know exactly how to classify my manuscript. And, to understand which publishers and editors are looking for work in specific genres.
But really, this is also an interesting exercise, and a good way to look at similar work, etc. When I first started to look at the market, I immediately saw flaws in the first version of Phoenix, and have since started to rework it. So, although "genre" may be a confining concept, the overall effort has been helpful to help me understand what people like to read, what they want to read, what I like to read. That all needs to come together with what I like to write.
What is Science Fantasy? Space Opera? SF Romance?
After looking around to find the definitions, I found that most authors generally fall back on, "whatever the reader thinks it is." Good answer.
In response to my first posting, author Linnea Sinclair pointed me to her interview at Sequential Tart, in which she explains SF Romance perfectly. Read it! There's really no reason for me to try writing a definition when she explains it so well.
My conclusion? I would describe Phoenix as SF Romance, because it does include technical elements. I actually do care what type of engine might be in a spacecraft if space travel were common place. I don't make my ship go faster than the speed-of-light. But what about the unexplained phenomena, such as shape shifting? Well, even there I couldn't just say, "it's magic." I have an explanation for the origins of the shifters, even though SF Romance doesn't really exclude paranormal elements.