Genre tips

Today’s #AtoZChallenge : Xenofiction

A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post every day except Sundays during the month of April on a thematic topic–nothing else. This year, I’ll be covering writing genres.

Today’s genre:



stories told from the perspective of a non-human. This could be an animal, an intelligence animal, an extraterrestrial, or any creature significantly different from a human. 

Tipsa to z

  1. If you can easily replace the non-human perspective with a human one, it’s likely not Xenofiction.
  2. Xenofiction is successful when the perspective is well developed, so much so that it cannot be easily replaced with a human perspective.
  3. Requires significant research and world-building.
  4. Usually explores bizarre alien psychology.
  5. It might help you to write good xenofiction if you don’t like humans or are bored with humanity.

Popular Books

  1. Evolution by Stephen Baxter
  2. Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker
  3. Uplift series by David Brin.
  4. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card.
  5. Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
  6. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
  7. The Faded Sun Trilogy by C.J. Cherryh
  8. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  9. Incandescence by Greg Egan

Click for complete list of genres

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for May, 2017. Click to follow its progress.


66 thoughts on “Today’s #AtoZChallenge : Xenofiction

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  6. I think I may have read one of this genre before (two, if “Animal Farm” counts): “Tailchaser’s Song” by Tad Williams. The hero — and sole POV character — is a cat. He is, technically, just an ordinary (if feral) cat, but he doesn’t really see the world the way people do.

    Maybe I should try writing in this genre sometime. I’ve become utterly disgusted by humanity over the past seven months…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hmmm interesting – I wonder if Animal Farm comes under this category as I cant seem to recall anything else I have read htat could be called this genre. UNless you count the nursery toys coming to life in Enid Blyton and having a life of their own??

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Damocles by S.G. Redling is wonderful Xenofiction. Leaving earth, Meg and her crew are aboard the aptly named spaceship, Damocles (I love the Greek story). They find the planet Didet whose short, rocky-skinned inhabitants don’t speak the language of the Earthers and don’t think exactly like the Earthers. Mainly told from Meg’s viewpoint alternating with the thinking of the alien Loui’s view. On both sides, the realistic superstitions, mistrusts, mishaps and miscommunications makes for great Sci-Fi that might in the future become Sci-Fact. Highly recommended! Audible book is available.

    Liked by 1 person

        • I already have it out there. It’s more military-tech, with a Naval battle and a sentient AI, than sci-fi. I’d love for you to review it on Amazon (if you like it enough to do so), but I don’t know how to send free copies. Here’s the link:


          • Just purchased and started reading your book, “Twenty-Four Days”. I love the developments of your characters. I’ll write a complete review when I finish it. Is an audible version available?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks for the support, Rich. I should do an audio book. I went to a writer conference and they completely sold me on that. I need to look into it. Have you solved that one for your books?

              BTW, if you publish the book to your blog between 5/15 and 5/31, let me know. I’ll include it in my blog hop list and link back to whichever of your children’s books you’d like.

              Another BTW: If you’d like to guest post on WordDreams about your life writing children’s books, I’m your gal. I’d love to host you.


  9. Well done Jacqui – this one I just ‘gazed’ at and wondered … I’m still wondering! Andrew’s recommendation of Watership Down is a must … very English countryside … and I’d say it’s telling the story to his readers about life development by the humans – not the right wording – but vaguely right.

    What about George Orwell’s Animal Farm … I’m now off – .. cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Interesting! I will go back and look at some of your other genres, since I am a certifiable book nut, it’s right up my alley. My granddaughter has been avidly reading a popular series by Erin Hunter, called Warriors. All the characters are cats. I believe we might call them feral cats, since they live in the woods and hunt for their own food. I think they would fit this genre, even though they are written for older children and young teens.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’d never heard of xenofiction before, though I’m familiar with stories told from the POV of animals. I wonder if children’s stories from the POV of dolls and stuffed animals would also fall under that banner, or be considered something else.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I suppose with most children’s book, these are animals and dolls mouthing human sentiment, so it wouldn’t quite satisfy the requirements. Of course, even if it did, it would be children’s fiction first.

      It certainly isn’t easy to genre-ize fiction, is it?


  12. I am totally gobsmacked that there is actually a genre beginning with X, wow!

    And not only have I never heard of it, today’s score is a dismal zero, epic fail 🙂 Did read ‘Black Beauty’ as a child though, does that qualify as xenofiction, mc being a horse?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Xenofiction! Wow! Would never have thought of this. However, I absolutely love The Art of Racing in the Rain, and I do think animals have consciousness about the world that’s more than the instinctual hunt for food, sex and safety.

    Decades ago, I read a short story about a mother cow trying to prepare her calf for slaughter as that was their fate and she knew it. I can’t remember details about the story but it has often swept forward.

    Liked by 1 person

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