Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Genre Genera.

(Aaron Diaz of Dresdan Codak drew the monsters of Lord of the Rings.)
 Genre. You may have heard the term "genre ghetto." This is the place otherwise lovely books are exiled to because they feature a detective, or a spaceship, or a wizard, or a hunky guy with his shirt off. For instance-- J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the most read authors of the last century, with recent blockbuster Lord of the Rings movies containing some pretty darn good special effects & performances from Oscar caliber actors...but lots of people will discount it as Fantasy. Star Wars is a cultural touchstone of our generation without parallel, an exploration of Campbell's archetypes that verges on Jungian-- but nobody takes it seriously. Heck, if you have a homosexual character in your book you risk being exiled to the "Gay & Lesbian Interests" section, never to be heard from again. & that is the thing-- the genre ghetto is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Science Fiction fans will browse the Sci-Fi section without even looking at general Fiction, while most readers will browse Fiction without looking at the Sci-Fi shelves-- & do you really see a lot of Fantasy fans crossing over to the Romance shelves? Now, some of this is changing. People like Michael Dirda are examining genre critically-- including my personal pet pick, The Book of the New Sun. & places like Shakespeare & Co. mix & match; maybe H.P. Lovecraft (the father of everything modern viewers think of as horror, & half the stuff they think is Sci-fi) is in both SF/Fantasy & Fiction, for instance. & blending-- well blending Romance & Fantasy these days is practically a license to print money. My question is: are there more enduring options?


Anonymous said...

If everything is illustrated, it all gets shelved as comics.

mordicai said...

Good call; & comics are the new "oh only a comic book-- unless it is a GRAFIQUE NOVEL!"