Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[writing] The politics of genre

pauljessup asks about the politics of genre.

I’m not talking about the politics of clubs with elections, but the politics of social cliques, of circles within the actual landscape that pull and twist on one another. That, in my eyes, seem to be separated entirely by subgenres, whose line are drawn in the sand and then discussed to death the very rules of allowing people into these political parties.

I suspect he's being rhetorical for the sake of provoking discussion, because I don't see subgenres as divisions among us. At their best, they're descriptive devices. At their worst, they're arguing points. To my view, there's not vast amounts of us-and-them-ing going on around subgenres, and of what does go on, much is tongue in cheek.

We do have political faultlines, in the sense that he means "political" — more like lunchroom politics than academic politics or electoral politics; for example, the chestnut debates about what science fiction really is, the distinguishing features that separate SF from fantasy, and so forth. There's also the touchier and more consequential discussions about gender and minority representation in our field, which represent real and deeply-held faultlines in our community. The us-and-them-ing can start here.

My view of our genre, in part, is that we're like the original theme song to Gilligan's Island. "A movie star, and the rest..." We're "the rest" after you carve out all the other genres. Our name is legion, for we are many. In one sense, we can ill afford the divisions. We all have to stick together. In another sense, it is incumbent on us to explore the divisions. That's what our genre is all about.

Thoughts on the politics of genre?
Tags: links, process, publishing, writing

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