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[writing] About them there genres - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-02-01 16:45
Subject: [writing] About them there genres
Security: Public
Location:Omaha (for a little while longer)
Mood:amused
Music:hotel noises
Tags:books, publishing, writing
So I was given this list of genres and sub-genres and asked to identify my short fiction corpus according to the parameters of the list. It was sort of whacky. Which led me to wonder what a relatively accurate list of genres and sub-genres in our field would look like. I fully realize this question is akin to sticking my hand in the blender to learn how sausage is made, but nonetheless, it's Friday night in Omaha and I have an hour or two before crashing out in this here hotel room.

So here's a crack. Hideously incomplete no doubt, but I encourage both serious commentary and a whale of a snarkfest. Not to mention suggested improvements.

(Note this post is being edited on a rolling basis in response to comments.)

Gothic Romance
  • Protogenre — Weiland, Manuscript Found in Saragossa

  • Promethean — Frankenstein

  • Tartarean — Dracula


Fantasy
  • Pre-Tolkien — Worm Ouroboros, Well at the World's End

  • Mid-Century — Gormenghast

  • Tolkein — The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings

  • Neo-Tolkein — Sword of Shannara

  • Post-Tolkein — A Game of Thrones

  • High — Tigana

  • Epic or Quest — The Dragonbone Chair

  • Dark — Pillars of the World

  • Romantic — Princess Bride

  • Humorous — Discworld

  • Urban — The Etched City

  • Literary — A Shadow in Summer

  • Contemporary — The Lovely Bones

  • Weird — Conan, Jirel of Joiry

  • Fetish — Slave Girl of Gor

  • Postapocalyptic — Hiero's Journey

  • Fairy Tale — Wizard of Oz, The Last Unicorn

  • Middle American — Something Wicked This Way Comes

  • Anthropomorphic — Watership Down, Redwall

  • Urban Faerie — War for the Oaks, Moonheart

  • Academic — Fool on the Hill, Tam Lin



Science Fiction
  • Early Modern — From the Earth to the Moon

  • Golden Age — The Skylark of Space

  • Silver Age — Foundation

  • New Wave — Lord of Light

  • First Wave Feminism — The Female Man

  • Humanist — The Left Hand of Darkness

  • Literary — Shadow of the Torturer

  • Cyberpunk — Neuromancer

  • Space Opera — The Mote in God's Eye

  • New [British] Space Opera — The Reality Dysfunction

  • New [American] Space Opera — Honor Harrington

  • New Weird — Perdido Street Station

  • Slipstream — The Physiognomy

  • Time Travel — The Time Traveler's Wife

  • Alternate History — The Guns of the South

  • Contemporary —

  • Outsider — Valis

  • Hard — The Star Dragon

  • Soft — The Martian Chronicles

  • Bio — The Helix and the Sword

  • Linguistic — Native Tongue

  • Epic — Dune

  • Transhumanist — Accelerando

  • Postapocalyptic — A Canticle for Leibowitz

  • Utopian — The Dispossessed, 1984

  • Prescriptive Political — Double Star, The Handmaid's TaleMilitaria — A Hymn Before Battle

  • Gedankenexperiment — The Machine Stops
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User: hkneale
Date: 2008-02-02 10:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:John Thornton
I'm too tired to be truly snarky and too lazy to really engage in a good intellectual discussion, but if you end up inspiring me to write an article for IROSF, I'll be sure to forget to thank you.

Anyhow...

Dark and Romantic Fantasy are relatively new-ish subgenres, so it's understandable if you haven't gotten around to reading anything in them yet. But I am interested in (eventually) hearing what novels you would mention as examples.

And then...

I find it interesting that a significant number of us feel the need to divide SF & F into subgenres. I think this came about because someone came up with a new and fresh idea, executed it quite marvellously, and a few others decide they'd give the formula a crack as well.

I think the fact that we keep coming up with more subgenres is a good indication that someone, somewhere, is cranking out "new and fresh". Who'd a thunk?

Actually, I hate the term "fresh". I see it sometimes in writer's guidelines when an editor requests "a fresh voice" or a "fresh take" or some other lame old cop-out because they can't put down exactly what they're looking for. How many authors do you know are able to judge whether or not their voice is "fresh"?
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