A Mistake, the Genre Problem, and a Joke

Hey all, looks like I forgot that I ran out of scheduled posts, so here’s a quick one before I shut down for the night. In lieu of my planned reviews, seeing as I’ve run out of posts and am short on time, I’ll be talking instead about a problem I was thinking about last night, that is, the question of whether or not the modern concept of genres really applies to everything.

Look, I know some people may be really traditional and yell and whine and say “Leave my genres alone!!” But as a writer, I’m particularly dissatisfied with the current way novels are classified. Take The Dresden Files, for instance (and see emptynight’s fantastic review on this very blog!). Now I haven’t read them all (in fact I’m only on the first book, but hey, look at all the other stuff I read), but I can tell you right here and now that it’s not really what I would call fantasy. What do you think of when you hear “fantasy?” Go ahead and post in the comments if you want, but nothing about how hard you want to bang some celebrity. That’s a different kind of fantasy.

Personally, “fantasy” to me is J.R.R. Tolkien, Brent Weeks, R.A. Salvatore — basically, if anything in some sort of alternate world with strange names and languages and beings that don’t exist here. And yes, Dresden does have strange beings and magic, and all of that fun stuff. But it takes place in modern Chicago. The same holds true for Tanya Huff’s brilliantly written Blood Ties, Smoke, and the Keeper’s Chronicles series. Though all three of those take place in Canada. Even so, no matter how much magic and how many monsters you put in, I won’t consider it fantasy if it takes place in the real world. It doesn’t feel like fantasy. I’d be hard pressed to tell you what it really is, but fantasy is not the right word for it.

This is really the biggest issue for me, though I have seen Stephen King classified under both “Thriller” and just plain “Literature” in stores lacking a “Horror” section. This makes me cringe. Certainly the genre deserves it’s own section, rather than being lumped in with others? H.P. Lovecraft in “Sci-Fi/Fantasy?” This guy is pure horror. He freakin’ created the Necronomicon for crying out loud! If Cthulhu and whatever other demons that thing can summon aren’t horror, then I don’t know what is.

I think the literary community needs to review its classification system. Post in the comments the fixes you would suggest. Or tell me how I’m an idiot and why I’m wrong. Either way.

Here’s a joke since I’m posting this on Joke of the Week day.

A woman stopped by unannounced at her recently married son’s house.

She rang the doorbell and walked in. She was shocked to see her daughter-in-law lying on the couch, totally naked.

Soft music was playing; the aroma of perfume filled the room.

“What are you doing?” she asked. “I’m waiting for my husband to come home from work,” the daughter-in-law answered.

“But you’re naked!” the mother-in-law exclaimed.

“This is my love dress,” the daughter-in-law explained.

“Love dress? But you’re naked!”

“My husband loves me to wear this dress,” she explained. “It excites him to no end. Every time he sees me in this dress, he instantly becomes romantic and ravages me for hours on end. He can’t get enough of me.”

The mother-in-law left. When she got home, she undressed, showered, put on her best perfume, dimmed the lights, put on a romantic CD and lay on the couch waiting for her husband to arrive.

Finally, her husband came home. He walked in and saw her lying there so provocatively.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“This is my love dress” she whispered, sensually.

“Needs ironing,” he said.

Props to this site for the joke: http://www.e-jokes.net/




One thought on “A Mistake, the Genre Problem, and a Joke

  1. Well if you’re going to get technical about it, The Lord of the Rings takes place on our world – a long time in the past. Same with Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories, which take place in a lost prehistoric age.

    I’m more of an inclusive sort of guy who’s more willing to say something is of a particular genre, than say it isn’t. H.P. Lovecraft, for instance, is Science Fiction, Fantasy AND horror to varying degrees. Cthulhu, the Mi-Go, the Elder Things and everything else are aliens, after all, and the Great Race of Yith employ technology. His Dreamland stories are pretty clearly fantasy with only subtle horror elements.

    Thus, I see Dresden, Blood Ties et al as fantasy. It’s hard for me to consider them anything else. However, your confusion might be alleviated by the use of subgenres: Dresden as Urban Fantasy, LotR as Heroic Fantasy, and the like. Then again, genre pigeonholing can quickly descend into subjectivity pretty fast.


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