Saturday, March 19, 2011

Genre Madness!

Hark!  A post on actual writing topical-ness!  Let angels sing!

Or you know, not.  Whichever.

So I was musing on trendiness the other day.  Or this morning.  It was one of the two.  I'm not the best at keeping track of time.  Anyways, I was thinking about the whimsy of trends in general, and publishing trends specifically.  What's hot and what's not, and for however long that lasts.  Vampires and werewolves and paranormal romance are all the rage these days, urban fantasy's not going anywhere any time soon, but then I got more specific then that.  To the really niche genres, and I started wondering where these trends come from, what about them appeals to audiences and writers alike.

For instance - the punks.  Cyberpunk, and of late, steampunk and clockpunk.  I have to be honest, I don't get them.  Oh don't get me wrong, I have nothing against them, I've enjoyed many of them - but they deliberately evoke such a specific tone that I read them and wonder - what it is about our current zeitgeist that yearns for THIS tone, right here, right now?  Why has steampunk latched onto the writer/reader mindset so much more deeply than any of the other experimental genre-bending books of years past?  I don't know that there is an answer, its just something I've been pondering.  Are you pondering what I'm pondering? 

I'm sorry.  See?  The Animaniacs references, they just slip out whether I want them to or not.

Anyone have any specific trends from decades past that they miss and would like to see make a comeback?  I've got to admit I was a big fan of the seventies/eighties trend of fantasy/sci-fi blends.  The sci-fi books that came across as fantasy, or else fantasy with sci-fi explanation and world building at their core.  Janny Wurts, Roger Zelazny, Riverworld, etc.  Again, I have no idea what it was about that particular trend that latched on and produced so many derivative works, or what about them appealed to me so much, but there it is.  And you all?  Or else any trends you'd really LIKE to see catch on?  Maybe trends in your own work!


  1. Hey Kalen! Great post as always. Mr. Intellectual thinker. ;-)

    You know what I'd like to see catch on? A rash of Christina Rossetti-esque writers, who can capture imagery and sensory within a phrase; who can make your tongue tingle with the drop of a tangy word. Lush, evocative, vivid and robust. And Charlotte Bronte ... I miss the rambling yet powerful prose of the classical writers. I learned everything I know about description from one poem: GOBLIN MARKET. And everything about characterization from JANE EYRE.

  2. I agree with Anita--I was just having this conversation about how I miss books that just make me sit back and read a paragraph 12 times just to roll it around in my head. Word sex, man.

    I'm not big on steam, but I love clockwork as an aesthetic, and it combines two of my favorite genres: historical and fantasy. I grew up reading Victorian and Regency lit and fantasy. Bam. Hits all the buttons.

    Just like fantasy/sci fi for you. I mean, I love sci fi, but I must admit: not as much.

  3. Ugh. Fucking blogger ate my insightful, indepth analysis of both of your comments. So I'll just say I agree with both of you, so here here. Or hear hear. I can never remember which.

  4. Just stopping by to say hi (linked through the Show Me the Voice Blogfest). One of my favorite "blended" books was The Flying Sorcerors by David Gerrold and Larry Niven. Parts of that are still capable of making me laugh hysterically, even after uncountable readings.

  5. I'm not really into trends. Just want to read a good story.

  6. Hi Angelica and Anita! Nice to meet you both! Angelica, I haven't actually read that book, though I do like a lot of Larry Niven's stuff, so I'll have to check that out!

    And Anita, yeah, I'l read anything that catches my eye, don't get me wrong. And trends do all eventually overstay their welcome, but I do enjoy comparing different authors takes on the same genres or tropes. I love how when done well, two authors can start from the same place and end up somewhere entirely unique and original.