Purists and Purity

It seems like these days we’re breeding a whole new batch of purists. No, not puritans. Oh, those too, sure, but not the point of this article. The point of this article is that I keep hearing myself cast into the external darkness of science fiction where there’s crying and gnashing of teeth.

It’s not just me, and it’s not just with science fiction.

When I wrote Draw One In The Dark, I was told it was not “real” Urban fantasy, because it has multiple point of views, and while there’s a romance, there’s no sex till book three, and even then it’s implied.

Silly me, I knew it was different, but since it was fantasy and set in a city, I thought “urban fantasy.” Baen agreed. Is it? I don’t know. Sometimes I feel that, by not fitting the niche exactly I hit the fans sideways, and the books are finding fans of their owns, some of them covalent with other Urban Fantasies, and some of them completely different.

I don’t mind, because ti’s with Baen, and they’ve let the series find its fans, instead of cutting it off at the knees. It seems to be on a slow and steady growth curve.

Which is why I need to finish he fourth, Bowl of Red, soon.

But that’s ultimately what genre labels are like – not to constrain you, not to tie you in knots or to restrict your imagination, but to help you find the fans that are most likely to like your stuff.

In the past, this worked with the establishment publishing to publish more of whatever had just hit big.

I know writers who had their book derailed mid stream, to make it “more like Harry Potter” and writers whose books were twisted into very kinky pretzels to emulate Fifty Shades. With the sort of timing I usually have, I managed to send out a series of proposals for historical mysteries, in which Leonard DaVinci invents forensic science. I kept getting back puzzled rejections informing me that my books were not the DaVinci code. The rejections in turn puzzled me, because I thought people frowned on plagiarism and the DaVinci Code had, after all, already been written.

That type of narrow focus, not just on type of book but on specific imitations of certain books tended to burn out genres. Horror, in the seventies. And there are indications that UF/Paranormal Romance are getting burn out glut now. Same with Young Adult Dystopias after Hunger Games.

OTOH you can’t blame the publishers for running things that way. Or rather, you can, of course – why not, I do! – but you can also sort of kind of “get” it. Their success and the success of the books they printed necessitated claiming as much shelf space as possible over as short an amount of time as possible, right when book came out – for placement and visibility and all that other stuff.

It was easier to catch the sex-addled woman coming in looking for the next fifty shades, than to capture someone absolutely new, in an incalculable way which would require them to take risks, which might backfire.

And so you saw books and whole genres being pushed depending on what had succeeded next/what movies were big at the time.

Part of the reason I sold the Shakespeare trilogy was that the acquiring editor had just watched Shakespeare in Love. (I had too. They almost threw me out of the theater, due to an outbreak of Pfui and Pshaw, but that’s something else.)

There was also an element of purist, even back then. To put it bluntly, just like women dress to impress other women, New York editors bought books to impress other editors. “Look how cool and knowledgeable I am” they’d say, while publishing things that no one could possibly really want to read – and making their bread and butter usually on outright sex, like most PNR.

This is why they killed subgenres like the cozy or the space opera. They sold well – they sold reliably. In fact, some of the biggest names in the fields worked those sub-genres (specifically Agatha Christie and Robert A. Heinlein.)

But they were old hat, and not cool and cutting edge, and while they sold reliably, they were not the sort of thing you could push at the just-graduated from college chain bookstore managers as the “hip” thing. (And they too, mostly, stocked the stores to impress their friends with either their daring or their erudition.)

This led to in the early nineties cozies being declared “not real mysteries” because, you know, the investigation wasn’t realistic.

And Space Opera was not “real science fiction.” “Real science fiction” is supposed to either have an overarching philosophical point or a cool new “scientific” idea.

Of course, none of those sold as well as the uncool popular forms, and print runs fell, but hey, no one had to admit they weren’t quite hip.

The ban on cozies was mostly walked back – craft mysteries came in. Reviled by the publishers themselves, and often obviously badly written (though they’ve improved a lot) they were nonetheless bought by people like me who like a little bit of a puzzle and a lot of character development and some funny in their murder mysteries.

Space opera was not so lucky, though Baen continued to mine the rich vein of space adventure, military SF and the occasional space regency.

But Baen is just one house.

Which explains why, now that people are publishing indie, so many of the people hitting the jackpot are writing cozies with a little bit of Women in Peril ala Patricia Wentworth or space opera.

It’s not really a mystery. Editors might get tired of seeing the same thing, or they might want to impress their colleagues with how hip they are, but readers mostly want the same sort of thing, preferably updated for their time and done well.

What is shocking is that even as the gatekeepers fade, and even as the old genres are rewarded, I’m seeing a new generation of purists, trying to impress other readers with their strictures. It wouldn’t surprise me if they said space opera isn’t really science fiction. But instead they seem to have shifted the label to where the only space opera is what we used to call hard science fiction, and space opera as the rest of the world understands it is just “adventure.”

It would make me smile, if the universal propensity of humans to say “you must do it my way” weren’t so annoying.

Fortunately, though, these purists can scream, but they’re a tiny minority. And they are not the boss of me.

I say it’s science fiction. And I say it’s space opera. And I say I like writing it.

And enough people seem to share my definitions to find and enjoy my books.

The purists can go suck on a lemon.


  1. Genre is SUPPOSED to be a sign that gets you into the right neighborhood, not some laser-guided, GPS’d to the tenth of a meter exact location that you can’t stray from.

    1. Meant to add, When they start expressing genre in terms of the title of a book, it’s not really a genre any more, it’s copying.

    2. Agreed. For some (most?) readers, it’s risk-management – is this book probably going to be worth my money and reading time? Which only requires that it be sufficiently similar to the last of that genre that I enjoyed, for some value of sufficiently.

    1. I’ve posted the beginning of it before, and people (some people) think it’s the best thing I’ve written, but here’s the issue — there’s still only one of me!
      If I could hire a “publisher” or even a copyeditor to go over the back list and put it up, so I could do the other stuff…
      The issue is that I simply don’t have the money to do that. Or to hire a cleaning lady. Or… I’m stuck in the “I could do all this stuff, but I only have me and I’m living in a state between exhaustion and total meltdown.

      1. I’ve always said, I would love to clone myself, so that i could get all the things done that needs to be done, and they would be done right, because I wouldn’t have to explain them to someone else, or have the guilt that someone else had to pick up my slack. I just need the clones for like….3 months each year, I’d stay on top the rest of the time! Right?

        1. I feel that way about cleaning the house. Even when I can afford to hire someone I think… but I’ll have to still decide what to do with all the junk, and where to put it, and what to keep and what to throw… In the end, hiring someone almost makes more work instead of less (since as long as I don’t hire someone, I can just ignore the problem.)

      2. I suppose it can’t work in the real world – everybody else has time obligations, too – but it would be wonderful if the core of fans could develop the expertise, and enough of your trust, to donate time doing some of these things, to a net benefit for your publication rate. You’d obviously need a “volunteer coordinator” too…

      3. Sarah, have you considered an alternative payment arrangement with a copyeditor? Something like a royalty split?

        A number of authors I talk to regularly do a royalty split for language translations or audio books. Just a thought.

      4. How about finding someone who will take payment in books, and hiring them to clean for you?

      5. What about trying what Ryk E. Spoor is doing with his novel Polychrome and use Kickstarter to get the funding to hire who you need?

        1. No. I will, however, maybe run a kickstarter later in the year. The problem with hiring people is that we seem to do better in-house and with friends. It’s not the money, it’s the time/satisfaction.

  2. “they were old hate, and not cool and cutting edge”

    Is this what we call a Freudian typo?

    1. I think the main reason the cool new kids hate AC and RAH is that they know they couldn’t be a tenth as good — because with RAH they can hate the fact he loved the US, but AC was technically what we know as a liberal — except she was really common-sensical about the relations between men and women, so maybe they hate that.

      1. Query: I should know this, but who is AC?

        On Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 8:52 AM, madgeniusclub wrote:

        > accordingtohoyt commented: “I think the main reason the cool new kids > hate AC and RAH is that they know they couldn’t be a tenth as good — > because with RAH they can hate the fact he loved the US, but AC was > technically what we know as a liberal — except she was really common-sensi” >

  3. While I agree that wanting to be seen as hip is a big part of it, there is also the need to compartmentalize things. Publishers want to be able to neatly classify things, and they are uncomfortable with things that don’t fit.

    Even though brick and mortar chain bookstores are failing, publishers still have the “One Book/One Genre/One Shelf” mentality, and books that don’t quite fit get marginalized because they don’t know what to do with them.

    Until something that doesn’t fit becomes so popular that they can’t ignore it any more, and then they invent a new genre so that they have someplace to file it.

    Consequently, genre is always reactive. John Grisham wrote a new kind of mystery, and all of a sudden we have “Courtroom Drama” as a genre. The roots of Urban Fantasy go back to Ann Rice, who wrote a brand new kind of horror novel that became so huge that it needed it’s own shelf.

    Real estate in bookstores is limited (and remember, publishers are still thinking in terms of physical shelves, despite the fact that the majority of books, I believe, are sold on-line) so in order to make room for “Courtroom Drama” and “Paranormal Romance” something has to go.

    “Space Opera” and “Cozy Mystery” are both old genres and in the world of “What’s Happening Now” old means bad. However, this also means that they have a very short memory, and all it would take is one smash hit and they will build a new shelf for space operas, they’ll just give it a new name like “Extraterrestrial Adventure” so that they don’t have to admit that something old is new again.

  4. I am reminded of Larry Correia being told he wasn’t a “real” fantasy writer because his monsters were contemporary or noir. No knights, swords or armor on your magic users? Not “real” fantasy.

    I wonder if anyone who says this realizes it is oxymoronic to say any class of fiction is “real?”

    1. Or, as Alan Moore put it in Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow? “This is an imaginary story. Aren’t they all?”

  5. Thank you. I got frustrated yesterday trying to decide what genre something “fits” into per an e-book algorithm. It’s not exactly a this, but that doesn’t fit any better, and I wouldn’t call it a thus-n-such but it’s sure as heck not a one-over-here. Grrr.

  6. I think, if we are talking about the same group, that the purists are concerned that everything except Baen is becoming soup and they are trying to go back to that ‘old time religion’ so to speak. Much as I hate ‘tagging’ I can see their point. However, that just makes it harder for the independent writer who just wants to write and sell stories that are not set in rigid molds. I think everyone on this site can agree that this petty infighting is not helpful, especially for us who don’t fit the mold.

      1. Personally, I think we need a new subgenre. A “Gray Goo” classification would save wear and tear on the plaster as we hurl the book across the room. And hopefull warn off the unsuspecting who just want a good story with exploding spaceships.

        Of course, tags and keywords and whatever help narrow down searches.

  7. “I managed to send out a series of proposals for historical mysteries, in which Leonard DaVinci invents forensic science.”

    Ooh! I want to read that one!

      1. No. And yes, what I showed people made them really like it. problem is it’s oen of those projects that requires research so I need to dig myself out first.

  8. Of course Space Opera isn’t “real SF”. After all, people like it and want to read it. Real SF is the home of grey goo and eco-doom.

  9. No– those books are UF even if the sex is implied. I am getting tired of “peeping Tom” in genre books. If it isn’t romance, then it takes away from the story– except for the exceptions. 😉 As for Space Opera, I am grateful that you are working it– I am a fan of E.E. “Doc” Smith and he was Space Opera for several years.

    1. I got hooked on Sf with Forbidden Planet, and TS Jr. I found “Doc,” Doc Savage, and others in used book stores. It attracted me, for one reason. *Every* genre could be found there. Westerns, Military, Mystery, Romance (good not Harlequin), Spy , Humor, etc. Fantasy was everything that didn’t have a “Hard Science” basis. It can be: \Medieval, Modern Medieval, Urban, etc.

  10. This explains my sole one-star review of “Dead Man’s Fugue” on Amazon, where the reviewer claimed, quote, “This is definetily [sic] not science fiction; it’s a criminal underworld adventure set in space.”

    I’ve been scratching my head over that for a while now. Appreciate the insight! 🙂

    1. Unless “criminal underword adventure set in space” is profoundly misleading, I think you probably got the better part of that review, because it sounds really interesting. 😉

      1. Yes that does sound interesting. Oh, part of my definition of Science Fiction is “can the story be told without the Science Fiction elements”. While I’ve enjoyed J. D. Robb’s Eve Dallas/In Death mysteries I’m not sure most of them are “real science fiction” as the stories could work set in today’s world without the “flying cars”. Mind you, I can enjoy a story might not be “real SF” by my rule and I’m not going to write a negative review because it doesn’t met my rule. [Smile]

        1. I think that most science fiction stories can be told without the science fiction elements *however* if the sci-fi is just pointless window dressing it’s sort of a waste.

      2. Agreed.

        On Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 3:01 PM, madgeniusclub wrote:

        > Synova commented: “Unless “criminal underword adventure set in space” > is profoundly misleading, I think you probably got the better part of that > review, because it sounds really interesting. ;)” >

      3. Glad you think it sounds interesting. 🙂 And no, it’s not profoundly misleading!

        I really need to get the sequel finished up, though.

            1. Found it. [Smile]

              Oh, I can’t think much of somebody who calls himself “StudSupreme”. He must really have an ego problem so his review isn’t worth much. [Wink]

    2. I just got something similar. For a book set in the 22nd century, with genetic engineering (just as background) and a returning interstellar ship that has discovered a new Earth, the review said “not a lot of science fiction.” I put my chin in my hand, looked thoughtful, and said, “huh.”

    3. Love the misspelling in that review. How would you define “tily”? “Resembling a shape that can be replicated to cover a surface with no gaps” is how I’d probably do it.

  11. What I want is the SF cozy mystery (or the fantasy one or the historical one). I loved the Brother Cadfael books for example. When I first read the Asimov SF mysteries (Caves of Steel and it’s sequel whose name escapes me) I found them fascinating.

    There used to be a whole load of these sorts of story but now they seem to have disappeared.

      1. I’m not sure I ever forgave him for turning Daneel evil.

        On Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM, madgeniusclub wrote:

        > Zachary Ricks commented: “Two sequels – The Naked Sky and Robots of > Dawn. And then Asimov I think tied it to Foundation in a much later book?” >

        1. There was another in the series after Robots of Dawn: Robots and Empire, which was set after Elijah Bailey had died.

          But wait, turning Daneel evil? What book did this happen in?

          1. In the last Foundation novel Asimov wrote, we find Daneel on Earth’s Moon. Apparently he had been attempting to play God King for centuries. Since Daneel was reaching the end of his reign (memory overload), Daneel planned to implant himself into the brain of an alien child (a little girl). Her people were originally human but had made major changes to their genetics to the point where (to Daneel) the First Law of Robotics didn’t apply to them.

            1. The sad thing is, Asimov clearly had no idea that this was evil. He did his level best to portray this monstrosity as a happy ending to the story.

        2. Daneel evil? He’s not evil. He’s operating in the Best Interests of Humanity by planning to take over that alien girl’s mind!!!!! [Sarcastic Grin]

          Seriously, after rereading _Second Foundation_ I decided that the Second Foundation was a bad thing.

          Apparently Asimov later agreed but replaced the Second Foundation (as the Good Guys) with a “God King” (Daneel and his “replacement”). That’s a Good Idea????

            1. I have very mixed feelings about Asimov’s writing. I owe him a lot – our local library had many of his books, both novels and his non-fiction essays. I loved his non-fiction essays, and enjoyed many of his novels (it helps to be 12 years old when you read some of them, so the absence of normal human relationships either isn’t obvious or seems unimportant). His Black Widower puzzle stories were fun, too (and had much better characterization than most of his non-fiction – modeling the characters on real-life friends apparently helped a great deal)

              In many ways, his non-fiction essays filled the same role that Sagan’s work did a generation later: they introduced then-current scientific discoveries, and the methodology behind science, to the general population in a form that a bright middle school student could follow. His intellectual breadth was impressive – he was knowledgeable, if not expert, in many fields, and took a real joy in explaining them for the rest of us. After Heinlein, he was probably the biggest reason I ended up choosing engineering as a career.

              But his sociology was, at best, suspect. He had more than his fair share of intellectual hubris, and an almost naive faith in social control and collectivist government. In his world, the best and brightest – self-designated, of course – really *were* the best and brightest, and by definition *should* be running the world. And anyone resisting was by definition self-centered, evil, uninformed, or stupid (very often more than one).

              He also had little-to-no understanding of the realities of life outside an urban center, but that’s an all-too-common trait of city – especially New York City – people. Given his formative experience, The Caves of Steel was far less of an intellectual reach than attempting something like Heinlein’s Farmer in the Sky would have been.

              1. His books about atomic physics got me interested in physics as a kid. I suspect, with certain tweaks for later discoveries, they’d hold up pretty well for “basic fission science.” The Black Widowers were also fun. The first three Foundation books were cool as a teenager, as was _The Gods Themselves_, and I liked the original _I, Robot_. His later stuff I just avoid. I tried one of the follow-up Foundation books and quit.

                1. His physics books did more for me on un-fsking the mathematics school supposedly taught me than any course I’ve taken. I plan on saving them for the godson, just in case this common core horse-squeeze is still around when he gets there…

          1. Better the God King than Gaia/Galaxia. At least you don’t have to share thoughtspace with the tool of oppression with Daneel (Unless you’re the girl.)

  12. It wouldn’t surprise me if they said space opera isn’t really science fiction.

    That’s what they used to say. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, I read stuff knocking on “Doc” Smith as “He didn’t write Science Fiction, he wrote Space Opera,” as if that were a horrible thing to do.

    1. I remember that, on-line, in the 90’s. *Sniff* “Lois Bujold doesn’t write science fiction she writes…. Space Opera.” I really don’t think it was probably until after 2000 when, instead of trying to explain why so-and-so was *good* when someone would start looking down their nose, people just started to respond, “Yes, and Space Opera *rocks*!” And we got con panels about “Why was Golden Age so completely AWESOME?”

      Or maybe there always was the push-back and that’s just when I noticed?

      All that “real science fiction is literature” stuff, and vilification of anyone who was unfortunate to use the incorrect term… “sci-fi”… well, that was a bit like publicly announcing your puppy blender experiments. I do remember that at that time.

    2. Yes. One of the reasons why two fandoms parted ways is that people were talking about issuing “tests” for knowledge base– to define SF fandoms. All this, just to enter the con. They had all these narrow definitions of various flavors of SF and Fantasy, and folks like gamers and media fen were *right out*. I ask, “well, who is going to attend the con other than your friends?” That was in the 1990’s.

      And the re-defining of various SF is mighty confusing. Why would what used to be Hard SF WANT the title Space Opera? As I recall, that was a term of derision. I first heard it applied to Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. After the scathing review I overheard, I really, really wanted to read it. Funny, it was better than I’d anticipated, and I had high expectations by that point.

      As for Asimov– I loved him, until I started reading his tortured explanations about how to control people with elements of society. I think he was the first one to coin the term “social engineering”. That discussion really creeped me out. That conversation escalated, and wove itself into the plot, and I was rather annoyed by it. I can’t remember which book that was, if it was three or the first book of the second series, but I stopped after that. Then I read a little bit of one of the later books, and realized I’d made a very good decision.

      Though I have to admit, Asimov’s the magazine had a great story about Asimov and Sturgeon and Einstein in the military, investigating the Philadelphia Experiment. That was a mind blowingly awesome tale, and I thought one could easily have made a novel out of it. I think I like Asimov better as a character, than a writer…

      1. I don’t actually mind really strict definitions– so long as they’re either VERY well argued, or used so I understand what the individual is talking about. I really hate hearing people talk about how “more women than men are gamers” in gaming groups– that’s equivocation, they’re going off of surveys that count playing Bejeweled as “gaming” and trying to sell it as women playing WoW and HALO.

        1. Well, it depends on those definitions. Clear definitions are not the same thing as narrow. And there are ginormous differences between both RPGs and Video Games, even WOW and Bejeweled. Not to mention the sort of (ugh) lifestyle choices based on it. I’m tempted to claim a bejeweled player, who buys a huge console and spends more than 4 hours a day on it– is actually a gamer. I’ve heard of people spending (average) six hours a day with Candy Crush, or So I’m Told. But, if someone just pulls out a cell phone and plays bejeweled when they are waiting in line at the grocery? Please.

          FYI: I’m not saying that a person must be irresponsible with the hobby to qualify as a gamer– simply to give weight to the hobby as a priority in their life.

          1. I tend to put it in the same category as bowling.

            My husband does bowling, I don’t– that doesn’t mean I never go to an alley, it means that I’m more likely to pick a ball by “it looks pretty” while he has shoes and his own ball.

  13. Purist?

    Who are you calling a purist?

    You can’t slap a label on me and stick me in a little box! I refused to be pigeonholed!

    (Sorry, weird day. Felt the need to point out some hypocrisy.

  14. Oh, no…. now I have a strong urge to write a “Cozy Paranormal,” and I don’t even know what that is! My werewolf investigating local crimes that her infector’s side triggered?

    1. A werewolf who runs a dog-grooming parlor and one of her client’s owners gets murdered or disappears? And the werewolf has a quiet crush on the dog’s vet, who might be a suspect? *shrug* You might look at _The Doberman Wore Black_ for some ideas. (Not a paranormal, but a veterinary semi-cozy set in Aspen, CO.)

        1. The idea of a werewolf cozy… there’s some opportunities there for some humorous interactions when she encounters the bad-guys who don’t know what they’re getting into… or house cats… or strong smells…

          The dog grooming parlor is a great idea because new and different people with new and annoying pets and curious problems have a reason to enter the werewolf’s life on a regular basis.

          (Not that it has to be too logical… Jessica Fletcher never ran out of relatives and close acquaintances to be murdered or accused of murder.)

          1. At the very least, this is letting me know more about my werewolf.

            I think her name may actually be Jessica…or maybe Veronica.

            She gets into things through her Supernatural Support Group. (Run by a vanilla human. Married, with at least a half-dozen kids in the house at any time, not sure how many are hers, and a rose garden. The human’s husband is an ancestral paranormal, as opposed to an acquired paranormal.)

          2. (Not that it has to be too logical… Jessica Fletcher never ran out of relatives and close acquaintances to be murdered or accused of murder.)

            Hey, she had a big family! 🙂

            1. We used to joke that if you were a friend or relative of Jessica Fletcher and learned she planned a visit, your best bet was to move and leave no forwarding address.

    2. Fox– I SO want to read that! I think the Pacific Northwest is under represented (could easily be selection bias) for such things, and I love nature, too. Hint. Hint. 😛 One of my favorite things about 4400 (totally different) was the wonderful scenes of Mt. Ranier. I also liked the Gideon Oliver series for the moody natural elements, too.

      Sadly, the areas I know are in Michigan, which seems positively bursting with detection related mayhem. Folks are being murdered and investigated rather densely in that state, to go by the sheer density of mysteries set there. But…that’s what I know. Some point, after I get some stuff stuck in my head, I’ll do a Chicago story. I just have to hope I can think of one that doesn’t involve too much history– or time travel.

      Also Madison area near St. Louis, before it became a pit. I have some first hand historical info that’s crying out for a mystery. But… one person. Hey, if you figure out how to get that maid, Sarah, can you share? I think I need a maid squad. 🙂

  15. Some folks need to have the “If By Whiskey” speech printed out hand handed to them. Repeatedly. Possibly on granite tablets.

    1. I had to google that speech. Trying to think if any graduates of our current educational system could even pronounce half the words he uses 😉

  16. Seems to me I recall one of “Golden Agers” saying something like: “What’s Science Fiction? Science Fiction is what I’m pointing at when I say ‘Science Fiction.'”

    (Sorry, blessed if I can recall who it was.)

  17. You reminded me of a book I haven’t looked at in a while. George A. Kelly’s A Theory of Personality: The Psychology of Personal Constructs. It’s from 1963, and he’s basically a psychologist who is trying to understand how we see the world. In the third chapter, where he’s expounding on the nature of personal constructs, which are basically the way we divvy up the world, about page 156 he talks about an impermeable versus permeable constructs — impermeable ones only admit a specific membership, while permeable ones admit that other things might also be part of this class. He also talks about preemptive and constellatory constructs. Preemptive constructs say things that are in this realm are only in this realm — if it’s science fiction, it can’t be anything else! Constellatory constructs say that anything in this realm has to have these characteristics — if it’s science fiction, removing the science will break it. But it certainly could include characteristics of other realms, too.

    It does seem as though genre is used in various different ways. For some people, genre is a closed membership, and you must have these tropes and no others if you want to qualify. Preemptive genres! Others might admit that if you have these tropes, you qualify for this genre, and you might have others, too. Constellatory genres.

    The question of permeability of genres, and of what to do with cross genre mash ups, seems to vex certain people. On the other hand, I think a lot of readers are perfectly happy to read what they like, no matter which genre boundaries it may hop over. In fact, the whole idea of the B story, often deliberately chosen from a contrasting genre to play against the main story… almost seems to demand breaking down those fences, doesn’t it?

    1. Good example of a pre-emptive construct: the American notion of “children’s cartoons,” especially as it existed 25 or more years ago. If it’s a “children’s cartoon,” then it can’t be good fantasy or science fiction. This was a self-fulfilling prophecy — when a children’s cartoon became good fantasy or science fiction, the Suits would descend to put it back on track, because they knew what the audience really wanted.

      (that was usually the end of that cartoon, with one last horrible season. This is what happened to Gargoyles, for instance — which was previously excellent science fantasy xenofiction before Season 3).

  18. So in the shower a few minutes ago, I was thinking about the idea that “If an SF story can be told without the SF elements, it isn’t really SF. And the thing that popped into my head was “Blade Runner”. So without the flying cars, can it still be told. Yes. Without Replicants, not so much. But then the idea hit me, why not in a Fantasy style? Rick Deckard being a knight out to destroy Golems that have been fashioned so well they are nearly indistinguishable from real people….

    (The toymaker could be an artist who sculpted the faces, and so on…)

  19. “When I wrote Draw One In The Dark, I was told it was not “real” Urban fantasy, because it has multiple point of views, and while there’s a romance, there’s no sex till book three, and even then it’s implied.”

    Quick, someone call China Miéville and tell him he needs to step up and write some “real” urban fantasy rather than that phony stuff he’s made his career off of.

    Better tell Neil Gaiman he doesn’t know what he’s doing while you are at it, since American Gods had multiple points of view and IIRC Neverwhere didn’t have sex in it.

    Who are these dolts? Agents? Publishers?

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