The never-ending thread and my rambling reaction.

19 07 2009

There is an ever-expanding discussion going on over at Jeff Vandermeer’s blog. I’m thinking someone needs to start organizing this thread into book form. Interesting (and sometimes exhausting) reading: http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2009/07/05/war-of-all-against-all-realism-vs-fabulism-er-no/.

Me, as a reader, I honestly don’t pay too much attention to genre. When going to the bookstore, I generally head straight to the bargain rack because I’m a cheapskate. If I don’t see anything new there, I tend to wander around the literary section more than anywhere else. Here lately, I’ve been paying a lot more attention to Young Adult, comics, and children’s books (being a dad and all). I would spend more time in the science fiction and fantasy section if less of it was occupied by media tie-ins and epic doorstops. I have nothing against the media tie-ins and the never-ending series books. In fact I do enjoy some of them.  I also greatly appreciate the talent and skill involved in writing the epic story in a fully-fleshed out alternative universe, but I don’t really have time to get wrapped up in a story that takes 15-20 books of about 1,000 pages each to tell.  Too much to do, too much to read, too much to write, and, of course, too little time, but that’s a post for another day.

In my opinion, genre is irrelevant. An interesting book is an interesting book. For example, I’ll look at the last three books I read: Children of Hurin, Tolkien (Fantasy); Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill (horror); and The Bone People by Keri Hulme ("literary"/realistic fiction)*. All very different, but even so, they have similarities. All three books are about broken people trying to fix themselves to some extent.

I grew up reading fantasy, horror, and science fiction. In college I was brainwashed into thinking this was wrong. Now I see that the "literary" is really nothing more than another label. It is the story, the ideas, and the interaction between characters that counts in the end, after all. If it takes place in a fantastic setting, so much the better, as far as I’m concerned. A little escapist fiction can be fun, and I also tend to get a kick out of experimental narratives when done well and coherently.

What’s the difference between Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams? In the end, the main difference came down to marketing and bookstore classification. Each write satires that can be pretty biting. Sure Vonnegut was a little more experimental in form, but if you read them together you can see that both authors are working with some of the same themes, both are using genre tropes as tools, as metaphors. All the same, one is classified or shelved as literary while the other is sci-fi.

Even as a writer, I don’t really pay too much attention to genre. I like writing dark fantasy and horror. I’ve got nothing against a fantastic science fiction setting. All the same, some stories are best told in a real world setting. It all just depends on what you want to say and how you want to say it. For me, it all comes down to the ideas in your mind and the format that you feel most comfortable using to transmit those ideas. 

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48 responses

20 07 2009
realthog

“I would spend more time in the science fiction and fantasy section if less of it was occupied by media tie-ins and epic doorstops.”

I cannot say too loudly how much I agree with you about this: I used to gravitate toward the f/sf section without any conscious volition required, yet now I find I nearly never go there, for exactly the reason you give. If I read f/sf at all now, it’s through specific recommendations from friends and/or reviewers (although I trust only certain of the genre reviewers these days and have lost faith entirely in many of the industry ones, like PW and Kirkus).

I sort of feel it’s time we rose up to reclaim the genre(s) we love from the commercial turds who’ve stolen the names to stick on all sorts of garbage, but it’s difficult to know where to start.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for your feedback on the subject.

I know we’re not alone and that other writers I communicate with share this opinion.

But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be). If series and media tie-ins keep selling, they’ll keep being written. Simple supply and demand.

IMO the best way people can rise up and make change is by supporting those authors and other artists out there trying to do interesting things with genre. I think this is already happening to some extent, especially with a lot of the smaller presses. The fact that mainstream “literary” authors like Chabon and McCarthy are finding success writing speculative fiction novels doesn’t hurt.

22 07 2009
realthog

“But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be).”

Unfortunately, it’s neither. The reading tastes of this and most other Western nations are determined almost to exclusivity by the big publishing and bookselling conglomerates, who between them decide what books the public will be given to select among. As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available, however bad it objectively is. To a preponderant degree, this is the situation for almost the entirety of the book-buying public. Folks like you, me and a lot of LJers are unusual in that we’re aware of the good stuff coming out of the medium-through-minuscule houses (and sometimes even the bigger houses), not to mention the foreign houses. But our collective buying power, however much we would like to think otherwise, is far too tiny for the B&Ns of this world to need to pay any attention to it.

The one area of fiction publishing where this doesn’t completely hold true is children’s/YA. The classic example in recent decades of the readers dictating the market has been Harry Potter; the medium-sized UK literary house Bloomsbury published Rowling’s first because they liked it and believed they could break even. It was the kids who spread the word virally . . . even though the usage of the word “virally”, and the technology to go with that usage, hadn’t yet quite come about.

There’s a somehow relevant piece by Adam Roberts here: http://punkadiddle.blogspot.com/2009/07/hugos-2009.html.

23 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for the link.

“As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available…”

That does seem true sometimes. I’ve worked in bookstores in the past setting up endcaps, front-facing, and creating displays. But the bookstores and publishers tend to work with established trends — ex. right now X topic is hot, this ficiton is about X, put that on display — you know, that sort of thing. It makes business sense a lot of the time. Not always, but some of the time.

You’re right about the current YA market. It is exploding. I just hope that bubble doesn’t burst until after I finally get my YA trilogy onto the shelves πŸ™‚

Kids do drive the market. Just look at music sales — look at box office revenues. I remember a report once where it explained that the 13-20 year-old range has the most free time and money to spend on entertainment.

People like me in their 30’s, older (wiser?) readers have other priorities vying for their finances. They have kids to buy kids’ books for, for example. I know that I end up spending more on my boys than myself in the bookstore these days. At least a lot of these “children’s” books are really well-written these days. They go a little more deep than “See Spot sit.” They have beautiful artwork and utilize literary language. Except for the odd Spongebob book, of course, but I won’t hold that against the little yellow dude.

23 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for the link.

“As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available…”

That does seem true sometimes. I’ve worked in bookstores in the past setting up endcaps, front-facing, and creating displays. But the bookstores and publishers tend to work with established trends — ex. right now X topic is hot, this ficiton is about X, put that on display — you know, that sort of thing. It makes business sense a lot of the time. Not always, but some of the time.

You’re right about the current YA market. It is exploding. I just hope that bubble doesn’t burst until after I finally get my YA trilogy onto the shelves πŸ™‚

Kids do drive the market. Just look at music sales — look at box office revenues. I remember a report once where it explained that the 13-20 year-old range has the most free time and money to spend on entertainment.

People like me in their 30’s, older (wiser?) readers have other priorities vying for their finances. They have kids to buy kids’ books for, for example. I know that I end up spending more on my boys than myself in the bookstore these days. At least a lot of these “children’s” books are really well-written these days. They go a little more deep than “See Spot sit.” They have beautiful artwork and utilize literary language. Except for the odd Spongebob book, of course, but I won’t hold that against the little yellow dude.

22 07 2009
realthog

“But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be).”

Unfortunately, it’s neither. The reading tastes of this and most other Western nations are determined almost to exclusivity by the big publishing and bookselling conglomerates, who between them decide what books the public will be given to select among. As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available, however bad it objectively is. To a preponderant degree, this is the situation for almost the entirety of the book-buying public. Folks like you, me and a lot of LJers are unusual in that we’re aware of the good stuff coming out of the medium-through-minuscule houses (and sometimes even the bigger houses), not to mention the foreign houses. But our collective buying power, however much we would like to think otherwise, is far too tiny for the B&Ns of this world to need to pay any attention to it.

The one area of fiction publishing where this doesn’t completely hold true is children’s/YA. The classic example in recent decades of the readers dictating the market has been Harry Potter; the medium-sized UK literary house Bloomsbury published Rowling’s first because they liked it and believed they could break even. It was the kids who spread the word virally . . . even though the usage of the word “virally”, and the technology to go with that usage, hadn’t yet quite come about.

There’s a somehow relevant piece by Adam Roberts here: http://punkadiddle.blogspot.com/2009/07/hugos-2009.html.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for your feedback on the subject.

I know we’re not alone and that other writers I communicate with share this opinion.

But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be). If series and media tie-ins keep selling, they’ll keep being written. Simple supply and demand.

IMO the best way people can rise up and make change is by supporting those authors and other artists out there trying to do interesting things with genre. I think this is already happening to some extent, especially with a lot of the smaller presses. The fact that mainstream “literary” authors like Chabon and McCarthy are finding success writing speculative fiction novels doesn’t hurt.

20 07 2009
realthog

“I would spend more time in the science fiction and fantasy section if less of it was occupied by media tie-ins and epic doorstops.”

I cannot say too loudly how much I agree with you about this: I used to gravitate toward the f/sf section without any conscious volition required, yet now I find I nearly never go there, for exactly the reason you give. If I read f/sf at all now, it’s through specific recommendations from friends and/or reviewers (although I trust only certain of the genre reviewers these days and have lost faith entirely in many of the industry ones, like PW and Kirkus).

I sort of feel it’s time we rose up to reclaim the genre(s) we love from the commercial turds who’ve stolen the names to stick on all sorts of garbage, but it’s difficult to know where to start.

20 07 2009
realthog

“I would spend more time in the science fiction and fantasy section if less of it was occupied by media tie-ins and epic doorstops.”

I cannot say too loudly how much I agree with you about this: I used to gravitate toward the f/sf section without any conscious volition required, yet now I find I nearly never go there, for exactly the reason you give. If I read f/sf at all now, it’s through specific recommendations from friends and/or reviewers (although I trust only certain of the genre reviewers these days and have lost faith entirely in many of the industry ones, like PW and Kirkus).

I sort of feel it’s time we rose up to reclaim the genre(s) we love from the commercial turds who’ve stolen the names to stick on all sorts of garbage, but it’s difficult to know where to start.

20 07 2009
realthog

“I would spend more time in the science fiction and fantasy section if less of it was occupied by media tie-ins and epic doorstops.”

I cannot say too loudly how much I agree with you about this: I used to gravitate toward the f/sf section without any conscious volition required, yet now I find I nearly never go there, for exactly the reason you give. If I read f/sf at all now, it’s through specific recommendations from friends and/or reviewers (although I trust only certain of the genre reviewers these days and have lost faith entirely in many of the industry ones, like PW and Kirkus).

I sort of feel it’s time we rose up to reclaim the genre(s) we love from the commercial turds who’ve stolen the names to stick on all sorts of garbage, but it’s difficult to know where to start.

20 07 2009
realthog

“I would spend more time in the science fiction and fantasy section if less of it was occupied by media tie-ins and epic doorstops.”

I cannot say too loudly how much I agree with you about this: I used to gravitate toward the f/sf section without any conscious volition required, yet now I find I nearly never go there, for exactly the reason you give. If I read f/sf at all now, it’s through specific recommendations from friends and/or reviewers (although I trust only certain of the genre reviewers these days and have lost faith entirely in many of the industry ones, like PW and Kirkus).

I sort of feel it’s time we rose up to reclaim the genre(s) we love from the commercial turds who’ve stolen the names to stick on all sorts of garbage, but it’s difficult to know where to start.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for your feedback on the subject.

I know we’re not alone and that other writers I communicate with share this opinion.

But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be). If series and media tie-ins keep selling, they’ll keep being written. Simple supply and demand.

IMO the best way people can rise up and make change is by supporting those authors and other artists out there trying to do interesting things with genre. I think this is already happening to some extent, especially with a lot of the smaller presses. The fact that mainstream “literary” authors like Chabon and McCarthy are finding success writing speculative fiction novels doesn’t hurt.

22 07 2009
realthog

“But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be).”

Unfortunately, it’s neither. The reading tastes of this and most other Western nations are determined almost to exclusivity by the big publishing and bookselling conglomerates, who between them decide what books the public will be given to select among. As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available, however bad it objectively is. To a preponderant degree, this is the situation for almost the entirety of the book-buying public. Folks like you, me and a lot of LJers are unusual in that we’re aware of the good stuff coming out of the medium-through-minuscule houses (and sometimes even the bigger houses), not to mention the foreign houses. But our collective buying power, however much we would like to think otherwise, is far too tiny for the B&Ns of this world to need to pay any attention to it.

The one area of fiction publishing where this doesn’t completely hold true is children’s/YA. The classic example in recent decades of the readers dictating the market has been Harry Potter; the medium-sized UK literary house Bloomsbury published Rowling’s first because they liked it and believed they could break even. It was the kids who spread the word virally . . . even though the usage of the word “virally”, and the technology to go with that usage, hadn’t yet quite come about.

There’s a somehow relevant piece by Adam Roberts here: http://punkadiddle.blogspot.com/2009/07/hugos-2009.html.

23 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for the link.

“As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available…”

That does seem true sometimes. I’ve worked in bookstores in the past setting up endcaps, front-facing, and creating displays. But the bookstores and publishers tend to work with established trends — ex. right now X topic is hot, this ficiton is about X, put that on display — you know, that sort of thing. It makes business sense a lot of the time. Not always, but some of the time.

You’re right about the current YA market. It is exploding. I just hope that bubble doesn’t burst until after I finally get my YA trilogy onto the shelves πŸ™‚

Kids do drive the market. Just look at music sales — look at box office revenues. I remember a report once where it explained that the 13-20 year-old range has the most free time and money to spend on entertainment.

People like me in their 30’s, older (wiser?) readers have other priorities vying for their finances. They have kids to buy kids’ books for, for example. I know that I end up spending more on my boys than myself in the bookstore these days. At least a lot of these “children’s” books are really well-written these days. They go a little more deep than “See Spot sit.” They have beautiful artwork and utilize literary language. Except for the odd Spongebob book, of course, but I won’t hold that against the little yellow dude.

20 07 2009
realthog

“I would spend more time in the science fiction and fantasy section if less of it was occupied by media tie-ins and epic doorstops.”

I cannot say too loudly how much I agree with you about this: I used to gravitate toward the f/sf section without any conscious volition required, yet now I find I nearly never go there, for exactly the reason you give. If I read f/sf at all now, it’s through specific recommendations from friends and/or reviewers (although I trust only certain of the genre reviewers these days and have lost faith entirely in many of the industry ones, like PW and Kirkus).

I sort of feel it’s time we rose up to reclaim the genre(s) we love from the commercial turds who’ve stolen the names to stick on all sorts of garbage, but it’s difficult to know where to start.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for your feedback on the subject.

I know we’re not alone and that other writers I communicate with share this opinion.

But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be). If series and media tie-ins keep selling, they’ll keep being written. Simple supply and demand.

IMO the best way people can rise up and make change is by supporting those authors and other artists out there trying to do interesting things with genre. I think this is already happening to some extent, especially with a lot of the smaller presses. The fact that mainstream “literary” authors like Chabon and McCarthy are finding success writing speculative fiction novels doesn’t hurt.

22 07 2009
realthog

“But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be).”

Unfortunately, it’s neither. The reading tastes of this and most other Western nations are determined almost to exclusivity by the big publishing and bookselling conglomerates, who between them decide what books the public will be given to select among. As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available, however bad it objectively is. To a preponderant degree, this is the situation for almost the entirety of the book-buying public. Folks like you, me and a lot of LJers are unusual in that we’re aware of the good stuff coming out of the medium-through-minuscule houses (and sometimes even the bigger houses), not to mention the foreign houses. But our collective buying power, however much we would like to think otherwise, is far too tiny for the B&Ns of this world to need to pay any attention to it.

The one area of fiction publishing where this doesn’t completely hold true is children’s/YA. The classic example in recent decades of the readers dictating the market has been Harry Potter; the medium-sized UK literary house Bloomsbury published Rowling’s first because they liked it and believed they could break even. It was the kids who spread the word virally . . . even though the usage of the word “virally”, and the technology to go with that usage, hadn’t yet quite come about.

There’s a somehow relevant piece by Adam Roberts here: http://punkadiddle.blogspot.com/2009/07/hugos-2009.html.

23 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for the link.

“As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available…”

That does seem true sometimes. I’ve worked in bookstores in the past setting up endcaps, front-facing, and creating displays. But the bookstores and publishers tend to work with established trends — ex. right now X topic is hot, this ficiton is about X, put that on display — you know, that sort of thing. It makes business sense a lot of the time. Not always, but some of the time.

You’re right about the current YA market. It is exploding. I just hope that bubble doesn’t burst until after I finally get my YA trilogy onto the shelves πŸ™‚

Kids do drive the market. Just look at music sales — look at box office revenues. I remember a report once where it explained that the 13-20 year-old range has the most free time and money to spend on entertainment.

People like me in their 30’s, older (wiser?) readers have other priorities vying for their finances. They have kids to buy kids’ books for, for example. I know that I end up spending more on my boys than myself in the bookstore these days. At least a lot of these “children’s” books are really well-written these days. They go a little more deep than “See Spot sit.” They have beautiful artwork and utilize literary language. Except for the odd Spongebob book, of course, but I won’t hold that against the little yellow dude.

20 07 2009
realthog

“I would spend more time in the science fiction and fantasy section if less of it was occupied by media tie-ins and epic doorstops.”
I cannot say too loudly how much I agree with you about this: I used to gravitate toward the f/sf section without any conscious volition required, yet now I find I nearly never go there, for exactly the reason you give. If I read f/sf at all now, it’s through specific recommendations from friends and/or reviewers (although I trust only certain of the genre reviewers these days and have lost faith entirely in many of the industry ones, like PW and Kirkus).
I sort of feel it’s time we rose up to reclaim the genre(s) we love from the commercial turds who’ve stolen the names to stick on all sorts of garbage, but it’s difficult to know where to start.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for your feedback on the subject.
I know we’re not alone and that other writers I communicate with share this opinion.
But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be). If series and media tie-ins keep selling, they’ll keep being written. Simple supply and demand.
IMO the best way people can rise up and make change is by supporting those authors and other artists out there trying to do interesting things with genre. I think this is already happening to some extent, especially with a lot of the smaller presses. The fact that mainstream “literary” authors like Chabon and McCarthy are finding success writing speculative fiction novels doesn’t hurt.

22 07 2009
realthog

“But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be).”
Unfortunately, it’s neither. The reading tastes of this and most other Western nations are determined almost to exclusivity by the big publishing and bookselling conglomerates, who between them decide what books the public will be given to select among. As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available, however bad it objectively is. To a preponderant degree, this is the situation for almost the entirety of the book-buying public. Folks like you, me and a lot of LJers are unusual in that we’re aware of the good stuff coming out of the medium-through-minuscule houses (and sometimes even the bigger houses), not to mention the foreign houses. But our collective buying power, however much we would like to think otherwise, is far too tiny for the B&Ns of this world to need to pay any attention to it.
The one area of fiction publishing where this doesn’t completely hold true is children’s/YA. The classic example in recent decades of the readers dictating the market has been Harry Potter; the medium-sized UK literary house Bloomsbury published Rowling’s first because they liked it and believed they could break even. It was the kids who spread the word virally . . . even though the usage of the word “virally”, and the technology to go with that usage, hadn’t yet quite come about.
There’s a somehow relevant piece by Adam Roberts here: http://punkadiddle.blogspot.com/2009/07/hugos-2009.html.

23 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for the link.
“As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available…”
That does seem true sometimes. I’ve worked in bookstores in the past setting up endcaps, front-facing, and creating displays. But the bookstores and publishers tend to work with established trends — ex. right now X topic is hot, this ficiton is about X, put that on display — you know, that sort of thing. It makes business sense a lot of the time. Not always, but some of the time.
You’re right about the current YA market. It is exploding. I just hope that bubble doesn’t burst until after I finally get my YA trilogy onto the shelves πŸ™‚
Kids do drive the market. Just look at music sales — look at box office revenues. I remember a report once where it explained that the 13-20 year-old range has the most free time and money to spend on entertainment.
People like me in their 30’s, older (wiser?) readers have other priorities vying for their finances. They have kids to buy kids’ books for, for example. I know that I end up spending more on my boys than myself in the bookstore these days. At least a lot of these “children’s” books are really well-written these days. They go a little more deep than “See Spot sit.” They have beautiful artwork and utilize literary language. Except for the odd Spongebob book, of course, but I won’t hold that against the little yellow dude.

23 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for the link.
“As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available…”
That does seem true sometimes. I’ve worked in bookstores in the past setting up endcaps, front-facing, and creating displays. But the bookstores and publishers tend to work with established trends — ex. right now X topic is hot, this ficiton is about X, put that on display — you know, that sort of thing. It makes business sense a lot of the time. Not always, but some of the time.
You’re right about the current YA market. It is exploding. I just hope that bubble doesn’t burst until after I finally get my YA trilogy onto the shelves πŸ™‚
Kids do drive the market. Just look at music sales — look at box office revenues. I remember a report once where it explained that the 13-20 year-old range has the most free time and money to spend on entertainment.
People like me in their 30’s, older (wiser?) readers have other priorities vying for their finances. They have kids to buy kids’ books for, for example. I know that I end up spending more on my boys than myself in the bookstore these days. At least a lot of these “children’s” books are really well-written these days. They go a little more deep than “See Spot sit.” They have beautiful artwork and utilize literary language. Except for the odd Spongebob book, of course, but I won’t hold that against the little yellow dude.

22 07 2009
realthog

“But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be).”
Unfortunately, it’s neither. The reading tastes of this and most other Western nations are determined almost to exclusivity by the big publishing and bookselling conglomerates, who between them decide what books the public will be given to select among. As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available, however bad it objectively is. To a preponderant degree, this is the situation for almost the entirety of the book-buying public. Folks like you, me and a lot of LJers are unusual in that we’re aware of the good stuff coming out of the medium-through-minuscule houses (and sometimes even the bigger houses), not to mention the foreign houses. But our collective buying power, however much we would like to think otherwise, is far too tiny for the B&Ns of this world to need to pay any attention to it.
The one area of fiction publishing where this doesn’t completely hold true is children’s/YA. The classic example in recent decades of the readers dictating the market has been Harry Potter; the medium-sized UK literary house Bloomsbury published Rowling’s first because they liked it and believed they could break even. It was the kids who spread the word virally . . . even though the usage of the word “virally”, and the technology to go with that usage, hadn’t yet quite come about.
There’s a somehow relevant piece by Adam Roberts here: http://punkadiddle.blogspot.com/2009/07/hugos-2009.html.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for your feedback on the subject.
I know we’re not alone and that other writers I communicate with share this opinion.
But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be). If series and media tie-ins keep selling, they’ll keep being written. Simple supply and demand.
IMO the best way people can rise up and make change is by supporting those authors and other artists out there trying to do interesting things with genre. I think this is already happening to some extent, especially with a lot of the smaller presses. The fact that mainstream “literary” authors like Chabon and McCarthy are finding success writing speculative fiction novels doesn’t hurt.

20 07 2009
realthog

“I would spend more time in the science fiction and fantasy section if less of it was occupied by media tie-ins and epic doorstops.”
I cannot say too loudly how much I agree with you about this: I used to gravitate toward the f/sf section without any conscious volition required, yet now I find I nearly never go there, for exactly the reason you give. If I read f/sf at all now, it’s through specific recommendations from friends and/or reviewers (although I trust only certain of the genre reviewers these days and have lost faith entirely in many of the industry ones, like PW and Kirkus).
I sort of feel it’s time we rose up to reclaim the genre(s) we love from the commercial turds who’ve stolen the names to stick on all sorts of garbage, but it’s difficult to know where to start.

20 07 2009
bearleyport

“A little escapist fiction can be fun…”

I think so too.

Imagine: people no longer taking escapist fiction so seriously they’d blow themselves up in a crowd to join the fun.

Apologists for genre claim it as a place of fables, though any relevance of the story tends to be diluted out of being like the “active” ingredient in some quack homeopathic remedy.

I think the genre could do more and reach a wider audience if it once more presented itself as “fun” stories for children and young adults.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Hmm. I don’t know if I agree with the first point. I think we have a different definition of what constitutes “escapist fiction” πŸ™‚

I agree with your last point. Genre fiction should always strive to be “fun” on some level.

Thanks for speaking out on the subject. I always enjoy reading your comments.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Hmm. I don’t know if I agree with the first point. I think we have a different definition of what constitutes “escapist fiction” πŸ™‚

I agree with your last point. Genre fiction should always strive to be “fun” on some level.

Thanks for speaking out on the subject. I always enjoy reading your comments.

20 07 2009
bearleyport

“A little escapist fiction can be fun…”

I think so too.

Imagine: people no longer taking escapist fiction so seriously they’d blow themselves up in a crowd to join the fun.

Apologists for genre claim it as a place of fables, though any relevance of the story tends to be diluted out of being like the “active” ingredient in some quack homeopathic remedy.

I think the genre could do more and reach a wider audience if it once more presented itself as “fun” stories for children and young adults.

20 07 2009
bearleyport

“A little escapist fiction can be fun…”

I think so too.

Imagine: people no longer taking escapist fiction so seriously they’d blow themselves up in a crowd to join the fun.

Apologists for genre claim it as a place of fables, though any relevance of the story tends to be diluted out of being like the “active” ingredient in some quack homeopathic remedy.

I think the genre could do more and reach a wider audience if it once more presented itself as “fun” stories for children and young adults.

20 07 2009
bearleyport

“A little escapist fiction can be fun…”

I think so too.

Imagine: people no longer taking escapist fiction so seriously they’d blow themselves up in a crowd to join the fun.

Apologists for genre claim it as a place of fables, though any relevance of the story tends to be diluted out of being like the “active” ingredient in some quack homeopathic remedy.

I think the genre could do more and reach a wider audience if it once more presented itself as “fun” stories for children and young adults.

20 07 2009
bearleyport

“A little escapist fiction can be fun…”

I think so too.

Imagine: people no longer taking escapist fiction so seriously they’d blow themselves up in a crowd to join the fun.

Apologists for genre claim it as a place of fables, though any relevance of the story tends to be diluted out of being like the “active” ingredient in some quack homeopathic remedy.

I think the genre could do more and reach a wider audience if it once more presented itself as “fun” stories for children and young adults.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Hmm. I don’t know if I agree with the first point. I think we have a different definition of what constitutes “escapist fiction” πŸ™‚

I agree with your last point. Genre fiction should always strive to be “fun” on some level.

Thanks for speaking out on the subject. I always enjoy reading your comments.

20 07 2009
bearleyport

“A little escapist fiction can be fun…”

I think so too.

Imagine: people no longer taking escapist fiction so seriously they’d blow themselves up in a crowd to join the fun.

Apologists for genre claim it as a place of fables, though any relevance of the story tends to be diluted out of being like the “active” ingredient in some quack homeopathic remedy.

I think the genre could do more and reach a wider audience if it once more presented itself as “fun” stories for children and young adults.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Hmm. I don’t know if I agree with the first point. I think we have a different definition of what constitutes “escapist fiction” πŸ™‚

I agree with your last point. Genre fiction should always strive to be “fun” on some level.

Thanks for speaking out on the subject. I always enjoy reading your comments.

20 07 2009
bearleyport

“A little escapist fiction can be fun…”
I think so too.
Imagine: people no longer taking escapist fiction so seriously they’d blow themselves up in a crowd to join the fun.
Apologists for genre claim it as a place of fables, though any relevance of the story tends to be diluted out of being like the “active” ingredient in some quack homeopathic remedy.
I think the genre could do more and reach a wider audience if it once more presented itself as “fun” stories for children and young adults.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Hmm. I don’t know if I agree with the first point. I think we have a different definition of what constitutes “escapist fiction” πŸ™‚
I agree with your last point. Genre fiction should always strive to be “fun” on some level.
Thanks for speaking out on the subject. I always enjoy reading your comments.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Hmm. I don’t know if I agree with the first point. I think we have a different definition of what constitutes “escapist fiction” πŸ™‚
I agree with your last point. Genre fiction should always strive to be “fun” on some level.
Thanks for speaking out on the subject. I always enjoy reading your comments.

20 07 2009
bearleyport

“A little escapist fiction can be fun…”
I think so too.
Imagine: people no longer taking escapist fiction so seriously they’d blow themselves up in a crowd to join the fun.
Apologists for genre claim it as a place of fables, though any relevance of the story tends to be diluted out of being like the “active” ingredient in some quack homeopathic remedy.
I think the genre could do more and reach a wider audience if it once more presented itself as “fun” stories for children and young adults.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for your feedback on the subject.

I know we’re not alone and that other writers I communicate with share this opinion.

But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be). If series and media tie-ins keep selling, they’ll keep being written. Simple supply and demand.

IMO the best way people can rise up and make change is by supporting those authors and other artists out there trying to do interesting things with genre. I think this is already happening to some extent, especially with a lot of the smaller presses. The fact that mainstream “literary” authors like Chabon and McCarthy are finding success writing speculative fiction novels doesn’t hurt.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for your feedback on the subject.

I know we’re not alone and that other writers I communicate with share this opinion.

But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be). If series and media tie-ins keep selling, they’ll keep being written. Simple supply and demand.

IMO the best way people can rise up and make change is by supporting those authors and other artists out there trying to do interesting things with genre. I think this is already happening to some extent, especially with a lot of the smaller presses. The fact that mainstream “literary” authors like Chabon and McCarthy are finding success writing speculative fiction novels doesn’t hurt.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Hmm. I don’t know if I agree with the first point. I think we have a different definition of what constitutes “escapist fiction” πŸ™‚

I agree with your last point. Genre fiction should always strive to be “fun” on some level.

Thanks for speaking out on the subject. I always enjoy reading your comments.

22 07 2009
southernweirdo

Hmm. I don’t know if I agree with the first point. I think we have a different definition of what constitutes “escapist fiction” πŸ™‚

I agree with your last point. Genre fiction should always strive to be “fun” on some level.

Thanks for speaking out on the subject. I always enjoy reading your comments.

22 07 2009
realthog

“But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be).”

Unfortunately, it’s neither. The reading tastes of this and most other Western nations are determined almost to exclusivity by the big publishing and bookselling conglomerates, who between them decide what books the public will be given to select among. As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available, however bad it objectively is. To a preponderant degree, this is the situation for almost the entirety of the book-buying public. Folks like you, me and a lot of LJers are unusual in that we’re aware of the good stuff coming out of the medium-through-minuscule houses (and sometimes even the bigger houses), not to mention the foreign houses. But our collective buying power, however much we would like to think otherwise, is far too tiny for the B&Ns of this world to need to pay any attention to it.

The one area of fiction publishing where this doesn’t completely hold true is children’s/YA. The classic example in recent decades of the readers dictating the market has been Harry Potter; the medium-sized UK literary house Bloomsbury published Rowling’s first because they liked it and believed they could break even. It was the kids who spread the word virally . . . even though the usage of the word “virally”, and the technology to go with that usage, hadn’t yet quite come about.

There’s a somehow relevant piece by Adam Roberts here: http://punkadiddle.blogspot.com/2009/07/hugos-2009.html.

22 07 2009
realthog

“But I guess in the end it’s the readers and not the writers who will have the final say (as it should be).”

Unfortunately, it’s neither. The reading tastes of this and most other Western nations are determined almost to exclusivity by the big publishing and bookselling conglomerates, who between them decide what books the public will be given to select among. As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available, however bad it objectively is. To a preponderant degree, this is the situation for almost the entirety of the book-buying public. Folks like you, me and a lot of LJers are unusual in that we’re aware of the good stuff coming out of the medium-through-minuscule houses (and sometimes even the bigger houses), not to mention the foreign houses. But our collective buying power, however much we would like to think otherwise, is far too tiny for the B&Ns of this world to need to pay any attention to it.

The one area of fiction publishing where this doesn’t completely hold true is children’s/YA. The classic example in recent decades of the readers dictating the market has been Harry Potter; the medium-sized UK literary house Bloomsbury published Rowling’s first because they liked it and believed they could break even. It was the kids who spread the word virally . . . even though the usage of the word “virally”, and the technology to go with that usage, hadn’t yet quite come about.

There’s a somehow relevant piece by Adam Roberts here: http://punkadiddle.blogspot.com/2009/07/hugos-2009.html.

23 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for the link.

“As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available…”

That does seem true sometimes. I’ve worked in bookstores in the past setting up endcaps, front-facing, and creating displays. But the bookstores and publishers tend to work with established trends — ex. right now X topic is hot, this ficiton is about X, put that on display — you know, that sort of thing. It makes business sense a lot of the time. Not always, but some of the time.

You’re right about the current YA market. It is exploding. I just hope that bubble doesn’t burst until after I finally get my YA trilogy onto the shelves πŸ™‚

Kids do drive the market. Just look at music sales — look at box office revenues. I remember a report once where it explained that the 13-20 year-old range has the most free time and money to spend on entertainment.

People like me in their 30’s, older (wiser?) readers have other priorities vying for their finances. They have kids to buy kids’ books for, for example. I know that I end up spending more on my boys than myself in the bookstore these days. At least a lot of these “children’s” books are really well-written these days. They go a little more deep than “See Spot sit.” They have beautiful artwork and utilize literary language. Except for the odd Spongebob book, of course, but I won’t hold that against the little yellow dude.

23 07 2009
southernweirdo

Thanks for the link.

“As you’ll know yourself, if you go into a bookstore and everything on offer is garbage but you want a book to read, you choose the best garbage available…”

That does seem true sometimes. I’ve worked in bookstores in the past setting up endcaps, front-facing, and creating displays. But the bookstores and publishers tend to work with established trends — ex. right now X topic is hot, this ficiton is about X, put that on display — you know, that sort of thing. It makes business sense a lot of the time. Not always, but some of the time.

You’re right about the current YA market. It is exploding. I just hope that bubble doesn’t burst until after I finally get my YA trilogy onto the shelves πŸ™‚

Kids do drive the market. Just look at music sales — look at box office revenues. I remember a report once where it explained that the 13-20 year-old range has the most free time and money to spend on entertainment.

People like me in their 30’s, older (wiser?) readers have other priorities vying for their finances. They have kids to buy kids’ books for, for example. I know that I end up spending more on my boys than myself in the bookstore these days. At least a lot of these “children’s” books are really well-written these days. They go a little more deep than “See Spot sit.” They have beautiful artwork and utilize literary language. Except for the odd Spongebob book, of course, but I won’t hold that against the little yellow dude.

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