Quick Picks from CMCL

January 14, 2013

Off the Shelf: Smallerizing Your Genre Box

When people ask me what I like to read, I always find that a hard question to answer. My stock response is that I read by recommendation, which is definitely true and probably one of the best ways to sample a wide variety of material. Often though, when I’ve finished one book I don’t always remember the latest suggestion made to me, or the one I do recall isn’t checked in. So where do I go from there?

When I was younger, I used to say I read fantasy and science fiction. I collected the Piers Anthony Xanth series, and enjoyed all the Asimov that my grandparents could send me. “Fantasy” and “Science Fiction” were adequate terms. While I would say that I read those genres, the terms no longer fit the books.

sixth gun If I say fantasy, one might tend to think of sword swinging heroes, noble elves and dungeon dwelling monsters more along the lines of a Friday night gaming session and less like the tale of mystical guns and dark magic in the graphic novel series “The Sixth Gun”. Fantasy, yes, but also a perfect example of the “Weird West” sub-genre that combines the best of shoot-out westerns with the strange and magical. For novels, I’d have to recommend Stephen king’s Weird West opus “The Dark Tower” series. Strangely, the series opener “The Gunslinger” isn’t much of a novel, but everything after that is worth slugging it out for.

Truth be told, when it comes to science fiction I still read Asimov. He’s my go to guy when another book fails me. But “science fiction” is such a broad term it may as well just be fiction. Superheroes? Science Fiction. Lovecraftian Horror? Science fiction. Heck, that odd book about mole hunting and train wars that China Mieville wrote? Science Fiction. The only thing that isn’t science fiction is historical fiction. Even then, if the authors adds in something awesome, say like zombies and clockwork technology, it’s science fiction again. But let’s go back to clockwork and zombies and pull out some titles.

boneshakerCherie Priest has been leading the charge in the Steampunk sub-genre for a while now, and with five   books in her “Clockwork Century” series, it’s a bandwagon worth hopping on. She tells a wild tale of an ongoing civil war with escalating steam-powered technology, from war trains and giant walking machines to airships and shambling zombies. You can’t tell me you don’t want to read that.

So maybe next time someone asks me what I like to read, I’ll be a little more specific. Whether it’s historical literary zombie fiction or a Lovecraftian horror comedy, I’ll be putting it in a smaller genre box. “Weird West” may not be a household term, but it’ll never get there if I don’t start throwing it around more. After all, thanks to authors like Priest, everyone knows what Steampunk is these days. Right?

1 Comment »

  1. You actually produced a lot of wonderful items within
    ur post, “Off the Shelf: Smallerizing Your Genre Box Quick Picks
    from CMCL”. I will become coming back again to your webpage eventually.
    With thanks -Olive

    Comment by http://yahoo.com — February 9, 2013 @ 8:28 am


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