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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Genre Snobbery?

Somehow, Margaret and I got on the subject of writer/reader elitism. SF writers denigrate Romance. Mainstream pish-poshes Genre. Mystery snubs Horror. Literary vs. Mainstream. It’s all a great pot of misfits, each sticking their collective noses up at the other.

Ironically, those who have profited have been the trailblazer writers who crossed genre or literary lines when it was taboo, and created something brand new and exciting. From LK Hamilton’s con bio: Laurell K. Hamilton is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of two series that mix mystery, fantasy, magic, horror and romance. How’s that for mixing it up?

All I want is a good story and since becoming a writer I’ve become more and more discriminating about what makes a good story. My all time favorite book is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. This is a historical novel that is so beautifully written the words bathe you in emotion. Not a drop of SF in the entire book. But I still call myself an SF fan. A True Believer. (snicker)

(By the way, here’s a review with Diamant you might find interesting.)

Margaret said something rather profound. She said that aspects of human experience, like romance or religion are an integral part of humanity. Why shouldn’t they exist in SF or Mystery, or Horror? Why do genre snobs look down on other markets?

I belong to several SFF forums and it never fails to amuse me when someone (usually from the SF camp) pipes up and sniggers at Romance writers. Um…look around. Science fiction isn’t exactly market wildfire. We are a very select group occupying only a sliver of the reader pie.

There are some killer SF writers out there, but their audience remains a small one. The romance market on the other hand is bigger than the gross national product of most small countries. Diehard SF reader that I am, I’ll still opt for the emotional draw of a powerful romance over the cliché ploys of an average SF story.

Forget about the genre. It's all about the story.