Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Asimov Genre

The discussion this week is genre: What do you read? and What do you write?

I'd like to say that I read a lot of genres. I have, at least, tried a lot of genres. Some of them under duress. For instance, in one of my high school classes, we were required to choose books from several different genres to read for some assignment or other. We had to choose something like five different genres. Of course, science fiction and fantasy were lumped together, just the way they are at the book store, so I wasn't able to squeeze two of books out of that. I don't remember what all I read for that assignment other than that I read my one and only Harlequin romance book. What can I say? They were short, and they were easy to get at since my grandmother circulated them with a bunch of my other female relatives (mostly great-aunts). Let's just say I was unimpressed.

I also picked up my first Western for that assignment, a Louis L'Amour book. My grandfather had a whole shelf of L'Amour paperbacks. I liked it enough that I read several more of them, which, really, was the intent of the assignment, to introduce us to books we wouldn't normally read. I still try to do that, pick up books that I wouldn't normally read (which is like the whole Oscar thing my wife and I do with movies). I think it's good for you.

All of that said, I spent most of my high school career reading fantasy with some sci-fi mixed in. In fact, I spent a lot of that time reading Piers Anthony who often blended sci-fi and fantasy. Does he have enough books, yet, to be his own genre? How many does that take? I'm pretty sure Asimov has been awarded genre status. He has, right? So I read a lot of Anthony and Asimov genres.

I also read a lot of classics. Did and do. Periodically reading a classic is something I try to keep doing. Sometimes, those even fall into the sci-fi/fantasy category, so, like, doubleplusgood. And I spent some time reading thrillers, especially Clancy. And non-fiction. And historical fiction. And fiction that's historical because that's when it was written, but I don't think that counts as historical fiction.

So a lot of genres.

But I do tend to gravitate toward fantasy, and it's always what I want when I'm feeling the need to give my brain a rest.

And that might be why, so far, anyway, I've tended toward fantasy in my own writing. Or, at least, the fantastic.
The House on the Corner is fantasy in a Narnia-esque kind of way. Or in a contemporary sort of way reminiscent of The Dresden Files. There are a lot of similar structural elements there that I find interesting since I didn't read any Dresden stuff until after I wrote House.
Shadow Spinner, though, is fantasy in a completely different way. I'd say it leans toward the paranormal except I don't really see it that way. To me, it's fantasy.
And "The Tea Kettle" is full of all kinds of fantastic elements, but I'm not sure it quite qualifies as fantasy.
(You should click the link and go read that one; it's FREE!)
At some point, there will be The Destiny Murders. I'm not sure what that is, yet. Well, it's a murder mystery, but... well... there's more to it than that.
Most of the stories floating in my head or living in my notes folder on my computer are fantasy of some type or another or, at least, have fantasy of some sort in them.
Or they're sci-fi.
Most but not all. Hopefully, though, even though they might be "merely" fantasy; they will be a whole lot more.

12 comments:

  1. Reading classics every now and then is always good.

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  2. They say to write the story you want to read. :) Great post, Andrew.

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  3. If Asimov has a genre unto himself, I think I've read them all. I'm a big fan of Asimov's brand of scifi and Frank Herbert's, as well. I read every scifi we had in our library near our old house. I found out which type of scifi I prefer - hard scifi, but I like space operas too, and time travel. I try to read a classic every third book. Keeps me humble.

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  4. Meghan: Why write any other story?

    D.G.: Well, Asimov wrote a lot of non-fiction, too, and I haven't read any of that, yet.

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  5. Asimov was one of the more prolific writers I know of. I think Wikipedia says he's got his hand in about 500 books. Not to mention published letters, essays, and such.

    But, as I mentioned in Patrick's post recently, my reading habits have changed a lot in the past few years. I'd chalk it up to a phase I'm in right now though.

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  6. I guess I didn't know that you read thrillers? I don't know many people that read those.

    When I need to give my brain a rest, I tend to read news articles, short ones. Although I've been working more towards short stories.

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  7. Also, The Tea Kettle was brilliant.

    And I think "horror" or "paranormal" is a subgenre of fantasy, in general -- the idea for me being are you trying to scare ("horror") or do something else ("paranormal"). I'd classify House as pure fantasy, and Shadow Spinner as paranormal horror.

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  8. Well, I don't really anymore, but I spent some time with them during my 20s. I've considered re-reading Red October, but I haven't decided to do it, yet.

    Finishing "Tea Kettle" is my next goal.

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  9. If Asimov is getting his own genre, can Poe get his own, too? :P

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  10. I think Poe already has his own; it's just not named after him. I mean, he is credited with creating the detective novel and that whole genre of fiction.

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