I Fought the Blog and the Blog Won

I dashed off some ideas about the perennial bone-of-snarkation, definitions of sf/f genres, and posted them at the Blog Gate.

In other BG news, Howard Jones reports that Black Gate 13 has gone to press.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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8 Responses to I Fought the Blog and the Blog Won

  1. peadarog says:

    I agree with what you wrote. I disagree vehemently with the commenter and anybody else who propounds such a view (even the amazing GRRM, although I may have misunderstood him entirely).

    • JE says:

      The “props” idea is an easy way to sort things, and genre is essentially a sorting process, so it’s got that going for it. But I think it tend to miss the central issue. Cars have wheels and horses have legs. So is a car just something with wheels? (That would seem to include stuff like wheelbarrows, shopping carts, the space shuttle, etc.) And is a horse just something with legs? (That would include centipedes, tables, Bertie Wooster, etc.)

  2. newguydave says:

    Ack. There art no dragons in my fantasy tale, and thus it must be another genre, as per the first comment.

    “…If it’s set in a universe that follows the same rules as ours, it’s science fiction. If it’s set in a universe that doesn’t follow our rules, it’s fantasy.

    In other words, science fiction is about what could be but isn’t, and fantasy is about what couldn’t be.”
    -from “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” by Orson Scott Card

    • JE says:

      The OSC quote sums up how most people think about sf/f, but (I know this sounds a little presumptuous) I think it may be wrong. SF writers allow themselves a lot of sneaking around the rules as we presently understand them–so much so that I think it’s significant for SF’s identity (though I can see how people would disagree with this). Then there’s fantasy like Peake’s Gormenghast books or Kushner’s Swordspoint. Actually, my definitions don’t fit these either, so I may have to head back to the drawing board.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If magic reawakens in three years, then where will all those could-be/couldn’t-be definers be? I’ll tell you! They’ll be sitting in the closet in a pile of gibbering froth. Ha! Serve ’em right, too.

    I always figured SF is like obscenity; I know it when I see it. (But then, some of it is like obscenity in more ways than one.)

    –Jeff Stehman

    • JE says:

      “They’ll be sitting in the closet in a pile of gibbering froth.”

      That’s where I am right now.

      “I know it when I see it”

      I think this is the ultimate standard, which probably means there’s no universal standard: people are always going to be sorting the same work into different genre piles, depending on how they look at it.

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