… but don’t know what I’m talking about (1)

So, according to my last post, I love all genre writing, separated into pure distillations or combined into various subgenres. You would think this means I love all of the Big Three (or Four) genres equally, and then in turn you would think I write stories in each genre equally, as well. I would certainly think so, or would have before I started engaging in some self-quantifying.

To date I’ve published seventeen short stories, and the numbers break out like so:

Fantasy = 8
Horror = 6
Superhero = 4
Science Fiction = 1

A couple of observations. The numbers above add up to nineteen, not seventeen, because I counted two stories twice, one as both fantasy and horror and one as both sci-fi and horror. Honestly a lot of my stories combine genres, and I haven’t got any realist/psychological horror stories to my credit, so all of the horror tales could have double-counted as fantasy. The method I used for dividing them up was the emotional tenor of the story – was I using monsters to propel action, or create fear and unease? – up through and including whether or not the story had a happy resolution. Fear and downer outcomes went in the horror category, while thrills and action and upbeat endings went for fantasy.

My allegedly favorite genre, superheroes, comes in second to last in the output rankings. I’ve talked before about my specific take on what makes a superhero story; notwithstanding my assertion in the previous post about how comic book worlds are the ultimate genre mashup, I mainly consider a story to be in the superhero category if the protagonist meets my “could do anything but chooses to help others” criteria. As of now, I can claim to have four tales like that out in the world, all of them featuring Kellan Oakes. I have two more unrelated superhero stories accepted by editors and awaiting publication, plus a couple of Kellan’s further adventures in the pipeline, so that number will be growing shortly, and might very well have taken the lead by this time next year.

But that lone sci-fi story really sticks out, doesn’t it? As someone who grew up knowing Star Wars by heart, watching live-action Buck Rogers and cartoon Flash Gordon on tv, reading Asimov, and knowing the expansion of the internet, animal cloning, Mars exploration and more as current events, how can I have so little fiction centered around mad scientists, aliens and robots to show for it? I’m not a technophobe, I love scientific progress, but for some reason I gravitate toward the impossible in my fiction. Maybe I worry that my deep-rooted fandom for sci-fi would make anything I tried on my own too derivative. Maybe the longer I’ve been alive, the more rigorous the factual basis of sci-fi has become, and I’m intimidated by the standards it’s held to. Maybe things just come and go in cycles, and at some point just past the horizon I’ll feel burned out on fantasy and start transposing my ideas from mythic kingdoms to distant planets. Hard to say, for me at any rate.

So, again, take everything I say around here with a grain of salt, especially when I start making sweeping pronouncements about genres and the fundamental ideas underpinning them. Clearly I have blindspots of my own which make me a less than totally reliable source.


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