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How do you feel about fantasy stories that mix subgenres?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Ned Marcus, Feb 5, 2021.

  1. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

    How do you feel about fantasy stories that mix subgenres (and maybe some sci-fi)?

    I'm not only asking because I have this (possibly) bad habit as a writer, but out of general interest too. What are your favourite mixes?

    For me it's science fantasy/planetary romance, and urban fantasy/sci-fi mixes. It's also hard to resist epic fantasy/steampunk blends. This doesn't mean I don't like taking my subgenres straight. I do. But sometimes it's nice to mix them up.

    Just don't add any zombies.
    S.T. Ockenner and CupofJoe like this.
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    Go for it is what I say... I like a bit of Noire or a detective tale in my reading.
    And I'm with you on the Zombies.
    S.T. Ockenner and Ned Marcus like this.
  3. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Troubadour

    As long as the blending has been done properly, and taken advantage of it in the story you're telling, I'm perfectly fine. In fact, is one good way to avoid tropes or turning on their heads completely. In a more personal note, such blending is natural to me thanks to my viewing (from a young age) of quite a lot of japanese animation, in which such genre mixing is quite common and, sometimes, very impressive.

    A good example of what I mean would be Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust: an extremely good piece of animation, in which you'll find faint scifi brushes over a postapocalyptic setting which also has a kind of western but also gothic vibe. And, of course, vampires, monsters and dark magic, all wrapped into one, and all that to tell a dark and tragic romantic story. I'd dare to say that that is mixing done at an awesome level.

    So, yeah, I'm all in for blending genres, as long as it's done properly and purposefully.

    Regarding zombies, I'm also sick and tired of so much content around them (which I mostly ignore). Still, in a well though story, such creatures can be useful and even interesting. So, I wouldn't discard them completely, if you find an interesting way to use them, do it.
    S.T. Ockenner and Ned Marcus like this.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I'm not sure how to blend genres. Write a story, sure. Then other people come along and say "oh, you wrote a <genre> story." My considered response is usually "huh."

    Goblins at the Gates had been out for months, maybe even a year or two, before I noticed it was being categorized as military fantasy. Yes it has a Roman legion in it and there's fighting, but that's not at all how I think of it, and certainly isn't anything I had in mind when I started it.

    I've been told Into the Second World has elements of steampunk in it, but all I thought was that I needed to set the story in the 19thc because it was a riff on Jules Verne's classic. And since it was an Altearth tale of course it was fantasy. Once it was done, I could see adventure fantasy, alternate history (of course), etc. But genres to me are after the fact. After the dang thing is written.
  5. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

    Genre is, ultimately, a marketing term, especially when you get really granular (like "grimdark fantasy" or "space opera"). It helps people find the book in Barnes and Noble or through Amazon's categories. You can only really be in 1 at a brick and mortar store but you can be in multiple in an online store, so sometimes things are in places you wouldn't usually expect (like Night by Elie Wiesel is a memoir, so it could be in that section, or one for WW2, or historical things in general, or, as my Jewish roommate once discovered, "Jewish literature"). So if you are writing ONLY for $$$, you need to target the categories in Amazon that are the hottest things and write to fit those genres. Look at all the Twilight and Hunger Games-esque books that popped up around that time.

    But if you write for the sake of writing stories that you love and make you happy, only worry about genre once you're starting to pitch to people (or picking categories when you're listing for self-publishing). They can be subjective sometimes, and that's okay. There's a ton of threads here that are akin to "Do you need X to be a fantasy?" because there are no concrete answers for this.

    Me, personally, I love seeing interesting blends of things or stuff that hasn't been done before. Dune is, technically, Sci-Fi because there's anti-gravity tech and space ships and laser guns, but it's not about technology, it's about characters and their magic powers. The aesthetic is very fantasy with swords/knives, assassins and poisons, fantastical locations and creatures and the complete lack of tech we would expect to see in a normal sci-fi (namely, computers). Golden Kamuy has some fantastical elements but it's a historical seinen in Hokkaido and prominently features the Ainu people; Demon Slayer is in the Taisho era (1912-26), which is in "modern Japan" so there's electric lights and big cities, but people still wield katanas to fight demons. It's the same time period as The Great Gatsby! I've seen countless stories set in pristine space ships, in medieval Europe/Japan, in "modern-day" privileged America, so anything outside of the norm is great. Combining the various -punks with other genres, a different time period, a different kind of hero...that's all the good stuff.

    Also I like "bad" stuff. Sonichu, Troll 2, Twilight...a lot of this stuff is so earnest and "outsider art" in general is a fascinating look at various people and how they see and interpret the world. The idea of a teenage girl falling in love with a vampire was totally new when that first came out and it ushered in this whole new genre and all these new authors. There were no "best practices" for the genre since Meyer was blazing a trail. Also the movie is great (like the choice to have everything be color corrected sorta green in order to give you the feeling of unease/otherness) because, again, they were really making it up as they went along, there was nothing else they could point to and say "yeah let's do that." You can learn just as much about the craft of storytelling from "bad" stuff as you can the "greats." Plus you can tell when someone gives 110% in their project which makes them fun. And isn't that the point of media?
  6. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

    I understand this. I got a much better idea of how I'd blended genres after reading reviews and letters people sent me. And I love blending in steampunk partly because of Jules Verne.
    S.T. Ockenner and skip.knox like this.
  7. I'm not opposed to reading mixed subgenres, but I do not actively seek them out unless they are recommended to me. Most of my reading list consists of recommended stories. I very infrequently discover something on my own unless it's audible because those credits burn a hole in my virtual wallet.
  8. Unknown

    Unknown Acolyte

    I don't care very much about subgenres as long as the book is good. One of my all time favorite series is dresden files, and I don't read usually any detective stories.
    Well, maybe a specific subgenre can put me off if it is overused... and I'm talking mainly about romance here.

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