Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Genre-benders

I love reading, and I'm proud to say that I enjoy a pretty broad swath of mainstream and genre fiction. Scott Spencer's A Ship Made of Paper commandeered five days of my last vacation. About the only thing I enjoyed more than Neal Stephenson's Reamde was Snow Crash, if only because it's nerdier and punchier. The brilliant world-building of writers like China MiĆ©ville and George R. R. Martin sets my geeky heart a-flutter. And I'm always game for intrigue, whether it involves the mysterious women of Rebecca, the monks of The Name of the Rose, or Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston's Agent Aloysius Pendergast.

And I'm particularly delighted when writers with a "literary" pedigree turn some of their talents to proving that genre fiction (especially speculative fiction) can be well-written, compelling, and respectable, too. Margaret Atwood, anyone? Michael Chabon?

That's not to say that dedicated genre writers aren't creating spectacular fiction, but crossover authors are challenging assumptions about what genre labels (particularly "science fiction") entail, especially for readers who avoid the stuff like the (zombie) plague. Hopefully this will lead to wider audiences across genres. Hopefully this will broaden the range of books considered worthy of critical attention and the "literary" tag.

But for now, we can enjoy the release of Justin Cronin's The Twelve, part two of a post-apocalyptic vampire trilogy from another literary-turned-genre writer. If you haven't read The Passage, start with that door-stopper. If you have trouble with heavy lifting, consider downloading it.

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