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  1. #1
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Little Miss S in a Mini Dress

    So it has begun....

    Things get stale so quickly, as I've been saying for a while now. Magical Realism and the New Wierd haven't even had time to become well known enough for most poeple outside of genre to even know what the terms refer to and yet....

    'Deep Genre':

    Traditional tropes + innovative twists x (envelope pushing ideas x great new characterizations/philosophy + vision) = great new books

    What do you think? There has to be a minus sign somewhere in the equation.


    http://www.deepgenre.com/wordpress/c...genre#comments
    Last edited by Gary Wassner; June 14th, 2006 at 02:55 PM.

  2. #2
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    They claim not to be a movement, on Emerald City and that may be a good thing.

    On one hand, I see it as writers from a wide range of FSF circles (Edelman and Elliott write VERY different stuff) coming together to push the genre, as a whole, forward in all its forms.

    This is definitely a group blog (like http://www.sfnovelists.com) to bookmark and check daily.
    Last edited by Rob B; June 14th, 2006 at 04:42 PM.

  3. #3
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    New words, old idea.

    Personally, I think the term "deep genre" is better applied to certain tropes as used in a text, than to the text in itself.

    It's like the anchor and the boat that buoy that bobs around it. Ironically, it's the buoy that's deep.

    There'll be deep-genre-elements in nearly everything ever written. While it's nice to see people trying to write interesting stories the term seems so... apologetic. Well yes, we're writing genre, but... we're writing deep genre.

    I find the discussion about "failure" in genre fiction quite interesting. (here).

  4. #4
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    Frankly, the first sentence just tosses the whole thing out of the window, so far as I'm concerned.
    Genre is one of the repetitive, derivative arts, one of expectations fulfilled, not thwarted.
    This sounds like setting up Genre as a straw man, and however much the Deep Genre-istas claim to the contrary, the whole thing sounds like a way of saying "gee, look how cool we are." WE "re-vitalize" the genre, as if SFF is somehow on its deathbed.

  5. #5
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Their POV aside, what I find most interesting is that there's already a backlash against the new wave of authors, or so it seems to me, who have really been stretching the boundaries of the genre. Now don't get me wrong; I write Epic Fantasy using many of the traditional tropes, and I never questioned the validity of what I do. I have no bones to pick with anyone who wants to use different worlds and approach the fantastic from a different perspective. But I've objected to those who seemed to have bones to pick with me.

    In any case, I do think it's a piss to read this now. Deep genre? A new name for an old horse? Or is there something else they are trying to get at?
    Last edited by Gary Wassner; June 14th, 2006 at 06:56 PM.

  6. #6
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    It seems to me that they're looking for wider recognition of writing within the genre/outside the square. We see a lot of epic fantasists copping flack for serving up cookie cutter fantasy, and I think these guys are just asking for respect for the spin they put on the tropes. From my interpretation of what I've read Gary (I mainly focussed on Elliott's comments) they somewhat remind me of yourself - unashamedly writing epic fantasy but attempting to do so in manner that is innovative and interesting to the reader.

    What I don't get is the blog - I'm not sure they'll achieve anything with it. Most readers within the online community are either past any sort of epic fantasy or have read enough to agree with what they're saying.

    Where's the backlash against the new wave Gary? Is there yet another blog I need to start reading?

  7. #7
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    No, no backlash in the conversation, but it's in the underlying motivation for the discussion itself I believe. Why have this discussion at all if some of the authors aren't frustrated by the negative attitude that the progressive press and reader has foisted upon authors who use traditional tropes? There's so much talk about cookie cutter fantasy, BFF, clones etc etc. And Epic Fantasy in general became a byword for that to an extent. I just find it amusing that people are speaking out in favor of it now. Maybe I just have a chip on my shoulder. But honestly, among many of the cognoscenti in the genre, the fact that I didn't use a different envelope was a reason not to read me. And then to title my series GemQuest? What was I thinking? Another quest series when quest series are just so passe? Well, it just can't be good. And to top it all off, I wasn't published by Prime, Pyr or Nightshade, but by Windstorm, a non-genre press!

    I love epic fantasy. I love so much about it and so much about how it makes me feel. I also respect Mieville and Vandermeer, Gaiman, Duncan, Lynch etc etc. It's a matter of taste, not value. That's my point.

    I like what these people are saying in that blog. I just wonder where they've been hiding for the past six years.

  8. #8
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eventine
    It seems to me that they're looking for wider recognition of writing within the genre/outside the square.
    Yes, that seems to be part of it. Perhaps (even subconsciously) the Deep Genre people are elbowing out a little room for themselves, trying to gain a more recognition/credibility from the more (as they see it) traditional genre writers and readers.
    Quote Originally Posted by Eventine
    We see a lot of epic fantasists copping flack for serving up cookie cutter fantasy, and I think these guys are just asking for respect for the spin they put on the tropes. From my interpretation of what I've read Gary (I mainly focussed on Elliott's comments) they somewhat remind me of yourself - unashamedly writing epic fantasy but attempting to do so in manner that is innovative and interesting to the reader.
    Not that there's anything wrong with that, but one of the best ways to earn that respect is to persist in creating exciting writing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Eventine
    Where's the backlash against the new wave Gary? Is there yet another blog I need to start reading?
    There have been inter-blog and intra-blog conversations dealing with the use of labeling, such as Deep Genre, offensively, to further ghetto-ize the ghetto. One forum for these conversations is the Lotus Lyceum. Now the Deep Genre-istas say that they're not doing this, but does this really square with other claims, such as Deep Genre re-vitalizes the genre?

  9. #9
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Deep genre is just another catch phrase. As any art form evolves, it either perfects itself or it dies. Natural selection, right? That doesn't meant that it has to shed the tropes that drew people to it to begin with. It doesn't mean that it has to do anything specific but remain interesting. How does an art form remain interesting? What it produces has to continue to be relevant, it has to be emotional enough to capture the hearts and minds of its audience, it has to be either fabulously entertaining or so intellectually compelling that you can't stay away from it. Or it can repeat a tried and true formula that has universal appeal and be none of the above in any innovative sense.

    New generations of readers mature constantly. They'll read things for the first time. Will they begin with the modern innovators? or with the classics? That's what's so amazing about books. They endure. If they're good enough, they never get outdated. We have to be new and special if we want to find readers because books accumulate over time. Deep genre means what? Take what we love about the best things we've read and run with them, fast enough so that people can recognize that we're not standing still but far enough so that they can see us clearly for who we are.

  10. #10
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Oh gag me with a spoon. Are they kidding? Has it gotten that desperate?

    You know, I feel like I'm back in the 1980's. Doesn't this stuff ever get old?

  11. #11
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Yet if you follow the conversation, they are quite serious. I always felt as if I was whining each time I complained that people were so down on traditional epic fantasy. It never occurred to me to call it something else in order to re-validate it. Certainly none of us have re-invented it. It's a big enough genre to begin with, isn't it? Though I do understand why writers using traditional tropes (as I do) might be offended by some who passed us off as passe without even reading what we've been writing.

  12. #12
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    I admit I didn't follow the whole conversation, as the initial part made me feel ill. I do understand authors' concerns about being labelled one thing or another. But the problem is that they are talking about a disassociative strategy and those hardly ever work. To say that something is bad, inferior or just lacking in ambition, and to then say I am not of that, I am different, just builds animosity.

    Whereas recruitment strategies -- all fantasy has value, everybody explore and find something you like -- are much more effective and have helped to promote and develop the category in sales strength and improved reputation. Once you use the word "cliche," for instance, you aren't moving the category forward, you're moving backward, into old prejudices.

    In a way, the deep genre idea is attempting recruitment by declaring Celtic mythological elements and more modern elements like vampires to have value and to be worth pursuit and consideration. (I will not call them tropes, because IMHO, tropes is a stupid word that people use incorrectly.) This is also like the guys who are trying to resuscitate the reputation of sword & sorcery as a decent and worthy branch of fantasy. But the manifesto for this deep genre thing is put in disassociative terms, meaning that it just becomes another type of slur campaign.

    Early category writers were often sf writers and continued to write both, plus didn't limit themselves to one type of fantasy. They would write contemporary, S&S, high fantasy stories, comic and dramatic. Some writers have continued this tradition, but they are under tremendous pressure from fans to not do this and to stay in a carefully labelled box. Disassociative strategies and agendas promote this kind of creativity lockdown, ironically in the name of encouraging more creativity.

    So, in my opinion only, the deep genre idea doesn't help validate the use of familiar fantasy elements -- it just further condemns them. If authors do not stop trashing other authors as a method for trying to promote or distinguish their own work, it's going to continue to badly effect sales, whether it's framed as a "movement" or not.
    Last edited by KatG; June 19th, 2006 at 06:18 PM.

  13. #13
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    Early category writers were often sf writers and continued to write both, plus didn't limit themselves to one type of fantasy. They would write contemporary, S&S, high fantasy stories, comic and dramatic. Some writers have continued this tradition, but they are under tremendous pressure from fans to not do this and to stay in a carefully labelled box. Disassociative strategies and agendas promote this kind of creativity lockdown, ironically in the name of encouraging more creativity.
    Kat, I only mention it because I'm not sure if you'd seen it yet and because I don't see it happen often, but Guy Kay just announced his new book, which will be coming out early 2007. It's called Ysabel. It's set in modern day France, and it looks to be very similar in idea to Mythago Wood, where aspects of mythology are intruding into mundane life. It's good to see Mr. Kay going in a different direction (not that I disliked his old direction).

    The annoucement was only a week ago and this has already appeared on the forums at Brightweavings:

    Oh Hell,

    I have been happily lurking here for 5 years (with the odd contribution) & now I am starting a thread. But I have to say I am perturbed by what Deb has told us about the new book.

    I started with Lions, was sufficiently impressed to search out Fionovar (& in Australia that was no mean feat) and then found Tigana & Arbonne & was hooked. Sarantium followed & I was still convinced that GGK was writing the best fantasy currently available (albeit a little bit slowly).

    But in 2004 I went to Europe & found a copy of LLOTS (before it was available back home) & was unimpressed. To be blunt, it wasn't worth the wait to get my hands on it.

    And now, we are told we have a new book where the setting is today. I am sorry but I regard (ed) GGK as the finest living writer of fantasy. What I can't understand isa why he is moving away from the genre that has made his rep!

    Considering the thread that discussed what the subject of the new work would be, I have to think that I am not the only person thinking "what the f*** is going on!!"

    Sorry, Deb. Your site is great & the denizens are unique but I feel that I have been mislead regarding the central figure. He is a suberb author - I just wish he would decide in which genre he wishes to write. I suspect he will write both quicker & better when he makes up his mind

    Dave

    So right along the lines of what you're saying, as soon as he steps out of the box, people are jumping on him.

  14. #14
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    Well, Dave will just have to find someone else to live in that little box and write the stories that he wants to read.

    KatG you must be a diplomat in this, or some former, life. You said what I tried to say--more directly and with more tact. It's one thing for Dave to pack writers into little boxes, only letting them out to tell him stories, but why should writers do it to each other?

    I'm beginning to think that far too many writers spend too much time being critics.

  15. #15
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    If you read around on the page a bit you'll notice they're not shoe-boxing, really. People pipe up to say what "deep genre" means to them, as if it existed. They're not trying to shoe-box anybody; they're trying to offer a term with widest possible application and least possible use, other than to have like-minded people talk about it.

    There'll be detrimental side-effects if the revolutionaries get hold of the term, but I doubt that'll happen. It's just too tame.

    And some of the discussions there are actually interesting. (As the brief stint about "failure" as a theme in fiction I linked to above.)

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