by Stephen Graham Jones
Or, really, what is 'genre' in the first place, right? Without resorting to some dictionary of literary terms, what genre fiction is to me is a mode of storytelling which relies on convention to economize itself for mass consumption. What convention does is streamline the story; what 'genre' does is indicate to the potential consumer that this story they've just ferreted up from some random shelf, it's going to be somewhat like the last story they read in that genre. Which is comforting; lots of readers won't go into a book blind.
Defining genre like this, too, you can see that there's really no such thing as 'non-genre' fiction. Even the so-called literary stuff, it's still crutching along on conventions pioneered years ago in other 'literary' stories.
I'm not here to talk genre theory, though, or to chip away at the bastions of the academic tower, or to lose myself tirading against the absence of anything 'entertaining' anymore in what we're told is high-caliber fiction. read more »