I will admit that I used to be prejudiced against short stories. I loved big books, the fatter the better. I liked to enter a world and not leave it for days and days. But reviewing has exposed me to more short story collections and I have come to realize that brevity can be beautiful. Instead of resenting the fact that in a collection I usually don’t love every single story, I have learned to appreciate the ones that work, and the great stories often hang in my mind long after I’ve closed a collection. You can dip in, enjoy a story or two, and set it aside – something I can’t really do with a novel, making story collections ideal for when I am crushed with other work.
Not only is the short story an important part of the tradition of several of my favorite blending genres – science fiction, fantasy, horror and mystery all have story-heavy pulp roots – but it’s especially well-suited for blends in some ways. Whimsical or unsual blends that would wear out their welcome if stretched to 300+ pages sparkle like dainty jewels in short form. You could get blends in single author collections, especially from authors known for blending like Caitlin Kiernan or Neil Gaiman (try Fragile Things for a terrific horror take on Sherlock Holmes, as just one fun example). But there are dozens of anthologies that give readers a taste of popular authors in blended genres with stories in their established worlds. If these kinds of collections are your catnip, you can find a more complete list over at goodreads or The Best Reviews, but I’ve picked out a few that I have enjoyed or which feature more unusual blends. Between themed anthologies and single author collections with some quirky blended selections, short story collections can be a great way to try a blend. (more…)
Are you watching iZombie? The new show about a girl infected with a zombie virus who works in a morgue and solves crime? On the CW on Tuesday nights? Well you should be. It’s one of the most promsiing combinations of witty, banter-y humor and horror that I’ve seen in a while.
It also made me realize that while I’m a fan of horror in general I really love horror that knows how to laugh at itself. Because I’m more sensitive to visual scares than written ones, I actually refused to watch any horror movies until Evil Dead came along. There’s something so cathartic about laughing in the middle of something terrifying. While there are a lot of horror (novels and films both) with moments of unexpected humor, I’m talking here about laugh-out-loud funny stuff, rather than the dark-as-night black humor of something like Bret Easton Ellis. Some of my favorites are genuinely scary horror with comic relief, some are more comedies that adopt horror scenery, but they all combine that desire to bring you to an uncomfortable place through a scary or gross set-up and then make you laugh. This kind of push-pull of maintaining tension and then releasing it through humor is actually incredibly impressive, so if you like to laugh-scream, here are some picks for you. (more…)
Some of my earliest and longest-lasting love affairs in SFF is the subgenre of planetary romance. It seems strangely old-fashion now, but when I first started reading science fiction, these were the books I read, loved and wallowed in. So what is a planetary romance? Contrary to what you might think, it is not actually a blend between romance and science fiction (although it can be that too). If anything, it’s more of a blend between science fiction and fantasy. (more…)
I’ve always been a fan of historical mysteries, but a couple of years ago i read a couple of really great books set at the dawn of “official” policing (Gods of Gotham, about the founding of the NYPD and The Yard about the first “murder squad” at Scotland Yard) and wondered if there was more out there. They appealed to me because in general I like the structure imposed by a police procedural. (more…)
Time traveler love with seriously smokin’ chemistry. Swoon!
A little late for Valentine’s Day and a little early for the return of the TV series Outlander (although maybe you are, like me, re-watching the first half of season 1 to get prepped!) I have been in the mood to do a romance post about time travel romances and other romances that play with multiple time periods. The reason I think these can be fabulous genre blends is that they can give the reader a hugely satisfying historical fiction experience — gorgeous details of the dress, food, and social norms of the past — but still give us a touchstone character from the present to ground the story. (more…)
Genrify readers, I apologize most sincerely for the dearth of new content here over the last couple of weeks. Moving cross-country and starting a new job took a little more out of me than I expected. But I hope to get back to regular postings next week.
Thanks for your patience!
The blending trend of mixing and matching elements from different genres to tell a story is not limited to novels. Visual media are often the perfect way to tell a blended story, and while TV and movies get a lot of attention, comic book and graphic novels have been genre-blending for a long time.
The storytelling technique of comics really blends the best of the written and visual worlds, allowing the creators to (literally) illustrate scenes that a novelist can only describe. But you still get to keep some of that imaginative work that happens when you read novels – filling in the details in your head that are only inked on the page with soundtracks and special effects and how the character sounds in your head. It also is a format that allows you to proceed at your own pace, lingering over panels and pages that catch your fancy, whipping through scenes that somehow manage to convey movement and action through pen and ink.