LNH: Legion of Net.Heroes Vol.2 #23

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 9 18:20:33 PST 2007

On Nov 9, 9:59 am, Lalo Martins <lalo.mart... at gmail.com> wrote:
> I guess more useful would be to describe works in a multi-dimensional
> way.  Something like:
> Story genre: drama, horror, mystery, action, humour, etc
> Narrative/setting devices: sci-fi, magic, western, war, super-hero, etc
> Medium focus: acting, music, dance, martial arts, what I call "non-human
> performance" (car chase, aircraft or spacecraft dogfights or piloting
> stunts, etc), imagery, and why not, sex

I can see your general point, Lalo (and yours, too, Mitchell), but I'm
going to have to disagree here.  I interpet the term "genre", which
means a type of, kind of, or sort of something, much more broadly--
that is, I interpet it to be any criteria used to categorize anyhting
as a type of, kind of, or sort of.

Within each genre there are genres, and I suppose one could use your
organizing system to arrange them into a sort of hierarchy.  But I
wouldn't use that system to say that "science fiction" isn't a genre.
Two examples to prove my point:

People who are sci-fi nuts seek out science-fiction books, movies,
whatever, _especially_.  The fact that there are things that make it
science fiction-- largely a matter of setting but also a matter of the
use of speculation and the reocurrence of certain themes-- things that
appeal to these people, makes it by definition a genre.  It's a "type
of" story that they like.

Secondly, even with such an organizational hierarchy in place, it
doesn't make a sub-genre or sub-sub-genre any less of a genre: a
dinosaur is an animal, and a dove is a type of dinosaur, and a pigeon
a type of dove, and a parlor roller a type of pigeon.  But all of them
are still animals.  A parlor roller is still an animal, and, indeed, a
Champion Parlor Roller is still an animal.

And so, say, while the psycho-biddy genre, defined by the presence of
two or more older women trying to kill/drive one or the other insane,
also fits within the thriller and grand guignol and horror genres,
it's still a genre in its own right-- in my opinion.

> And of course, on any of those dimensions, one given work may "tick" on
> more than one choice.  In fact, the best sci-fi (in my opinion) always
> does that; to go with easy examples, B5 uses sci-fi and war story
> devices, while Serenity uses sci-fi and western.

Well, there's no such thing as a horror story that's only horror and
nothing else, or sci-fi that's only sci-fi and nothing else.  All art
is ambiguous and subject to interpetation.  Genres are useful when
describing certain things and identifying what about them appeals to
us, but at the same time one cannot say with certainty that something
is one thing and not another.  The Lord of the Rings is just as much
an action novel and a war novel and a romance and a coming-of-age
story and a horror story as it is a fantasy.  It's classified as
fantasy (or High Fantasy) because the things that make fantasy a
specific genre-- the presence of magic and of mythical creatures--
take precedence.


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