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Aug 03

A corollary about genre fiction

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 232 views

A corollary about genre fiction (following from my Block-blog below): there are genre fans who are uninterested in the works admired by people who are more general fans of the medium, SF fans dismissive of Dick, Delany or Ballard and so on, for their general lack of interest in the science bit. I was in a Yahoo group devoted to DC war comics for a while, kind of pulled in by a friend, and their criteria for great comics were entirely alien to me – they loved Russ Heath for his accuracy, while I found him a bit dull, and disdained the mighty Bob Kanigher and thrilling Joe Kubert (most notable work: Sgt Rock) because they tended to be less realistic. Since Heath was drawing a series called The Haunted Tank this seemed a particularly dumb attitude, but I eventually teased out that it meant that Heath always put every rivet in the right place. Similarly, I imagine that fans of the whodunnit are likely to value a fresh and clever puzzle that follows the rules (I don’t know what these are, but maybe not cheating by hiding clues from the reader or using gimmicks like long-lost twins might be among them) without much regard for the quality of the prose or the depth of thematic content or whatever more general literary criteria you choose. Obviously they aren’t in any sense exclusive and some writers can score high from many angles, but these differing sets of criteria are interesting, I think, even when they don’t make much sense to me as ways of assessing how interesting something is.

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