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The Sin of Genre Bashing

I am sinning against one of my own principles.

It isn’t the most passionate principle. It has provided a few rants over the years. As a general rule, I look down on genre blending. Despite having grown up with classic Reese’s ads, I am not been a fan of “hey, you got detective in my fantasy” followed by “fool, you got fantasy in my detective.”

“But Harry Dresden”, you say. I choose those two genres because in no small degree Dresden is the exception that proves the rule. I love the mix of the soft-boiled detective with urban fantasy Jim Butcher has provided. The fact we need to face is one reason he hit so hard is often such genre bashing falls flat on its face. Even popular genre bashing is often mediocre.

This year at Frolicon I attended a class on Gor, specifically on Goran ritual and protocol. Even the presenter admitted most of the Gor books are awful. I agree although I enjoyed a few. Despite that enjoyment, I still will read other sword and planet tales before a Gor book. Similarly, I will read other bondage tales before I read a Gor book. In trying to be both sword and planet and bondage John Norman’s stories of Tarl Cabot fail at both.

Yet, the reality is Gor is popular to the point of infamy. Why is it popular? It certainly scratches an itch and, despite what people think, more women feel that itch than men based on Gorean fandom. Thirty years ago I understood people being surprised, but in the post Fifty Shades of Grey era, we should not be. That itch aside I still do not know why people read Gor before John Carter or even a close relative such as the The Horseclans. In fact, the latter might is inspiring.

Now, I find I’m not just writing heroic adventure fantasy, as Robert Adams described the Horseclans.

An editor invited me to submit a series to Channillo. My thought was to write a series of short stories to fill out the future history from my short story The Visions of Cireb. In writing up a proposal for Beyond the Verge I discovered this was the nature of my series:

Mankind went to the stars seeking treasure, land, and glory. For a few centuries, he found it until the event only know as The Verge. Now, after centuries cowering on the worlds, he settled man is returning to the stars.

And finding the horrors he had fled.

I am writing space opera-horror. The series is genre bashing.

I hope I wield the magic of Jim Butcher and Harry Dresden, but fear I have the spirit of John Norman and Tarl Cabot.

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