Do you think that genre fiction is more, less, or equally relevant compared to "realistic" drama?
Genre fiction would include categories such as horror, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, mystery, and western, among others. "Realistic" drama is often coming-of-age stories, personal epiphany tales, and stories of people struggling to live in disadvantaged circumstances (poverty, ethnic discrimination, abusive childhood). Many people seem to think that these stories say more about the human condition because they address issues in a completely literal fashion, without allegory.
I spent the better part of my college years pondering this question. My favorite books to read were genre fiction, but I was being taught literary fiction (realistic). While a lot of people tend to think of genre fiction as the Fabio-covered romances and the Conan-covered sword and sorcery, that isn't where the genre is at right now. A lot of genre fiction's roots come from stories like these, but today there is a great deal of wonderful writers that have embraced the genre and brought it up to something that is equal in quality to any realistic fiction. They tell basically the same stories, they're just set in impossible worlds.
Despite the increase in quality, a lot of people refuse to acknowledge genre fiction as something seriously worth reading and teaching. They're seen as 'guilty pleasures' or 'afternoon reads' but anyone who really studies them will realize they have just as much to offer.
So I wouldn't say that one is better than the other. I think in terms of quality and depth, genre fiction and realistic fiction are equal. But the perception of them by both the public and the literary world is not equal. Not yet anyway.
As both a writer and a reader I have been inundated with people insisting that there is a higher category for literary fiction. I have a big problem with this, in that most people read, not to broaden emotional horizons or to be informed about social issues, but to be entertained. While I enjoy literary fiction, I do so because they tell good stories. It's the same reason I enjoy genre fiction. From the beginning, when men first began to write, the duty of a writer was to tell a good story. It has never changed. Let's all remember that.
I would say equally relevant as all of fiction is based in some truth, some experience, or the reality of the writer. The setting might be created by the writer, but the reaction of characters in particular situations mimic those responses of the human condition. For example fear in a horror setting, or heartbreak in a romantic setting.
To be sure, it's fair to ask: read any Harry and-anything-but- literature Potter lately?
However, the question posed here approaches genre fiction as something about which relevance is generically at issue.
Thus the only way to answer the impudence of the question is with an Aristotelian query: relevant to what?
The only relevancy in terms of what's produced by writers is the ability to be comprehended by readers. And if that's the question, then genre fiction is much more likely to comprehended by its readers because those persons already know that path. In short, a new broom sweeps cleaner, but an old broom knows all the corners.
And it's only the arrogance of each generation believing it invents the wheel and that there's otherwise something new under the sun that the "relevance" question is posed in the first instance. And again and again.
by MPChris 6 years ago
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I see fantasy and science fiction is a genre you are interested in. How did you first start?
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Just curious. For me, I like to read basically anything that sounds interesting and has a good plot.
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