Author Topic: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre  (Read 7225 times)

Offline Paul Campbell

  • BFS Reviewers
  • Thaumaturge
  • *****
  • Posts: 287
    • View Profile
When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« on: September 28, 2009, 09:11:14 am »
Stephenie Meyer has a lot to answer for

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swkT07TP-mo

Why the link to Mozart's Requiem?

Some months before Fantasycon I noticed the Horror section in Borders Bookshop in Glasgow wasn't Horror anymore



Not exclusively vampire fiction - but as near it as damn it. Now, some have argued that at least Paranormal Romance is keeping a spotlight on the horror genre.

It's not. It has swallowed it. Clamped its greedy teeth around its neck and drained it of all life.

Science Fiction doesn't have a separate Space Opera or Military SF section. Although admittedly it does have what I call a Sci-Fi section where they clump together all the media tie-in stuff, such as the Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who books -

- and even then these books come at the end of the Science Fiction section.

In Borders Glasgow they have four fairly large bookcases labelled Paranormal Romance...

... with one bookcase at the end labelled Horror (okay, technically two: but one of them was made up of almost nothing but King, Koontz, Laymon and Herbert!).

Yes, I know, folks have been banging on for years about the death of Horror being nothing more than, well, a scary bedtime story.

But when a sub-genre is given its own bookshop shelf label and takes up four bookcases? Boy, I tellya, when I walked up the Science Fiction section and turned the corner and not only saw a sign for "Paranormal Romance" but bookcases upon bookcases of the stuff stretching out before me...

... I could feel the blood draining out of my face. Like - well, like someone had just sunk their teeth into my neck.

Offline LouM

  • Thaumaturge
  • ***
  • Posts: 132
    • View Profile
    • Lou Morgan
Re: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2009, 09:27:14 am »
I must admit, I've been a bit mystified to keep seeing the definition "paranormal romance" everywhere lately.... it's only just dawned on me that it's most likely "Twilight"-related! It also goes some way to explain why my local Waterstones has suddenly moved its "Romance" section next to the "Horror" shelves. :-[

There's probably a strong case for the argument that it all started with Buffy & Angel, surely, so how come it's sweeping all before it now? Is it purely because Meyers' series has done so well that there's now a much bigger market for a sub-genre that was relatively niche before, and marketing departments are spending more on it, getting it more prominently onto shelves? I don't think there's any harm in it in itself, but it's sad it seems to be taking over a section which should have a fairly wide spread of styles & subjects.

Carrying on in the bad jokes vein (that's one...), as a vampire-fiction fan I'll stick my neck out (OK, I'll stop now...) & add that while the vast majority of paranormal romance fiction seems to be vampire related, not all vampire fiction is paranormal romance, so don't malign it too much!  :)

Offline Jec

  • BFS Reviewers
  • Thaumaturge
  • *****
  • Posts: 151
    • View Profile
Re: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2009, 10:09:34 am »
I must admit, I've been a bit mystified to keep seeing the definition "paranormal romance" everywhere lately.... it's only just dawned on me that it's most likely "Twilight"-related! It also goes some way to explain why my local Waterstones has suddenly moved its "Romance" section next to the "Horror" shelves. :-[

There's probably a strong case for the argument that it all started with Buffy & Angel, surely, so how come it's sweeping all before it now?

It could be argued that it started with Mrs Radcliffe :-)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Radcliffe



Offline LouM

  • Thaumaturge
  • ***
  • Posts: 132
    • View Profile
    • Lou Morgan
Re: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2009, 10:15:50 am »
It could be argued that it started with Mrs Radcliffe :-)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Radcliffe


That's true - I'd not actually thought of it like that!  ;D

AdrianF

  • Guest
Re: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2009, 11:57:55 am »
I'm not a big horror reader but I've written about every aspect of pop culture for over 10 years, have seen trends come and go, and let me say that from where I stand, Horror is making a comeback.  It may not be fully there yet, and fiction might be trailing other forms of horror media (although British Horror fiction appears to be ahead of the US), but as someone external you can definitely see it.

Now if only British epic fantasy was having the same renaissance

Yes paranormal romance is epic at the moment (it's been building ever since Buffy) and looks here to stay, but I'm sure there are many writers lumped into that category who would argue that their work really belonged to a different bookshelf.

And if it's any consolation:  Seen at Waterstones Nottingham whilst at Fantasycon - sign saying "Fiction and Science Fiction"

Offline Paul Campbell

  • BFS Reviewers
  • Thaumaturge
  • *****
  • Posts: 287
    • View Profile
Re: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2009, 12:40:38 pm »
British Horror fiction appears to be ahead of the US

I find that statement surprising: Virgin Books killed off their Dark Fiction line after only nine titles (although it has to be admitted that the series editor, Adam Nevill, told me at Fantasycon that Virgin has killed off ALL of its fiction lines; still, I was heartened to hear Nevill has secured a two book deal with Pan Macmillian). And the UK certainly doesn't have a mass market imprint like Leisure Books in the US (where, you will find if you scroll down just a little, an announcement that Leisure will be releasing Ramsey Campbell's latest novel, Creatures of the Pool, in paperback in April 2010; something I first heard from author Gary McMahon at Fantasycon and which Ramsey himself confirmed, stating that it will contain the PS Publishing hardcover text). Abaddon Books in the UK has certainly broke through into the UK High Street shops and libraries, although it remains to be seen whether they will branch out beyond their enjoyable but deliberately pulp fiction lines.

Now if only British epic fantasy was having the same renaissance

I wasn't aware UK fantasy was in the doldrums? Although I did read the other day that Paranormal Romance is outselling traditional fantasy.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 12:42:19 pm by Paul Campbell »

AdrianF

  • Guest
Re: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2009, 01:57:01 pm »
I find that statement surprising

Let me clarify.  As I said I'm not personally a horror reader but there appears to be a genuine excitement from people I know in the US who know far better than me that the writers to watch are all British (and Joe Hill - but he's kinda been semi-adopted).  It's a shame if Virgin have pulled out as it appeared they were leading the charge, so to speak.  let's hope it's just a minor setback in the big scheme of things.

Quote
I wasn't aware UK fantasy was in the doldrums? Although I did read the other day that Paranormal Romance is outselling traditional fantasy.

Well, I'm saying this from a point purely of personal opinion, but I find most of the writers that are doing really clever stuff with epic Fantasy (as opposed to other subgenres like the new weird) are American  (and I have opinion on the differences between American and British Fantasy as I'm sure my argument is flawed and possibly slightly naive).  The George R R Martin knockoffs appear to be getting nearly as bad as the Tolkien knockoffs in the 70s.  Abercrombie is one who is definitely an international rising star but I worry that long term he might be seen as a one-trick pony.  But you could probably get all the innovative British epic fantasy writers in the UK and fit them all around a pub table.

And Paranormal Romance is outselling everything, isn't it?

Offline sandranorval

  • Whirlpool
  • Warrior
  • ****
  • Posts: 77
    • View Profile
    • Sandra Norval
Re: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2009, 09:06:16 pm »
I wonder if this issue is as much about economics as it is about the quality of the books being published.

Recently my local Borders closed, which was gutting as it had decent Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror sections, all separate. I understand that these stores, like Waterstones, work on a similar basis to supermarkets, only providing what sells. The way things are these days the money is mostly in the pockets of teenagers and twenty somethings, I suspect the demographic of paranormal romance fans is similar.

The shame is, if the books aren't available instore, chances are you'll head home and use Amazon, or an equivalent, rather than order it instore. That means the sale isn't registered against the store, therefore, no trigger for them to stock it. It can lead to a steady decline, no sales, no stock, no section and potentially no store.

The other point is that books on shelves in some ways sell themselves. How many times have you stood in a bookshop and come out with an armful when you only meant to buy one? Shopping online doesn't seem to have quite the same effect. So, if there's a huge shelf of PNR books, mixed with youngsters with money burning a hole, I think that makes the publishing industry really quite clever.

Doesn't bode well for any genre that isn't heavily promoted really, does it?
Sandra Norval

Chapter One of Libertine available at www.sandranorval.co.uk
Also find me on facebook and twitter (@sandranorval and @enterthetwixt)

Offline Rolnikov

  • TQF co-editor
  • BFS Reviewers
  • Elder Darkness
  • *****
  • Posts: 3027
    • View Profile
    • Theaker's Quarterly Fiction
Re: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2009, 08:28:53 am »
I don't think paranormal romance is killing horror, just because most of it is horror. Anne Rice, Buffy, Angel, Laurel K Hamilton, True Blood, Twilight, and all their imitators - it's all basically horror with extra smooching, swooning and brooding. It's just a branch of horror that has become so successful that bookshops want to help its fans find it more easily.

It's the same as graphic novels and manga - manga became successful enough to get its own shelving space.

Offline D. J. R. Allkins

  • Thaumaturge
  • ***
  • Posts: 154
  • AKA , D.J.R. Allkins
    • View Profile
    • Tides from a scribbling sea
Re: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2009, 03:13:49 pm »
I don't think this has killed horror yet.  This is appears to be more of a marketing term, to sell to Twilight fans.  The difficulty is when this dies down in popularity, are we going to get another round of people saying 'horror is dead'. 
Out of intreast, are any books getting put there, which are near to the 'occult detectives' category?

AdrianF

  • Guest
Re: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2009, 03:31:30 pm »
Out of intreast, are any books getting put there, which are near to the 'occult detectives' category?

I think the Harry Dresden books are getting lumped in there

Offline Jec

  • BFS Reviewers
  • Thaumaturge
  • *****
  • Posts: 151
    • View Profile
Re: When a Sub-Genre kills a Genre
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2009, 03:09:52 pm »
Now if only British epic fantasy was having the same renaissance

 Although I did read the other day that Paranormal Romance is outselling traditional fantasy.
[/quote]

well - from talking to fantasy readers I gather this is  largely because paranormal romances are:
a/ fashionable
b/ shorter than the average fantasy epic
c/ most are series and no serial - and thus do not require you to have read the previous X volumes in the series

I used to read a lot of fantasy but I'm for more selective now  - and usually avoid multipart epics - unless by an author I know -  and this is because I have got so very  tired of finding vol 4 on a book shop shelf with  no sign of the previous 3... I could go on but, meh...