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Evaporating Genres: Essays on Fantastic Literature Paperback – January 3, 2011
Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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“Profoundly knowledgeable about science fiction and fantasy fiction, the award-winning critic Gary K. Wolfe possesses both the wisdom and generosity of spirit necessary to consider these genres within the context of the wider literary culture; by doing so he miraculously illuminates them from within.” (Peter Straub, author of A Dark Matter)
Top Customer Reviews
"Despite his reputation, Asimov was never one of science fiction's great inventors, but he was its single greatest apostle of management, and his dream of managing history, of reducing millennia of chaos to a few centuries through the science of statistics and a handful of strategically placed public service announcements..."
I never considered Hari Seldon in those terms before, but Wolfe is absolutely correct.
This book is highly recommended. If you have the same experience as I had, you'll probably be jotting down many of the titles that Wolfe mentions and adding them to your reading list.
The general topic of the book is the issue of genre, specifically as it relates to science fiction, fantasy, and horror. A few chapters examine in some depth the ways in which many books, and more broadly, the works of many authors, defy any simple genre classification. Other chapters look within single genres or sub-genres, analyzing how different genres are defined, how divisions are formed within a genre, how related genres such as science fiction and fantasy distinguish themselves from each other, influence one another, and sometimes blend at their boundaries.
Some of the chapters I found most interesting were the following:
Chapter 2, which has the same title as the book and which is its central essay, starts with a look at how genres such as science fiction became defined and developed their "specific market identities." It then goes on to look at how writers within those genres have begun to "subvert or transform the genre expectations that largely derived from those market identities.Read more ›