Putting off the Music thing until tomorrow because the latest musings from Sam Sykes got me thinking.
A lot of what he talks about how the fantasy genre is perceived as a quest to find the gems in amongst the trash, to use less swears than Sykes. I cut my teeth on high fantasy in the 90s when I started reading my parent’s books when I was ten. I had Lord of the Rings read to me and then I was done on kids books. Until 2000ish my reading was rooted in one era of the genre. I fondly remember reading things like the Night-Threads books by Ru Emerson and did a summer reading book report in high school on one of the Sword of Truth books. I enjoyed the whole lot of them.
But it got to the point where I wanted something more. Sometimes that’s been finding new takes on the same genre stuff like the first time I read The Scar. Sykes uses The Lies of Locke Lamora as an example and that’s been one of my favorites, sitting on the Shelf of Honor. But now when I walk into a bookstore, finding that fresh new take on something is getting harder and harder. I think that’s partly that I read a lot but it can’t be that alone. First of all, bookstores are rare as all hell in Rhode Island now. But when I look at a shelf I think “You all clearly watched a lot of Buffy when you were in high school.” It’s frustrating to see the same stuff on the shelf time after time again repackaged into a different cover. It’s a part of why I started getting back into writing again, I was just tired of the same old same old.
But that doesn’t mean you can ever stop looking. The “Girl kicking supernatural ass” sub-genre may be derivative of Buffy, but I still found My Life as a White Trash Zombie. Twilight may have destroyed vampires but go check out Fat White Vampire Blues for a different take on it. It took a lot to find those
Lately I’ve found the best way to find new awesome books are to see what writers I enjoy are reading. Hell, I picked up Sykes’ books based off of Scalzi’s “I do not wish Sam Sykes dead” blerb.
I’ll always want to go back to the pillars of the genre, I think everyone does from time to time. They’re pillars for a reason. I’m sure the stuff we’re reading brandy new now, might be considered derivative in ten years and we’ll still be looking for that new cutting edge voice while having nostalgia for what came before. The genre sometimes seems stagnant but I see it as a challenge to do something awesome.