Monday, August 15, 2005


I picked up Diana Tixier Herald's Fluent in Fantasy: A Guide to Reading Interests at the Mt. Washington Library the other day. It divided the genre of fantasy into subgenres and sub-subgenres. I'm not sure if I'd designate fantasy this way but here's what she came up with:

Subgenre 1: Sword and Sorcery

Divided into four sub-subgenres: the quest (Lord of the Rings); heroic, featuring a hero who uses more muscle than magic (Conan, Barsoom); Epic (Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time); and Magical (L. Sprague de Camp's The Incomplete Enchanter)

Subgenre 2: Saga, Myth, and Legend

Divided into Arthurian, Robin Hood, Ancient Civilizations (Greek, Roman, and Atlantean), Celtic, American, Asian, European, African and Mid-Eastern (mainly Aladdin), and Byzantium.

No explanation for why ancient civilizations only includes the three listed or why the Greeks, Romans, and Celts aren't included in Europe.

Subgenre 3: Fairy Tales

Divided in familiar (well-known stories retold) or original (The Princess Bride or John Barnes' One for Morning Glory)

Subgenre 4: Humor

Listings for Xanth (but says don't read beyond the third book), Discworld, Robert Asprin's Myth Series, and Harry Potter (when the book was written, only the Sorcerer's Stone had been published)

Subgenre 5: Bestiary Fantasy involving animals, magical or other

Divided into Unicorns (Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn), Dragons (Gordon R. Dickson's The Dragon and the George), and Uncommon Animals (Richard Adams' Watership Down)

Subgenre 6: The World of Faerie

Smallest subgenre (Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood)

Subgenre 7: Contemporary Fantasy

Divided Urban Fantasy (Neverwhere), the Human Condition (Terry Bisson's Talking Man and Mike Resnick's A Miracle of Rare Design), and Magic Realism (James Blaylock's The Paper Grail)

Subgenre 8: Alternate and Parallel Worlds Split from SF Parallel Worlds.

Divided into Alternate History (Orson Scott Card's Seventh Son series), Parallel Worlds (Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series, Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas the Unbeliever, or basically anything where someone from our world travels to a fantasy world), and Alternate Worlds (H. Rider Haggards' She or Jody Nye's Waking in Dream Land)

Subgenre 9: Time Travel

Split from SF time machines. The authors noted that unlike other subgenres, there is little overlap between adult and young readers. Most young reader time travel fantasies involve a kid from modern times sent back to learn about the Great Depression or the Pilgrims.

Richard Matheson's Bid Time Return (basis of Somewhere in Time )

Subgenre 10: Paranormal Powers

Divided into Psionic powers (Stephen King's Firestarter), Shapeshifters (non-horror), Immortality (Tuck Everlasting or Ken Grimwood's Replay), and Supernatural Beings (again non-horror)

Subgenre 11: Graphic Novels

Sandman, Art Spiegelman's Maus, and Watchmen

Subgenre 12: Celebrity Characters Fantasy involving a famous real person

Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld and John Myers Myers Silverlock

Subgenre 13: Shared Worlds

Shared World Series (Thieves' World), Dungeon and Dragons and other Role-Playing Game Worlds, and Novels Based on Role-playing Games

Subgenre 14: Dark Fantasy

General (Fritz Leiber's Our Lady of Darkness) or Weird Tales (Lovecraft)

Subgenre 15: Fantasy Featuring Detectives

Gene Wolfe's Free Live Free, Tanya Huff's Blood Debt, and R.A. MacAvoy's Tea with the Black Dragon

Subgenre 16: Romantic Fantasy

Laura Resnick's In Legend Born (I've never read this but I see the book whenever I look for Mike Resnick novels, so it was the only title I was familiar with.)

No comments: