Defining the genres (introduction)

Both when I’m talking about what I’m writing and when I’m talking about my reading, I use terms to describe books — space opera, epic fantasy, hard SF, cozy mystery, middle-grade, and so forth. You may know these terms; you may not. More importantly, what comes to mind when you hear these terms may not match what I’m intending to convey. So, rather than point you to somebody’s else’s definition (with a ton of caveats), I’m going to start a new weekly series discussing what I mean by various terms.

As an example of “may not match,” I want to talk a little about epic fantasy. Not defining it yet, just talking about it. If you look it up on Wikipedia, you will be referred to their article on high fantasy. One of the links from there is a list of high fantasy works — which I vehemently disagree with. They include portal fantasy, juvenile fantasy, and comic fantasy books and series (but leave out some authors who unquestionably write epic fantasy, such as Joe Abercrombie). This is why I feel a need to talk about how I define terms.

Oh, and next month, I’m doing the A to Z Blog Challenge again, and I’m considering doing an A to Z of epic fantasy this time (mixing authors, books, and series as needed to get all the letters), which is why now. I figured you should have some idea how I decided what to include.

Any terms in particular you want me to talk about? Or that you have strong opinions on? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Sounds like an interesting A to Z topic. There seems to be a lot of fans of this genre.


    • Thanks. Yes, and between the Lord of the Rings movies and the Song of Ice and Fire series on HBO, it’s currently highly visible.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. I’d love to know what a cozy mystery is. I always feel cozy when I visit Nero Wolfe and Archie, but maybe they don’t qualify?

    On an unrelated note, I was disappointed that you left Leigh ?Brackett out of the B’s when you did your A-to-Z women SF writers thing…

    • Okay, I’ll be sure to hit on the subgenres of mystery. Briefly, cozies tend to have amateur detectives and take place in small towns — Miss Marple, not Hercule Poirot. I’ll get into more detail later. 🙂

      *adds Leigh Brackett to readers’ wish list* I’ve had several authors suggested to me — some I didn’t get to because of time, some I wasn’t familiar with, and some I can’t believe I overlooked. I might well have to do another weekly A-to-Z of women SF/F writers this year — though it’s likely I’ll skip the Q and X this time around.

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