Learn Your Library Resources – Adult Genre Collection

Those of you familiar with the layout of the adult collection on the second floor of the library will know that our Fiction (FIC) section is only part of our fiction collection.

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Genre fiction is a part of fiction, of course, but fans of certain genres like to be able to browse books it their particular area of interest. As we can’t stand the idea of not being as helpful as possible, certain genres have been separated out from the rest so that readers can do just that.

Graphic Novels, Mystery, Romance, Speculative Fiction (an umbrella term that covers Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror) and Westerns all have there own area.

It can get a little confusing sometimes when a book could fit into more than one category – genre crossovers and mash-ups were always a part of certain genres (hence grouping sci-fi, fantasy and horror together under Speculative Fiction) but they are only becoming more common – so, if you are not sure what section to look in just ask.

We are here to help!

 

 

Genre Friday – Magical Realism

Robert Gonsalves, On the High Seas

Magical Realism is a very interesting genre. In the broadest, and most obvious terms, it deals with stories that incorporate magic into realistic settings. That could be viewed as an oversimplification though, since the same thing could be said for Urban Fantasy, which is a very different animal indeed. So, while magical realism could arguably be given a place at the speculative fiction table (and maybe even the little table near the kitchen that is reserved for Fantasy genres and subgenres), it typically isn’t. And for good reason. Often viewed as literary fiction, rather than the often less respected genre fiction (haters gonna hate) it could be compared to, it has a style and feeling all its own.

This may have something to due with its attributed origins as a primarily Latin American product.  Jorge Luis Borges, Elena Garro, Juan Rulfo, Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende, among others, are seen as founders and pioneers of the genre. It has spread out from there, with authors of other places and cultures taking to the surreal world of magical realism, but no matter where they are from the genre always has certain elements in common to one extent or another.

Magical realism incorporates magic into the everyday, mundane world in a way that almost suggests it is commonplace; or, if not commonplace, than at least not terribly alarming to the protagonist. Its mystic elements, usually (or at least traditionally) rooted in folklore or mythology, are often subtle or underplayed and may go completely unremarked upon in the story. The subtle blending of the detailed, real-world setting with the fantastical, and the characters’ often almost casual acceptance of it (‘Huh, cats don’t usually talk, but it would be rude not to say hello‘ or ‘That is a little odd, the ghosts of my long dead ancestors don’t usually appear in my breakfast nook, I should ask them if I can get them anything‘) create a surreal, dream-like feeling in many of these works. In many situations, the calm, dream-like feeling is strengthened even further by the narrators indifference. They are frequently equally as unaffected by the “real” elements of their world as they are the fantastic, never seeking an explanation for their circumstances or the things they have witnessed. Meanwhile, the reader, confronted by a constant barrage of strange and impossible events in this realistic setting, experiences an ever-building sense of mystery, and occasionally foreboding, as the characters and the story calmly approach the point of climax.

If you enjoy waking from those particularly weird and vivid dreams that leave you with a distinct sense of confused wonder, or if wish you had dreams like that, then this is the genre for you.

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Examples:

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Genre Friday – Weird Westerns

Weird West

True or False?

Sergio Leone’s iconic Man with No Name Trilogy would’ve been better if Clint Eastwood’s horse was actually a steam-driven, robotic mount and he had a demonically-possessed, talking Peacemaker that had all the best lines.

If you answered “True,” or even “False, because those movies are great, but I would totally watch that crazy robot horse, talking gun one too,” then weird westerns might just be for you.

Weird West tales, you may have guessed by now, are a mashup of traditional Western settings, themes and tropes and various elements of speculative fiction. Many such stories incorporate steampunk elements. Remember The Wild, Wild West TV show… or the later movie starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline if the TV show was before your time? Perfect example of what we’re talking about. They may also feature magical realism and/or fantasy like incorporation of magic or fanciful creatures. Like other historical fiction, the stories can feature real-life people and events, although many weird westerns start their world-building from scratch.

Examples:

16104414Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

The Devil’s Call by J. Danielle Dorn

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman

The Haunted Mesa by Louis L’Amour

Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente

Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher

The Sixth Gun by Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt (illustrator) & Tyler Crook (illustrator)

 

 

Genre Friday – Hobbit Day Tribute Edition

Baggins BDay

Welcome to the house that Tolkien built. Epic Fantasy (also known as High Fantasy) is the quintessential fantasy sub-genre, the fount from which all other fantasy sub-genres have flowed, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s elves and orcs and rings (oh my) utterly dominate the field. There are, of course, stand-outs and outliers, stories that forge news paths in an old sub-genre, but even when a tale isn’t filled with staff wielding wizards and subterranean, master-craftsmen called dwarfs anything called epic fantasy still contains a few essential elements that were originally established when Tolkien first fleshed out Middle-earth on paper.

Epic fantasies create entire worlds, with long and complex histories and vivid cultures and lifestyles. How complex and vivid? Tolkien actually created (or adapted) a historic timeline leading back to the creation of the world, myths, legends, deities, several races of creatures (many of which have become staples of the fantasy genre), multiple kingdoms, and an entire language for the fictional inhabitants of his world! If you look hard enough in the right places I bet it wouldn’t take too much effort to find someone that speaks at least passing Elvish. They are not all that in depth, but that is the kind of detail you are potentially looking at when you jump into an epic fantasy.

In case that isn’t enough to wrap your head around, epic fantasy also almost always has a large cast of characters taking part in quests and adventures that will affect the fate of an entire kingdom or world. Possibly multiple worlds.

So, it is a complex workout for your imagination and memory. What else?

MiddleEarth

While hand-drawn maps of the world are not strictly mandatory, they are strongly encouraged. 

It’s big. Aside from its often immense geographic scope, as it is not unusual for the cast of characters to have to trek across continents and cross oceans in the pursuit of their goal, these stories can also cover large spans of time, with years, decades or even generations passing by in the course of the story (or series of stories). They are also big in another way – these are not typically short books. Once you get sucked into an epic fantasy series you are in it for the long haul.

 

Examples:

Sheepfarmer's DaughterThe Belgariad series by David Eddings

The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy by Elizabeth Moon

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

The Original Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks

The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

Genre Friday Returns! with Court Intrigue Fantasy

Whether it is set on Earth (past, present or future), in a parallel world or universe, or a mystic realm where the familiar laws of nature do not apply, Fantasy allows imagination to run wild. True to this idea, Fantasy’s many subgenres can vary from one another a great deal, encompassing just about anything one could imagine, which helps to explain the genre’s ever-growing breadth and depth.

The Court Intrigue subgenre of Fantasy generally focuses on and around royalty and the ruling elite. Settings can be anything from a well known historical backdrop (but with magic or something) to some unrecognizable alternate world but we are almost always going to be dealing with the upper crust of society and their despicable plotting and scheming. The plots of these stories are often complex and heavily entangled with politics, power grabs, espionage, assassinations (successful and attempted), court scandal and everything else that you would expect from a political thriller, but normally set in feudal, medieval-esque surroundings with sorcerers and dragons about.

GOTCoverMIAExamples:

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner