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genre rambling
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Warning--theoretical ramblings ahead....

I just finished reading a wonderfully fun British fantasy novel, Freda Warrington's Court of the Midnight King. I've always been a sucker for Richard III novels, and now that I live in Yorkshire and have spent time in York (and--I admit it--have been to the Richard III museum in the York gatehouse twice), I enjoy them even more. This one was a great alternate-history fantasy with teeth. Now I'm reading a really fun collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, by an English lit fic writer, Kate Atkinson. They're funny, human, clever--and they're a complete blend of realism with speculative weirdness like mermaids, parallel realities, and science fiction scenarios. Any of them could have been published in one of the cutting-edge fantasy markets, like Strange Horizons . So how come they're classified as lit fic, and not spec fic?

I guess this has been on my mind a lot lately just because of the debate I listened to on BBC Radio 3 the other week (Lit Fic Vs. SF/Fantasy), and also because of the debates currently going on in the sf/fantasy community about the definitions/existence of "slipstream" and the "interstitial" movement. Genre borders are blurring all over the place, which I see as a really good thing. (After Clarion, I felt like I'd slipped into a writer's nightmare--every time I sent a story to a fantasy market, it came back with a note saying, "Very nice but not fantasy." When I sent the same stories to 'lit' markets, they came back with rejections saying, "Very nice, but too genre." Aaaargh!)

Still, sometimes the defining process just leads to silliness. Like Margaret Atwood's famous example... and while I'm really enjoying Kate Atkinson's collection, which I highly recommend, I keep thinking about how silly it is to have it on a different side of the library than Kelly Link's Stranger Things Happen. The sensibilities feel almost exactly the same--it 's only the self-definition that's different. Fair enough, I suppose... After all, it's nice to be able to succeed in the genre you like best. But when I hear some of the really snobby, snotty stuff that British Lit writers like Ian Jack say about science fiction and fantasy, little words like "hypocrisy" start floating around in my head....

Anyway, I loved the Warrington novel, and I'm loving the Atkinson collection so far. So no real complaints on this end....


The big news from this weekend is that we now have an exercise bike (on loan). Woohoo! And what a great excuse to watch even more 'extras' from The Two Towers extended DVD. (Hey, we need something to watch while we bike....right?) Of course, it does take some of the fun out of unhealthy snacks.. The other day, I biked off 131 calories according to the bike's computer. Afterwards, I collapsed, picked up a mini-chocolate bar (left over from Halloween), ate it--and then saw on the wrapper that it was 80 calories. Ouch! I felt resentful for the rest of the evening. How dare such a tiny thing take away more than half of my hard-biked calorie loss?

Perhaps this is a good thing to realize.... or would be, if I hadn't just made more banana muffins. (Zero calories in each, we're pretty sure.) (Er....)

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