Fantasy Friday – The Fifth (or And Speaking of Sub-genres)

Well, I’m excited. The April 2008 issue of Writer’s Digest has an article about the hot genres of pop fiction, and science fiction/fantasy is on the list! In a graphic of subgenres, twenty varieties appear. Mind you, “horror” is listed as a separate genre with seventeen of its own subdivisions.

In comparison, mystery/crime has three subdivisions (although police procedural has fourteen sub-subgenres listed). Romance has a mere seven subgenres, with “Christian” being one.

So what, you might ask, is exciting about all this? Is Christian fantasy one of the subdivisions? No, but epic fantasy is, and that’s what I write, from a Christian worldview. Not urban fantasy or dark fantasy, SF thriller, new age, cyberpunk, steampunk, science fantasy, Arthurian, or fantastic alternate history. Those subgenres, and others on the list, seem to appeal to a select group, a niche, whereas epic fantasy has an appeal that spans age groups and reading preferences.

And here’s what the Writer’s Digest article said:

[Crawford] Kilian [author of Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy] also sees a return to eic fantasy, spurred by The Lord of the Rings movies. He cites a new series, Queen of the Orcs, derived from one of Tolkien’s fanciful species. The return of the epic style is welcome to [Harper Collins Voyager Publishing Director Jane] Johnson who wrote a companion piece for The Two Towers, and is currently working on an epic children’s fantasy series, the Eidolon Chronicles.

“It’s hard to beat the rush of finding a tale with huge scope and a cast of brilliant characters,” she says. “For me, there’s nothing more absorbing.”

For reader and writer alike, I might add. How else can anyone explain the huge love affair our culture has with Lord of the Rings, which spills out to include nearly everything Tolkien.

So there you have it. I’m finally writing what’s “in,” at least according to this general market writing periodical. 😀

One other reason I’m excited. Recently I received news that a story I entered in the Writer’s Digest Short, Short Story contest placed. No, not in the money, but I do get free books, my name in the magazine, and my story included in the collection of winners. That’s cool in itself, but here’s the part I’m excited about. The story is Christian fantasy, the way I write it—like a parable. And this contest was not genre specific. In other words, this story was judged along with contemporary stories, literary stories, you name it.

As I see it, that confirms my belief that Christian fantasy can “cross over.” It does not have to be a story only for Christians. Of course, those who don’t have the eyes to see may not discover the meaning of the parable. They will, however, enjoy a good story, and it may be a story that will plant a seed or become a tool in the hands of a believer to illustrate what they’ve been telling their non-Christian friends about the gospel. At least that’s my prayer.

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