My Drifting Preference in Genre

Sci-fi vs Fantasy
Sci-fi vs Fantasy by DanilLovesFood

My Path Through Genre

I began as a fantasy reader. I could not get enough of it. I got hooked on the old TSR Choose Your Own Adventure books, a series called Endless Quest. My mom picked a few up at a yardsale when I was eight. Dragon of Doom by Rose Estes and published in 1983 was my first taste of non-fairytale fantasy (and it also led me to Dungeons & Dragons a few months later). After the CYOA gateway drug, I talked with my school dealer, err librarian, and found The Hobbit. Lord of the Rings, several Chronicles (Prydain, Dragonlance, & Narnia), Conan, and a few hundred D&D setting books (Dark Sun, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Mystara, Ravenloft, & Spelljammer) soon followed. I was was big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, Andre Norton, and Anne McCaffery.

Then came horror. I read Dracula and Frankenstein in middle school. I watched the classic Universal Monsters, Night of the Living Dead and a hoard of budget horror films when our local TV horror host, Sammy Terry (R.I.P.) would present them. Then I found Stephen King by way of Eyes of the Dragon and his Dark Tower series and then dove into Salem’s Lot, The Talisman, and Creepshow. Then I read Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire.

I had enjoyed science fiction films, and Star Trek had certainly been a television staple (my dad loved the original series), but I was never an avid reader of the genre (unless you count X-Men comics) until I was enlisted in the Marine Corps. I had read some of Asimov’s  Foundation in high school and found it somewhat disappointing. However, while I was a Marine I picked up Starship Troopers (the film adaptation had released while I was in the School of Infantry and we had a screening of it). Then I read Stranger in a Strangeland, Ender’s Game, Slaughterhouse 5, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, discovering how awesome the genre could be.

I also delved into the techno-thriller during my stint as a jarhead, I started with Rainbow Six but I eventually found the genre (well, at least Tom Clancy) to be a bit tedious. Maybe when you have detailed knowledge concerning the operation of firearms, you get burned out the super-detailed description of the operation.

My Genre Preference Today

My time for entertainment is a lot less than it used to be, what with an active eight-year-old, my wife, the house, and my career, thus I tend to be very picky. If I start a book, movie, or serial and it doesn’t immediately grab my attention, I chuck it. If I find I’m not enjoying it at almost any point in time, I no longer tough it out in hopes that it gets better and I bail. I have discovered that the stories that I find most compelling contain specific elements. These days I won’t even give a story a shot unless it contains these elements (or it comes highly recommend from a trusted source). I simply cannot afford to do it any other way.

Today I read a mix of things including fantasy, horror, science fiction, thriller, westerns, and non-fiction (something I wouldn’t dream of doing as a teenager), but science fiction and thrillers comprise the lion’s share. I find that my taste for fantasy has dwindled since my formative years. I can’t exactly pinpoint why I’ve lost my enthusiasm for fantasy, but I think it must be some combination of burnout and a growing sense of disbelief in how fantasy worlds function. Seriously, what would the socio-economic impact of magic really be? How can the varying length of seasons in A Song of Ice & Fire be explained? I know, I’m applying science and logic to imaginary settings, but I can’t help it, these things break my suspension of disbelief.

Now I specifically look for hi-tech transhuman sci-fi (think Eclipse Phase RPG or Old Man’s War), modern thriller-westerns (Walt Longmire series), and current-day or near-future military sci-fi/conspiracy/horror (Joe Ledger series or the Laundry Files). I’d like to find a series of novels in the vein of Sons of Anarchy, but there is definitely a dearth of 1%er motorcycle club fiction that is not romance. If you have any recommendations, let me know.

Image Credit: DanilLovesFood on DeviantArt

Listening to: Powershifter – Fear Factory

One thought on “My Drifting Preference in Genre

  1. I remember Dragon of Doom! It was one of my first fantasy novels, too. The Doom Dragon was one of my first home brew D&D monsters, too (I have no idea if an official one exists in canon).

    I can totally relate to losing interest in fantasy, and having less time for the same reasons. For me I find fantasy incredibly repetitive and rehashed – it’s rare to find anything truly unique and original. A little less bloated would be nice, too.

    I’ve also found myself reading thrillers, westerns and non fiction in recent years, something I never would have imagined in my youth. I will read pretty much anything, but my tastes are far more discerning because something really needs to be worth my limited time. My preference is still for satire and comedy though (again, as long as it’s well-written).

    Great post!

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