Genre Pollution, Part Two

back to "Genre Pollution, Part One"


Basically, all anyone does these days when they aren't "working" is watch full runs of television shows in popeyed marathons and then talk about these television shows later with friends. Television Realism extends this into literature so people can fully immerse themselves into the shows where they already live and play. TR takes an episode of a beloved sitcom or drama and turns it into a full length literary novel. All the dialog and events that occur in the episode must also occur within the novel, but the novel adds subtext, point of view, depth, and motivation for the characters. Basically, this is the highest quality "fan fiction" possible. Wouldn't you buy the novel version of a particularly fine episode of "Sanford & Son?" Isn't such an item the perfect gift for your friend who does not believe in literature? TR novels will be boutique items, commissioned by small, scrappy publishing houses who match up big name authors with work. Jonathan Safran Foer's "Episode 44 of Mork and Mindy: Mork Gets a Puppy," Cormac McCarthy's "Episode 12 of Bonanza: Mexican Attack!," Toni Morrison's "Episode 11 of Full House: DJ's Big Day," William Gibson's "Episode 30 of Small Wonder: Short Circuit Daze." WRITERS WILL EAT!


A child-soldier sits on a life raft holding a rocket-launcher and chewing khat to stay awake. He listens to "Pimsleur Danish" mp3s. A Danish tanker steers into view. He aims his rocket-launcher and raises his bullhorn:

"Please to stop or will blow ship!"

The pirates board. They take their plunder and steer the ship back to Somalia for a week of drinking and debauchery. They meet up at Johnny Tech's "Space Bar" and listen to his hilarious stories about very lucrative Craigslist scams. They trade interesting stolen software and visit their swarms of illegitimate children. The Danes are held for ransom, but there was an American on board the Danish American hacker who is sick of "copyright czars" and who knows that Google will be transporting their servers around the Cape of Good Hope next month on a quiet merchant freighter. The American licks her lips and clears her throat. The pirates turn to look at her.


The interrogation genre is basically already upon us, but has yet to be properly novelized. Two people sit down in a room and one of them tells a story while being coerced and manipulated. The story is terribly important. It could mean life or death for events outside of the interrogation room. And the conflict is clear: the storyteller wants to tell one kind of story, and the interrogator wants to hear a different kind. These opposed desires move the story back and forth, darting in and out of the past and present, weaving together a tapestry all in dialog. Unlike in a stage play or television drama, novels in the interrogation thriller genre will let us into the stream of consciousness of the protagonists, showing us how the minds and histories of these people merge, giving us the real tension, the real rage, and the real chemistry between suspects and detectives.


Every good genre needs a simple hook, and the hook in Bet Fiction is as simple as it gets: there is a bet between two people over something. Gambling leads to great conflict, and the opposing forces here are manufactured, locked into a concrete struggle with a clear winner and loser. The stakes can be as high or low as fits the circumstances, from prisoners betting on the outcome of a cafeteria brawl between newcomers, to world leaders wagering on the outcome of a cockfight in a laundry room at the UN. With elements of both the crime novel and caper novel, Bet Fiction distills the human experience into one central problem: how much control do people have over seemingly-random events, and how can favorable outcomes be produced through sheer will?


As we all know, the difference between "hard" and "soft" science fiction is that the hard science fiction writer spends a lot of time doing the math and trying to make sure that the future they are inventing is actually plausible. EXTREMELY hard science fiction is when these writers actually file patents (included in the back of the book) for inventions they have created and are about to release to the general public. These Extremely Hard Science Fiction novels will come out exactly the same time as the inventions, letting people always feel like they are living at the cutting edge of technology and science. A corollary to EHSF will be science fiction novels that people write instead of PhD theses, incorporating all of their research into a fictional framework.


Only writers are still expected to live by the Bushido code of absolute honor and absolute integrity these days. Instead of kicking against this and trying to worm their way into the modern comforts and excesses of cultural relevance, it is time for writers to take integrity to the next level. Suicidals will be novels that writers make directly before killing themselves at the peak of their careers. Their agent will call a press conference and the writer will take a sip of water and address the nation. "I feel that my books are no longer engaging with the general public in an important way and that my duty as a novelist has become all too clear. My next book will be a Suicidal. I will try to make it as perfect as possible, and when it is finished, I will take my own life on YouTube. Thank you."

even more "Genre Pollution"...

Posted by miracle on Sat, 08 May 2010 13:22:23 -0500 -- permanent link

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