Saturday, October 13, 2012

Guest post by Elizabeth Baxter author of Circle Spinner and Other Tales

The rise and rise of genre fiction

I read fantasy fiction. Always have, always will. Perhaps that’s why I began writing it. But when I was a kid, (which wasn’t all that long ago I might add) if you enjoyed fantasy or science fiction you were automatically labelled as something other than the ‘norm’. Goth. Emo. Nerd. Geek. Take your pick. I remember hiding my copies of Tolkien and Donaldson from my classmates for fear of ridicule. I remember the look on my English teacher’s face when he caught me reading The Hobbit. The look said he hoped this was a phase I’d grow out of and then I’d start reading ‘proper’ literature. I remember thinking, “Damn you all, I’ll read what I bloody-well like!”

Seems that times have changed. Genre fiction is becoming cool. I recently read an article in The Bookseller which said, “Mainstream publishers can "no longer afford to ignore" science-fiction and fantasy projects… as a flurry of six-figure deals and chart successes point to a rising demand for the genre.”

My first thought was: seriously? Genre fiction is becoming that popular? These days, anyone who’s anyone has read such things as the Twilight Saga, the Harry Potter books and George RR. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. And it’s not just books either; the same is happening on TV and the big screen. There are fantasy/sci-fi shows all over the place. Just look at the success of Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, True Blood. The list goes on. So what’s changed? Why has genre fiction become suddenly so popular?

The Bookseller raises some interesting points. Perhaps the rise in popularity of ‘escapist’ type literature is due to the global depression. Everywhere you look these days, there’s tales of doom and gloom. Economic failure. Job losses. Home repossessions. Strife in foreign climes. Seems to make sense then that people might want to escape into a good fantasy or science fiction tale doesn’t it?

As a fantasy writer, these are interesting times. I wonder if the trend will continue or if the bubble will soon burst. Trends come and go after all. One thing is for sure, with the plethora of great reading and great TV, us genre fans better enjoy it while it lasts. I know I will.

If you’d like to take a look at The Bookseller’s article, you can find it here.

Elizabeth Baxter
Author of Circle Spinner and Other Tales


  1. How wonderful that even as a youngster, you never bowed to peer pressure in your reading. Too many kids only want to read what's "cool."

    More and more kids have ereaders now. Maybe they will finally be allowed to read their chosen genres in peace.

  2. It's interesting how in my lifetime, genre fiction has transformed from 'uncool' to 'cool'. I used to get teased for reading fantasy; now everyone seems to be reading it. It can only be a good thing, in my opinion! Great post :)

  3. Hi Margaret - I think ereaders are an amazing invention. We can now read what we like without fear of ridicule. Perhaps that's why erotica has become so popular!

    Hi EL - It's kind of strange that fantasy is cool. I kind of liked being a geek. I wonder what the next genre to become cool will be?

    Elizabeth Baxter

  4. The geeks are plugging for the next cool genre to be Steam Punk. :)