Crossroads: Where Genres Meet in the Night

Wooden Signpost at the Crossroads
Wooden Signpost at the Crossroads by Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

At your local library, in the dark and dusty stacks, forgotten genres moulder. Nurse stories, Robinsonades, railroad fiction – over the years, plenty have faded into obscurity. But not speculative fiction: whether we’re talking about science fiction, fantasy, horror – or any of their myriad sub-genres – SF continues to grow, mutate and evolve. Why?

Speculative fiction’s ability to stay fresh is a direct result of its ability to blend with other genres: the mash-up, the hybrid, the literary crossroad are where science fiction has always found innovation. We’re a magpie genre, and I think that should be celebrated.

My name is Chris Gerwel, and I’ve been reading speculative fiction for as long as I can remember. And like so many fans, I like to tinker, to dismantle, to look under the hood to see how speculative fiction works. For the past two years I’ve been doing that every Tuesday at the weekly speculative fiction blog The King of Elfland’s 2nd Cousin, and in 2013 I’d like to examine genre mash-ups with you here at Amazing Stories. Here’s how it’ll work:

Every month, I’ll pick a different genre. And every week in that month, we’ll discuss how speculative fiction uses that genre, how the two interact, feed into each other, change each other. I think it’ll be fun. Here’s the monthly schedule I propose:

  • January – The dark of winter, when nights are long and cold. I figure this is just right for exploring Noir.
  • February – Valentine’s Day marks the midpoint of this month, so what better month to get swept up in Romance?
  • March – For some reason, the tail end of winter always makes me think of snow melting in the mountains. Which in turn makes me think of Westerns.
  • April – April Fool’s Day kicks this one-off, so I figure Humor is the way to go.
  • May – Both the month and the genre start with the same letter, so let’s go with Mainstream Literary.
  • June –  Alright. I don’t have a reason for this one. But I wanted it to go somewhere, so this is when we’ll take on Police Procedural.
  • July – For those of us in the U.S., July is a historically-oriented month (that whole Independence Day, Revolutionary War, etc.). So this month, we’ll be taking a look at Historical Fiction.
  • August – August is hot, and plenty of spy thrillers take place in hot climates, so this month gets Espionage (yes, I know it’s weak, but c’mon!).
  • September – Kids go back to school, and as far as I recall, that felt like going off to War.
  • October – Halloween? Oh, you knew all along that this one would be Horror.
  • November – Speculative fiction mashed up with itself? Why wouldn’t it go in November? This month we’ll explore Metafiction.
  • December – The nights turn colder again, and what better than to curl up by the fire with a hot tea (or brandy) and a Cozy Mystery?


So that’s the plan, and I hope you decide to go on this journey with me. To get the ball rolling, what are some of your favorite genre mash-up titles?

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  1. Don't know much about Noir, but I'm enjoying the posts so far. Looking forward to your investigation of mash-ups with other sub-genres that I know (a bit) better.

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