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Chris Gerwel

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Chris Gerwel is a science fiction, fantasy, and horror writer. Raised in New Jersey, he spent ten years in Central & Eastern Europe in the market research industry, and today when he isn’t reading or writing speculative fiction, he works in the software industry. He lives in northern NJ, with a beautiful wife and a rambunctious puppy, and also writes the weekly blog The King of Elfland’s 2nd Cousin.

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Crossroads: The Challenge of Espionage in Speculative Fiction

If spy fiction uses SF/F techniques, then why doesn't speculative fiction feature more espionage? Perhaps SF/F’s world-building is too much of a good thing, preventing the genre from leveraging tension the way spy fiction does.

Crossroads: Society, World-building, and Estrangement in Spy Fiction

Growing up in a household where the legacy of Communism loomed large (my parents had fled Communist Poland during the '60s), poison-tipped umbrellas and...
Top Secret

Crossroads: I Spy, with My Little Eye…Espionage in Speculative Fiction

Hello and welcome to August! I was away for much of July on a "blogging vacation", and I very much missed you and our...

Crossroads: Speculative Devices in Police Procedurals

Character, Context, and Procedure: The Cores of the Police Procedural One can't analyze science fiction and fantasy without running into certain words over and...
Law and Order: SVU

Crossroads: The Difficulty of Police Procedural Speculative Fiction

Police procedurals are a complicated genre to explore because they intersect so fluidly with so many other genres. On the one hand, they solidly...
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Crossroads: “Speculative” Literary Fiction and SF/F Techniques

Last week, we talked about how works of speculative fiction deploy techniques commonly found in literary fiction. This week, we're going to flip that...
Peace by Gene Wolfe

Crossroads: “Literary” Speculative Fiction and Literary Sensibilities

As I mentioned last week, trying to draw general conclusions about the relationship between mainstream literary fiction and speculative fiction is difficult at best....
Venn diagram of Literary Fiction/Speculative Fiction along Character/Plot Spectrum

Crossroads: The Cores of Literary Fiction and Speculative Fiction

The relationship between speculative fiction and mainstream literary fiction is complicated by decades of group identity dynamics, mutual ignorance, and overbroad critical generalizations about...
Magic Realism vs Fantasy - Venn Diagram

Crossroads: Negotiating the Unreal in Magic Realism and Fantasy

Perhaps the most important insight I've gained from my research for my Crossroads series is that the borders between genres are very fluid, and...
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Crossroads: Tensions between SF/F and Mainstream Literary Fiction

Welcome to the first week of May! This month, I'm going to be taking a look at the often-fraught relationship between speculative fiction and...
Guards! Guards! by Sir Terry Pratchett

Crossroads: Satire and the Fantastic

NOTE: This week's essay is actually an adapted form of an essay from December 18, 2012 that was originally published at The King of...
Redshirts by John Scalzi

Crossroads: The Importance of Parody to the Speculative Fiction Genre

Last week, we talked about how every piece of humorous speculative fiction inevitably gets compared to Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy....
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

CROSSROADS: Right Place, Time, and Tech – The Hitchhiker’s Guide

Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (itself spread across five books with a six written by Eoin Colfer), with its friendly,...
Make 'em Laugh from Singin' in the Rain

CROSSROADS: Make ’em Laugh – Humor and Speculative Fiction

Hello, folks! Now that I'm back on my feet, I find that April's here. A few days ago was April 1st, also known as...

CROSSROADS: Western Series Interrupted by Illness

Sorry, folks. I know some of you were looking forward to the final installment in the Crossroads: Western series, but I'm afraid I have...
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Crossroads: World-building in Westerns and Speculative Fiction

Speculative fiction gives my imagination space to play. Whether it's a strange, fascinating city, an entire alien world, or a different time/reality, the genre's...
Unforgiven

Crossroads: The Western Hero in Speculative Fiction

Someone once said that every story starts with someone either coming to town, or leaving town. And there is no genre for which this...
Ned Buntline, Bufalo Bill Cody, Giuseppina Morlacchi, Texas Jack Omohundro (1846-1880) (via Wikipedia)

Crossroads: Riding into Space – Westerns and Speculative Fiction

March is here, and that means it is time to move into a new Crossroads series. For some reason, March always brings to mind...
The Princess Bride: Is this a Kissing Book?

Crossroads: Is this a Kissing Book? SFF’s Relationship with Romance

Whenever I think of speculative fiction's relationship to romance, I am always reminded of that scene in The Princess Bride where Fred Savage's character...
Paranormal Romance Readership

Crossroads: Science Fiction Romance – A Niche Before Its Time?

Last week, we talked about paranormal romance and the ways in which it uses longstanding cultural archetypes (vampires, werewolves, etc.) to explore power, sexuality,...

Crossroads: The Power in Paranormal Romance

Happy Valentine's Day! In my first draft of this week's essay, I started to trace the history of the paranormal romance all the way from...

Crossroads: Romance – More Powerful than You Could Possibly Imagine

Today is February 7th, and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is in the air. Which is why this month I’ll be taking...

Crossroads: Tripping the Noir Fantastic

Last week, we talked about some of the tensions between science fiction and noir. Fantasy, which relies on metaphor even more than science fiction,...

Crossroads: A Genre Darkly

World-building, extrapolation, analogy, conceptual breakthrough, thought experiment - these are science fiction's basic methods. Other genres might occasionally borrow them, but SF has sharpened them to a razor's edge. So what happens when this set of tools works alongside the themes, styles, and plot structures of noir?

Crossroads: What is Noir, Anyway?

Before we get into a discussion of how speculative fiction approaches noir, let's start by discussing just what the noir aesthetic really is.

Crossroads: Where Genres Meet in the Night

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 and explored.