Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When Literature and Genre Break Up

Please, please, darling let us stop this. This artificial separation between us is painful, it is undignified, and it fools no one. In company, we sneer at each other and make those cold, cutting remarks. And why? You laugh at me for telling the same stories again and again. I call you boring and joyless. Is it wrong, my dear, that I hope the cruel things I say of you cut as deeply as the ones you say of me?
Author Daniel Abraham (The Dagger and the Coin, The King’s Blood) writes a touching conciliatory letter from genre to his estranged lover, literature, in SF Signal.
But allow me this, dear: what you do is crueler. You take the best of me, my most glorious moments -- Ursula LeGuin and Dashiell Hammet, Mary Shelly and Philip Dick -- and you claim them for your own. You say that they “transcend genre.” There are no more heartless words than those. You disarm me. You know, I think, that if we were to compare our projects honestly -- my best to yours, my mediocrities to yours, our failures lumped together -- this division between us would vanish, and so you skim away my cream and mock me for being only milk.
It’s probably no newsflash that the letter is a masterwork. Abraham has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, after all: the very top of this genre, so he has walked this walk.

You can see Abraham’s full letter here.


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