Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mash-Ups

I love mash-ups. Give me two well-blended genres, and I'm sold most of the time. It's what I dig about Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi Noir, Time Travel Romance, and so many other combos. This week's episode was, in part, inspired by an impulsive move at the library. I was walking around the audio book section, and I just wanted something good to listen to. I saw OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, and I'd heard some very good things about it. Based on the review from that friend of mine, who reads a LOT of fantasy, I picked it up.

Technically, it's historical romance, but it's also portal fantasy mixed with some serious adventure writing. I loved it so much that I'm currently listening to it AGAIN with my wife.

Mash-ups can be tough to do well. My two favorites are Charlaine Harris and Jim Butcher. Both of their series could TECHNICALLY fit in the Urban Fantasy sub genre, but Harris leans more toward mystery/romance, while Butcher is action/noir.

The reason I love both of those series so much is that I enjoy stories that subvert my expectations. It's a big part of what inspires the podcast, and it's what inspires a lot of my writing. Epic Fantasy and Hard Science Fiction have their place, but in my experience, it's hard to find something that's not a rehash of something else I've read before. And while the books I love most are following many of the same patterns as other great stories over the centuries, they do it in a way that feels fresh and new to me.

I'm not saying that there's a lack of originality, either. I don't think mash-ups are the only TRUE new books. I love classic fantasy and sci-fi. And mysteries. And romance. But I'm not always in the mood for something with a classic feel. Mash-ups give me something ELSE to read through and engage with.

What about you? Do you have any favorite mash-ups? What are they, and why do you like them?

Giles is a mash-up of a musician, warehouse grunt, and writer. Other things tend to get mashed together in his life, but that's mostly potatoes with gravy.

2 comments:

  1. As a writer of mashups, it's probably my favorite genre. Like you, I love Butcher, but cut my teeth on J.D. Robb as far as mashups are concerned. You can do so much within a mashup and a lot of the standard genre rules don't apply, so you're a lot freer to do what you want.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I tend to agree that you're freer to do what you want, it's tough to find a place for a book that mixes genres. One of our previous guests, Warren Hammond, wrote a noir mystery that takes place on another planet. He said it was about 95% mystery and 5% sci-fi (I think those were the percentages), but according to "the industry," if it's ANY percentage sci-fi, it WILL get sold as sci-fi first and everything else as sub-genre. So even though his story is a mystery that could take place anywhere on this planet, the setting he'd put together held him so well that he put in the effort to turn it into a true sci-fi/noir novel.

      I'd like to see more mash-ups, but on the business side of things, I understand why people are hesitant to pick them up. There are a lot of people who absolutely REFUSE to read ANYTHING outside of their preferred genre. While it frees the writer to experiment with their worlds, it might limit them to a smaller audience.

      A tough line to walk, but totally worth every ounce of effort, in my opinion, especially when the author pulls it off!

      Delete