So Sci-Fi and Fantasy often suffers from "genre ghetto" where the category gets dismissed as "trivial" or "light fluffy reading". It's not "serious" enough or it's "all the same". When there's really a lot of very interesting stuff that comes out in the genre that makes for very good reading.
In my head the conversations run like this:
"Oh, sci-fi. It's all just like Star Trek or Star Wars or whatever."
"Well, there's actually some really good stuff like [insert good stuff here*]."
"Oh, fantasy. It's all Lord of the Rings or Conan or whatever."
"Not all of it, you might be surprised with [insert stuff here**] -- they're really good."
And then there are the times when sci-fi/fantasy break out into "literature" and people bend over backwards to deny it's genre roots (and most authors of these books giggle at the contortions).
That's not to say there isn't a lot of dross on the shelves, but there's some really good stuff in there too. But I've been wondering lately if there's other types of genre fiction that might be suffering from the same misunderstanding and if I was a devoted fan of them, could I turn around and answer the critics. Specifically, I'm wondering about:
And there are probably others, but those (along with SF/F) are the big classifications I see in bookstores. I feel like it might be very hard for Romance or Mystery novels to break their molds because their genre is heavily focused on their plots (people falling in love, a mystery solved) whereas SF/F can have any sort of plot, it's all the trappings (spaceships, elves, etc.) that consign it to the genre bin. But that could easily be my own myopia talking. And that's the point of this post. What kinds of responses would genre fans give for:
"Oh, Romances. It's all Jane Austen or Harlequin Bodice-Rippers where people spend 150 pages inventing reasons not to be together."
"Oh, Mysteries. It's all quirky investigators and their little clockwork puzzles or hard-boiled detectives punching things until a solution falls out."
"Oh, Westerns. It's all gun fights and bad guys and sex with dance hall girls."
What's hiding in other genre ghettos?
* How about Anathem, Courship Rites, and Blindsight (oh and Dhalgren if I'm feeling mean)?
** Trial of Flowers, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Little, Big.