Friday, February 19, 2010

Is Dark Rural Fantasy a Subgenre?

I’ve already mentioned a few times that my novel is a mix of fantasy, horror and comedy, but those are the main literary genres. What about all those subgenres out there? Where does it fit with those?

I hadn’t really thought too much about subgenres until I read …What is Dark Urban Fantasy over at All Things Urban Fantasy, coincidentally the week before writing this post. Read it and you'll find there is no clear description for this subgenre, but the author provides some great examples that lead me to believe The Courier could fall under dark urban fantasy. Still, I wanted to investigate further, so like the author, I ended up on Wikipedia.

Starting at the top of the list, with the historical genre, I found speculative fiction as a subgenre. One of my favorite short story categories to read. There are aspects of distorted history in my story, and book three may have some time travel in it. Check that one off as a possibility.

Science Fiction? Well, cyberpunk may fit because my protagonist, Barry, is a computer genius, although he doesn’t get to use his skills in book 1. Who knows where it might take him in future books…evil laugh.

Am I boring you yet?

I know I was bored until I happened upon:

Splatterpunk—a term coined in 1986 by David J. Schow at the Twelfth World Fantasy Convention in Providence, Rhode Island—refers to a movement within horror fiction distinguished by its graphic, often gory, depiction of violence and "hyperintensive horror with no limits.”


The book cover to the right was written in the 1920s though. Have to say that Story of the Eye is one of the grossest stories I’ve ever read, but still one of my favorite books. I aspire to write romance as well as Georges Bataille, although there's not much romance in my series!

Considering I've just segued into horror, add ghosts and occult. Enough said. Wrap it all up in dark comedy and you have The Courier, except I still haven't settled on a subgenre for fantasy.

Most of the first two novels in The Courier series are certainly dark and fantastic, but primarily set in a rural area of Colorado. Not until the third novel does Barry return to Denver. So is there a dark rural fantasy category? Why did they throw in urban anyways? It's not like all the evil characters in the world would flock to the cities. For all we know, cattle mutilations could be the work of vampires and zombies, and not aliens.

And now, back to the true purpose of this post. How do I write in all these genres and subgenres? Well schizophrenia runs in my family. But seriously, folks, our lives could never fit into one genre, so how could the stories we tell fit into one?


  1. [...] This week’s posts over at the Wicked Writer’s blog were all about crossing genres. My post explores subgenres, dark fantasy, splatterpunk and cow mutilations. We also had our third guest blogger this week, Heidi Noroozy, a multi-cultural mystery writer born [...]

  2. When I was checking out "Johnny Nemonic" I started into reading William Gibson's stuff. That led to someone suggesting splatterpunk, but after a few chapters, I gave it up. Too extreme. I'd avoid it if I were you.

    Dark fantasy does sound like a marketable genre. publishes dark fiction and dark fantasy sounds like it would be right up their alley.

    Good blog and good luck.

  3. Thanks for the warning & suggestion, Greg. Am checking out The Far Side of Midnight now.

    Geeze it's quiet here today. Plenty of hits to the site, but no one leaving comments. Must be a Friday. Maybe the splatterpunk scared them away.

  4. I still think these sub genres are pretty subjective. Any one title can often fit several depending on who you talk to.

  5. That's so true, Abigail. I guess it depends on what the bulk of the story is.