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Reclaiming Norse Mythology from the Nazis by Ian Stuart Sharpe

It is one of the most iconic scenes in modern cinematic history:  Indiana Jones is in a desperate race against the Nazis, a lone hero battling against the entire German war machine to prevent an ancient artefact of immense power from falling into the wrong hands. Of...

Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, Author of The All Father Paradox!

Q: What made you write The All Father Paradox? Ian Stuart Sharpe: I think it was preordained. Not in a crazy way, you understand. You just learn to spot the signs, to realize that something is off-kilter. For example, in the year 793AD, according to the Anglo-Saxon...

Join the Outlanders!

ANNOUNCEMENTS Join Outland's Street Team, The Outlanders! Get sneak peeks at new releases, including fiction, games, and comics! Receive exclusive content, and be eligible to receive advance review copies of upcoming releases! If you like to help spread the word about...

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX Releases in October!

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX by Ian Stuart Sharpe Coming in October! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the...

HATH NO FURY Has Hit the Shelves and E-Readers!

Mother. Warrior. Caregiver. Wife. Lover. Survivor. Trickster. Heroine. Leader.   This anthology features 21 stories and six essays about women who defy genre stereotypes. Here, it’s not the hero who acts while the heroine waits to be rescued; Hath No Fury’s women are...

Announcement: VIKINGVERSE COVER ILLUSTRATION RELEASED!

ANNOUNCEMENT Official summary of ALL FATHER PARADOX along with color cover illustration! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard,...

Announcement: New Comic Coming from Outland Entertainment!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Announcing Riddle of the Loremaster, an all new original comic series written by Melanie R. Meadors, with art by Nicolás Giacondino! Here is a sneak peek at some of the promo art: Riddle of the Loremaster is a comic for mature readers set in a fantasy...

Women in Dark Fantasy Have Changed by Linda Robertson

In doing a bit of research looking for a dark-fantasy-related topic for this article, I sought something that I knew at least a bit about, something I felt strongly about, and something where I could add meaningfully to the conversation. Many things were considered,...

Alethea Kontis on Imposter Syndrome

Earlier this year, I met the only student Katy Kellgren ever had. He told me he just about had to bully her into being his teacher. This amazing, multiple award-winning voice actress with hundreds of audiobooks under her belt truly didn’t believe she knew anything...

Announcements: HATH NO FURY Has Arrived in the US!

Backers of the paperback and hardcover editions of Hath No Fury will be happy to learn that the books have arrived at the printer's headquarters in Chicago! Now, they just need to be sent to our head honcho Jeremy Mohler, and then they will be sent out to backers...
Belonging to a Fandom: does Genre enter the equation?

Belonging to a Fandom: does Genre enter the equation?

Fandom and genre don’t always coincide. You might be addicted to a lot of stories, characters or even just the aesthetics of countless disparate works.

The genre isn’t a barrier. It might be what makes us take the first step – the so called point of entry – but at a certain moment our passion for a fandom transcends any label and even leads us to experiment different types of content (genres) and format (video games, TV series, cinema, novels, comics…).

Fan engagement is built on psychological mechanisms that concern the realm of imagination on the one hand, and the emotional processes on the other.1 Being part of a fan community means that you’ve passed the threshold. You already feel connected enough to the material in a way that gives you sense of nearly ownership over that work. You might pluck your favorite character from its Dramatic Novel surroundings and drop into a Steampunk universe.

And that’s when it happens: when you start interacting directly with the content you will most probably tweak the genre. Using that flexibility gives you the total freedom you creatively need to develop and maintain your relationship with the characters, certain narrative moments or a whole universe.

As Henry Jenkins has so clearly contrasted, the fan culture has gone from a stage where it was deeply marginalized to an age where fan participation is not only accepted and encouraged, as it is “increasingly central to the production decisions shaping the current media landscape”2.

However, being part of a fandom doesn’t always just mean that you have a whole new world to explore, a parallel universe to escape to. You can become addicted to writing or reading fanfiction, to creating or watching fanvids or even listening or playing some very specific music genres (Wrock, anyone?).

If you allow yourself to get involved, to engage with the different components on a systematic basis, it can become an integral part of your life, sometimes with strange consequences.

Have you thought about the emotional baggage you suddenly attach to you?

We’ll talk about that on the next installment of these series.

S.G.

 

1) JENKINS, Henry and SHRESHTOVA, Sangita: “Up, Up and Away! The Power and Potential of Fan Activism”, http://henryjenkins.org/2012/07/fandom_is_built_on_psychologic.html

2) JENKINS, Henry “When Fandom Goes Mainstream…” http://henryjenkins.org/2006/11/when_fandom_goes_mainstream.html

Westerns – Living Proof of ‘Fusion Literature’

Westerns – Living Proof of ‘Fusion Literature’

Westerns take me to ghost towns, dry unforgiving deserts, cowboys and, of course, those straw rolls blowing through the middle of the empty cinema canvas. Cinema! I only encountered westerns on movies. From “The Great Train Robbery” to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, my imaginary turns to fishy taverns and their dubious customers, just lolling around waiting for the best gunslinger in town to give a show – and maybe die in the process so that one of them can take his place.

But this world of outlaws and dusty misfits has been in the literary realm long before it reached the silver screen. Beginning with James Fenimore Cooper’s series of novels, it spread with the dime novels, based sometimes on real life characters, of the likes of Buffalo Bill or Billy the Kid. The Pulp Magazines and later the comics also helped immortalize the genre.

However, while the first stories have the cowboy, the sheriff, the indian, nowadays the genre has mutated. Mixed up with different genres, you get the most interesting set ups and characters.

Fantasy brings sorcerers and dragons into the outskirts of the cities.

Horror carries curses, zombies and unknown perils.

Steampunk takes the industrial clogged world to these deserts. Intricate machinery thrives, characters with mechanical limbs abound and guns are more powerful and unpredictable than any real western pal put his hands on.

Sci-fi adds some futuristic touches: cyborgs, spaceships, aliens and time-travel – which on its own conveys a ‘Verse full of opportunities to explore.

And yes, westerns are still on tv series and movies (even games), but in literature it has gained another chance of imposing itself as a sub-genre and get noticed by more avid readers. You can argue that it isn’t really “western literature” anymore, because it has an assortment of elements that its early writers would never approve.

Or would they?

Let’s not get too caught up on the labels, shall we? Let’s face these mixes as we would with…”fusion cusine”. Yes: embrace genre-bending or “fusion literature”, and just enjoy the new flavors authors keep on creating

S.G.

Has Fantasy Lost its Hallmark?

Has Fantasy Lost its Hallmark?

Fantasy isn’t just castles, dragons, and wizards anymore.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you stumble upon a Fantasy book? Most people think of elements of folklore and mythology like castles, dragons, kings and queens, ghosts, wizards, and curses. Am I close?

Fantasy is a broad label—one that’s moved away from the stereotypical wizards-castles-dragons model of the past. Today, Fantasy encompasses many other genres and subgenres, including horror, sci-fi and everything in between. If there’s a fiction I.P. that doesn’t easily fit into the Historical, Romance, Thriller or Horror genres, you can be sure to find it in the Fantasy section. Some bookstores have expanded their Fantasy sections to include subcategories like Supernatural Fantasy or Historical Fantasy — neither of which have Fantasy’s hallmark mythology/folklore streak. Maybe it’s not a hallmark anymore.

Fantasy has become extremely popular as it has grown to encompass different kinds of fiction. Fans enjoy it because it gives them the opportunity to explore beyond the realm of reality. Fantasy fiction shows us the unreal and the real—things that don’t exist in our world as well as common, everyday things embellished by a setting that allows them to grow into something more.

I embrace the broad new definition of Fantasy. Perhaps I’ve been exposed to too much genre-bending fiction. I prefer not to put books into restrictive, premade boxes anyway. For me, Fantasy isn’t necessarily attached to myths or ancient folklore. I define it as any fiction that has something special or otherworldly.

When I pick up a Fantasy book, I know what to expect before I even read anything about it. I know that it will feature something out of the ordinary, even if it is set in my own time and space. I expect a change, for something more to happen — something that transcends the everyday. This is fantasy’s true hallmark: That shift away from normal that transforms the reading experience—and let’s be honest, the immersion in a book’s universe — into an experience full of discovery and wonder.

S.G.

Genre Discussion: Are genres more than mere labels?

Genre Discussion: Are genres more than mere labels?

At some point, we’ve all been asked to determine whether a piece of literature is fiction or nonfiction. We are asked to distinguish poetry from narrative, plays from novels, stories from essays. We look for cues in the content and format to determine genre.

But genre has increasingly become more than a way to describe content and format. It defines the whole narrative structure: Science Fiction, Romance, Thriller, Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery. Each genre a tight little package, the contents of which are often extremely predictable.

I’m not here to proclaim against genre, though. I just want to give it a tiny little nudge.

The two big literary genres are fiction and nonfiction, right? But let’s stick with fiction, as that’s what we do (and mostly read) here at Outland Entertainment. And that’s a lot. You can lose yourself between labels and all their sub-genres and crossovers: Supernatural Romance, Sci-Fi Thriller, Young Adult Fantasy—the list goes on.

But do we really need genres? Do we want labels to shape our reading choices?

Sure, even unconsciously you’ll be filing your next book away neatly on top of all the similar ones you’ve read, giving its genre away. Nevertheless, do these labels actually work their prejudice into our reading choices?

Genre labels can prevent us from reading great books. Think about it. Do you ignore your preconceptions and proudly strut into the Children’s department to get that latest Young Adult Fantasy book you’ve been dying to read? If so: congratulations! I have to confess that I always feel a bit queasy when entering an area full of glittery shiny books and cute stuffed animals. Yes, it’s all in my head. But so is the inexistent niece or sister I immediately conjure up in order to justify my presence as I shuffle through the “15 & up” section at light speed.

These posts will explore of the preconceptions attached to the genres we publish inside the Speculative Fiction scope. I hope to hear your thoughts on these matters and get suggestions on what genres or topics to tackle in our Genre Discussion. After all, blog posts are brief nonfiction essays that are meant to…

Okay, okay…I’ll shut up now.

Good readings!
S.G.