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The “C” word November 9, 2008

Posted by Marco in Books, Future formats.

mash it up!At World Fantasy Con this year I heard a great deal about Crossover. (What did you think I meant? For shame…) It’s not that new a term, but more and more people are using it. For a while we at Angry Robot, along with others from other imprints, have been debating our thoughts on just what to call what might even turn out to be a whole new genre of fiction.

It’s that stuff that sits, well, somewhere in the hazy middle of the traditional genres such as science fiction and fantasy, as well as crime, historical, comicbooks and more, and takes massive influences from all. It’s the stuff which, while ostensibly from one obvious genre, doesn’t just add a pinch of flavouring from another, but mashes them all together wholesale. They do it in computer games, they do it in movies, ethnically you even get presidents like this, and by god they’re doing it in books now as well.

“Crossover” has started to stick, and it seems to solve problems that other names – “modern fantasy”, “dark fantasy”, “cult”, “pop culture” among them – have simply not addressed. And it isn’t “slipstream”… that stuff was everything around the edge of SF/F, rather than at its new core. Perhaps “crossover” will stick around a little longer, but I ain’t so sure, mostly because it doesn’t actually describe anything. Suggestions on a Comment form please if you have a better idea. Whatever this new mixed-up genre ends up being called, however, there is right where Angry Robot is aiming.



1. Anonymous Coward - November 9, 2008

Ah, but how will the booksellers and websites categorise these poor books?

2. Marco - November 9, 2008

That’s exactly the nub, George — these books exist, in their hundreds now, but are falling between existing genres.

In most cases, it doesn’t matter, and the title drifts towards the shelf appropriate to its majority content… so you can pick up “fantasy” books from the fantasy section that feature spaceships, along with sf set in the past, historical crime novels.

But sometimes the literalism of booksellers can serve to stifle these new creative explorations in the borderlands between genres. My last imprint Solaris played to this – a book either had a spaceship or a wizard on the cover, end of story, and the booksellers knew exactly where they were. But life ain’t so simple, and the tastes of younger people are far more able to cope with crossover… if only they can find the books.

3. Ellen Kushner - November 23, 2008

“these books exist…but are falling between existing genres”

That’s it! That’s exactly what we said when we decided the world needed a non-label, ever-shifting name for this stuff: “Interstitial”! for things that fall in the interstices between recognized genres – not just in literature, but in music, visual arts, etc. We started organizing the Interstitial Arts Foundation about 7 years ago, and it’s amazing to see that the world is catching up to us even though we don’t have any funding . . . .

You can read How We Got Started here;
and keep up with our blog here:

4. Marco - November 23, 2008

Well, you say that, Ellen… but “interstitial” ?!? Hardly trips off the tongue now, does it? Sounds like yet another term doomed to failure, not because the world doesn’t need it, but because it’s too hard to say and means nothing to most people. Back to the drawing board, I reckon.

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