Sunday, February 26, 2012

Changing Tastes

There's an old saying that if you're the same person today that you were 20 years ago, you've wasted 20 years of your life.  To me, this also applies to our literary tastes, the ones we write and the ones we read.

Twenty years ago, I was a Sci-Fi nut.  As mentioned in an earlier post, Timothy Zahn got me back into reading books with Heir to the Empire, and novels containing alien/human fight scenes filled my library(or rather the particle board shelves that counted as my library).  The hours I spent in bookstores were almost exclusively limited to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section.

However, as time has moved on, my tastes have shifted.  First, I've discovered that it's getting harder and harder to keep my interest with a Sci-Fi novel.  Science Fiction is usually either extremely well done or atrocious beyond description.  As my tastes have matured, some of the stuff that appealed to me years ago no longer holds my interest.  Some of it is sophomoric and has gaping holes in both plot basic science that anyone out of high school should be able to pick up on.

This is not to say that Sci-Fi holds no sway over me.  I still enjoy Tim Zahn Star Wars novels, am in the middle of reading The Lost Regiment series, and The Shiva Option by David Weber is on my to-do list.

Still, I've found myself drifting more and more towards horror and paranormal as time goes by.  The Shining went a long way towards getting me into the horror genre, and World War Z is an incredible read on zombies without getting too campy.  The TV series Supernatural does a great job in looking beyond the normal ghost story, and the well written vampire novels in existence do great when they stay out of the sparkly teen romance stuff.  I like thinking about what lies beyond this world and the philosophical ramifications are of free well versus destiny.  My own novels now lean this way, trying to blend supernatural elements into the larger questions of existence.

I think it's the "what if" quality of these books that draws me in, and that point of my tastes has never wavered, but it takes more than it used to for me to get invested in such a story.  Too many Sci-Fi stories these days focus so much on the world building that they don't delve into a larger plot.  It's as if the story ideas have played themselves out, so the authors are now just trying to paint a picture instead of telling a story.  However, horror and paranormal have left so many subjects open to interpretation that, besides being timeless, the scope and breadth of what's left is endless.  People of imagination are flocking to these types of stories, so good stories are inevitable, if only due to volume.

It'll be interesting to see how my tastes continue to evolve.  Maybe in ten years I'll start writing a pseudo-intellectual political thriller devoted to a second civil war in the United States.  Hey, now there's an idea...

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