Yesterday, I wanted to wrote a blog post discussing my idea that genre popularity comes and goes in cycles. For example, sword and sorcery and space opera cycle in and out about every twenty or thirty years. This would be in contrast to an article in Fantasy Faction that argued that urban fantasy is more like Neanderthals. I really had issues with the article (and to be honest, I have some issues with Fantasy Faction in general). But, I don’t know nearly enough about Neanderthals to determine whether or not the whole premise is flawed. And I hate putting my foot in my mouth.
Not only do I not know enough about Neanderthals, but I also need more facts to back me up on my own premise. How does one determine which genres are in and which are out? How do I weed out my own (and individual critical) bias?
Are there hard numbers? What should I do about passionate fandoms? (Sword and sorcery has a very passionate fanbase, when can I say “this particular time is an upswing, a surge in popularity”?) Can genres die or do they recede, awaiting a new take, a new cultural climate?
I don’t know. And if I write about it, I really want to do the research.
Which is why I’m largely reluctant to do “research” blog posts. Yes, I’ve done some individual work analysis that doesn’t require research and sourcing, but I’m always wary about those posts. And I’d love criticism of those pieces. Did I get my analysis of Cowboy Bebop right? Am I being too occidental, too American in my criticism of Naruto? Have I missed the point about Glee and Harry Potter? I hope not, but I’m always concerned about getting it wrong. Spectacularly wrong.
And I have been wrong before. I took a class on modern American poetry and we were studying William Carlos Williams. The class was assigned to explicate a poem of Williams. I don’t remember the poem now, but I do remember getting the poem wrong. So very wrong. It was almost funny how badly I missed everything.
I don’t want to make that mistake. Either in doing poor research or in reading badly.
Part of why I’m questioning myself, not that I don’t always do it, is because I’m annoyed with myself.
For one thing, in my post about my concerns about Harry Potter before finally reading the damn books, I neglected to bring up race as an issue. Are the five African Briton, two Indian Briton, and one Chinese Briton enough? Are their roles big enough to pass muster? With who?
I also read an inspiring interview with George R.R. Martin over at I09 this morning. Damn, so much food for thought. I think I may have to rethink some of my positions. And I also have tons to think about after a blog post on Orbit by Brent Weeks. Maybe I should give him another look?
Today so far has made me rethink a lot of my own preconceptions. I need to think about this. And figure things out on my own. Now, it’s back to research and writing.