In his recent guest spot here at Spec Faith, Matt Mikalatos wrote about returning to superhero fandom by writing his own superhero story. That idea got me to thinking about what I like to read. After all, I began The Lore Of Efrathah series because I wanted another portal story similar to Stephen Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever books.
I know some writers get their start by writing fan fiction, and others create stories that are spin-offs of fairytales they’ve loved.
I started to wonder what sort of stories the visitors here at Spec Faith consider ideal. I don’t think we’ll have a consensus. I mean, speculative fiction is such an all-encompassing term. It includes space opera like Star Wars, superhero stories like Wolverine, horror like Dracula, high fantasy like Game of Thrones, steampunk like Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass, dystopian like Hunger Games, hard science fiction like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora, fairy tale retellings like Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, supernatural suspense like Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep or G. P. Ching’s Soulkeepers series. I could go on and on because the variations of speculative fiction are so numerous.
Horror alone comes in all sorts of packages—monsters, psychological torture, alien threats, demon possession. The different types aren’t equal and may not attract the same reader.
Each of the subgenres has various ancillary categories. Fantasy, for instance, can be high fantasy or sword and sorcery fantasy or fairy tale fantasy or magical realism or science fantasy.
I’m an eclectic reader overall. I’m currently in a biographies reading phase, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my favorites. If I had my choice, I’d read something Tolkien-esque. I don’t think I could ever get tired of reading stories that harken back to the great journey quest.
Horror on the other hand . . . I’m not a fan. I’ve read some psuedo-horror and one or two true horror stories, and I don’t care for either. The psuedo-horror seems to fall flat. I know it’s trying to be frightening, but it just isn’t quite getting there as far as I’m concerned, and I sort of resent the attempt. The true horror takes me places I don’t think I need to go. As a Christian I have strong opinions about who and what I should fear, and what I found in the few horror stories I read generated what I considered to be unhealthy fear. So I’m not a fan.
I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of steampunk either, but I recently read a book that fell into that category—one by K. M. Weiland, actually labeled as dieselpunk, entitled Storming—and I really liked it. I’ve read fairy tale retellings that I haven’t liked but fairy tales that have me going back for more.
Still, there’s that one favorite, the book, or in my case, the series, that I’ll re-read countless times. The one I’d like to live in.
What about you? Which type of speculative fiction is your favorite? Which book or series do you find yourself re-reading? If you write, in what genre or subgenre does your work fit? And a bonus question: what book did you read last (fiction or non-fiction)?