Lois McMaster Bujold gave a Writer Guest of Honor Speech at Denvention 3 on 8 August about her experience as a writer crossing multiple genres, and it was full of awesome, puppies, win, and rainbow ponies. Her experiences with The Sharing Knife and her impressions of how romance and sf play nicely together and compliment one another are fascinating because her perspective is one from which we don’t necessarily see a lot of analysis:
Romance and SF seemed to occupy two different focal planes, to steal another metaphor, this time from photography. For any plot to stay central, nothing else in the book can be allowed to be more important. So romance books carefully control the scope of any attending plot, so as not to overshadow its central concern, that of building a relationship between the key couple, one that will stand the test of time and be, in whatever sense, fruitful. This also explains some SF’s addiction to various end-of-the-world plots, for surely nothing could be more important than that, which conveniently allows the book to dismiss all other possible concerns, social, personal, or other. (Nice card trick, that, but now I’ve seen it slipped up the sleeve I don’t think it’ll work on me anymore.)
In fact, if romances are fantasies of love, and mysteries are fantasies of justice, I would now describe much SF as fantasies of political agency.
I was also taken with this part:
…I once fancied a metaphor of genres as blood types, in which mystery was the universal donor, equivalent to blood type O, and science fiction and fantasy the universal receivers, equivalent to type AB. I’d also dipped more cautiously into our other neighboring genre of Romance—although I’ve not decided on its blood type—but I had never made it central to a tale the way I’ve used the mystery model. (Ask me later about my metaphor of genres as dog breeds.)
Ok, what’s our blood type? I think we’re AB – universal recipient – all genres play nicely with romance, pretty much. Well played, Ms. Bujold. Well played.
Thanks to Rene S for the link.