Zorba the Hutt (zorbathut) wrote,
Zorba the Hutt

genre crossing

It occurs to me that there are two ways to make really new fantabular universe ideas. First off, you can create a new setting, but this is really hard to do and if you can do it, power to you. Second, you can combine two existing settings in ways that have never been done before. Thus creating, for example, the Techno-Western, which is enjoying a good deal of success (see Trigun, Daisy Kutter, and not too many others, but still, both of those are quite badass.)

So let's invent some new settings here! First I'll list every major one I know of, in roughly chronological order:

Depression/World War

"Religious" deals with gods. I would consider Lucifer to be Religious/Modern, for example. Unfortunately this one's been done all over the place, except maybe for Cyberpunk - there's never been a particularly good treatment (that I know of) of religion clashing with supertech.

"Fantasy" is magic, unicorns, and the like. I really don't need to give you examples of this one. It's sort of been combined with everything too.

I can't think of anyone who goes pre-Medieval without turning it into Fantasy. I suppose there's a "Roman" or "Aztec" or "Caveman" setting but I've basically never seen it. It just isn't common. Aztec especially seems to be combined with the various supertech universes often.

"Medieval" is obvious, but very few people seem to do pure Medieval at this point - it's usually lumped in with Fantasy. I suppose partly this is because most people believe Medieval = Arthurian Legends. You could have a lot of fun combining Medieval with pretty much anything that comes after it, I think. Medieval/Techno would be highly interesting, and I'm laughing at the idea of Medieval/Noir.

"Western" is equally obvious. People seem to be on a Western kick lately. I'm not sure why. It's been combined with everything under the sun.

"Depression/World War" I want a better name for, but it's essentially 1900-1970 or so. I suppose I could also call it Pre-Hippie. Very few people seem to write Pre-Hippie settings that aren't Modern. I think there's a hell of a lot of potential here. Nobody combines this setting with anything else.

"Modern" is present-day, or any universe where the technology isn't notably advanced. Note that the culture of "Modern" and "Techno" is often the same, it's just that "Techno" movies will be listed under Sci-Fi. Curiously, very few try to combine Modern and Fantasy, but they tend to do a good job of it. I'm not sure what a combination of Modern and any of the supertechs would be like.

"Noir" I'm putting under a different category since it's such a different feel. Almost nobody combines this with anything unless they're writing humor. I can only think of Bladerunner (definitely Noir/Cyberpunk) off the top of my head. There's got to be more potential here.

"Techno" is high-tech. Humanity is, maybe, on other planets, but it's not common. Think Minority Report here. It's the future, we've got cool toys, we don't have anything that would make present-day people say "Holy Fuck!" or equivalent. I would actually classify (most of) Known Space, as well as Cowboy Bebop, under "Techno" - if it's reasonable to us, and sensible, and technology isn't at the point where people are doing totally incomprehensible things as a matter of course, it's Techno.

"Cyberpunk" is what I'm terming the "technology gone rampant" settings. It's different from Techno in that it's clear technology's progress has outstripped humanity's ability to adjust. We're all trying vainly to hold on to our present-day universe, in a setting where our present-day universe is grossly unsuited. Take a look at Vernor Vinge's Singularity idea.

"Interstellar" is the hardest. We're past the singularity - we're at the point where we, in our current day, can't really comprehend the issues and technologies and moralities of the future. People write a lot of "just breaking into interstellar" stories - Vernor Vinge's "A Deepness In The Sky" is a pretty good example. I can't think of anyone who's written a story flat-out in this setting. I'm not sure it's possible.

I'm probably missing settings. I'm probably making distinctions that aren't necessary, or missing some that are. Obviously my background doesn't cover *everything* - I've got good coverage on scifi and fantasy, but a lot of the more conventional genres I'm not so interested in. Still. Any comments?

Also, who'll volunteer to write the first swords-and-sorcery detective story?

I knew she was bad news the minute she walked in. The runes I stole from that crazy orc shaman were going wild, and my ferret familiar wouldn't come out of the chamber pot for two days. Still, I thought as I strapped on my chainmail, I've always had a weakness for deposed princesses.

Damn. I'm out of mead.
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