Sub-genres of Science Fiction & Fantasy
When I finished writing Plod On, Sleepless Giant, I had trouble trying to explain what type of story it even was. Was it a fantasy? A bit … But it wasn’t what one might think of when the term “Fantasy” is thrown around. People tend to think of goblins and dragons, and other elements popular in fantasy.
I began to search through the surprisingly vast treasure trove of fantasy sub-genres, looking for an answer. I saw more than I ever imagined, and it seems that the list just keeps on growing–not just for fantasy, but for science fiction and all the other genres classified as Speculative Fiction. In the end. I simply settled for “contemporary fantasy”, but I thought it might be fun to dissect the various sub-genres … to delve into basement of Speculative Fiction.
Weird West Fantasy
I loved westerns as a kid. There was this dangerous sense of honor within the sheriff, needing to protect his town and take down the bad guy, no matter the cost. It’s a pretty solid plot line, as far as westerns go–but Weird West Fantasy more than kicks it up a notch … it punts it into a whole other genre.
Weird West combines all the gun slinging of the traditional western genre with the more morbid elements of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. It wraps up this delicate world with mysterious tales that contain dark corners filled with the supernatural. If the eight year old version of myself had seen John Wayne gun down a vampire in the middle of a street, I would have shit myself.
It appears as though Weird West Fantasy really got up and running in the early seventies with DC Comics’ Weird Western Tales featuring a certain Jonah Hex. Since then, the genre has been more visible, even seeing some screen time in Hollywood. But the most popular example of this genre would probably have to be Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series, which all began with The Gunslinger.
Sure these stories may be filled with the tired western character archetypes, but blending those time tested elements with magic and futuristic technology breathes fresh life into a popular genre. And let’s face it … blending genres is the best way to keep the originals relevant and readers interested in the stories.
If you want to experience this interesting gem of a sub-genre, be sure to check out the following works!
Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
Seventh Son (Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card
Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente
Unicorn Western by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt
A Book of Tongues: Volume One of the Hexslinger Series by Gemma Files