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MANILA, Philippines — Have you ever gone into the bookstore and noticed how horror, sci-fi, and fantasy books are often separated — at times shelves or even floors away — from the rest of the "fiction" section?
These types of books, ones that contain worlds removed from reality, can often be seen closer to the graphic novels, art books, the niche interest stuff and what not. King and Tolkien were never spine to spine with the Franzens and Murakamis.
There was a time when this delineation of books was a form of classist separation (remnants of which are still present today). These entertaining tales with clear genres were called genre fiction, while the so-called “high-brow” stories were labeled literary fiction.
The former were considered escapist entertainment meant for enjoyment. The latter were grounded, harder to break down into classifications, “profound.”
Contemporary genre fiction authors like David Mitchell have expressed frustration on the way the society is looking down on their craft. “It’s a bizarre act of self-mutilation to say that ‘I don’t get on with science fiction and fantasy, therefore I’m never going to read any." What a shame. All those great books that you’re cutting yourself off from,” the author said. I can’t help but agree.
Luckily, “the geek have inherited the earth,” and fandom have now grown. It’s now cool to read about dragons and princesses, witness dystopias with fascist regimes, and visit virtual worlds brimming with 80s pop culture.
So, ready to take a trip down the rabbit hole? Here are some recommendations for you:
The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski
Want to be ahead of the curve? Better get on these books quick then because The Witcher will be one of Netflix’s biggest series soon.
Familiar to gamers all around, The Witcher is actually based on a series of books by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. It blends European folklore and fantasy to tell the story of Geralt, a witcher.
Witchers are basically monster hunters who are genetically altered through magic and alchemy to become supernaturally skilled in the art of killing monsters. Don’t worry though, there are no unicorns here, think Game of Thrones but with more harpies, werewolves, and giant spiders.
IT by Stephen King
Don’t tell me you didn’t catch last year’s remake?!?
Well, if you haven’t, now might be the right time to start catching up — by reading the book.
It tells the story of the Losers’ Club, a rag-tag group of 8 kids who discovered an ancient evil prowling in the sewers of their idyllic town of Derry, Maine.
The books follow the friends starting with their first encounter with the villain, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, until his return 27 years after — where he faces off once again with the now-adult Losers’ Club.
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
The year is 1997, Japanese population numbers are getting out of hand. What’s the solution? How about randomly picking schools and then sending a whole class to an island for them to kill each other until only one remains?
Battle Royale is a blend of horror and dystopian fiction. When it was released in the 1990s, the book was a subversive piece of fiction which only readers with a strong stomach could handle. Its cultural impact can still be felt today as seen in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and The Purge movies.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
We can’t do genre fiction without a shout-out to one of Neil Gaiman’s finest (and earliest) works.
Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, an English businessman who was aimlessly wandering through life. After helping a bleeding stranger along a sidewalk, he finds himself seemingly invisible to the world he’s always known and now part of an unseen London — a literal London Underground.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
In an era where misogyny and toxic masculinity are continuously being normalized, this dystopian sci-fi novel published way back in 1985 might as well be a crystal ball.
The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a USA plagued by underpopulation and taken over by ultra-religious fanatics. Totalitarian and theocratic, the authorities in this new nation forced fertile women to play the roles of Handmaids — their purpose only to be impregnated and passed down by the country’s new leadership.
Interested in any of these imaginative tales? Then go, get your genre game on! — Rappler.com