Here then are all of the entries for the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2012, 26 posts with the theme of possible new genres for fiction, maybe in gaming but also beyond it. Some are deadly serious, others may just be silly, but as so often, it depends on you - the person.
The underpinning was this debate, on themes that have been running through a lot of the posting at the Expanse, and the discussion has spun out across the months. The latest instalment could be this recent back-and-forth. Feel free to join in, anywhere and -when.
The full series follows, but for specific entries here's an index linked to the original posts.
A depiction of a world in which some form of arcane knowledge underpins a system of mass moderation. Protagonists move at the fringes of perception and beyond, through dream spaces, the depths of the subconscious and roots of essential nature. Ancient landscapes, artifacts and behaviours are priceless fulcra for existential transformation, unlocking ancestral memories, triggering lost or emergent senses and forming bonds over space and time. You could think of it as Gibson meets Indy meets Altered States.
A presentation of a seemingly inscrutable mystery or complex entropic puzzle in which the protagonists have an intrinsic physical involvement and as a result undergo tangible, horrific and excruciating transformations, dramatic destruction or decay. The protracted resolution becomes a frantic search for revelation, a greater degree of comprehension or simply a fleeting intimation of fundamental cause. You could think of it as The Postman Always Rings Twice meets David Cronenberg meets the second law of thermodynamics.
A composition presented implicitly or explicitly as the work of an intelligence which we might label 'artificial'. The purported audience may be one or more similar intelligences, or of another nature entirely, with the composing intelligence believing no other form of communication to be more appropriate. The work itself may be a more or less knowing, frivolous or accomplished attempt at suggestion, emulation or recreation of a given style. You could think of it as Orion's Arm meets Joyce's Ulysses meets John McCarthy et al.
An evocation of sublime tensions in which the expectation of an emergent mythic event rises as interest in the event falls; the status quo post is regarded as unremarkable and the early magic is forgotten. A large and diverse range of protagonists and perspectives may shrink to the person of a lone observer, or to a final fading of awareness. You could think of it as the Platonic Dialogue meets the Third Age of Middle-earth meets Memento.
A study in which one established gender - or a similar subset - adopts a role dominated by another. This may be a response to an environmental factor or a phase in a perceived struggle and may trigger multiple forms of conflict and exploitation, many of these subtle and largely unrecognised. The narrative is likely intimate, and tragicomic in nature, while hinting at the epic or even mythic; redemption is a common theme. You could think of it as Edward Said's Orientalism meets Doris Lessing meets The Man Who Fell To Earth.
A presentation of an underworld in a netherland and the conflicts of the eldritch creatures therein with their individual natures and nature itself. Personal daemons are real, more or less, the seeds of tragedy are blown carefree on the breeze and innocent whims get old fast. Plots and subplots range from mischief-making of the common-or-garden variety to grand supernatural powerplay rending at the tapestries of reality themselves. You could think of it as A Midsummer Night's Dream meets Mario Puzo meets Acme's Toontown.
A narrative centring on a hidden, incomprehensible or otherwise imperceptible aspect of existence, whether a dimension, plane or alternate reality, or a conceptual, imagined or oneiric space, or a space of another nature entirely. This world may be no more than an intimation, may interact with the known world to a lesser or greater degree or may be at the heart of events as the protagonists encounter, enter or explore. You could think of it as King Solomon's Mines meets Mr Leary meets the fictional universes of Hereticwerks.
An absurd, ironic or satirical revision of past or future history as if by a corporate interest expanding aggressively into objective facts. The interest may be commercial, communal or governmental and level of uniformity and self-awareness may vary; a lack of cohesion, consistency or completion in the text may reflect supposed conflict within the body, with one or more implied divisions, departments or teams inserting a more or less subversive message. You could think of it as Pale Fire meets Terry Gilliam's Brazil meets No Logo.
A dark melodrama set within an isolated and seemingly content community surrounding a minor celebrity, the events centring on shocks to a neofeudalism based on degrees of separation or economy based on souvenirs such as autographs. Triggers may include a tantrum, illness or abuse, or a stage in a ritual adoration, fad or kiss-and-tell, and be the work of an heir or power behind the throne, whether confidant(e), hanger-on or hire. You could think of it as Mommie Dearest meets reality television meets The Wicker Man.
An experimental information fantasy crying out for recognition, in which style is the only substance, language is sundered from reality and plots are woven among finer points of word selection, juxtaposition and punctuation. Puns, anagrams and acrostics appear to be protagonists, with snark, sarcasm and disingenuity among the building blocks of the setting; the overall tone is one of baroque passive aggression. You could think of it as a high-minded yellow journalism meets The Da Vinci Code meets The Phantom Tollbooth.
A programming procedural on the hunt for a deadly, resourceful and perhaps self-aware piece of software or item of consumer electronics. The creation itself may be emergent homebrew or cutting-edge tech born in a vacuum of deep lobbying and total promotion, with its official pursuers likely hindered by specialisation, self-confidence and personal failings. The whole is a thought experiment in noötranshumanism, its themes including Anglo-Saxon economics, big silicon, symbiogenesis and self-annihilation. You could think of it as the Gaia principle meets The Silence of the Lambs meets The IT Crowd.
A first-person psychological chiller in which the pursuit or course of an apparently happy relationship is a catalyst for the experience of an ancient, profoundly alien or existential horror. While the narrative may evoke desire for a secure natural order, the joy of mutual discovery and expectation of blissful fulfilment, events will likely proceed through anxiety as to domestic details, a creeping dread as natures clarify and the cold terror of ultimate revelation. The tone may be one of bewilderment or a bitter resolve. You could think of it as "The Transition of Juan Romero" meets Don't Look Now meets Bridget Jones' Diary.
A tale of the participation of one or more communities in a dramatised, ritual or imagined conflict based on arcane projection technologies. Events likely centre on the fulfilment of roles assigned, tactics and strategy, and refinement in technique. While individuals may or may not be aware of the nature of the conflict, plots and subplots may concentrate on the preservation of the charade, and perhaps at all cost, even if the cost itself is fictional. You could think of it as Catch-22 meets The Truman Show meets Disney's Fantasmic!
An exploration of a world in which free information flow is an ultimate good and individual identity is unrecognised. The physical, mental and spiritual aspects of entities are inputs to be stripped down, heavily utilised and radically recombined; conflicts within narratives are subtle, likely focused on patterns, methods and purposes to be followed. You could think of it as Brave New World meets our social media meets a Tyranid-like utility fog SI.
A window on a setting in which the basis for one or more of our taboos is non-existent, unknown or defied, with a lesser or greater degree of justification. From the perspective of the reader some aspects of protagonists, locations or events may be unsympathetic, grotesque or nauseating, with these likely emphasised as the raison d'être of the form; occasionally the work will be execrable horror, or bring realisation. You could think of it as Rabelais or the Swift of Orwell's essay meets exploitation cinema meets biopower.
An adventure in a civilisation undergoing conscious deconstruction, its tangible elements being dismantled and the materials returned to their initial locations. The trigger may be decree, intervention, revolution or consensus, while energies are turned to reorganisation and innovation to facilitate the process; the goal may be a certain level of activity, lonely stewardship or simply extinction, perhaps rebirth. You could think of it as Silent Spring meets God Emperor of Dune meets "The Scouring of the Shire" and "The Grey Havens".
This one has come up before and there's discussion, suggestions and flash fiction here.
This one has come up before and there's discussion, suggestions and flash fiction here.
A form of intellectual titillation consisting in the creation of immersive fictional worlds. A primary aim of any work is an arousal of the faculties of the reader by way of references, complexity or technique, often playing to atavistic need, nostalgia or hope; it may be an escape, or an escape from escape. The whole may extend to development of new forms of depiction, supplements to the core or tie-ins in other formats. You could think of it as One Thousand and One Nights meets H. G. Wells' Floor Games meets Wag the Dog.
Retro time travel
A motionless journey through time and space, in which possible or actual events in past and future contexts meet in a single perhaps unconscious moment in the experience of a major protagonist. The emergence or collapse of complexity at this point in perceptual spacetime may correspond to an experiential singularity allowing transcendence or the observation of or passage into another form of reality. You could think of it as Proust on melange meets Doctor Who's New and Missing Adventures meets John William Dunne.
Sword and reinette
A science fantasy creation myth in which high adventure brings about the birth of a new world, reality or form of existence, or the belief in such. The purported audience may be implied by the nature of the work, with any lack of cohesion, consistency or completion reflecting supposed doctrinal ferment, revision or loss over time. You could think of it as the OCB meets the Barsoom books meets The Magician's Nephew or the Omega Point.
An overview of the life of a fictional technology from innovation to obsolescence, perhaps extending to any revival in interest or use. The narrative structure may require innovation itself so as to reflect the parts of which the technology is the sum or more than the sum, as well as the degree to which the supposed audience is aware. The work may take the form of a memoir by the technology (cf. chip lit), possibly ghostwritten by a ghost in the machine; the work may in fact be the technology. You could think of it as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man meets Plato's Timaeus meets the first episode of Bertha.
A non-linear narrative eschewing imposed plots in favour of overlapping spaces in which conceptual seeds of author and reader alike may develop as a shared creation. Narrow density is replaced by a broad and deep diffusion, with the nature of the work perhaps requiring radical innovation and going unrecognised. You could think of it as Cortázar's Hopscotch or W.G. Sebald in The Rings of Saturn meets Elite II meets symbiogenesis.
A view of a world retreating into an ever falling number of increasingly intricate alternative histories and parallel universes. The narrative may suggest mass self-alienation and the comfort reverie brings, while the plot may turn on parapraxis, with all or part of a fetished world made real. You could think of it as Worlds of the Imperium meets ST:TNG's "The Survivors" meets The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, sewn with Peter Pan's shadow.
A horror of ennui, ignorance or incompetence in which the protagonists fail to a lesser or greater degree to observe or influence an intricate train of events occurring around them. Any plot or nearest equivalent which a given work features may or may not be implied, pursued or concluded, and may even be concealed from the audience. You could think of it as The Mystery of the Yellow Room meets Bill and Ted meets American Psycho.
A re-expression of a society recognisable to the audience, of the self-awareness of the beings in that society and of their search - conscious or not - for other lifeforms beyond the limits of current knowledge. The work may well highlight the ambiguity, subjectivity and continuity in time and space of the life populating, interacting with or observing the society. It may imply or perhaps reveal that the audience themselves are the lifeforms. You could think of it as The Doors of Perception meets Contact meets Men in Black.
A vignette of a recognisably modern landscape, our own or similar, but here understood as a pre-mythic world in which self-knowledge and self-awareness are still primeval, and which thereby faces great triumphs, trials and terrors. Action is charged in its simplicity, while later ages may be glimpsed or simply implied, possibly by innovation in language, a new class of tenses say, to hint at that space for growth. You could think of it as cave painting, maybe at Lascaux, meets How the West Was Won meets Last and First Men.
A chronicle of the flowering of a new kind of awareness in the decay following a zombie apocalypse. It may be that the more intact zombies evolve group feedback mechanisms allowing completion of more complex tasks, or that the less intact zombies realise their still-animated body parts are the basis for new technologies, exploited by the uninfected, or outsiders, or new lifeforms which have emerged in the interim. You could think of it as Day of the Dead - or Cold Lazarus - meets Videodrome meets "The Measure of a Man".