On cataloguing books (was Re: Obscure Childhood favorites)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Thu Feb 13 11:33:42 EST 2003

On Wed, 12 Feb 2003 23:24:25 -0800 (PST), Jon Noble wrote:

>--- Melissa Proffitt <Melissa at Proffitt.com> wrote:
>>  Surprisingly, every one of
>> the categories I use is
>> one you named.  :)  However, I don't always have a
>> consistent method for
>> classifying things, and your list was even more
>> helpful in that respect.
>> I don't use Gothic either...usually I class those as
>> dark fantasy, unless
>> there are large quantities of blood.  :)
>I would tend to agree here, I would only use Gothic
>for works written before Northanger Abbey and Dark
>Fantasy or Horror for anything since.

That's what I do too.  I figure the term Gothic predated our modern usage of
it, and it has more meaning to me referring to _The Castle of Otranto_ than
anything more recent.

> While on Horror
>I said it divided into subcategories like vampire,
>werewolf etc. I know that there are plenty of ghost,
>vampire and werewolf etc stories that are not horror
>but I would put them here for convenience.

Since I don't care for very scary stories, my definitions are for Horror and
Suspense depending on how bloody and terrifying I find it.  And I suppose it
also depends on how the supernatural functions within the story.  I wouldn't
call _Sabriel_ et al. a horror story, even though the Dead are a major part
of it...horror, to me, usually means that the protagonists are helpless
against the evil they're fighting.

>> Here's another question (not just for Jon):  It's
>> easy for me to identify
>> children's or juvenile fantasies.  With young adult
>> fantasies, it's a bit
>> more difficult, and I know I haven't been
>> consistent.  I would prefer to
>> simply list these as Fantasy with a subcategory
>> rather than as YA sub
>> Fantasy.  But, as Jon pointed out, there are rare
>> occasions when it's useful
>> to identify YA fantasy as such.  Do any of you have
>> thoughts on this
>> subject?  Or, for a more specific example, are there
>> any of DWJ's books that
>> would be better identified primarily as YA rather
>> than as fantasy?
>As i said, many books fall into more than one
>category, and this includes just about all childrens
>and YA. Ideally these books would be in both (or even
>more than two) categories. An example might be Philip
>Williamson's stories of Dinbig of Khimmur which are a
>Saga (on length of series) but some books are
>detective stories as well, and would also fit into
>other categories as well

The way I have to do it is to have only two categories, but as many keywords
as I want.  Basically I have the option for a very broad search (divided by
general category) or for a VERY specific search; sort of like your
"detective stories involving single mothers in western Australia" example.
So when I have something that isn't sufficiently identified by the
category/subcategory, I use the other keywords to make the record more
unique.  My keyword list keeps getting longer...it takes the computer a few
seconds to sort it when I ask for it.  :)  Anyway, I'm questioning the
usefulness of the YA category when it comes to fantasy.  Most of those are
books I wouldn't hesitate to give to an adult, as opposed to other YA
subgenres which might be too lightweight.  On the other hand, YA fiction
does refer to a specific type of writing...my head hurts now.

>I've just thought up another fantasy category;
>Hard fantasy, inspired by "hard" SF, this is fantasy
>that deals with the technical details of magic and
>such, Lyndon Hardy's "Master of the five magics" and
>sequels are an example.
>I'm sure more will come

That's a good one.

Melissa Proffitt

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