In short, the Genrenauts is a series about a team of people (well, there are many teams, but the narrative only followed one) who can access archetypal "story worlds," which are broken down by genre, and then by subgenre. These story worlds affect our own world, and when a story has a "breach," or goes wrong, the Genrenauts go out to fix it, because broken stories have a negative effect on our world. When Western World gets a broken story, lawbreaking goes up. When Romance World has a broken story, relationships on Earth Prime fall apart, divorce rates go up, and people stop looking for romance in their lives. When there's a story breach in Fantasy World depression and despair go on the rise on Earth Prime. The Genrenauts go and fix these breaches, which can be quite a bit of work.
So, last night I finished "the Failed Fellowship," the last part of the first "Season" of the series, and I was eminently satisfied with it. I sat and ran down my reactions to the various books, and wondered why I liked them so much. Two of the genres visited-- Western World and Romance World-- were genres that I don't care about, even actively dislike. Still enjoyed those, almost against my will. Science Fiction and Mystery worlds I was comfortable as heck with, and to my surprise, the same for Fantasy world. I could've understood that last if they'd been in the "Urban Fantasy" region, but they weren't, the team was basically fixing a High Fantasy, "Chosen One" story. And I've long since given up on high fantasy, or epic fantasy, or whatever you want to call it. So I thought about it, while waiting to fall asleep-- and I had that epiphany mentioned in the title of this post.
I liked all of these things more than I might otherwise have done because the viewpoint character, by and large, is the newest member of the team, a probational Genrenaut named Leah Tang. Her outsider's point of view, her wonder and delight at being inside stories, at fixing broken stories, pulled me in, because... well, I share her viewpoint. Only I'm not fixing stories, or anything, I'm not an outsider looking at a new and wacky world.
I'm an outsider looking at our world. The real world.
Now, don't freak out, or start the pity train or anything. I'm okay out here, looking in, and there are enough people who work to make me part of their lives-- their worlds, in other words-- that I'm not spending a lot of time bored, or lonely. But, yes, I'm kind of outside everything, mostly for the reasons discussed in my last couple-three posts; I don't think like a "normal" human being. See two of the three posts preceding this for my rather poor attempts at explaining that, if you like.
Things that seem really obvious to other people aren't at all obvious to me, and vice-versa. Sums it up fairly neatly.
But the epiphany that resulted also explained a couple of other things to me, and I am, quite frankly, relieved. I have the beginnings of an understanding of why, over the last several years, my tastes have shifted, my focus narrowed, and my desire to read certain stuff that I used to enjoy dwindled to outright vanished.
I used to read pretty much any science fiction or fantasy that passed in front of me, and a lot of mysteries. Nowadays, I'm much more selective. I read little science fiction or science fantasy (Star Trek/Star Wars are examples of the differences), more mysteries, and the fantasy I read is almost exclusively urban fantasy. Now, thanks at least in part to Michael R. Underwood's "Genrenauts," and thinking about why I enjoyed it so much, I have some idea.
I don't read much science fiction or epic fantasy any more for the simple reason that I'm having a hard enough time understanding the world I live in, and have no desire to have to learn about another world in order to enjoy stories set there. My science fictional tastes have shifted to mostly things that take place on Earth, in the future. Still some culture to learn, but not so much as anything involving aliens. Same for high fantasy, or epic fantasy. (The latter term bugs me, because I think that "epic" is purely subjective, and that judgment should be left to history.) You want me to learn about your lands, your races, your politics on a world that doesn't even exist? No, thanks. I have a hard enough time with understanding the real world, not gonna try to understand another one for the sake of entertainment. I'll be over here, reading some urban fantasy, where I know the "basic rules" already, and only have to fit the weird stuff into the world I already know.
And that? That's part of why the Genrenauts works for me, in part, I think. Sure, there are "new" worlds, but they're not really new. They're archetypes. They're the basic set from which all others are derived. So, I not only sympathize with Leah Tang and her wonder and delight, I get these worlds. By presenting them as archetypal, by stripping them down to very basic levels, Michael Underwood has put them into a place, or I guess maybe a context, that I can reach and understand.
So, yeah. I'm on board with the Genrenauts, and in for the long haul. And I owe the author for leading me to a better understanding of my rather atypical mind, so, if you're reading this? Go check out some of his stuff. I've enjoyed everything he's released, especially the Ree Reyes Geekomancy books and the Genrenauts. At the time of this writing, I know some of each are on sale....
And in a day or so, once my brain's done digesting that last piece of the Genrenauts saga (so far), I'll go review the books on Amazon and Goodreads.
But in the meantime? I'll be a lot more relaxed about the changes in my tastes, and why they happened. Which I find pretty groovitudinal.