Typically, I pride myself on having my finger on the pulse of genre culture at all times. That's why I was caught pretty much off guard by a veritable phenomenon that seems to have taken form right under my very nose without my knowing it.
It all started when I walked into my local library to find a bizarre display. A mannequin dressed in gothic clothing, with an advertisement for a new book on the wall next to it. What was behind this gimmickry? Seems my library, joining forces with my local Borders just down the street, was organizing a special after-hours "release party" for the upcoming publication of Breaking Dawn, the latest volume in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series.
Okay. Just two questions, I thought. Who the heck is Stephenie Meyer, and what in blue blazes is the Twilight series? Apparently, I quickly discovered, there had been three books published in this best-selling series of vampire novels. Oh, and a forthcoming movie adaptation of the first book, Twilight.
Next thing I know, these books and their author are everywhere. On TV talk shows, news segments, the web, everywhere I turned. This new book Breaking Dawn approaches with a level of marketing hype unrivaled by anything but, well, Harry Potter. And Meyer is being hailed as "the next J.K. Rowling".
Now, I'll admit a deep, dark secret. Horror is not my favorite type of genre fiction. Horror maven I may be, but when it comes to my reading material, I'll take a good science-fiction novel any day. It all goes back to an interesting theory I've developed over the years. When it comes to movies, horror tends to get a better shake than sci-fi. It has a higher profile and is better regarded by the masses, tends to be more successful (barring a few aberrant summer blockbusters here and there), and can boast more cinematic classics (an inflammatory statement, to be sure.) But in the realm of fiction, sci-fi wins it hands down, being much more respected in both mainstream and literary circles, and of generally better quality than horror (with the exception of a handful of truly talented writers.)
So whether its my own personal bias or not, I really must not be as sharp as I used to be, because I never heard of any of this Twilight stuff before a few weeks ago. So what's the deal? Is this all just the product of a powerful marketing machine, or have I been blind to a burgeoning phenom in horror fiction? Are these books really all they're cracked up to be? Are they strictly for kids? Are they just overrated tripe? Fill me in, people.
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