[tsat home] [#26] [editorials]

Same Old Something Else
by Quentin 'Cubist' Long
©2003 Quentin Long -- all rights reserved

Fact One: Transformation fiction is the literature of change -- of people and things that end up in a different state than how they began.

Fact Two: Many of the writers in our community of interest have fallen into a highly predictable pattern -- they're stuck in a rut, if you will -- to the point that when you see Joe Writer's name on a story, it's pretty much an ironclad guarantee that certain specific things are, and/or certain other specific things are not, going to show up in said tale.

Fact Three: Within the overall category of transformation fiction, there are some highly specialized subgenres whose distinct identity is rigidly maintained by their slavishly devoted long-term followers.

Okay, people... what's wrong with this picture? More explicitly, how and when did the literature of change manage to transmogrify itself into the literature of the same old same old? I just don't get it, myself. For my money, if you've read one "male becomes a buxom fucktoy" tale, you've just read better than 90% of all transgender stories, to name only the first example of 'same old same old' that leaps to mind. Which begs the question, whether you're a writer or a reader: Why bother with yet another in an endless series of repetitious retreads? As I said, I just don't get it.

At this point, I'm willing to bet that a goodly percentage of the transgender fans reading this editorial are getting pissed off at me for having slammed the subgenre they love. Those people have missed the point. If you happen to like reading transgender stories, I may not share your preference, but neither do I denigrate you in the least; my confusion and disdain is reserved for those who read transgender stories and nothing but. Similarly, I see nothing wrong with reading stories in, say, the Shrinking Woman sub-subgenre; where I do see a problem is with people who read Shrinking Woman stories and nothing but. Or those who read Harlequin romance novels and nothing but. Or Tolkein-derived 'high fantasy' and nothing but. Or -- you get the idea. In sum, it's obsession I have a problem with, not whatever specific item happens to be the object of the obsession!

Likewise, there's nothing at all wrong with an author who decides to revisit a favorite motif, be it a particular theme, or flavor of transformation, or whatever else. It's only when a writer goes out of his way to recycle that motif (or set thereof) in every bleeding story he writes that one might be justified in thinking there's a problem. Again: What's bad is the obsession itself, not the object of the obsession.

Fortunately, if obsessive overindulgence in one specific kind of story is the problem, there's a simple solution: Try other kinds of stories. In fact, I dare you to do just that! If you're a reader who can't remember the last time he read anything that wasn't a [insert specific subgenre here] story, I dare you to step outside your self-created boundary and try something different. You may or may not like it, of course, but either way, I can guarantee that you won't have wasted your time.

[tsat home] [#26] [editorials]