Unlike on Gloabon, where we make do with the standard 256 epic legends and a single myth (the tale of the self-sharpening pencil), human beings need an almost endless supply of fictional tales to occupy their minds. It is only by regularly losing their grip on reality that humans can keep sane.
This gives rise to an interesting problem of supply and demand, which humans solve by virtue of their uncanny ability to recycle and recombine all the important elements of the limited number of stories at their disposal. They show a remarkable facility for this inventive process, and as a result, they have more stories than most of them know what to do with.
To help them keep track of this rich range of material, humans enjoy separating their stories into genres, and they do this according to sets of criteria. Hoorah! You cry. The humans have finally managed a basic level of organisation. But I’m afraid that you must prepare yourselves for disappointment. The criteria for each genre are at best vague and at worst contrary to all reason. Thus, a single story can easily be filed (or misfiled) into any one of a dozen genres. To confuse the matter further, the classifications are not strictly regulated by any one authority on Earth. Throughout the literate period of Earth’s history, there have been attempts to rectify this awful situation, but these all came to nothing as a result of the ISBN Wars that occupied much of the Twenty-first Century (an unfortunate conflict caused in the United Kingdom by a man named William Wigmore and his abortive attempts to exponentially expand the BISAC system of classification in order to cover up the fact that his library book was overdue).
The conflict was only ended when the Dewey Decimal Brigade obtained the technology to build “dirty bombs” (airborne devices that scattered millions of sheets of paper over cities, each page containing rude passages taken from saucy novels). For some time afterwards, chaos reigned, but eventually, order was restored by an elite group of specially trained librarians who, it transpired, had been waiting quietly for just such an opportunity.
After a period of reflection, during which talking was not allowed, Mr Wigmore was given a hefty fine, and also, a large broom. He swept the streets for several years, gathering up the scattered pages from naughty books, but eventually, the strain became too much for him, and once he’d lost his wits completely, he became a journalist for a tabloid newspaper.
So you can see, dear reader, that there is little point in me trying to summarise these indistinct genres for you. Such a task is beyond the scope of this article, but here’s a taster of a few of the popular ones:
Crime – someone is killed, and one person (often referred to as a detective) attempts to work out who committed the crime. They do this by the painstaking gathering of clues, and also by noticing small events that seem incidental but are in fact important. The detective knows which is which, but does not reveal it until the end, at which point the obvious suspect is released, and the least likely person is found guilty.
Thriller – Someone discovers something awful, but no one believes them until the bodies start to mount up. By this point, it’s almost too late, but fortunately, the hero has it all figured out and saves the day. In the end, everyone is happy, except for the people who make up the body count.
Fantasy – Someone is looking for a special item, and they use their magic to help. Unfortunately, although their magical powers are quite impressive, they aren’t strong enough to simply obtain the desired item. After a long journey – a very, very long journey – they realise that finding special items isn’t everything, which is ironic, as during their journey, they’ve become even better at magic, and now they probably could find pretty much any special item that they wanted in a trice.
Science Fiction – The same as Fantasy, only with quantum theory instead of magic.
Romance – People who don’t like each other find love, and then decide that they should get married so that they can rediscover what they hated about each other.
That about covers the basics, but please remember that stories are important to humans, and they can get quite touchy about this subject. If I were you, I wouldn’t show them this list, and whatever you do, don’t engage them in conversation on the subject. It’ll end in tears. Or possibly another war.
Until next time, my Gloabon friends.
You may comment below, but any foolishness may well result in you receiving a visit from a member of the Earth Liaison Unit. You have been warned. Thank you.
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