Our favorite purveyor of thought-provoking posters, Pop Chart Lab, has just released their latest literary offering—and it's a good one. A Plotting of Fiction Genres was a passion project for the research team, who were eager to get to the essence of genre delineations.
"There’s a theory that the 'genres' of fiction are just arbitrary distinctions created by big-chain bookstores, meant to lead readers to the corner of a store where they’re likely to spend the maximal amount of money," the creative team said. But they were hoping to find something more meaningful by "peering deep into the text of the book, at almost the cellular level."
What they found was that "there are, of course, different conventions, different treatments of prose, different parlance across the wide breadth of story 'types.' And it’s these very physiological differences that wind up calling to different readers, like unique literary pheromones."
To establish the range and tiers of different genres—books are not just "horror" but "gothic fiction" or "monster erotica" or "supernatural"—the team mined message boards dedicated to distinct niches in literature where devoted readers debated these very issues. Back at the PCL offices, some of the most heated conversations centered on which books best exemplified certain genres and even which genres best encapsulated certain iconic books. C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, in particular, seemed torn between categorization as a fantasy novel and a Christian allegory.
Once all the genres and titles were organized (with at least two representative works for each), the team turned their attention to designing and drawing book covers that encapsulate the feel of each category and subcategory.
Click on the poster below for a larger version (and check out the PCL site for an even closer, more readable, look):