Giants o f the Frost is a novel which could be positioned in a number of genres: gothic, historical, fantasy or romance. The narrative is split between two locations. The first is a remote meteorological station in the Norwegian sea where Victoria Scott, fleeing from a broken engagement, takes a position as a research scientist. She is sceptical by nature, but a number of rumours about supernatural activity circulate among the staff: a centuries-old story about the slaughter of Christian settlers, anecdotes about a nightmare hag and a creature in the lake. The second location is Asgard, the world of the old gods in Scandinavian mythology. Here, Odin's son Vidar has exiled himself from his brutal family to await the reincarnation of a mortal woman he loved a thousand years ago. His servant Aud, a member of the rival Vanir clan, has dealings with the three Noms who weave the fates of everyone. But the trickster Loki complicates Vidar's and Aud's plans with his erratic nature and quicksilver moods. At the novel's centre is Vidar's first person tale of events from one thousand years ago, where he made a journey to the Norse mythological underworld to bargain with death. The novel moves between Asgard and Midgard, between the viewpoints of Vidar, Aud and Victoria. When Vidar recognises Victoria as the reincarnation of his beloved, the real and the fantastic collide.
The exegesis is concerned with the concept of genre. In particular, I'd like to suggest that genres are processes, not static categories. They do not have distinctly-drawn and restrictive boundaries which stay in place over time. Rather they are fluid, constantly changing, growing, dividing, and spilling into one another. This ongoing mutability is the result of the negotiations and renegotiations of those that partake in genre. Authors, readers and institutions shape and reshape genres, sometimes deliberately and sometimes unconsciously, but always actively. Giants Of The Frost is a novel written for a popular fiction market, a market which is mindful of genres. However, the genre of Giants Of The Frost is negotiable. In particular, its use of certain elements (especially Norse mythology) seems to align it with fantasy fiction. The fantasy fiction genre is curious in an Australian context for a number of reasons: it is popular rather than literary, it relies on the fantastic rather than realism, and it makes use largely of the history, geography and mythology of Europe rather than on local sources. Through the example of Australian fantasy fiction, and in particular the example of Giants Of The Frost, I seek to explore ideas about genre formation, as well as gesture towards other directions in which the study of literary genres might fruitfully be pursued.+