The Wall Street Journal wishes Hal Duncan was a columnist about genre. Hal’s really, really smart, extremely well-read, and extremely good at explicating his thesis.
That birth and naming begins with the pulps, with Gernsback’s scientifiction. In those early decades before the SF Café was even built there was not one Genre but a whole host of them, where the protomodern adventure story was gradually being transformed into the modern mass-market pulp narrative. One Nick Carter dime novel in 1886 begets Nick Carter Weekly which becomes Detective Story Magazine in 1915; that same magazine publishes Arthur Conan Doyle but it does so alongside the Shadow. The publisher, Street & Smith Publications (who bought Astounding in 1933, funny enough) also gave us comics like Doc Savage and Air Ace, Western magazines like Buffalo Bill Stories and True Western Stories. Edgar Rice Burroughs gives us Tarzan of the Apes in 1912 and John Carter in 1917, both via All-Story Magazine, which was to merge eventually with Argosy. Amazing Stories gives us Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon only being created derivatively as a rival.
This is our lineage. This is the history of the ghetto of Genre, into which Science Fiction was born, not in a flash of lightning but in the clatter of a printing press, a bastard of the pulps.
Also, his novels are fantastic.