Fantasy in all its forms

Fantasy in all its forms

So, fantasy… It’s this neglected and mostly looked-down-upon genre that only a small group of geeks and weirdoes like, right? In fact, many shops don’t even allocate dedicated shelf space to it at all.

Well, let me tell you. It is not that small. Seriously. If you get right down to it, fantasy has an amazing spectrum of literature within its scope. Some of the classics – like Gulliver’s Travels – even fall under this overarching genre.

Fantasy is a broad term encompassing any work of fiction that has within its themes and elements anything that does not coincide with current reality as we know it. This means that even literature that contains speculation about the future is fantasy.

Yes, it certainly includes the mediaeval type fantasy with dragons and magic (e.g. The Lord of the Rings and games like Dungeons and Dragons). But you’re forgetting about the other big guns: Dark (or Supernatural) Fantasy – vampires, werewolves and other things that go bump in the night – like Dracula, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Underworld, and Science Fiction, like Star Trek and Star Wars.

And then, there are the smaller guns…and what a range of them there is!

Essentially, you can break up fantasy into three subdivisions:

Past              Present                Future

Under “Past”, you get the forms of fantasy most people immediately think of when you say “fantasy”.

  • High Fantasy
    (magic and magical races are common)
  • Low (or Hedge) Fantasy
    (magic and magical races are very rare)
  • Epic Fantasy
    (kings and gods clash and potentially destroy the world)
  • Fairy Tales
    (those stories you are traditionally told as a kid)
  • Mythic Fantasy
    (typically Norse mythology is used as a flavour)
  • Steam Punk
    (all sorts of steam technology is used in the Edwardian and Victorian eras, typically also in the Wild West)
  • And some of the more obscure ones, like:
    • Dark
      (Medieval setting with witches, vampires, werewolves, evil fairies, demons and/or other nasties)
    • Wuxia
      (Maaagical martial arts)
    • Magical Girl
    • (An animé and manga – that is, Japanese animation and comic books, respectively – theme where the main character is a girl that has some sort of skill that sets her apart from others)
    • Bangsian Fantasy
      (Fantasy involving some sort of historical figure from actual history)

Under “Present”, you get (what I’d like to think of) the more hidden fantasies. These works of fiction, as my classification here suggests, is set in the present. It is also set on Earth as we all know it today.

  • Dark (or Supernatural) Fantasy
    (As above, in the “Past” section, it involves werewolves, vampires, demons, witches, evil fairies and other nasties)
  • Urban Fantasy (AKA Contemporary Fantasy/Indigenous Fantasy)
    (Typically this involves the hidden realm of the fairies or the existence of magic)
  • And once again some of the more obscure ones, like:
    • Fantastique
      (A French genre that often smushes science fiction, horror and fantasy into one)
    • Wuxia
      (same as in “Past”)
    • Magical Girl
      (same as in “Past”)
    • Bangsian Fantasy
      (same as in “Past”, except that sometimes the historical figure is actually placed into the present from their time in the past)

Under “Future”, you get the forms of fantasy most people prefer not to link to magic too much.

  • Science Fantasy
    (Here, the focus is not so much on the technology, but rather on the following aspects:)

    • Other Planet
      (The story takes place on another planet and may or may not include in-your-face technological advances)
    • Dying Earth
      (Humans and/or aliens have depleted Earth’s resources through exploitation or catastrophic wars and now live in a bleak and harsh future)
    • Science Fiction
      (Typically set in space, on a space ship or revolves around the fact that space travel is now a common day thing; it may also be Earthbound, but with significant and very in-your-face technological advances compared to present day)
    • Cyber Punk
      (Set in a future where people are slowly becoming one with technology – bionic organs/limbs and performance-enhancing stimulants have become the norm)

It is also rather important to note that many of these genres can be and are often mixed. In future posts, some of these sub-genres will be explored to give you a better idea of what each of them entails. 😀