Little Willow [userpic]

Genre Study: Fantasy

May 19th, 2006 (07:14 pm)
frustrated
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Current Mood: frustrated
Current Song: Sparkle by Rubyhorse

I personally think there are many subgenres within the fantasy realm. Here are just a few:

There's urban fantasy, set in contemporary times in the world as we know it, but with characters becoming infused with superpowers, utilizing magic, or discovering that magical creatures exist. Neil Gaiman has written many urban fantasies, such as American Gods, Neverwhere, and Anansi Boys.

Consider the more standard fantasy novel: set in an unspecified time, but typically seems medieval; set in our world or something like it; involving knights, dragons, warring kingdoms, royalty, and other fairy-tale elements; and a sense of propriety and etiquette, customs and traditions. I would place the lovely Stardust by Neil Gaiman in this section.

Then there are fantasy stories regarded as classics. I tend to like those written in the Victorian era. Some may employ fairy tale elements. Many tred the mythology path: a character, typically a child, loses his or her way and is helped along by various characters, both good and evil. I have a penchant for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll. (I will never tire of these books. Ever.)

What about classics like The Time Machine, you ask? Once a book involve inventions, technology, and other science bits, I tend to categorize it as science fiction. What about War of the Worlds? Spaceships and aliens also fall under the heading of science fiction for me. There are plenty of sci-fi sub-genres, but that's another post. The line between fantasy and sci-fi can be blurry, and I like the view. I don't like when people make rash generalizations. I can really break it down, if you insist: Dragons? Fantasy. Robots? Sci-fi. Dragon robot? Both - and, if it's kind and intelligent, may I please have one?

There are modern fantasy classics as well, distinguished as such because we are no longer in the decade in which they first hit bookshelves, but we are still within fifty-odd years of their publication. The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende. Many of Madeleine L'Engle's works.

Some people are quick to call a newly-released book "an instant classic," a turn of phrase I dislike. I would prefer to say something was "destined to be a classic," because it cannot already be a classic if it just came out last week. (It should be noted that I resisted the urge to place that last phrase in bold type.)

I really could go on and on about this genre, but for now, I'll wrap this up, then create a separate post for the YA fantasy booklist which Kiba requested.

Comments

Posted by: fa3ryg1rl (fa3ryg1rl)
Posted at: May 19th, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC)

You are right, there are many subgenres. I love your classifications and examples.
My favorite is epic fantasy, such as Lord of the Rings.
There is also the magic/wizards/witches fantasy, and Arthurian, and Alternate History. Oh, and Historical fantasy.
So many.
Can you tell fantasy is my favorite genre? ;)
Actually when I took a fantasy literature course, they taught that within Fantasy is Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror.
To me, they are three seperate genres.
I am *so* looking forward to that YA fanasy booklist!

Posted by: Kiba (kibarika)
Posted at: May 20th, 2006 01:28 pm (UTC)

Your fantasy literature course should've been called a "Speculative Fiction" course.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: May 20th, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC)

Why do you say that? Just curious.

The name of the course was "Literature of Imagination and Fantasy".

Posted by: Kiba (kibarika)
Posted at: May 20th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC)

Speculative Fiction is a common umbrella term for Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Horror all together. It is a nice way of doing it because it covers the element of the fantastical in all of them without setting one as dominant/including the others.

Posted by: fa3ryg1rl (fa3ryg1rl)
Posted at: May 20th, 2006 03:43 pm (UTC)

Oops, that was me not logged on. ;P

Posted by: aka_becker (aka_becker)
Posted at: May 19th, 2006 10:05 pm (UTC)

Have you read my favorite (well tied with 'Salem's Lot) Stephen King book, Eyes of the Dragon? It's fantasy and not his normal horror. I don't think it's quite young adult, but it's probably fine for teens as it's his cleanest (as far as sex, language and blood) of just about anything he's done.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 20th, 2006 03:11 pm (UTC)
Johnny Smith

I haven't read any King.

Posted by: aka_becker (aka_becker)
Posted at: May 21st, 2006 12:40 am (UTC)

Ah. Well, though I'd recommend getting other opinions on this, it is a fantasy book and not a horror book. If you were going to check one out, I'd recommend this one.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 21st, 2006 12:42 am (UTC)

Thanks!

Posted by: Kiba (kibarika)
Posted at: May 20th, 2006 01:32 pm (UTC)

I'm a dork - my favorite fantasy tends to have one qualification - Piers wrote it. This includes urban fantasy (the Incarnations of Immortality) and also my favorite of his genres - science fantasy (Apprentice Adept series). For mature middle school/high school aged girls, his Mode series is especially good. (Talking horse! Yay!) It's kind of crazy how heavily my list skews towards Piers - and as much as I like Xanth, it ends up close to the bottom in terms of what's my favorite. I haven't read the new Mode book or his new series, ChroMagic.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 20th, 2006 03:11 pm (UTC)

Though I have read most of the Xanth series, I have yet to read any of his other series. Weird, right?

Posted by: fa3ryg1rl (fa3ryg1rl)
Posted at: May 20th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC)

Same here. I always think about picking up something else of his besides Xanth books, but I never do.

Posted by: amomandagirl (amomandagirl)
Posted at: May 22nd, 2006 01:53 am (UTC)

Isn't it annoying how Disney always annouces a "Brand New Classic"....

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 22nd, 2006 01:54 am (UTC)

Hello there! Yes, yes, it is.

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