Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fantasy and its children

There seems to be some confusion among authors about the various sorts of fantasy.

The Inkstained Succubus page  says we accept
+ Fantasy (High, Low, Urban, and Dark)

We had a contemporary piece submitted with the note it was Urban Fantasy/Low Fantasy.
There was one element in the story that does not actually exist, and it was written in a way that is utterly realistic, meaning it could exist. The author thought this one element made it fantasy. So, we're clarifying the list for authors and future authors.

Urban Fantasy:

In Urban Fantasy, the city plays an important role, almost to being a character in and of itself.

Think of Harry Dresden. He belongs in Chicago.  He even has a miniature of the city he uses for spell work.

Or Anita Blake, who could be from nowhere other than St. Louis.  When she goes to Branson, it is clear the author has been there and knows the area.

Think of Gotham City, the mise en scene it lends to the movies,with Wayne Manor, Arkham Asylum, all of it.

Lovecraft would not be nearly as effective set in Indianapolis or Los Angeles ("Cast A Deadly Spell" aside). He requires the ancient inhabited places and decay of long-established settlements.

In our own offerings, The Beast Within definitely qualifies. Memphis and the area around it are part of the story.

Low Fantasy:

This is when the everyday world interacts with the supernatural. It is different from Urban Fantasy as the city does not play an important part.

 "Supernatural," with its different location every week, or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or "Charmed" are all Low Fantasy. Practical Magic has enough literary pretensions to be Magical Realism.

Magical Realism is Low Fantasy for people who don't like escapist literature or fantasy. Beloved, A Hundred Years of Solitude and "If You were a Dinosaur, My Love" are all magical realism.

Paranormal Romance is a subset of Low Fantasy. It involves the uncanny interacting with the mundane world and someone getting busy with a Creature of the Night.

In our offerings, "Misfit Prophets beneath a Bankrupt Sky" and Fated Bonds are Low Fantasy.

Many of the stories in Into Dark Waters and Riding the Nightmare are Low Fantasy as well. (Especially the Gay Christmas Werewolf series in Nightmare)

High Fantasy:

This is fantasy set in a completely different world or a high and far off time. Lord of the Rings is the seminal example. Piers Anthony's Xanth. Terry Prachett's DiscWorld. C.S. Lewis' Narnia.
The key features are low tech level (pre-gunpowder, usually), the existence of magic and possibly non-human creatures.

Heroic Fantasy is s subset of High Fantasy. This is dismissively called Sword and Sorcery. Robert E. Howard's Conan.  Michael Moorcock's Elric. Barbara Hambly's Reluctant Wizard trilogy (Sunwolf and StarHawk)

We have only a little High Fantasy on offer, B.R. Sanders has put in the World Building and done a tremendous job with Resistance and "Matters of Scale".

Dark Fantasy:

This is fantastical horror. It is often from the monster's point of view, such as Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire series or Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Comte St. Germaine vampire series. Stephen King's Dark Tower series, with its melding of fantasy and horror is a brilliant example.
It's tough to pull off without slipping into outright horror. But CeeCee Sanchez does it in "Skin and Bones," giving us an even more horrific Hansel and Gretel tale. Elizabeth Donald walks the fine line in Dreadmire (which earned the nickname "the float trip to Hell.") skirting outright horror while maintaining the fantasy setting.

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