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Now without further adieu here is Ty’s awesome guest blog!
Horror in Fantasy
by Ty Arthur
For all its focus on dark forces hellbent on world domination or the absolute end of all life, there’s one aspect of the fantasy genre that has consistently felt underutilized: horror.
I can think of a dozen or more series I read as a kid where unlikely heroes, secret prophesied farm boy saviors, or a rag tag alliance of under dogs somehow managed to overcome insurmountable odds to save the world. The dark lord always miscalculates his victory and is cast back to some other realm to be imprisoned for all time, or the seemingly-unstoppable monsters are thwarted by a secret weakness in the form of a magical MacGuffin, or some god of light finally intervenes to save his people.
As much as I will always treasure those books and how they shaped my youth, that aspect of the genre doesn’t ring true for me. I can’t think of a single time that eagles ever swooped down – literally or metaphorically – to save me from certain doom. The local cleric has never brought a loved one back from the dead. Standing up for the oppressed very rarely results in recognition or reward, and can be actively dangerous.
In fact, I strongly suspect that were magic and a pantheon of gods to suddenly spring into existence on our humble little blue dot in the cosmos, the world would rapidly become a much worse place for humanity rather than a much better one.
Horror is typically at the periphery of a fantasy story, something unpleasant to highlight just how good the main characters are in comparison, with the focus on the heroes. Sure, that mad wizard in his tower might be performing human sacrifices or torturing unicorns or whatever, but some good natured adventurers will get around to sorting him out eventually.
But what about fantasy worlds where there are no heroes, or where those heroes all died trying to be heroic?
The literary world finally got some of that with the emergence of the grimdark style, which is now experiencing something a flourishing in the underground indie fiction scene. But the more you look there, you’ll still find the underdog protagonist always seems to make it out alright in the end. In even supposedly grimdark universes like Warhammer, you’ve got characters like Gotrek and Felix easily scything a whirlwind of destruction through a million or so skaven and orcs while cracking jokes, and no one’s ever really concerned they might lose.
When I was writing Light Dawning, I didn’t want to just surgically remove all those aspects of fantasy that felt like wish fulfillment or vicarious living through written characters – I wanted to viciously hack them apart, violently ripping them out with tooth and claw before throwing them into the uncaring fire. My take on the genre consists of forcibly colliding fantasy with an unpleasant dose of grim reality, then injecting some looming cosmic horror elements to take it all one step further into the abyss.
Like in real life, there are no happy endings here, and there’s always some unseen horror lurking just out of sight, ready to cut the characters off at the knees when they least expect it. The light of a new day is about to dawn, but as the poor characters in this first book of my new fantasy series are about to learn, the light can be just as dangerous as the dark.
Author of sci-fi / horror novella “Empty” and full-length grimdark novel “Light Dawning,” Ty Arthur gets to meld his passions with his work while freelancing for the likes of Metalunderground and GameSkinny. Arthur writes to exorcise his demons and lives in the cold, dark north with his amazing wife Megan and infant son Gannicus Picard. Many more dark tales are still to come soon, exploring every facet of the bleaker aspects of human existence.
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/T y-Arthur/e/B0727MRVF8
Official website: https://tyarthur.word press.com/
Goodreads page: http://www.goodread s.com/author/show/12585427.Ty_ Arthur
Once known as the City on the Hill and revered far and wide for its independence and boundless opportunity, Cestia has become home only to the damned. Surviving under the brutal occupation of a southern empire for three long years, the oppressed populace has lost hope of liberation, turning instead towards an increasingly desperate rebellion willing to commit any atrocity for a chance at freedom. As total war approaches, four lost souls trapped behind Cestia’s walls are on a collision course with fate, destined to either save the city or see it utterly destroyed while calling on forces beyond mankind’s comprehension. For good or ill, the light of a new day is about to dawn.