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Oldies vs. Newbies: Fantasy Edition
by Skyler Boudreau
Like all art forms, fantasy is a genre that has evolved over time. From classic epics like Beowulf or The Odyssey to modern favorites such as the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling or Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. The fantasy genre’s evolution illustrates the changing tastes of author and reader, the desire to test waters unexplored. Even now it continues to grow, with new titles released every day.
Why not take a break from traveling foreign lands or flying on broomsticks to learn some of the basic differences between modern and classic fantasy?
Here But Not Now vs. An Empire Born Anew
- Modern fantasy is either set in a separate world or reality with clearly defined rules, or a hidden world within our own. These ‘hidden worlds’ are usually categorized as a subgenre called ‘urban fantasy.’
- The rules of the world are clearly defined and details about its geography and history are often provided.
- Classic fantasies tend to be take place on Earth but are set far in the past in undefined locations.
- Mythological stories often provide little context as to setting or time. Sometimes both can go entirely unnamed.
Boo! Am I Really There?
- Modern fantasy treats the existence of the supernatural just that; fantasy. Perhaps the characters believe whatever magic they see is real, but the readers are not expected to.
- Classic fantasy does not always treat supernatural legends as fact, but oftentimes the storyteller will speak of them with a kind of reverence.
- Mythology is, once again, a prime example. Some mythologies treat the tales of their monsters as literal, others treat them as representations of metaphysical dilemmas such as fear, anger, or sorrow.
Conspiracy: What are they REALLY telling us?
- Like all genres of fiction, fantasy has developed certain themes that we see time and time again.
- Both modern and classic fantasy are especially fond of the Epic Quest. From Greek myths like “Jason and the Golden Fleece” to Tolkien’s The Hobbit or Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth, audiences love watching their heroes navigate foreign lands and sail unexplored seas that they can only dream of.
- Young adult modern fantasy places a special emphasis on the Power of Friendship. The ability to overcome whatever obstacle stands in the hero’s or heroine’s way typically comes from the support they receive form their friends.
- War is prevalent in all forms of fantasy. War between kingdoms, wizards, royalty; it’s everywhere. During times of real world conflict this theme tends to become a larger and larger part of the genre.
All art has roots, and all artists have inspiration. Whether it be books, paintings, theater, or music, we are lucky enough to have a well of examples to study. Without classic fantasy, its modern cousin would have no ground to stand upon. As time moves forward, it will be interesting to watch our modern creations becomes classics and see what new style of fantasy takes over.
For more rambling from Skyler, visit her at https://skyviewbookreviews.wordpress.com/ where you’ll find book reviews, recommendations, writing advice, and maybe even a new friend.