“Science-Fantasy,” an epic genre combination

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Dorothy McQuaid
Showrunner for Pycera/Social Media for BWP
Twitter | Blog | e-mail

 

Space ships. Robots. Artificial intelligence. Warring high-tech factions. Science!

These are a few of my favorite things.

Mystical spirits. Magic. Powers Unknown. Conversations with the gods. Dragons!

These are a few more.

But I have to read different genres to get my fix of both, right? After all, aren’t science-fiction and fantasy often shelved separately (albeit, next door to each other) in libraries? Actually, not always. It’s one of those cases where it does depend upon the library or bookstore in question: some separate them, some don’t. Some places might not even bother to separate them out from general fiction! In the latter case, I suppose that would help the argument that there are definitely stories that blur th esoteric line between science-fiction and fantasy, but it also goes to show that not everybody agrees on this. As for me, I’m always delighted when I encounter something that has elements of both science-fiction and fantasy.

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A Brief History of Modern Fantasy

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

A COMPANION TO TBT 07

Our most recent podcast on the “Evolution of Fantasy” featured a spirited debate about our favorite genre, from how we each defined “fantasy” to what we consider its developmental timeline. One of our biggest points of disagreement was about when what is considered “modern” fantasy started. Despite this, we at least had some general agreement that the publication of The Lord of the Rings‘ first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, in 1954 marked a significant turning point for the marketing and publishing of the fantasy genre.

To bounce off of this initial discussion, I wanted to write a brief history of what happened after 1950s, with some admitted speculation on my part.

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TBT 07: Evolution of Fantasy

How do you define fantasy literature? At what point was there a shift from mythology and fairy tales to what we consider to be fantasy today? Some of our more well-read Whisperers discuss these questions and more in this episode of The Book Table.

For listeners of The Book Table, Audible is offering a free audiobook and a 30-day free trial! Sign up at http://audibletrial.com/TheBookTable.

In this episode you heard from:
Akhi | akhipill
Dorothy | bwp_dorothy
Madeleine | madnbooks | youtube.com/madnbooks
Rebecca | rumy91989

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Setting the Story: Medieval vs Early Modern

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

Fantasy, as a genre, has largely been associated with the Middle Ages. While this is obviously not always the case, especially with those stories set in the real world (many of which, like Harry Potter, take place in contemporary times), there is some truth to this. The fantasy movement did grow out of the Romantic movement of the 19th century, which was, in part, a reaction against the science and rationalism of the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. The “Medievalism” of fantasy is related the genre’s use of magic, awe, emotions, folklore and escapism, as alternatives to the increasingly rationality, homogeneity, and banality of modern existence.

Thus, most constructed fantasy worlds, both historical and mythical, are essentially Medieval European in nature. These can either be based off of the Dark Ages (500-1000) of early Medieval Europe, which gives off an “empty-world” sort of feeling, or the more crowded and better-historically documented High Middle Ages (1000-1350). Jump forward a bit, and you may or may not be in the fantasy genre anymore. This is when you get to Steampunk based off of the 19th century Victorian Era, or the slightly later Dieselpunk, based off of the “interwar period” (1918-1939) through the 1950s. Relatively little fantasy is set in worlds inspired by the ancient and classical periods of human history. 

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