Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fantasy Schmantasy

Trying to come up with a blog subject has been a pain in the posterior. I plan on doing another comics related commentary, but I was not ready. I thought it was too soon for another music themed commentary. So I finally came up with my own hang-ups with a particular genre, Fantasy. When it comes to Fantasy, I prefer Mythic and Urban/ Modern/ Contemporary Fantasy. The Whole Sword and Sandal or Sword and Sorcery leaves me bland. I live in the modern era so I have modern ideas and conventions. The High Fantasy genre has become passé and clichéd. I have an appreciation for the Masters; Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, the Eddings, Hickman, Weis, and Terry Brooks. As much as I enjoyed studying medieval culture and history in College, it does not hold my fascination anymore. Too many fantasy authors cover the same themes and cultures. I also find Stereo typical High Fantasy as too escapist. When I do enjoy High Fantasy the authors mix up the cultures a bit. They use Cultures that are not routine for high Fantasy.

What I enjoy about Contemporary Fantasy is that it is nice to see a sense of wonder in our jaded world. One of the things that I see in Modern culture is that there is nothing unknown to us. This is a fallacy, ask any scientist and they will tell you that we don’t know all there is to know. In Contemporary Fantasy, it is conveyed that the fantastic is still possible and out there. Also Contemporary Fantasy straddles the border between Fantasy and Horror. Clive Barker and Charles DeLint have both written in both genres. The unknown and fantastic can be frightening, and not always benign. A common theme in Contemporary Fantasy is arrogant modern man runs into a Mythical creature and is reminded he does not know everything.

Since the modern world is more global, Contemporary Fantasy spans over more cultures. In many cases a Contemporary Fantasy work can cover both ancient and modern cultures. I am surprised that in Film, Contemporary Fantasy has not been tapped into that much. Dueling with wands and pistols, flying mythical beasts is chases with cars, magical tomes on flash drives are a few ideas I could see used in modern media. I understand the modern world and its rules, when I read High Fantasy I need a rulebook. That just how I see it.

Examples of Contemporary Fantasy Authors are Charles DeLint, Jim Butcher, Laurell K. Hamilton, Clive Barker, J.K. Rowling, Emma Bull, Neil Gaiman, Sergei Lukyanenko, Terri Windling, and Mercedes Lackey. These authors run the gambit of Wondrous to grim and gritty.