Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fantasy Tuesdays: Subgenres of Fantasy


Today we have subgenres of Fantasy. Like all broad genres, Fantasy does have many subgenres within it, and all of these subgenres are found through children's books, middle grade, YA, and adult. I'll give you a brief overview of some of the subgenres, and in later Fantasy Tuesdays, we'll go more in-depth.

Fantasy can be broken into theme and setting.
By Theme

Comic Fantasy - Primarily uses humorous in intent and tone, also known as low fantasy. Ex. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Dark Fantasy - A fantasy story with a pronounced horror element. Ex. Stephen King's The Dark Tower series

Magic Realism - Blends magical elements into realism. Ex. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Mythic - Fantasy involving myths and legends. Ex. Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

Paranormal Fantasy - Involves all things paranormal, vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, paranormal gifts like telekinesis. Ex. Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Superhero FantasyThe form is a type of speculative fiction examining the adventures of costumed crime fighters known as superheroes, who often possess superhuman powers and battle similarly powered criminals known as supervillains. Ex. Batman series

Sword and Sorcery - Generally characterized by sword-wielding heroes engaged in exciting and violent conflicts. An element of romance is often present, as is an element of magic and the supernatural. Unlike works of high fantasy, the tales, though dramatic, focus mainly on personal battles rather than world-endangering matters. Ex. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

By Setting

Epic Fantasy/High Fantasy - Set in invented or parallel worlds. Ex. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (My Phoenix Trilogy would also fall under this category as well as my Foxwick Chronicles.)

Low Fantasy - Nonrational happenings that are without casuality or rationality because they occur in the rational world where such things are not supposed to occur. Low fantasy stories are set in the real world. Ex. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Historical Fantasy - makes use of specific elements of real world history. Ex. Kingdom of Arnhem series by Nicole Zoltack

Urban Fantasy - The fantastic narrative has an urban setting. Many urban fantasies are set in contemporary times and contain supernatural elements. However, the stories can take place in historical, modern, or futuristic periods. Ex. Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series

Science/Space Fantasy - A writer can write a fantasy using magic of various sorts, and yet turn the story into science fiction by positing some highly advanced technology, or as-yet-unknown but ultimately thoroughly provable science, as an explanation for how the magic can occur. Another writer can describe a future world where technologies are so advanced to be invisible, and the effects produced would be classified as magical if they were only described as such. A world might include magic which only some people (or only the reader) know to be in fact technological effects. Ex. Star Wars by George Lucas (My novelette Defying Gravity fits under this category.)

Which subgenre of fantasy do you think you read the most?


Krista said...

I mostly read high/epic fantasy and sword and sorcery. I love fantasy and these subgenre particularly. They account for 90% of my reading.

farawayeyes said...

Not sure, my reading is all over the place. Currently slogging through the mud of Westeros - high/epic fantasy, I guess? Enjoyed books 1 -3. 4 was a little bit of overkill. Taking a break and reading a 'space opera' before I go back for book 5. So there you go.

I have a questions. How would you describe 'Supernatural'? Is there a difference between 'Paranormal' and supernatural' and if so what?

OK, that was two questions, but you know me, always going for the twofer. I have a 'Ghost Story' that is a romance sorta, not exactly sure where it fits. Just wondering.


Sherri said...

I'm bookmarking this post for future reference! I don't think there is one particular subgenre that I read more than the other.

Christine Rains said...

So many subgenres! I read a lot of, dark, urban fantasy, and paranormal. I still enjoy the others. Lots of new superhero stuff popping up in the last few years too.

Anonymous said...

Sub genres never fail to confuse me when I am trying to classify books that I read. I would say that I stick more to sword and sorcery/high fantasy, but since I have started to review books by request I read what gets sent my way.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like a mix of sword and sorcery and high fantasy.

The Golden Eagle said...

Right now I'm reading Science/Space Fantasy; the subgenre I read the most is probably Epic/High Fantasy. Though after all the Terry Pratchett I consumed, it might be Comic. :P

Ciara said...

I love all types of fantasy and sci-fi. This post came timely today. ;) Thanks for stopping in at Flutey Words today. I guess there are other fantasy romance books out there. :)

Misha Gericke said...

I enjoy any of the subgenres, as long as it's a good quality read.

I LOVE writing my Epic Fantasy, though. :-)

Rusty Webb said...

If there is one thing people seem to be good at, it's labeling things. It helps us begin to understand them. Thanks for helping me to try to understand fantasy a bit better.