Contemporary fantasy


Contemporary fantasy
Fantasy

Fantasy media

Genre studies

Categories

  • Fantasy
  • Fantasy awards
  • Fantasy subgenres
  • Fantasy television
  • Fantasy tropes

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Contemporary fantasy, also known as modern fantasy or indigenous fantasy, is a sub-genre of fantasy, set in the present day. It is perhaps most popular for its sub-genre, urban fantasy.

Contents

Definition and overview

These terms are used to describe stories set in the putative real world (often referred to as consensus reality) in contemporary times, in which magic and magical creatures exist, either living in the interstices of our world or leaking over from alternate worlds. It thus has much in common with, and sometimes overlaps with secret history; a work of fantasy in which the magic could not remain secret or does not have any known relationship to known history would not fit into this subgenre. Occasionally certain contemporary fantasy novels will make reference to pop culture.

Novels in which modern characters travel into alternate worlds, and all the magical action takes place there (except for the portal required to transport them), are thus not considered contemporary fantasy.

Contemporary fantasy is also to be distinguished from horror fiction, which also often has contemporary settings. When encountering magical events and creatures, the protagonist of a horror novel is horrified, while the protagonist of a fantasy novel (contemporary or otherwise) is filled with a sense of joy and wonder. Horrifying events may happen, but the fundamental distinction is vital.

Subgenres

Contemporary fantasies often concern places dear to their authors, are full of local color and atmosphere, and attempt to lend a sense of magic to those places, particularly when the subgenre overlaps with mythic fiction.

When the story takes place in a city, the work is often called urban fantasy.

The contemporary fantasy and low fantasy genres can overlap as both are defined as being set in the real world. There are differences, however. Low fantasies are set in the real world but necessarily not in modern age, in which case they would not be contemporary fantasy. Contemporary fantasies are set in the real world but may also include distinct fantasy settings within it, such as the Harry Potter series, in which case they would be high rather than low fantasy.

Examples

Early 20th century

Later 20th and early 21st century

Overlap with other genres

Contemporary fantasy can also be found marketed as mainstream or literary fiction and frequently marketed as magical realism, itself arguably a fantasy genre. Example include Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich, and Mistress of Spices by Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni.

In other media

Type-Moon's Fate Stay Night is in Fuyuki City, certain families have magical circuits in their blood, and can cast spells among other abilities, while Takahiro Yamato's Kaze no Stigma is set in modern Japan and center around a young man with powers to control wind.

The Mighty Thor of Marvel Comics can also be considered to belong to this sub-genre, depicting a god of Norse mythology sharing his life between 20th Century New York City and the legendary Asgard. The same can be said of Hellboy.

See also

  • List of genres

References

  • Martin Horstkotte, The postmodern fantastic in contemporary British fiction. WVT, Trier 2004, ISBN 3-88476-679-1
  • Lance Olsen, Ellipse of uncertainty : an introduction to postmodern fantasy. Greenwood Press, Westport 1987, ISBN 0-313-25511-3

External links


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