Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why fantasy "adventure"?

The sub-genres of fantasy are many and varied. Some years ago I started thinking of my novel Talon as a fantasy-adventure novel, without really doing any research into it. To me, the spirit of adventure is inherant in the plot, the way it moves, the action (especially the fight scenes) and the epic nature of the overarching story.

Some sub-genres of fantasy include:

  • historical fantasy
  • comic fantasy
  • contemporary fantasy
  • dark fantasy
  • fairytale fantasy
  • heroic fantasy
  • high fantasy
  • superhero fantasy
  • sword and sorcery

Of these, Talon most fits in with high fantasy because of the epic struggle between good and evil forces in the world of Chryne. High fantasy is different to sword and sorcery (which can also have epic conflict between opposing forces) mainly because of its moral tone and world-affecting plot. The moral aspects in Talon are obvious to most of my draft readers and editors, however I have tried to make it somewhat open to interpretation.

Why use the term "adventure" at all? Perhaps I should just call it 'high fantasy'. What does the word "adventure" add? And isn't it true that all fantasy, science fiction and horror novels contain an adventure of some kind? Many action novels/movies do as well. How do we define this? This is something for me to think about, and I welcome your feedback by email.

The history of the genre of fantasy is fascinating and the more I study it the more I realise I have read only a fraction of what the genre has to offer. If you're interested in fantasy I highly recommend "Fantasy of the 20th Century: An Illustrated History" by Randy Broecker. If you want to buy it, please click the link in my Amazon panel to the right. I'll close this post with a quote from the book:

"The earliest roots of fantasy literature can be found in the epic poem Gilgamesh circa 2000 BC and in other classical works such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid. These, along with the mythologies of the Greeks, Romans, Celts, and Germanic peoples all with their various deities, form the basis of heroic fantasy. It is quite possibly the oldest theme in literature."

With a genre that accesses the most ancient themes and speaks to the deepest moral issues in every person's life, fantasy is an escape for just about anyone. But that's a topic for another blog.

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