Posted by: PharaohKatt | 05-08-2011

Fantasy Fiction: Is Our Language Limited?

fan·ta·sy
noun /ˈfantəsē/ 
fantasies, plural

  1. The faculty or activity of imagining things, esp. things that are impossible or improbable
    “his research had moved into the realm of fantasy”
  2. An idea with no basis in reality
    “it is a misleading fantasy to suggest that the bill can be implemented”
  3. A genre of imaginative fiction involving magic and adventure, esp. in a setting other than the real world

What is fantasy? What does it look like, feel like, taste like?

I suppose that depends on what genre of fantasy you are looking at. There are quite a few different types of fantasy fiction, each with its own feel. Let me give you my short definitions!

High/Epic Fantasy: epic battles, the fight for good and evil, quests, journeys, adventures!
Sword and Sourcery: I have always considered this a sub-genre of High Fantasy. Basically High Fantasy + swords and sorcery 😉
Urban Fantasy: Set in the modern world, surrounded by magic.
Dark Fantasy: Urban fantasy + supernatural themes (like vampires and werewolves)
Fairy-Tale Fantasy: Exactly as it sounds.
Historical Fantasy: Fantasy set in the past, where’re magic is part of the surroundings.

But none of this seems to describe the type of fantasy that I read.

For me, fantasy is the story about the seamstress who struggles to make a living and live in a city under siege every night1.
Fantasy is the story of the young girl who fights for gender equality and become a knight2.
Fantasy is the boy in the desert who knows how to find water3.

What do you call fantasy which takes place in a different world, where the epic battle is just background noise? Fantasy that zooms in on a couple of characters and their lives, whether or not they are part of this huge system?

I’m throwing this question out to you: what would you call this type of fiction? How would you label it for the benefit of recommendations?

1: The Creature Court Trilogy by Tansy Rayner Roberts.
2: Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
3: Watergiver Trilogy by Glendale Larke

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