What are the clearly defined and strict sub-genres of Fantasy? Sorry, there are none. Yes, there may be an amorphous framework to work within, but Fantasy is an open world of possibilities and that is what draws me as a writer and a reader. I want to be surprised, shaken, and dismayed. Equal (or not) parts, realism, the fantastical, and other worldly. As long as the storyline and writing is good and the protagonist is solid and relatable I welcome all the craziness Fantasy has to offer.
Undead warriors that breathe fire? Ok. Dragons that can’t fly, talk with British accents, and drink bourbon? Sure. Rocks that can’t gather moss to save their lives, have dreams of ruling the world, and come in all colors? Why not. If these things are encapsulated inside a rich and vivid setting that pulls me in and allows me to imagine experiencing the story from the characters view, bring it on.
That is one of the joys of writing Fantasy. I never get bored and the world that I have created can always expand and change in countless ways as long as, as a whole, it all feels believable on the most basic of levels. My novels have it all, humans, goblins, evil and mysterious creatures, tribal people groups, scientists, miners, feline folk, steamships, gadgets, dark apothecary, knights, medieval setting, reanimation, political machinations, inter-family conflicts, pain, grief, friendship….the list goes on and on.
I enjoy reading both Fantasy and Sci-Fi and I had fun melding some of each genre together. Where Fantasy generally uses magic or a mysterious force I used natural science to fill that gap and offer some of the same possibilities based on a more “realistic” foundation. I can argue that my “magic” is based in a kind of physics system, though I would not want to attempt it with any knowledgeable professional. I fused technologies to include solar fueled gadgets, steampunk-like machines and basic horse drawn wagons in a way that fits believably into the set time and place.
Fantasy allows the writer to build possibilities and wonders and if successful, puts it together in such a way as to elevate the reader out of the here and now into the created reality.
Of course, Fantasy as a genre is like saying I am a human. There are so many differing sub-genres that take the Fantasy title and expand or restrict to certain paths and places. For instance there is Paranormal Fantasy that generally takes the world as we know it and throws a wrench into the works, like, oh and by the way there are these folks, that you know, like to bite you in the neck, and you know, suck your blood…in modern day Lithuania.
I grew up reading mostly Epic Fantasy and tend to write in that framework. This sub-genre connects with the romantic in me as it generally has a protagonist that is thrown into a heroic fight to save their way of life and or the world as they know it. There is clear darkness and growing light.
Please let me know your favorite Fantasy sub-genre and why in the comments!