This Thursday, I’d like to continue my discussion of The Many Faces of Fantasy. Last week I talked about the difference between Traditional Fantasy and High/Epic fantasy. This week I’d like to discuss my favorite fantasy genre to watch, read, and write. Urban Fantasy.
What is urban fantasy?
We already know that everything started with Traditional, and High Fantasy. On the other hand, urban fantasy is really just getting started in terms of popularity.
When I think of Urban Fantasy I think of three components that draw me to this kind of fiction:
3. Supernatural creatures
Urban Fantasy is literally urban. These stories take place in cities. Some urban fantasy even takes place in towns. (HBO’s True Blood is an example of urban fantasy that takes place in a small town.) Stereotypically UF setting are in New Orleans, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and any other major city one can think of.
Badassery is essential to most urban fantasy stories. If you check out some popular UF book covers, you’ll probably come across the stereotypical leather clad hot chick wielding a dangerous weapon. Think, Buffy. There are, of course, a lot of urban fantasies with bad-ass male main characters. The Dresden Files’ main character, Harry Dresden is a jacket leather clad badass wizard detective.
Supernatural creatures are a huge component in urban fantasy. UF stories tend to revolve around the goings-on of the supernatural population. Main characters might be human, half-human, or even full fledged supernatural creatures.
These are a few of the many components that can make up an urban fantasy story. There can also be romantic elements(like True Blood/TSVM, as I mentioned above), work focused elements (Enchanted, Inc), horror (Interview with the Vampire), comedy (Undead and Unwed) and YA (A Beautiful Evil). I personally find this genre, like fantasy in general, to be very versatile. (Sources: personal knowledge/reading experience and this article)
You may say: MG, these things are all great, but what makes urban fantasy the best fantasy sub-genre in your eyes?
I love the idea that your next-door neighbor may not be what he seems. I love the (far-fetched) possibility of a completely different world within our own!
There is a certain suspension of disbelief when you delve into a high fantasy, or traditional fantasy story. You know that without a doubt, the story could not be true. Tyrion Lannister isn’t going to appear at my doorstep tomorrow. Sauron is not going to take over our world.
Urban Fantasy can make me sleep with the lights on. Supernatural creatures living in secret among us is my favorite conspiracy theory. I can dream that Sam and Dean will knock on the door of my apartment in the middle of night, and ask me and my husband to help them take down some creature of the night. Its crazy, its fantastic, and its fun!
Urban Fantasy (for the most part) happens here, and now! That’s the appeal. I don’t want to go to another world. I want to delve deeper into this one! That is why I love urban fantasy.
Do you love urban fantasy? What components draw you to the sub-genre?
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