Fantastic Wonder is a series of Fantasy related posts where I discuss different aspects of the genre and the many tropes and plot lines associated with it. Today, I talk about fantasy worlds set in today’s era.
Fantastic Wonder: A Modern-Era Fantasy World
Try to imagine our world, but with magic, swords and perhaps even dragons. Imagine everything in a small town or city where everything you think of fantasy is within our normal everyday life. It could be a secret society or even normal as far as magic goes. Maybe it doesn’t have to be earth, but a world that strongly resembles ours.
I want to discuss an idea I find fascinating. Magic and Myth in the modern world. A modern-era fantasy story.
It’s the kind of thing you’d wish was real. Seeing a world where magic and dragons exist alongside school, smartphones and even football. A world where the ordinary is beyond imagination. Many of these stories exist in genres today, most popular being modern and urban fantasy. Though today’s urban fantasy is generally populated by its own sub-genre, paranormal fantasy. Things like Twilight and what not are fantasy stories set in a modern world.
Other stories like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and even Pokémon have a modern fantasy setting that breathes life into our dull, normal life.
So I want to talk about why I like the subgenre so much and why I want to try and read more types of stories in that genre.
Real Life Magic
I’m sure this was the case for many, but when I was a kid, I always wished for a mystical world hidden within our own. I always imagined being a proud swordsman with magical powers fighting against evil monsters and stopping some force from taking over the world. It was truly something I hoped would come true one day. Yet the more I grew up, the more I realized that our world had no such thing. That didn’t stop me from believing in magic. Books are a kind of magic, but I’d rather be swinging swords and shooting fireballs out of my hands than do normal things like taxes and hold a day job, but that’s just me.
In these days, thanks to things like Pokémon and Harry Potter taking place in a real world setting, our desire for a more magical world is bigger than ever. And why not? Wouldn’t it be amazing to go on an adventure across the US or even the entire world, seeking some amazing power? How cool would it be to go on a journey with a sword strapped to your back and a pure evil to stop. Of course today, you’d probably be arrested and beaten by cops, but we can make excuses in a medieval fantasy world.
It’s something many of us, especially younger kids long for. We want a sense of adventure with a purpose. We want to play the role of a hero. It’s something we want since we were children. To be called away from our normal lives of school and work to be the adventurers we truly desire to be.
Reading More Modern Fantasy
Yet despite that, I haven’t read too much modern fantasy. I’ve played plenty of games and watched anime set in a modern society. Pokémon, Persona, and Final Fantasy to name a few. Those touched upon a modern setting with fantastical elements. As far as books go, Harry Potter is really all I’ve read. I read some books here and there, but after that…not much.
I haven’t read much aside from a few minor stories throughout my college years. Of course, there’s the stuff we read in English class, but as far as fantasy and sci-fi go…Not much. I’ve been changing that as I’ve been reading a lot lately, more than I have been in my entire life. I think since I started becoming a writer and just seeing how the formats for short stories and novels work, it’s opened my eyes a lot.
So I feel like I’ll make it my goal to seek out the big things I loved in my childhood and read some of those. Of course, I’ll always find new things to read, but as far as old books go, I have a lot to discover. For example, there’s the Warrior Cats series from Erin Hunter that I recently discovered. That would have been something I’d love to have read as a kid. I’m always open to new books, regardless of age group (don’t want to go too young, but I want to keep it within my target audience. Market research, usually).
Urban and Paranormal Fantasy
I also want to touch upon a rather concerning trend with having urban and paranormal fantasy be one in the same. You know the type. Female characters (and I guess men too) falling in love with vampires and werewolves and probably ghosts. That falls into paranormal fantasy, but some people use Urban Fantasy interchangeably. To me, urban fantasy is a traditional fantasy plot set in a modern city. Nothing else needs to exist.
In fact, Jeannie Holmes said it best:
The two share 90% of their genre DNA. However, the main differences are this: Urban fantasy focuses on an issue outside of a romantic relationship between two characters. Paranormal romance focuses on a romantic relationship between two characters and how outside forces affect that relationship. The best litmus test to determine if a story is urban fantasy or paranormal romance is to ask the following question: ‘If the romance between Character A and Character B were removed, would the plot still stand as a viable storyline?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ chances are good it’s urban fantasy. If the answer is ‘no,’ it’s most likely paranormal romance.
I wish people would stop putting those two genres together. Leave paranormal fantasy where it is and let me have my fantasy world in real life, please.
Can I Write Modern Fantasy?
I want to write Modern Fantasy. Either as a novel or a short story. A few ideas I made fall under Modern Fantasy, but my upcoming novel is epic medieval fantasy. I’m sure it’s an idea for the future, but we’ll see where it goes. I always imagine that kind of stuff, even today, but for now, I’ll work on the ideas in my head and if anything comes forward, I’ll keep it in my head. It’s hard to have so many ideas rolling around at once, but I have a good memory, so I’ll be fine.
But I love the concept of a modern magical world, where people with computers and smartphones and talk on social media can also cast spells and ride dragons. Ooh, that sounds like a book idea. Probably joking, but who knows? Maybe ten years from now, I’ll make a social media themed fantasy.
Actually no, I won’t do that…sorry. If someone else wants to do that, be my guest.
Anyway, that’s it for me. I want to make a modern fantasy story someday, but that’s not for a long while. Until then, keep watch for my epic fantasy series.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.