A writer bud of mine made a post on his musings about Gritty Fantasy and the future of the genre. Being a guy swamped with random thoughts at all hours of the day, this didn’t help my predicament. He suggested that Fantasy will see a swing away from the Grimdark movement toward a more Dark Epic feel. You may ask, what difference is there in the two? I’m not here to answer that. Go research for yourself, because the meaning is a little thin and ambiguous.
But, what I am here to tell you is my opinion.
(I can hear you groaning in the background.)
I can agree that Dark Epic Fantasy will be much larger as time goes by. Fantasy has had a really upswing with the words “dark” and “epic” over the past decade or so. We’ve shied away from some of the lighter shades, you could say, as a whole. That’s not exactly a good thing, but the connotations will be there for some time, I believe.
I can hope that we will see a movement away from all the blood and guts horror junk to a more psychological horror present in the yesteryear. That’s not to say I think we’ll see a jump back to classical, high fantasy, but I do believe the whole fascination over so-called “gritty anti-heroes” will leave the spotlight.
The advances of industry will always be present as time goes, none better shown than in Fantasy. We moved away from the High Middle Ages to exploring the Renaissance. I believe we’re now going to spread our legs into more technological ages such as the Colonial Era and Napoleon Era. This is especially evident in the “flintlock” fantasy or Muskets and Magic. I would love to see an take on the Low Middle Ages, a better time frame to bask in the fall and shadow of another era. Or maybe a switch to Eastern history. That would be awesome.
As another writer said, Steampunk might have the chance to come on board as a strong sub-genre. That leads me to my next thought. Cities have been the big thing for the past few years, writers wanting to breathe life into their creations. At its heart, Fantasy is in love with world-building. That’s why we love to build these amazing wonders. That’s why Steampunk has a chance to grow.
Will it? I’m not too sure.
In the past three years, there have been a few predominant voices in the genre spreading the thought of “character” fantasy. Mark Lawrence is leading this charge.
You don’t have to like his characters; you don’t even have to understand his characters. But you can’t argue that they aren’t compelling to some degree. And that’s what I think will change Fantasy in the long run. While it might be arrogant to say that we don’t have character driven stories right now, I would like to expand by saying that we will have more focus on the characters than we already do at the moment. That’s a tall order, but I think we could pull it off.
I don’t have to speculate hard on this next matter. It’s already in progress, as far as I can tell. Urban Fantasy, as someone put, is becoming a “forgotten” genre. It’s not dying, it’s just melding into everyday life, seeping into other stories. Now, my definition of UF has always been a novel set in an urban area during right now, the modern age. Most people think it only has to encompass an urban area. I would disagree. Past is alternate history, while the future is Science Fiction. But that’s a debate for another time.
What I’m trying to say is that we will most likely see a big branch in the genre. I would bet money that Paranormal Romance and Fantasy Noir will become the two to be born. They’re already here, so I can say that with confidence. Paranormal Romance will deal with a more, well, romantic and vampire outlook with a majority of female leads. Fantasy Noir will see a bleaker attitude with predominance in male leads. The cynical reflections on life will grow from the Grimdark movement into here.
But that’s not the only thing it will seep into.
Fantasy has always had strong Norse roots. You can point me to any Grimdark book, and I promise you there is a high chance that a barbarian or Northern savage will be there. This, I would argue, will grow into a sort of Viking Fantasy, heralding more Sword and Sorcery connotations that will be keeping with the dark vibe. Maybe a look at the Conon stories way back when.
Just a thought.
Do I think any of these will be true? Probably not, save possibly the UF. Predicting the future of the genre is like placing only one sub-genre on a Fantasy book. It’s nigh impossible. But it could work with the right amount of dumb luck and alcohol.