Long ago and far away, a man named Carl Linnaeus created a a system of taxonomy for classifying all living creatures. Remember it from your biology courses? The "kingdom, phylum, class, genus, species" -- and then some -- breakdown? Well, modern popular fiction has a taxonomy of its own. For example, there's no such thing as plain old fantasy anymore. I'm afraid I don't have the time to be as meticulous about categorization as Linnaeus was, but here are some distinctions I've noticed.
- Earthbound fantasy, historical. It takes place in the past, usually the distant (Arthurian or medieval) past, on our own planet.
- Otherworld fantasy, historical. It takes place in an alternate or parallel world, very much like earth, in a place and/or time period that has a feel similar to those on earth.
- Earthbound fantasy, contemporary, usually urban
- Otherworld fantasy, contemporary, usually urban
- Earthbound fantasy, futuristic, urban and/or interstellar
- Otherworld fantasy, futuristic, urban and/or interstellar
- Fantasies with and without epic battles
- Fantasies with and without female "heroes"
- Fantasies with and without dragons, faeries, elves, etc.
As I wrote my Galdeshian fantasies for Ellora's Cave -- Wing and Tongue, Cauldron of Keridwen, and Prince of Glacier Glas, I became immersed in the world. Even my authorial voice shifted, as if it had an automatic transmission, to reflect that world. These stories fall into the second category above, and they all have dragons. I adore writing about this "other-place" and its unusual society and inhabitants.
But when I wrote Hoochie Coochie Man, in the contemporary-urban category, I loved it, too. And I love InDescent, a work-in-progress, passionately.
But wait, there's more! Now I'm creating a futuristic urban fantasy series for Loose Id. The first volume, Looking for Some Touch, will be released in early November. And it features men with men, yet another sub-category of fantasy that's only recently begun to shine. Am I crazy about this series? Well, take a guess.
So, I repeat: Which type of fantasy do you prefer? Can you come up with other classifications?