A Deep Dive Into Contemporary Fantasy


For decades, “fantasy” was the term given to the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Mercedes Lackey, Robert E. Howard, and other stalwarts of the genre. These stories were all set in alternative worlds, featuring magic, mystery, and marvels that defied anything our world had to offer.
Then came books like Terri Windling’s “Borderlands,” Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” and Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files.” These books incorporated the best of both worlds—the magic and marvel of fantasy with the realism of our world. Thus was born the genre known as “contemporary fantasy!”
Elements of Contemporary Fantasy
There are really only two critical elements that must be included for a book to be contemporary fantasy:
1. A real world setting. Whether in a big city or Nowheresville, USA, the book must be set in a real-world location. The time period is typically modern—anywhere between the late 90s and as far advanced as 10 or 20 years into the future (too futuristic would make it science fiction, and anything pre-dating WWII would likely be considered historical fantasy or alternative history).
All that matters is that it takes place in a real-world location—or, at the very least, a location that is somehow connected to the real world. Batman’s Gotham would be a good example. The city is fictional, yet it’s understood that it’s set somewhere in the United States...

Read the entire article in the October 2018 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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