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Is it Fantasy if it Has no Magic?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by joshua mcdermott, Jan 8, 2021.

  1. Za'dok Khoal

    Za'dok Khoal Scribe

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    For me, it is setting. When I think fantasy, I don't think magic and dragons. I think medieval, dark ages, or anything prior to what would be considered "modern". Then from the time of muskets and the like generally I thought it was coined "flintlock fantasy" and so on. Although I think people over complicate things, generally "fiction" is still just fiction, and we catagorize it from there. From what you've said, I would take it as just fiction. And if you "need" further sub catagories I would say fantasy.
     
  2. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    That's incorrect. 600 years ago on Earth is not fantasy. That's historical fiction.
     
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  3. Za'dok Khoal

    Za'dok Khoal Scribe

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    I get what your saying. It is still "fiction", and fantasy "setting" is what I was getting at, it's not historical fiction if it isn't in our world, or pertaining to specific historical events, (though I know there is aurguments on the topic) But is still in the medieval setting and styling. I know fans of historical fiction, and the "genre" are very particular on what constitutes "historical Fiction". Trust me, as someone who dated a past writer/literary student with a passion for historical fiction the aurguements are real, I still have the bruises from the flying dictionary. Lol
    But, take it as you wish, I'm not here to argue.
     
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  4. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Urban Fantasy does not have medieval setting. It's still Fantasy, though. Why? MAGIC!
     
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  5. Za'dok Khoal

    Za'dok Khoal Scribe

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    I can see your point, but, I can fantasize about alot in the modern world, that doesn't pertain to magic. Don't get me wrong, I love the concepts of magic, and the plausibilities of it's interactions in day to day life.
     
  6. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

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    If an imaginary setting makes for fantasy, is 'The Prisoner of Zenda' a fantasy novel? It is set in the entirely made up country of Ruritania after all (or, even more 'fantastic,' Evelyn Waugh's Azanian Empire in 'Black Mischief'). I don't know where a line can be drawn or, for that matter, whether one can be drawn at all. I would be inclined to think we really need magic of some sort (and it could be very loosely defined as such) to truly have fantasy.
     
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  7. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    I agree with you!
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    You can make the argument, of course. I don't agree and to the extent practical considerations come to bear, it's not how the marketplace views the distinction either, as books with no magic are shelved in Fantasy.
     
  9. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    I'm pretty loose on what I consider magic. If there is anything remotely supernatural, like a dragon or an oracle, then I'd say it could be argued as Fantasy, otherwise, no.
     
  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Some of the ones I am thinking of have no monster, no magic, no supernatural elements whatsoever. You'll find the in the fantasy section at the book store, and they take place in worlds that never existed. I'm not sure what else to call them other than fantasy if they're completely divorced from the real world.
     
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  11. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Speculative Fiction, Alternate History, etc.
     
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  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Alt. History, if it mirrors earth history. I've also seen the phrase "Historical Fantasy" applied. But if there's no connection at all to real earth history, these don't work for me.

    To me, "Speculative Fiction" is a broad category, including science fiction and fantasy, and some horror. From a practical point of view, there's not a "speculative fiction" section at my local bookstore. So these no-magic books set other than in the real world have to be shelved in Fantasy or General Fiction. I suspect the audience most likely to buy them is found primarily in the Fantasy section.
     
  13. Yes. what I am doing is not alternate history as its not referring to any particular time, event, or area that we know from our history. Its much more simple: just made up people in a made up world doing things. I guess one could call that "fiction" but usually fiction is people doing made up things in our world. Of course there are plenty of references and connections to our world... as it is written by me, in this world, and for people in this world.

    But I agree, if I was to shelve it in a book store. i'd go fantasy.
     
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  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yes, I think in terms of finding the audience, that's what you'd want to go for. That's really the practical use of genre--audiences finding the stories that interest them. The philosophical debate on what constitutes genre is interesting, though. Beowulf, for example, because of its classic status gets shelved in General Fiction or Literature but it has a dragon.
     
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  15. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    I had the same concern in that my original idea featured people that used magic. I then realised that, not only did I not need the magic but that it actually screwed up the plot and created plot holes and that the story had more tension and conflict without the magic. Instead of it being about a main character with a special ability, it's now about a character who is a fraud and pretends to have a special ability that gets her into trouble because she's too convincing.

    It's set in a fantasy world and as far as I can find it still classes as fantasy.
     
  16. sounds like a fun story! And interesting point about magic creating plot holes.
     
  17. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    Thank you!

    I'm interested in belief and what it can do and I'd never written a magic system before that was complex and from the POV of a magical character and I noticed it reduced tension and caused plot holes. Some people are just naturally good at creating amazing magic systems, this has never been my skill. lol.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
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