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WW2 and Fantasy?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Devora, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. Devora

    Devora Sage

    I've come a cross the idea of writing a story where the setting is during World War 2 where a group of soldiers come across Fantasy creatures/happenings.

    It would be written both as a War story (think along the lines of Tim O'Brien and Erich Maria Remarque) while having fantasy elements built into the story (that have significance to the plot).

    Would something like this work as a story, or would this potentially confuse readers (and as a result not be able to get published, especially if it were to be a short story)?
  2. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

    That sounds like a very interesting story, Christopher!!

    Eric Maria Remarque's All quiet in the Western front is one of my favourite books, so I think that you should write your story in first person from the point of view of a soldier.

    A combination of real world history with Fantasy can produce good results (I do something similar with my trilogy in progress), because Fantasy fans can also be lovers of History, which is my case.

    Good luck with this idea =)
  3. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

    I don't know man, WWII is so dark and real to so many people. I think the only way it could be pulled off is if you did a Narnia and had it in the background, unless you were wanting to compete with Pan's Labyrinth on the darkness scale.
  4. Phietadix

    Phietadix Archmage

    Is it WWII on earth or a war like it on another world?
  5. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    There have been several SF stories or alternate histories that deal with WWII, but I'm unaware of something that deals with fantasy elements. If you're interested in that mix, maybe check out Naomi Novik's series about Napolean or Scott Westerfield's series that deals with WWI. I think WWII has a much darker feel to it, as Shockley said, but I think you could pull of something pretty remarkable if you avoided too many of the already repeatedly covered topics.

    What if the story involved Roman gods getting involved in the Italian front, with Mussolini working alongside Ares to win the war? Or explore how Germany was defeated by Russian werebears and pyromancers (slash and burn) when they invaded Russia? There are many possibilities of course, but I think focusing on one or two things happening would be much more interesting to me than an epic that covers the entire war.

    Harry Turtledove has done many alternate histories as well that you could check out.

    So I say go for it and see what comes of it.
  6. Devora

    Devora Sage

    the story i have in mind is that An American platoon runs into an Elf that had been following them for a while. They see that the Elf is wearing a mix of clothes from the French, American, and German armies. The Elf also speaks in a language that closely resembles German (Example: "Ich bin ein Wanderer" would be something like "Ek bi ei Wandaner". [essentially Bastardized German]).
  7. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    From memory Hellboy arrived on Earth during WWII, and Star Trek Enterprise did an alternate timeline where time travelling and somewhat monstrous looking aliens were around messing up the war. I also remember reading a short story, can't remember by who, where the Nazi's had hooked up with the ancient norse gods, and an American GI aided by Loki, beat one of the 'gods' half to death in front of the other baddies. So these things have been done before.

    Cheers, Greg.
  8. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    Given the caveat that I read the book 20+yo I really liked The Keep and that definitely mixed fantasy/horror and WWII.
    With the Nazi preoccupation with the occult there has to a be a good vein for fantasy to tap in to.
    Personally I would keep away from real people/named units because of the chance of adverse reactions...
  9. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    There have been a number of fantasy novels, featuring magic and supernatural creatures, set in WWII (and WWI). Mercedes Lackey has a couple out, one featuring an RAF pilot whose piloting skills are assisted by an air elemental.
  10. SilentMinstrel

    SilentMinstrel New Member

    Where exactly were you headed with this? Personally, I reckon it sounds like a good idea, although if not presented properly it could potentially sound a bit... iffy.

    If you were to make this a little more orientated to the steampunk/fantasy side, I reckon that would be quite exciting, although I'm not sure how well it'd work out. The notion of steampunk set in a WWII environment could result in some really dark, gothic writing, and coupled with magical elements which could allow the brutality of the entire thing to become exaggerated, it would be very appealing to certain audiences.
  11. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I have heard that called Dieselpunk or Propellerpunk
  12. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    Maybe the best established Alternate WWII (well, it is Harry Turtledove) is the Worldwar books, although those are science fiction rather than fantasy; or his Darkness series is fantasy in its own world, with obvious WWII parallels.

    Actually, I think this might be one of the trickiest kinds of writing. But:

    It sounds like you're talking about fantasy influences on one platoon and its missions, and that's got to be easier to satisfy readers with than reweaving whole chunks of the war and trying to satisfy readers there. You probably know how how military boardgamers make themselves crazy with how games allow for things turning out different but there's always that sense that "they just shouldn't be different..."

    So, it sounds like you've got isolated adventures spinning off from the war we know, with a chance to look back and refer to (or subvert) the official history in the places you want but not retell more of the history than you want to. Nice!
  13. Devora

    Devora Sage

    Actually, i was thinking probably along the lines of just one single mission since planning out several would be very, for the lack of a better word, tiring.

    Problem is is that i've only just began toying with this story idea, and i'm still in the planning stages.
    I've got a conflict for the Elf character, but i've yet to figure out what the Platoon's mission should be (other than to get to Germany).
  14. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    Marvel comics has been milking this forever with Captain America. If memory serves there was a mix of fantasy/occult elements along with sci-fi. WWII and sci-fi, Connie Willis has made a career doing this. WWII and fantasy, I'm sure someone has done something with this. Like anything, do it well and it will work.
  15. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    Like Sheila, I think this can surely make for an interesting story. Still, like many others I believe that writing a fantasy story about WWII requires working with great care. Please don't write something like "Hitler was in fact being mind-controlled by the Dark Lord" or "Hiroshima has been destroyed by fire demons the Japanse angered with their experiments" or anything along those lines. I hope you see what I mean. "Reinterpreting" historical events people are still feeling strongly about is not something I'd recommend. Even if this kind of thins is implied such as in Harry Potter it's bothering me quite a bit.
    I even think that if you need a destroyed town, a concentration camp or anything along those lines in your story it's better to make one up, others might disagree with this though.
    Including magic in less known places could work really well though, as others have mentioned already the occult interests of the Nazis and similar interest in other groups if they existed could make for an interesting story.
  16. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

    I'm with Amanita in this. To me, WWII is something that happened yesterday, not 'long ago'. I've no problem with alternate histories like 'what if Nazi-Germany had won WWII', but I'd feel very uncomfortable at the thought of elves, unless you give it a deep, serious and sensitive meaning.
  17. *LiLi*

    *LiLi* Acolyte

    The concept sounds good to me! (I know I'd be first in line to read it).

    That's what I actually did for my first two books :)

    My protagonist is a female spy for the Special Operations Executive (which really did employ women to spy in occupied France, etc.) and she's also a wizard. The Allies hired her because the Nazis raised an occult army w/ warlocks.

    If you want to get an idea of what it looks like, you can check it out: The Tower's Alchemist
  18. korabas

    korabas Dreamer

    Go watch the film 'Sucker Punch'. Firstly, it's a pretty cool film, with some amazing.. err.. costume design. ;)
    But also it mixes a dream-like reality, with sci fi and fantasy flavoured alternate realities. One of the sequences involves the heroines arriving in an alternate world war 1 where the enemy are clockwork and steam-powered nazi zombies. There is also a much more fantasy-esque sequence involving armies of orcs and goblins, and an angry dragon, which the heroines fight using a WW2 bomber plane.

    Should give you some ideas as to how you can apply fantasy/sci-fi elements to an alternate history setting in a contemporary way.
  19. Devora

    Devora Sage

    I don't think it would become Alt. History because even though the Elf helps them, his (the Elf will be a male) exploits wouldn't be officially recorded, and only the soldiers would be the ones to remember him.
  20. Wilson Geiger

    Wilson Geiger Acolyte

    I think stories centered around WWII with a fantasy setting could absolutely work, and have done so on several occasions, as others have highlighted.

    If any part of it is confusing to readers, that's due to the writer's inability to get his words across, rather than an issue with a WWII background. It's up to you to make that work. If it were me I wouldn't write it off; embrace the unique and challenge yourself to write it.

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