Sooo… I love some good urban fantasy. I think I've always had, even before I knew what I liked was called that. The idea that a world full of magic exists behind a thin veil of concealment, the idea that wizards or elves or fairies could walk among us in disguise, that wondrous adventures could take place at any moment captivated my imagination as a child, and later on as a teenager.
Don't get me wrong- classic high fantasy of the LOTR persuasion had their own allure but urban fantasy held a different spell over me (pun intended I guess).
Urban fantasy delivers on the sensation of the fantastical potentially being real which can make for more intense engagement. The setting in which it is taking place is familiar- it is our own world, or at least a good bit is our own world. Even if the characters are whisked away to a secondary parallel dimension a la Harry Potter, they originally start off their journey in our pedestrian, mundane reality. They're aware of it and they have experienced it. Some of the action even takes place in it, if not all.
If done right, urban fantasy grants the readers better, more intense immersion…
…until they start questioning things.
You see, the problem with urban fantasy is that it is taking place in our world. Its very asset is its weakness. If it's taking place in our world, it is taking place in our timeline, with our history, our issues, our problems. All things that beings with supernatural powers would absolutely impact dramatically.
Just consider how differently any colonialist invasion would have gone if the indigenous people could master the elements, or command the earth, or the weather, or the minds. There's also the easy pickings of virtually all major events of human history, from the devastating wars to the devastating plagues, famines, natural disasters, and more.
An author doing urban fantasy needs to either find a plausible explanation about why the magical people of the world did not partake or interact with their non-magical counterparts or handwave it all and present wizards or magical people as aloof and disjointed from the world beyond their territory.
Needless to say it's a very narrow balance that has to be kept, often with a lot of problems when the author wants the magical people to interact with the non magical world they're supposed to be aloof to, and yet manage to navigate without (serious) problems.
I'm not saying that urban fantasy with a solid explanation for why the magic element is hidden can't be done. But in order to be done, the actual history of the world has to be accounted for. If I remember right, surprisingly enough the Grimm series did this quite well: whether non-magical people knew it or not, magic and magical creatures were all around them, part of history, the whole time.
What I am saying is that often, urban fantasy is done the ‘easy’ way- worldbuilding is done in vitro of the real world that makes it urban, with the handwaving of a ‘parallel dimension’ or ‘invisible shield’ or ‘platform 9 3/4’. This effectively completely separates the magical world from the non-magical world. In fact, I'd even suggest that a world like Harry Potter could easily work without the real world at all, as an alternate universe or different modern high fantasy that has nothing to do with 1990s Britain.
But this creates a world that doesn't hold up to scrutiny, and readers eventually will ask the uncomfortable questions and are unlikely to get satisfactory answers.
Does that ruin the experience of such an urban fantasy work?
Eh, not if you turn off your brain a bit.
Don’t forget you can now advertise on DrunkDuck for just $2 in whichever ad spot you like! The money goes straight into running the site. Want to know more? Click this link here! Or, if you want to help us keep the lights on you can sponsor us on Patreon. Every bit helps us!
Special thanks to our patrons!!
Justnopoint - Banes - RMccool - Abt_Nihil - PhoenixIgnis - Gunwallace - Cdmalcolm1 - PaulEberhardt - dragonaur - Emma_Clare - FunctionCreep - Eustacheus - SinJinsoku - Smkinoshita - jerrie - Chickfighter - Andreas_Helixfinger - Tantz_Aerine - Epic Saveroom - Genejoke - Davey Do - Spark of Interest - Gullas - Damehelsing - Roma - NanoCritters - Scott D - Bluecuts34 - j1ceasar - Tinchel - PhillipDP - Teh Andeh - Peipei - Digital_Genesis - Hushicho - Sad Demon Comics - JediAnn Solo - Kiddermat - BitterBadger - Palouka - cheeko - Paneltastic - L.C.Stein - Zombienomicon
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, May 8, 2021
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved Google+