Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dark Fantasy: A Step Away from Horror?

What is dark fantasy?

According to Lucy A. Snyder at www.sff.net:

"Both horror and dark fantasy explore the nature of evil and create a creepy or frightening atmosphere. Thus, when asked what the difference between dark fantasy and supernatural horror is, some people will say that there is no difference, or that the difference is that horror goes to greater extremes."

"To my mind, that's a bit of an oversimplification.  While a broad gray area certainly exists between the two genres, there are a few ways to distinguish the two.  Some general characteristics:

Dark fantasies have an established setting that is fantastic or otherworldly. 
The protagonists of dark fantasies are often heroic. They choose to face danger in order to save others or to achieve some greater goal. They are often experienced with the occult or in possession of special skills, knowledge, or powers. 

In many dark fantasies, there's an implied comfort to the reader: The characters the reader cares about will usually make it out alive in the end, and the day will be saved."

Try some of these fantastic examples of dark fantasy:

Joe Abercrombie--First Law series--The Blade Itself--Inquisitor Glokta is a bitter relic, trapped in a broken body. Nobleman, Captain Jezal dan Luthar is vain, selfish and self-obsessed.  Logen Ninefingers is an infamous warrior with a bloody past.  Bayaz , an old man with a terrible temper, who could be the First of the Magi or a fraud.  Whatever he is, he's about to make the lives of Glotka, Jezal and Logen a lot more challenging...

Clive Barker--Imajica
Hunted through New York City by an assassin hired by her husband, Judith is saved by her former lover, John Zacharias, but the two are quickly thrust into the strange netherworld of Imajica, where they must fight unspeakable evils.

Glen Cook--The Black Company series--The Black Company
Adrift in a world torn by sorcery gone wild, the Company is the last remnant of a once-great mercenary army. Led by Croaker, former physician and primary chronicler, they must search the world for the last ray of hope--the White Rose.

Stephen R. Donaldson--Chronicles of Thomas Covenant--Lord Foul's Bane
He called himself the Unbeliever because he dared not believe in the strange alternate world in which he suddenly found himself. Yet he was tempted to believe, to fight for the Land, to be the reincarnation of its greatest hero....

Neil Gaiman--American Gods
After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. Two days before he gets out, his wife dies in a mysterious car crash. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr. Wednesday who claims to be a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, solving murders along the way. 

Simon R. Green--The Nightside series--Something from the Nightside
John Taylor is not a private detective per se, but he has a knack for finding lost things. That's why he's been hired to descend into the Nightside, an otherworldly realm in the center of London where fantasy and reality share renting space and the sun never shines.

Caitlin Kiernan--The Red Tree
Sarah Crowe left Atlanta to live in an old house in rural Rhode Island. Within its walls she discovers an unfinished manuscript written by the house's former tenant – who was obsessed with the ancient oak growing on the property. As the tree takes root in her imagination, Sarah risks her sanity to unearth a revelation planted centuries ago.

Stephen King--Dark Tower series--The Gunslinger
The Gunslinger is a haunting figure in combat with The Man in Black in an epic battle of good versus evil. A spellbinding tale that is both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike and filled with ominous landscapes and chilling peril.               

Mark Lawrence--Broken Empire series--Prince of Thorns
When he was nine, he watched his mother and brother killed before him. By the time he was thirteen, he was the leader of a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king...   Life and death are no more than a game to him-and he has nothing left to lose.

China Mieville--New Crobuzon series--Perdido Street Station
Beneath the bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange emissions of alchemy, and the ghettos contain a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, and junkies. 

Michael Moorcock--Elric of Melinbone series--Elric the Stealer of Souls
Elric - the albino sorcerer and battle-thirsty prince. Elric - doomed beyond hope to wander a world of savagery and treachery. Elric - seeker of impossible goals, fighter of remorseless battles, and an embittered poet. Elric - held in the grip of his own sword, the enchanted Stormbringer. 

Catherynne M. Valente--Palimpsest
Between dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. To this kingdom come four travelers:  a locksmith; a beekeeper; a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman. They've each lost something important and what they will find is more than they could ever imagine.

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