As I’ve already said, I love fantasy, and I love talking about it. Unfortunately, the mix of fantasy and critical jargon I tend to babble on about has left people walking away from me with glazed eyes and nodding heads. I understand that some of you are fantasy newbies, so I’ll try my best to define terms as they come. The dictionary will be updated every time I make a post, so be sure to check here before reading.
speculative fiction— a somewhat fancy catch-all term for fantasy, science fiction, and all other related genres. I say I blog abot speculative fiction when I want to sound important.
dark fantasy– a subgenre of fantasy that is characterized by bleak environments, a cynical worldview, and (often) pronounced horror elements. Often done improperly or poorly, and as such I generally avoid it.
medieval fantasy– fantasy in a medieval (Western European)–themed setting, either in the real world or an imaginary one. Imaginary medieval-themed worlds are what normally comes to mind when thinking fantasy, and as such are the most common. Whether or not magic exists and how it is used and thought of can strongly shape the tone of your medieval fantasy.
urban fantasy— fantasy with an urban setting, usually in contemporary times in the ‘real world’. Often contains supernatural elements.
worldbuilding– the process of constructing an imaginary world for a fantasy or sci-fi setting. Good worldbuilding involves making the world coherent, logical and consistent to its own set of rules. Detail can be rich or sparse depending on the type of story you want to create. What you put in and what you leave out can be extremely important.
tone— a literary technique which encompasses the attitudes toward the subject and toward the audience implied in a literary work. Tone may be formal, informal, intimate, solemn, somber, playful, serious, ironic, guilty, condescending, or many other possible attitudes. [from Wikipedia]
high fantasy/epic fantasy— a subgenre of fantasy set in an imaginary world. This can be a world parallel to Earth or a world where Earth does not exist. Most high fantasy is medieval fantasy, and it and sword-and-sorcery are most commonly associated with fantasy in general. This is my favorite type of fantasy, so expect to see a lot of it.
epic— traditionally a type of poem, but can now be used for most media. Epics in this sense are majestic depictions that capture impressive struggles, such as stories of war, adventures, and other efforts of great scope and size over long periods of time. [from wikipedia] High fantasy tends to be epic by default, hence its other name of ‘epic fantasy’.
Hero’s Journey— a pattern found in many narratives (stories) throughout the world, as described by mythologist Joseph Campbell. “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
archetype— essentially a particular pattern, idea, character, behavior etc. which is universal; the stages of a hero’s journey are often archetypal. Archetypes are similar to stereotypes and cliches but do not have their negative associations. Use of archetypes is necessary for the audience’s identification with the material.
Animation Age Ghetto— the idea that all animation is ‘just’ for children and should not be considered a respectable medium. Also, that since animated movies are for children, they should be ‘dumbed down’. Taken from TV Tropes.
metafiction— fiction that is aware that it is fiction and addresses that fact. Alternatively, a story that knows it’s a story and can thus comment directly on its various literary devices.
deconstruction— I’m not going to attempt to explain the whole philosophical concept of deconstruction because it gives me a headache. So I’ll use the TV Tropes definition: “When applied to tropes, or other aspects of fiction, deconstruction means to take apart a trope so as to better understand its meaning and relevancy to us in real life. This often means pursuing a trope’s inherent contradictions and the variance between fiction and reality.”
anime— that weird Japanese cartoon thing with the giant robots and schoolgirls and stuff. I’ll try to keep to fantasy anime that’s mostly Western in mythology.
shojo— lit. “girl”; a genre (and demographic) of anime for girls up to age 18. As a genre, it places a strong emphasis on characters and relationships and features expressive, detailed, and stylized artwork. Note that ‘for girls’ does not automatically mean ‘romance’ and ‘plotless’, considering that most of my favorite fantasy anime are shojo.
magical girl— Think superheroes (alter ego, defending the earth), except they’re middle school girls with pretty outfits and transformation sequences. Usually a subgenre of shojo.
shonen— lit. “boy”; a genre (and demographic) of anime for boys up to age 18. Usually focuses on action, especially fighting or other sorts of combat. Romance is more of a background element, and character development is more basic. This doesn’t mean that all shonen is shallow, however, and there are several shonen fantasies I enjoy quite a bit.
mecha— Either the genre of giant robot anime or the plural form of mech, meaning a giant robot or any sort of robotic vehicle. Anime is frequently associated with mecha. Most mecha series are sci-fi, but there are a few rare fantasy ones out there. Usually a subgenre of shonen.
magitechnology (magitech, magitek)– magic that looks or works like technology. For example, instead of airplanes powered by fuel, there could be airships powered by magic rocks and/or flight spells. The result is the same, but one is not magical and the other is.
RPG— Role-Playing Game. For this blog’s purpose, it’s a type of video game where the player controls a character(s) throughout a narrative.