Monday, March 12, 2012

Urban Fantasy the New Horror?

I originally wanted to follow-up my Arcane 2 review with this idea, Blogging is not my highest priority.

This has been on my mind for some time now, ever since I saw the trailer of a new RPG coming out later in the year (which I can't wait to play), The Secret World -- Blue Mountain area.

It certainly looks and feels like a horror, right? But towards the end, you see the characters fighting back against the nasties, which is counter to a horror, but familiar ground in UF.

The more I look at UF, the more horror I see in than fantasy. I know UF is suppose to be a sub-genre of fantasy, but I've never found it to be all that fantastical: most of the time it's simply your local town/city that has been turned on its head. Perhaps I'm bit of a traditionalist; I enjoy secondary worldbuilding, new places to explore, different environments.

UF writers can't quite claim that they built a whole new world, only made some adjustments to our own--though I suppose you could have a UF set in another world, but I haven't seen much of that. Horror is also often set in our world (think of where many of Stephen King's horror stories are set).

Then there are the tropes UF uses, many of those tropes coming directly from horror, such as vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other freaky creatures. The difference in how UF treats the tropes is that the characters are given the tools to fight the boogiemen instead of just running away. Think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Buffy went out and staked vampires' asses, no qualms about it. In a horror, it probably would've taken her a minute to gather her courage, figure out how to kill a vampire, and then attempt to stake their ass.

I'm not going to go into dark fantasy, although it certainly has its horrors, it has the secondary worldbuilding, or world-within-a-world, for its supernatural nasties. Also tends to have dark themes alongside the monsters. A good example of a dark fantasy is Pan's Labyrinth

I do want to make the point that simply throwing mythic creatures or monsters doesn't automatically make a story fantasy. UF does have worldbuilding, the adjustments to our world fit as well as the explanations. And this is what separates UF from Paranormal Romance. PR will never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be fantasy, specifically because of its lack of worldbuilding. Maybe it can be horror since the very idea of dating a dead dude is pretty horrific.


  1. Replies
    1. Just for fun, I tagged you in my blog for the lucky seven meme. It'll be up Wed. Have fun! :)

  2. So...animal/human hybrids living in the sewers under an alternate-world's New York City -- SF or UF?

    1. That could go either way, depending where you want the story to go.

      SF: Discovery that there are mutants in New York's sewers, which leads to a scientific investigation as to what caused it and to how stop the source. Example of this would be The Andromeda Strain.

      UF: Take your team of badass, leather pant wearing, katana wielding heroes down into the sewers and kick some mutant ass. :D