SLCLS Genre Study discussion

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Fantasy Subgenres > Urban/Low Fantasy

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message 1: by Ann (new)

Ann | 38 comments Beyond the emphasis on setting with urban fantasy, what do you see as being the difference between the urban and low fantasy?


message 2: by Timothy (new)

Timothy Hinkle (neutronflow) | 31 comments Magical beings and occurrences are too commonplace in most of the urban fantasy that I've read for those worlds to qualify as low fantasy (even though a significant proportion of the people living in those worlds may not realize the level of magic all around them). Urban fantasy worlds may seem more familiar than traditional fantasy kingdoms, but they are still distinctly separate from the real world, set apart by the existence of rules governing wizards, vampires, zombies, or what have you.

In low fantasy, the fantastic element of the story breaks the rules that govern the world; the magic is impossible, something that shouldn't be there.


message 3: by Karen (new)

Karen (rhyta) So is Harry Potter considered low fantasy, I have seen it categorized as contemporary and low...?


message 4: by Samm (new)

Samm (ashmanrose) | 24 comments Like Karen, I'd like to know where Harry Potter would fall. And those City of Glass books, would they be urban? (I've read Harry Potter not the City of Glass so please excuse my ignorance, if I'm being ignorant.)


message 5: by Timothy (new)

Timothy Hinkle (neutronflow) | 31 comments I think Harry Potter manages to be both at different points in the series. It starts out in the classic E. Nesbit, Edward Eager low fantasy mold, but with the twist that the magic-that-doesn't-belong-in-the-world that the young protagonist discovers turns out to be the young protagonist himself. It ends up as a high fantasy quest for the magic artifacts needed to defeat the dark lord.


message 6: by Samm (new)

Samm (ashmanrose) | 24 comments Okay, that makes more sense. Thanks, Timothy.


message 7: by Ann (new)

Ann | 38 comments Samm wrote: "Like Karen, I'd like to know where Harry Potter would fall. And those City of Glass books, would they be urban? (I've read Harry Potter not the City of Glass so please excuse my ignorance, if I'm..."

I'll admit that I have not read all of the Mortal Instruments series (City of Glass), but the first book in the series is definitely urban fantasy. The primary setting is New York City, and setting definitely plays a big role in developing the mood and tone of the book. Though most of humanity is unaware of the supernatural elements in this book they are big enough that I'd have a hard time classifying the series as low fantasy, but I'd not be surprised if you found others classifying it that way. (Just another example of how everyone has their own boundary lines for how they define various sub-genres.)


message 8: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Shidler | 25 comments I think the biggest difference for me between urban and low fantasy is the setting. Urban obviously is set in the real world and in a typically big setting (i.e. Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden Series). For low fantasy it is 100% set in a fantastical world with some real world elements. (i.e. Brandon Sanderson's The Rithmatist). As for the Mortal Instruments it does start off as urban but goes more into heroic or low fantasy.


message 9: by Ann (new)

Ann | 38 comments I know we have a place to post books to the bookshelf, but would anyone like to post a couple of their favorite urban or low fantasy books/authors? I'm curious to see what titles/authors pop up.

To get the ball rolling, I've got to say I love reading anything Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, or Eileen Wilks.


message 10: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Shidler | 25 comments Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books


message 11: by Karen (new)

Karen (rhyta) I would add the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde as a low fantasy entry


message 12: by Ann (new)

Ann | 38 comments Karen wrote: "I would add the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde as a low fantasy entry"

I've only read his The Last Dragonslayer, which is a teen book, but definitely qualified as low fantasy. His dry sense of humor kept me chuckling all the way through it; I'll have to check out the Thursday Next series.


message 13: by Ann (last edited Nov 12, 2013 06:05PM) (new)

Ann | 38 comments Urban fantasy can take place in any urban setting, even if the cities don't really exist. What are some of your favorite urban fantasies that take place in make-believe cities?

One of my latest favorites is the city in Bronze Gods, which is kind of urban fantasy with some steampunk mixed in. Of course, the craziest urban fantasy setting I've run into was in Dying Bites and the following books in the series: same city names as in reality, but the books take place in a parallel dimension--so make-believe setting right...?


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