Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Subgenres | A Five Minute Introduction (Some Final Additions)

It was brought to my attention in the comments that my previous post lacked a certain something: a subgenre. How could this be? How could I, Jacob, omit such a... Okay, sufficient waffle. At any rate, here's part two: now with added high fantasy.

High Fantasy
While high fantasy is often synonymous with epic fantasy, it's not necessarily the same thing: high fantasy can simply be an epic, but it's also frequently referred to as the less gritty - or more romanticised - version. It's not necessarily light (Lord of the Rings is high fantasy), but it's likely to be less graphic, feature more moral absolutes and stick with the high drama rather than the low.

Alternate History
Pretty much what it says on the tin. Alternate history isn't necessarily historical fantasy, but does include it: it's the genre which takes as its starting point a divergence from Earth's history. To take the typical example (as in Phillip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle), a Nazi victory in the Second World War. The novel doesn't have to be set at the time of divergence - it could be set some time after, when history is well and truly different: or even in the present.

Sword and Sorcery
Closely related to heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery is generally heroic fantasy on a smaller scale: exciting conflicts, less focus on plot and scale and more on action. As a result, sword and sorcery is rather wide reaching, and included many of the early 'pulp' stories. The basic identifying feature? A focus on excitement and action over other factors.

So, there we go - list complete.


  1. So funny...i have no idea about all those genres. I usually call them YA Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, etc so i can give an image to the others. There are so many it's confusing. I mean..i'm just picking books that i like their summaries.

  2. Wow, who could be such a jerk, you should ban that guy.

    Great work yet again.

  3. @Yiota: True - but they do give people an idea as to what they should look for, and what's in the categories they like.


    Well, either that or thank him. :P Depending on comparative amusement value.

    Also: thank you!