I caught up with a few episodes of Shadow Hunters the other week. OK, well, I binge-watched them.
Urban fantasy, as a broad genre, has been growing on me of late. It’s an intriguing juxtaposition: modern life and technology strapped up against old-style magic.
And to me, it’s not really a juxtaposition. After all, the ‘magic’ traditions that urban fantasy settings draw on – everything from Grimm’s Fairy Tales to European traditions of werewolves and vampires – were often written in ways contemporary to their own time, even if they drew on older tales. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for instance, was very much an ‘urban fantasy’ of the 1890s. Or take Mallory’s version of the King Arthur story, which was specifically re-cast to fit the ideals of late Medieval chivalry.
So in that general sense, urban fantasy isn’t a new genre at all. And why not update the old fantasy themes to the modern world? Vampires with cellphones? Why not. I’m sure Count Dracula would have used one if he’d had it.
One point of interest – for me anyway – is how the writers handle the setting. Does magic trump tech? Is it integrated? That was certainly the idea in Shadow Hunters, where high-tech systems worked hand in hand with magic, pretty much seamlessly.
But it seems to me that at the end of the day the real arbiter isn’t the setting. That’s going to give the story a particular flavour. But what’s going to drive reader or viewer interest will always be the storyline and characters. It’s true of all genres, isn’t it? Thoughts?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2016