Monday, July 07, 2008

Whereunto, Fantasy Genre by Danny Birt

The Lord of the Rings. The Chronicles of Narnia. The Golden Compass. Harry Potter. All of these titles are now common household names. The movies these titles describe have reached tens of millions of viewers, child and adult alike, capturing and enhancing those viewers’ imagination with a vivacity no other genre could manage to procure.

And yet, none of those movies could have come about were it not for books.

Yes, books. Virtually every fantasy-genre movie that has been produced in the last decade has been based off of a book in the same genre. Movie producers find a bestselling fantasy book, adapt a screenplay from it, then produce it. As a bonus, the movie has a preexisting audience of the book’s readers.

Part of the reason the production of fantasy movies has taken off recently is the advent of affordable computer graphics, which has made fantastic creatures and magical occurrences capable of being displayed on the big screen, rather than solely in the mind of a reader.

These movies have propelled the fantasy genre from relative obscurity in the back corners of bookstores to the New York Times bestseller list. The number of individuals who will readily admit to being fans of fantasy has never been higher. And yet, the fantasy genre has shown little adaptation to this sudden unexpected surge in popularity.

Consider: of all the fantasy works that are currently available for consumption in any format, what percentage of them is written on a child’s reading level?

Despite its popularity, the fantasy genre by and large remains considered immature. Yet, this creates a Catch-22: since fantasy is seen as being for children, most of the fantasy that is written is written for children.

Fantasy’s current surge in popularity is the genre’s best hope to spruce up its old image. Children who are currently growing up with fantasy in their lives will want to continue to read fantasy as adults – but only if there is a large selection of adult-level fantasy literature available for them to read. After all, who wants to remain stuck in childhood, reading the same old plotline?

The question remains of how those who create the works of the fantasy genre will deal with this brave new world. Will they create new, thought-filled fantasy literature for the discerning adult, or will they continue along in the old, proven rut?

Whereunto, my fellow fantasy authors?

Whereunto, fantasy genre?

You can find Danny Birt’s website at

Danny’s most recent work of fantasy literature, “Ending an Ending,” is available through Ancient Tomes Press at

1 comment:

Katie said...

Thanks for your insights, Danny. I, ah hum, write fantasy for kids - not because I don't like adult fantasy (I LOVE it), but because that seems to be what I write well, and what "comes out."

Katie Hines