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View Full Version : Has anybody ever written an Epic Fantasy set in modern day times?



Loudernhel
09-19-2005, 05:38 PM
I'm talking all the usual tropes: good wizards, bad wizards, magic swords, quests to collect plot coupons. Only it's set in modern day america. Chevy Suburbans instead of horses, AR-15's instead of Long Bows, etc.

I'm curious to know if anybody has ever done this before.

'cuz I'm in the middle of doing it myself right now.

loquax
09-19-2005, 06:03 PM
JK Rowling did it.

Loudernhel
09-19-2005, 06:06 PM
You know, that's a good point.

I guess the biggest difference between my stuff and her's (aside from violence, sex, death and lots and lots of money) is that in mine, magic is "underground."

Cathy C
09-19-2005, 07:13 PM
Also the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. LOVE those, and they have all of the elements you state. It's set in present day Chicago! :D

mistri
09-19-2005, 07:25 PM
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Leanan-Sidhe
09-19-2005, 07:26 PM
^love the dresden files:Clap: but is that technically an epic fantasy? It could definately be classified as urban fantasy, and it has some mystery elements, but I don't think its an epic. Not that I couldn't be wrong...

ChunkyC
09-19-2005, 09:07 PM
The Highlander movies and TV series have some of those elements.

Hang of Thursdays
09-19-2005, 09:59 PM
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

x 2

Watership Down's also set in contemporary times. kinda misses out on the AR-15s and crazy wizards, though. But it's got bunnies.

loquax
09-19-2005, 10:44 PM
You know, that's a good point.

I guess the biggest difference between my stuff and her's (aside from violence, sex, death and lots and lots of money) is that in mine, magic is "underground."Magic is underground in hers too. I'd stick with the adult/kid differences.

Pthom
09-19-2005, 10:47 PM
Charles de Lint

Niesta
09-19-2005, 11:44 PM
Tithe, by Holly Black. That's YA, so it might not have shown up on your fantasy radar.

clintl
09-20-2005, 12:51 AM
John Crowley's Little, Big

Lenora Rose
09-20-2005, 08:48 AM
My impression is that some of the answers are seeing only "fantasy in modern times", and missing the epic part. A lot of the modern fantasy mentioned is about individuals in trouble, or sometimes touches on a city. To me, Epic means "whole world in peril" and "evil overlord" levels of battle.

Most of Charles De Lint's books are set here and now, yet only one I think really has the epic-sweep feel, and that's Moonheart. Yarrow and Someplace to be Flying come close in places, but I think if you're looking for "Epic" you mgiht find it's not what you're looking for. Ditto Tithe - which is a super wonderful book, but not really epic.

Rosemary Edghill started a series that seemed to be the sort of thing you're looking for - the first book, The Sword of Maiden's Tears, has the right world-in-peril, plot-coupon feel. The other two she actually wrote - they're weaker, and wander into the elves' world a lot (Book three is better than two, though). Then she dropped the series.

Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Series also has the right feel. I never finished Little, Big, so I don't know if Clintl is right.

Anyhow, I think it has been done, but not often. Usually Urban Fantasy moves into noir, or mystery, or literary, or something that differentiates it from epic fantasy by more than just setting.

Loudernhel
09-20-2005, 02:07 PM
Thanks to everyone for the ideas! Some I'd heard of, others I'll look up and read.

Lenore, you hit the nail on the head with the "epic" part. My world is indeed in peril. I'm trying to avoid plot coupon-itis and I think the end will be quite a bit different than the "I killed the bad guy so I get to be the king" kind of things.

Mine is also, gritty, dark and as "realistic" as I can make it. The main character is suffering from a bad case of PTSD. Another is an alcoholic.

Not quite the elves and faires kind of deal.

Thanks to everybody who replied. If anybody has more ideas, let me know.

Rabe
09-21-2005, 02:04 AM
Charles de Lint

DRAT!! You beat me to him!

Just finished "moonheart" the other day and thought it was probably one the best fantasies I've read in a long time.

I love his work, so rich and thick.

Rabe...

Pthom
09-21-2005, 03:36 AM
heh...I was given a copy of "The Onion Girl" for Christmas. I must say I'm not as able to get through it as rapidly as I'd like. Perhaps it's because I'm not that into fantasy; I'm happier reading science fiction. However, I am enjoying Cory Doctorow, who writes more fantastical stuff with each book. I read Someone Comes to Town; Someone Leaves Town and enjoyed it greatly, but it's more fantasy than SF. Now I'm reading his first: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which is more science fiction-like than is Someone.

Who knows? Maybe you guys'll make me into a fantasy nut, too.

But I doubt it. ;)

Lenora Rose
09-21-2005, 11:42 PM
pthom: The Onion Girl is probably not the place to start. While Charles did his best to make every *other* Newford novel or short story stand alone, that one is kind of like starting a series in the middle. One of the two major characters has been an ongoing character for a while, and there are some totally gratuitous appearances by a lot of other characters who've shown up in other books and short stories.

So where would I start? I'd suggest Someplace to be Flying (Crow and Coyote spirits causing possibly world-ending trouble), Greenmantle (Someone described it as "The Mob vs. Herne the Hunter. Poor Mob!"), or Jack the Giant Killer (Retelling of a fairy tale, with motorcycles).

The first is more literary and mythic. The other two are more action, and easier to connect to if you've mostly read high fantasy before. (Neither is set in Newford or includes Newford characters.)

Pthom
09-21-2005, 11:53 PM
pthom: The Onion Girl is probably not the place to start. While Charles did his best to make every *other* Newford novel or short story stand alone, that one is kind of like starting a series in the middle. One of the two major characters has been an ongoing character for a while, and there are some totally gratuitous appearances by a lot of other characters who've shown up in other books and short stories.Right. Almost the same caution is printed on the book cover and in de Lint's forward. But the book was a Christmas gift and I felt obliged to at least read the first couple of chapters.


So where would I start? I'd suggest Someplace to be Flying (Crow and Coyote spirits causing possibly world-ending trouble), Greenmantle (Someone described it as "The Mob vs. Herne the Hunter. Poor Mob!"), or Jack the Giant Killer (Retelling of a fairy tale, with motorcycles).

The first is more literary and mythic. The other two are more action, and easier to connect to if you've mostly read high fantasy before. (Neither is set in Newford or includes Newford characters.)I'll take your advice and look for one of these. Soon as I've finished the Doctorow books I borrowed from the library; soon as I've finished the 47,532 paperbacks I got for 50 each at various used book sales; soon as I've put the final edits on various WIPs and get 'em shopped around.
;)