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Greenwolf103
03-14-2005, 07:13 PM
I know fantasy is always coupled with Sci-Fi, but I want to talk a bit about dark fantasy. What are your favorite dark fantasy books? What separates dark fantasy from horror? And I noticed that one of the LOTR movies was categorized as horror but I really think the correct genre would be dark fantasy. Thoughts?

--Dawn

preyer
03-15-2005, 01:53 AM
i've never read a dark fantasy, i think. that's why i decided years ago to write one, something that wasn't typical fare. i can only say that from what i wrote, there aren't any darker themes in it than a regular fantasy book, per se, it's more in its execution and some of the exploration. for example, one scene has the protagonists essentially raped by a succubi. that may or may not be typical fare, but i could have glossed it over if i wanted. of course, though, i didn't. :) it was a pivotal scene where the one character's attitude changes: he viewed it as an act of sex, and being extremely pious, it had a radically different effect on him than the other guy, who knew it was an act of violence. so, i tried to illustrate how two different mind-sets might see the experience and how it alters their thinking. my reasoning is that sex, whether you do it or not, is a huge part of a personality, so the better you understand a person's sexual attitude the better you understand the character. in normal fantasy, however, this drive is hardly ever explored as a motivation, so i'd expect that in any 'dark fantasy' there to be a heavy emphasis (at least more so) on sex as an actual motivational factor and part of the character.

i would expect the violence to be pushed to another level, not necessarily more violent, but more realistic and descriptive.

so, in those terms of sex and violence, i think you're moving towards the 'horror' end of the spectrum. by then, it's really the setting that's starting to differentiate the genre on the surface. fantasy themes such as 'destroy the great evil one' are related to 'destroy the psycho', but its execution is different, eh? in dark fantasy, i'd suspect the lines are blurred even more. both are often based in the supernatural, but it's to what extent, so i think there are some distinctions there, subtle as they may be.

what makes brendan frasier's 'the mummy' a horror or a fantasy or an action/adventure? my vote would be to label it action/adventure, because i think that while elements of the other two are used, there's a predominance of the latter over the other two. so, i think that may be the governing factor between dark fantasy (which i've never read, i'm just making assumptions here) and horror is that one's genre specifications are met more than the other.

Vomaxx
03-15-2005, 03:16 AM
...I noticed that one of the LOTR movies was categorized as horror....

As far as I'm concerned, all three movies were a horror, considering what P. Jackson did to Tolkien's plot and characters. :eek:

Sorry. Couldn't resist. I really loathe those films.

mdin
03-15-2005, 07:20 AM
I'm sure there's an official definition floating around out there, but it seems to me 'Dark Fantasy' is interchangeable with any horror novel where the 'horror' is of supernatural origin. I see the old classics like Dracula and Frankenstein listed as dark fantasy nowadays.

As far as Barnes and Noble is concerned, the genre 'Horror' no longer exists. The books have all been divided between mainstream thrillers and the fantasy/sci-fi sections.

Anaparenna
03-15-2005, 08:22 AM
As far as I'm concerned, all three movies were a horror, considering what P. Jackson did to Tolkien's plot and characters. :eek:

Sorry. Couldn't resist. I really loathe those films.

I would agree with you, truly, except...so many of my students are now reading the originals. Paperbacks, with movie stills as covers. Argh. Perhaps there is some good in small evils.

Greenwolf103
03-24-2005, 10:40 AM
I'm sure there's an official definition floating around out there, but it seems to me 'Dark Fantasy' is interchangeable with any horror novel where the 'horror' is of supernatural origin.

Makes sense.

zizban
03-30-2005, 08:44 PM
I have tried writing dark fantasy before. I created a kind of bleak, run down world with an uncaring populace who watched as their land is slowly over run by the wilds but it go so depressing. I couldn't continue. I couldn't sympathize with anyone in the story.

Terra Aeterna
03-30-2005, 09:06 PM
I think Laurel K. Hamilton counts as Dark Fantasy and not Horror (though we could argue that her writing is horrifying). The difference to me between Dark Fantasy and Horror is how the "dark" elements are engaged. In Horror, you Vanquish the Monsters because They Are Evil and are Going to Eat Your Face/Corrupt Your Soul/Steal Your Women. In Dark Fantasy, there may or may not be Evil to conquer, but there are also Dark Critters that the protagonist (who might even be a Dark Critter) is in sympathy with (or having sex with if you're LKH). A lot of modern vampire novels are Dark Fantasy, from Chelsea Quinn Yarbro to P.N. Elrod, but most modern vampire movies are horror (and then there's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I really think defies easy categorization.) There's things other than vampire stories. Vampires are just an easy example.

TLHines
03-30-2005, 10:11 PM
A lot of works fit into this category--mostly horrific works with elements of fantasy thrown in. Seems to be an undying supply of vampires, as Terra points out. (Undying vampires; aren't I punny?)

But vampires aren't alone. Any horrific novel that incorporates elements of fantasy fits here: works by Neil Gaiman ("American Gods"), Simon R. Green ("Darkside" series), and even a lot of Stephen King ("Dark Tower" series, "The Stand").

dragonjax
03-30-2005, 11:17 PM
To me, "dark fantasy" is that thin line between fantasy (whether traditional fantasy or magic realism/urban fantasy) and horror -- there are dark, dark scenes in the fantasy that would feel right at home in a horror novel: usually graphic violence, and possibly sex. Because it's called "dark fantasy" and not "fantastical horror," I'd say the emphasis should be on the fantastical element (that is, it's a fantasy, not a horror), with horror trimmings. Although based on this definition, George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire would be dark fantasy, but I consider that to be epic fantasy (damned excellent epic fantasy, might I add).

HConn
03-30-2005, 11:22 PM
To me, "dark fantasy" is that thin line between fantasy (whether traditional fantasy or magic realism/urban fantasy) and horror --

Actually, dark fantasy *is* horror. After the horror boom collapsed, writers and publishers had scary books they wanted to publish, but the public had turned its back on the horror section of the bookstore.

So they took those same books and called them psychological thrillers (ie serial killers) and dark fantasy (since fantasy is/was doing relatively well).

Dark fantasy is just a new label for an old genre: horror.

That's all.

dragonjax
03-31-2005, 01:42 AM
Dark fantasy is just a new label for an old genre: horror.

That's all.
Well, to me, Dean Koonz writes horror, not dark fantasy, and Laurell Hamilton writes dark fantasy, not horror. ((shrug)) Humble opinion, of course.

Nateskate
04-01-2005, 03:19 AM
In my mind, I see the major difference in the motivation of the author, as well as the theme of the story.

In a horror, the idea is to set someone up for fear and terror, for terror's sake. Redemption usually consists of survival of the protagonist. Whether you take Fredie or Jason, mostly the idea is everyone is at risk of dying. Happily, the protagonist makes it out alive.

In a Dark Fantasy (My Opinion), you have a higher objective. The goal is someone setting out to save/redeem/ create something lasting. With Lord of the Rings, you have countless "Moral of the story". You have faithfulness, loyalty, love.

In a Jason movie, you may have people banding together, but in general, that is simply the only way to survive. Whereas with Frodo, you have someone who could have lived a fairly simply life without problems if he just said, "No, it's not my problem" And he multiple chances to lay down this burden.

However, deep in the back of his mind is his love for the shire, and the realization that if he doesn't do this, the world he loves and people he cares about, suffer.

The story I'm trying to finish up now fits in this Genre. It was never intended to be dark, but in my mind, life is sometimes like a dark fantasy. In a sense, you can get involved in noble pursuits that become very ugly, and you have the same dilema Frodo has, you face the beast, or you say, "Not my problem."

I can't say my goal was ever to freak people out in the least. Rather, it was and is (not simply to entertain), but to make people think.

However, you really can't accomplish that objective without making the case that something monumental is on the line.

You have to make some kind of case that "evil" is "evil", and not benign. And it can be a metaphorical evil, but if you look at many evils, as Tolkien did, they are sometimes a product of some twisted concept of doing good.

Now, I'm not making his case, but one point is, "If you sacrifice paradise for an easier life (machines), have you really improved life?"

I love stuff that makes you think. To borrow from John Lennon, "I love to turn you on..." But not in an acid or other pleasure sense, in the sense of introducing a novel thought, like planting a seed.

HConn
04-01-2005, 03:30 AM
Well, you can decide that anything means anything in your personal lexicon. You can decide that "Westerns" refer to any story set in the planet's western hemisphere at any time period. Whatever. If it helps you, that's great.

But you should understand that words have a history and a meaning for the world at large as well. Someone who knows that history might not share your personal lexicon, and you will probably talk at cross purposes.

Terra Aeterna
04-01-2005, 11:01 AM
Several markets on Ralans, including Weird Tales (which has been around for decades) make some sort of distinction between Dark Fantasy and Horror, and if you google around a bit, there's quite a few discussions on this topic.

Horror has always been a complex genre, with everything from thrillers to gothics to what Lovecraft referred to as "atmospheric" horror all jumbled together in one category. And from what I can tell if you're a Russian, all of the above, SF, F and Peter Pan would go into one category-- "Fantastic" literature. So any definition of what genre a thing is will be to a certain extent artificial.

With all the discussion going on here and other places, I would say that however the term Dark Fantasy got started, it's evolved and what it encompasses may not be the same as it was 20 years ago. Language has an annoying habit of doing that evolving thing. :)

arkady
04-01-2005, 06:10 PM
As far as I'm concerned, all three movies were a horror, considering what P. Jackson did to Tolkien's plot and characters. :eek:

Sorry. Couldn't resist. I really loathe those films.

I'm just as disgusted as you are by the axe-murder that Jackson did to Tolkien's work, but I still find the movies on their own very entertaining.

If only Jackson had called the movie series something besides Lord of the Rings, I'd have no problem with it as a stand-alone fantasy in its own right. But to pretend that this massively altered plotline has anything but the main characters' names to do with the book upon which it's ostensibly based is an insult to Tolkien's memory.

As a side note, at the time of the films' release, did you notice how many glowing reviews came from reviewers who opened with "I've never read Lord of the Rings, but..." Or "I haven't read Lord of the Rings since I was twelve years old, but..."

I have the same complaints about the latest Harry Potter film, but that's another story.

zizban
04-01-2005, 06:26 PM
Not to derail a thread, but I Jackson did make the Two Towers interesting for me. When I read the LOTR The Two Towers always bores me to tears.

Nateskate
04-01-2005, 10:42 PM
Well, you can decide that anything means anything in your personal lexicon. You can decide that "Westerns" refer to any story set in the planet's western hemisphere at any time period. Whatever. If it helps you, that's great.

But you should understand that words have a history and a meaning for the world at large as well. Someone who knows that history might not share your personal lexicon, and you will probably talk at cross purposes.




Is there really any way around it? If you look at experts at every field, they've basically taken something and defined it. And the more you watch experst quoted on T.V News, the more you realize the term "expert" is extremely subjective. If some green toad writes a book, someone will lable him an expert in the field.

So, the best you can do is come up with reference points and at times you have to explain what your own reference is. This whole entire thread would be meaningless if there was a universal code. This is an attempt to define terms for ourselves. And in terms of this subject, since you are taking something as subjective as artistic impression, there is no exact formulae, which means you have a bit of blurring at the edges, where one man's horror is another's dark fantasy.

HConn
04-01-2005, 10:48 PM
Terra, you make good sense. "Dark Fantasy" is an evocative term. It's probably inevitable that folks would change it to suit their own needs.

And phooey on you Tolkien purists! Jackson had to change the books to put them on the screen, and he did a wonderful job. Thank God he cut Tom Freaking Bombadil.

Not everything he did was perfect, no, but the movies were wonderful. So good, and so successful, in fact, that I'm sure they'll remake them again in 25 years or so.

Maybe you'll get your "perfect" adaptation then. :P

edited because I crossposted with Nate: Nate, I'm not exactly sure what you're saying there.

Nateskate
04-01-2005, 10:48 PM
I'm just as disgusted as you are by the axe-murder that Jackson did to Tolkien's work, but I still find the movies on their own very entertaining.

If only Jackson had called the movie series something besides Lord of the Rings, I'd have no problem with it as a stand-alone fantasy in its own right. But to pretend that this massively altered plotline has anything but the main characters' names to do with the book upon which it's ostensibly based is an insult to Tolkien's memory.

As a side note, at the time of the films' release, did you notice how many glowing reviews came from reviewers who opened with "I've never read Lord of the Rings, but..." Or "I haven't read Lord of the Rings since I was twelve years old, but..."

I have the same complaints about the latest Harry Potter film, but that's another story.

We used to go around this subject forever on the IMDb LOTR and TTT boards. The movies are very much their own interpretive art. As much as I realize the story deviates, there are as many deviations that I like as I dislike.

I disliked making the Witchking "own Gandalf" in the extended version of ROTK. It made Gandalf impotent, which was so different from the books, where Sauron himself would have whipped him, but not the Witch King in a one on one.

But I like the sped up and darkened "Prancing Poney- Pirate Town" feel that Jackson did. Having Frodo lose the ring showing off in the book didn't do it for me. And although Helms Deep was completely different, I really thought the "Elves to the rescue" worked very well cinematically.