Has fantasy been de-naturalized, too?

A reader sent me this link to a fascinating study that shows how over the last 80 years, the subject matter in children’s literature has shifted away from the natural world, toward more urban settings. My initial reaction was, “Cool study. Too bad kids-lit has gone that way, but I suppose it’s because those authors have become more removed from the natural world too. Lucky for us that fantasy writers are still fascinated by forests and riding horses and battling monsters on a mountain side and all that.”

But then it hit me. Fantasy has gone through it’s own urbanification. Witness the rise of contemporary and urban fantasy sub-genres in the last couple of decades, with decidedly urban vampires stalking the streets, sewers and rooftops of Typical City, USA. It’s not just vampires, of course, but the emergence of these sub-genres suggest to me that a similar study conducted on the realms of fantasy would show exactly the same thing: a steady demise of natural environments, and a corresponding rise of urbanity.

So a quick straw poll: of the last five fantasy novels you read, how many of them were set primarily in urban or man-made settings? You can record your answer in the quick poll on the right side of the page (assuming you’re reading this from my blog site).

And a general discussion question: has your fantasy experience gone through an urbanization? I’ve only just realized that mine has.

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About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.