Created By: jate88 on March 31, 2011 Last Edited By: jate88 on April 14, 2011

Gothic Urban Fantasy, Tolkien High Fantasy

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Trope
Is This Tropable?? Needs a Better Title.

In 1937 J. R. R. Tolkien came out with the Hobit and afterwards began work on its sequel The Lord of the Rings. Eventually the works caught on in popularity and people, desperate for more, began writing similar stories. This was named High Fantasy and everyone decided it was good. But things couldn't last and people soon became bored of the same old things being repeated over and over again. Before these people could leave they were quickly battered with can you really tolerate your previous reading choices speeches.

Something had to be done and it was in this type of environment that someone said "Hey lets take the Standard Fantasy Setting and move it to the modern era". Thus Urban Fantasy was born. Depsite the fact that most people describe urban fantasy as fantasy in a contemporary setting, many elements introduced by Tolkien and adopted by his imitators are dropped in urban fantasy. Instead people like to portray urban fantasy as gothic. In addition nobody thinks to apply a gothic theme to a High Fantasy.

Reasons for this vary but the main reason stems from the thinking that Alternate History,AlternateUniverses, MagicalLands, and PocketDimensions aren't urban enough to be considered urban fantasy. In High Fantasy fantastical elements are presented as common knowledge and it can be very difficult to come up with a believable reason for why the magical community would choose to adopt a Masquerade.

Some authors do avert and subvert this but the split is still present in most people's minds.

Examples

Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • March 31, 2011
    RodrigoVega
    How is this different from good ol' Urban Fantasy again?
  • March 31, 2011
    INUH
    ^It appears to be about the transition between Tolkien-ish fantasy and Urban Fantasy.

    Interesting trope, though I'm not familiar with any examples.
  • March 31, 2011
    DragonQuestZ
    And what is meant by transition? An urban fantasy setting with a high fantasy backstory?
  • April 1, 2011
    Ekuran
    It would appear to be that, or quite possibly the renaissance to industrialization time period. Maybe it's both?
  • April 1, 2011
    Kaoy
    Its very ill-defined. Definitely Needs A Better Description before we can even get at whether or not it is tropable.
  • April 1, 2011
    Ekuran
    There are two ways this trope can go.

    • 1: The setting is currently an Urban Fantasy, but it's noted to have been a High Fantasy setting in the past. There might even be a Flashback to this time period by long-lived characters, but it's predominately set in the present.
    • 2: The story has stated out as a High Fantasy, but the author has decided to averted Medieval Stasis and move the setting into the present. This may involve some Steam Punk Magitek for fun along the way.
  • April 1, 2011
    INUH
    ^That sounds right.
  • April 1, 2011
    Koveras
    But... examples?
  • April 1, 2011
    INUH
    Yeah, the examples are what I'm having a problem with. It sounds like a very interesting trope and I'd like to read a work like that, but I've never actually heard of one.
  • April 1, 2011
    Ekuran
    I actually planed on writing something like this, specifically because I've never seen this before. Well... at least the second option anyway. And it wasn't/won't be a standard High Fantasy setting either.

    @Koveras: It happens, it's extremely rare, but it happens.
  • April 1, 2011
    Koveras
    Wait. Are you telling me that we've actually stumbled upon a trope that may have never been used before?
  • April 1, 2011
    INUH
    ^I get the feeling I've seen it, but I just can't figure out where...frustrating.
  • April 1, 2011
    Kaoy
    Shadowrun possibly?
  • April 1, 2011
    kuyanJ
    From what I've heard about it, Shadowrun's backstory doesn't sound Tolkienesque.
  • April 1, 2011
    jate88
    I was intending this trope to be about how Urban Fantasy is suppose to be fantasy in a contemporary setting but they never move the dwarves, elves, and EvilOverlords into the new setting. Instead they'll use gothic inspired fictional species and magic.

    Though maybe that isn't tropable and this is.
  • April 1, 2011
    Ekuran
    Fantastic Transition?

    Do you think that's a good title?

    Or perhaps Trans Fantasy would be more appropriate.
  • April 1, 2011
    Warlock
    Mwa-Ha! I have examples! (at least based on the OP's newest post.)

    Urban Arcana for d20 Modern. Specfically defined as 'moving the elves, dwarves, and dark overlords of High Fantasy into a modern setting', though in a literal sense, as they're inter-dimensional transplants. Contrast with Shadow Chasers, which is more of the usual 'monsters who hunt humans and humans who hunt monsters', with 'dark' themed magic and so forth.

    Another one, tho maybe not enough to put as an example, more a case of, it'd go on the series' page rather than the trope page, is my own web series, Nightmares In The Dark.

    And in its way, I think Shadowrun counts, when you consider Earthdawn is (sometimes) considered part of the same canon.
  • April 1, 2011
    Kaoy
    ^^^Well in that case, Shadowrun probably does qualify then. You still might want to brew a bit and think of a better description for the OP. Its hard to understand exactly what you are getting at.
  • April 1, 2011
    jate88
    ^^^ Urban Fantasy is usually associated with a gothic theme and High Fantasy is usually associated with a tolkienesque theme. This trope is about how people don't think to mix things up a bit.
  • April 2, 2011
    bluepenguin
    The Dalemark Quartet by Diana Wynne Jones did option 2, although time travel shenanigans meant large portions of the modern-day book were set in the past anyway.
  • April 2, 2011
    Duncan
    Implied in Simon Hawke's ''Wizard of 4th St" series. Set in the 23rd Century, after a worldwide industrial collapse, a broke guy chops down a tree in Sherwood Forest, releasing Merlin. The Magic Comes Back, along with most immortal wizards who've been laying low.
  • April 2, 2011
    Ghilz
    Shadowrun would most certainly qualify, based on that very akward description.
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