Happy Friday! I am keeping the introductions short, so we can get into the article! If you are here then you must be wondering what is the difference between Contemporary fantasy and Urban fantasy?
And you are at the right spot! As a fantasy author I am very knowledgeable in the realm of fantasy and most of it’s many, many, many subgenres. I have read and noticed that sometimes readers and writers will mixed up certain subgenres. Which is okay, but for those who maybe wanting to be reading, researching, or writing for a certain subgenre, it can be really confusing. Especially when you have to categorized your book yourself. Hopefully reading this article may help those who confuse the two fantasy genres.
What is urban fantasy?
Urban fantasy is a genre of literature where fantastical characters and concepts are placed in a real-world urban setting, often today. It is a subgenre within the broader world of fantasy literature. Urban fantasy has elements in a 19th-century to 21st-century urban society. An example of Urban fantasy would be American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
Elements of Urban fantasy
- Fantasy tropes: storylines combine the real-life grit of the modern world with fantastical worldbuilding.
- An urban setting: Although small town urban fantasies exist, most take place in significant present-day cities.
- Magic: Supernatural elements, sci-fi technologies, fairy tales, and folk mythologies are all found throughout urban fantasy novels.
- A noir aesthetic: lift genre conventions from noir and gritty police procedurals.
- Mythical creatures: populated with supernatural creatures, including (but not limited to) undead zombies, vampires, werewolves, druids, demons, shapeshifters, and perhaps a mage or wizard.
- A protagonist with a foot in both worlds: The main character is typically savvy to the real-life ways of their urban environment yet can also wield or exploit magical powers.
- A young protagonist: Relatively young characters who practice magic or witchcraft are typical in urban fantasy series.
What is contemporary fantasy?
Contemporary fantasy can be defined as a fantasy story in the modern world in the contemporary era. Contemporary fantasy also goes the name of modern fantasy or indigenous fantasy, a subgenre of fantasy set in the present day or, more accurately, the period of the maker. An example of Contemporary fantasy is The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna.
Elements of Contemporary fantasy
- Characters can have special powers.
- Animals act like people.
- The place is imaginary or of another world or universe.
- Time is anytime or no time.
- Fantasy time (Once upon a time sets the stage and lived happily ever after closes the tale.) any time or place, timeless or placeless, or long ago.
- Time travel is possible.
- Conflicts are resolved with great deeds or human kindness related to good and bad/evil.
- Uses magic or other ideas to achieve the highly impossible.
- Use of mental powers or technologies that are not possible or not yet discovered.
What is the difference?
So it might not seem like there is a difference, but there is! A very, very small one. If a Contemporary fantasy takes place in a city, it is considered Urban Fantasy. So that means Urban fantasy is a subgenre of Contemporary fantasy.
Which one do your books fall under?
I’m glad you asked! I categorize my books from The Gods’ Scion series as Contemporary fantasy. Still you could argue my books fall under the Urban fantasy genre, but like I stated before, it’s a subgenre of the subgenre, so for me it doesn’t matter. I prefer the use the boarded genre since I believe my writing fits better in it.
I hope this clarifies some things, and you found this information useful! Remember, I am just one author and writer and these are my opinions and thoughts. Let me know if you agree with me on the difference of these two subgenres. Thanks for reading and remember:
Live. Love. Laugh.