Friday, May 27, 2011

Dark Fantasy

by Darke Conteur

I don’t think there is a genre as diverse or as fascinating, as Dark Fantasy.

I believe people read science fiction to escape into the future, and historical fiction to escape into the past, but what is it about the darker side of fiction that draws us to it? Is it the hidden desire to be immortal? To possess supernatural powers? Do we read and write this genre secretly hoping that what we’ve written is true, and that perhaps, we are the privileged few who are allowed access into a world others dismiss?

Who would want to venture into a world full of demons and vampires? Why would anyone want to live in a world full of zombies? People die in these worlds, either physically, or their humanity dies, and yet there is a growing number of people who can’t get enough.

Is it because Dark Fantasy allow us to secretly travel to places society deems inappropriate? Perhaps, like Erotica, it allows us to delve into parts of our own personality that we may feel is too embarrassing or private to reveal, or is there something deeper to our attraction?

From our earliest childhood memories, fantasy stories were told to us as a means of moral guidance. The character-singing, fluffy fairy tales that our children hold so dear, are a pale comparison to the original brutal tales of death our ancestors told. Their stories were a constant reminder that the world was a dangerous place, and if one strayed off the path, your fate was sealed.

Perhaps this is the attraction. We long to tread away from the safety of society, to live in danger, to feel the blood course through our veins. Perhaps life has become too safe, and we need the diversion, that spark, that can only come in the way of a good Dark Fantasy novel.

Whatever the reason, Dark Fantasy will continue to be popular, if only to fill that empty need in our everyday lives.


Rick said...

I don't think life has become too safe, or that it ever has or ever will. As a kid, my home's front door was never locked and we went out to play with the admonition being not to take candy from strangers and be home for dinner. But we had the cold war and duck-and-cover drills at school against the threat of nuclear annihilation. So we escaped to face our fanciful and more terrifying dangers in books and movies.

I believe whether the fears of the day are dinosaurs, marauding tribes, or street gang violence, we go to the Dark Fantasy to confront fear in the abstract, to get as close to it as we can and still stay safe. We can explore places we'd never really go, test the waters of forbidden things in our own dark fantasies. Yes, Dark Fantasy will always attract us, and mining our fears can be a deep source of compelling material.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm a wimpy reader! Haven't been able to read horror since I read Carrie & The Shining years back in high school! *shudder*

Most people like that thrill, that edge though. Maybe because (like me!) they'd like to be braver and when they're reading, they can pretend they are! :)

Great post, Darke!

Darke Conteur said...

Thanks both for the comments. :D

Leslie Rose said...

I loved to be scared and venture into dangerous places when I read.