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Futuristic Fantasy

What is Futuristic Fantasy?

The future is fantastic! Futuristic Fantasy is a story set in the future that incorporates elements of fantasy. Okay, so that was a really boring definition, but that's essentially what the sub-genre is. Fantasy is typically set in the past, or at least a time period that resembles a bygone era. So, Futuristic Fantasy does seem a bit oxymoronic. But, as the genre has grown and evolved the future no longer belongs to just the Sci Fi writers. In fact, Futuristic Fantasy draws from many genres: Horror, Romance, Sci Fi, Thriller. Because the sub-genre is mostly defined by its time period, other characteristics are more difficult to define.

The sub-genre draws as much on other genres as it does the traditions of the Fantasy genre—but it does so in new ways. For example, the legend of King Arthur prophesied that he would return. In the graphic novels of Camelot 3000, King Arthur and his court are resurrected in the year 3000 where magic and sword fights meet samurais and aliens



These stories blend a classic Fantasy tale with Sci Fi, so while King Arthur and his knights are once again fighting to prevent the fall of Camelot, setting the story in the future and drawing from other genres completely reinvents the age-old story and characters. One common characteristic is the use of technology, which is defining part of world-building when creating a story in the future. In Futuristic Fantasy, technology is not explained, or magical in nature, or indistinguishable from magic (meaning, both magic and technology exist). For example, magical creatures/races are mutations.

 

Futuristic Fantasy Characteristics

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  • Level of Magic

    Variable. The type and level of magic in a Futuristic Fantasy story is going to depend on the world of that future. Magic may be one and the same with technology, it may be not present at all, it may be psi-powers rather than wand waving, it may have developed at the end of all things—the possibilities, as with all Fantasy, are endless.

  • Level of Grand Ideas and Social Implications

    High. When a story about the future is told, the story inevitably comments on society today. This sub-genre is also full of ideas about the genre of Fantasy. It pushes the bounds of the genre's basic conventions (namely, time period), meaning every Futuristic Fantasy story forces the genre to grow and reinvents itself. So absolutely expect to see conventions turned on their heads, seen and then dismissed, or examined through the lens of logic.

  • Level of Characterization

    Variable. Old characters sometimes make their way into Futuristic Fantasy, which can mean flat characterization or some really interesting development on well-known characters (like Arthur!). But, the future also brings new characters, who are fun to get to know because they are often quite different from more traditional Fantasy characters. Future characters have a whole different past to shape them, which means potential for lovely, well-developed characters.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    Variable. There is no characteristic Futuristic Fantasy plot, and really, with all the different genres, tropes, traditions, and possibilities that the sub-genre plays with the plot is unpredictable.

  • Level of Violence

    Moderate-High. The future isn't always violent, but then again, it can also be super violent. Combining the future with Fantasy's classic battle between good and evil means some pretty epic scenes are to be read. Indeed, in the future there seems to always be something to fight for.

Related Fantasy Subgenres

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    Science Fantasy. Science Fantasy is very often set in the future—making it a part of the Futuristic Fantasy sub-genre.

     

  • Arcanepunk Fantasy. Arcanepunk can be seen as one version of Futuristic Fantasy because it often takes place in the future and incorporates both technology and magic.

     

  • Mundane Fantasy. Both Futuristic and Mundane Fantasy attempt to reinvent the traditional tropes of the fantasy genre.

     

  • Dying Earth Fantasy. Often set in the far future and incorporating fantastic elements such as magic, mutated humans from radiation, a future world that's been radically altered by time and/or mankind, etc.

Futuristic Fantasy Isn’t For You If...

If you open a book wishing to find a bit of hope. Futuristic Fantasy has a tendency toward bleakness.

Popular Futuristic Fantasy Books
  • 1 Shanara


    By Terry Brooks. After a nuclear holocaust civilization was destroyed and the world now has a blend of magic and primitive technology—an epic story told across many volumes.

  • 2 The Dying Earth


    By Jack Vance. Set in the far future, the Earth is dying and science has sort of died out and been replaced with sorcery.

  • 3 The Morgaine Cycle


    By C.J. Cherryh. Crossworlds, Sword and Sorcery, Futuristic—this cycle is genre crossing as well as time traveling. Morgaine is the last of her task force, set out to destroy the gates that permit time travel.

  • 4 Dragons of Pern


    By Anne McCaffrey. Pern is a planet colonized by humans. Dragons are telepathic and some humans can form a bond with them.

  • 5 Dune


    By Frank Herbert. The Dune saga is set in the far future in a feudal, interstellar society. Spice is used for space travel, as well as enhancing advanced mental abilities (including precognition). A highly spiritual and political drama, with bits that may as well be magic.

  • 6 Hawkmoon


    By Michael Moorcock. A highly developed multi-verse, an eternal champion, heroic journeys, action, fate, a future Earth, blend of magic and technology—a series that is Futuristic Heroic Fantasy.

  • 7 Barsoom


    By Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is a lengthy, pulpy series about a romanticized and dying Mars. John Carter is from 1866, but the series can be categorized as Futuristic Fantasy, but because it set on another planet it has a futuristic feeling.

  • 8 Dark War


    By Glen Cook. A plot trilogy featuring magic powered spaceships and psionic powers.

  • 9 The Book of the New Sun


    By Gene Wolfe. The sun has dimmed, the Earth is cooler and has been transformed in wondrous ways.

  • 10 Star Wars


    By Timothy Zahn, and many others. This is a hugely popular franchise created by George Lucas and it has spawned many, many novels. The Force is ubiquitous and binds the universe together, it is powerful, it is light and it is dark—Fantasy through and through.

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