Question for the pundits – why do fantasy writers seemingly limit the focus of their stories to the time of the Dark Ages/Medieval Era (OK, Renaissance at best)? Why not move the stakes ahead to a fictional world with more aesthetics of the 20th Century. Like the 1940s.
Not all fantasy limits itself to the medieval era, obviously. The two quickest examples I have are Steampunk – considered a form of science fiction, but arguably touching a fantasy nerve for the Victorian Era. And there’s probably a tonne of modern day fantasy, from ‘What if the gods of old returned‘ to ‘Let’s have a dogfight between an AH-64 and a Dragon’ (doubtless better examples exist).
But it seems the medieval simplicity of swords and horses is what captures the imagination of the fantasy market. It’s extremely popular, but I can’t understand why it hasn’t evolved along with the rest of history. I’m captivated not just by the history of the 1930s and the 1940s, but its technological standing – wherein we lost that initial clunkiness of the industrial revolution, but hadn’t consigned ourselves to war by microchip.
World War Two fiction remains a popular niche market (I guess?). Just look at the number of Alternate History novels out there. But what exists is still largely governed by the laws of known physics (with the odd exception) (or two). So far as I can tell, no one’s thought derive World War Two fiction beyond questions of ‘What Would Hitler Do?’.
What I’m describing doesn’t even have to happen within our own geopolitical history. What presents fantasy writers (or 1940s fiction writers, for that matter) from establishing an entirely fictional world, with fictional states and borders….perhaps as an allegory for our own, perhaps not…but establishing this fictional world with 1940s-era technology. Piston engine fighters, double-handed diplomacy, and massive resources just like what we had then. Just no Messerschmitts, Molotov or Manchuria. Like Song of Ice and Fire (there, I god damn said it), events start out reasonably close to physical reality, but we see a slow emergence of fantasy elements through the narrative.
So this blogpost has a twofold purpose. Either I’ve just invented a new genre (but you know what they say about ideas under the sun), and can get cracking on it. Or, someone else is going to pipe in with the next book series that I’ll start reading. There is a third option, a combination of the two – someone plagiarises this idea and writes their own. Which I don’t mind, because if their effort sucks, I can always try my own hand.