The next big thing in fantasy

By Scott Bury

Creative Commons: Eric Guiomar

What’s the next big thing in fantasy publishing?

The current vampire craze, most lately spurred by the Twilight phenomenon (whether you like it or not) has to be ending soon. It’s been going on too long.

The success of Twilight spurred a raft of knock-offs, predictably: the Thirst series of books comes to mind, but there are hundreds of others. Fan fiction (Fifty Shades of Grey began as Twilight fan fiction; I guess it’s true that spin-offs cannot be better than the original), parodies and shameless rip-offs. Then there are the TV shows, True Blood (at least it has a good theme song) and The Vampire Diaries.

Dark Shadows was a campy TV show in the late 60s.

There have been other waves of vampire popularity. There were a bunch of vampire books and movies in the 60s with the success of the campy Dark Shadows TV show. In the mid-70s, the vampire craze reached across media and into different age demographics, with movies like Dracula: A Love Story and a comic book I remember fondly, Tomb of Dracula.

Both Twilight and the Underworld series mixed the vampire and werewolf tropes, and I’ve noticed a lot more werewolf-themed books on the shelves and discount tables. I think my favourite title has to be Eat, Prey, Love.

But that’s winding down now, too, especially as the final Twilight movie has come and (thankfully) gone.

Right now, the big craze is zombies, what with all the zombie books, The Walking Dead TV show, and Warm Bodies on the big screen, but there is a lot more.

There has also been a spate of angel-themed movies and books, too: Legion in 2010, about a rebellious Archangel Michael (wouldn’t  Lucifer have made more sense?), and Constantine 2005, based on the graphic novel of the same name.

The Hobbit movies will again spur renewed interest in Tolkien and his brand of elves and dwarves, but I don’t think it’s going to reach the same level as when the Lord of the Rings movies came out.

And there’s been a strong, continuing interest in Greek mythology over the past decade o too: Liam Neeson as Zeus is only the latest, but who could forget the Hercules TV series about 15 years ago, which spawned Xena (coolest show ever!). There was a Jason and the Argonauts miniseries around 2000, and don’t forget Troy with an all-star cast in 2004, including Brad Pitt as Achilles and Eric Bana as Hector.

Predicting the next wave

So, what’s next? What will be the next fantasy creature or trope to top the popular consciousness? Mummies? Witches? Demons?

Predicting this accurately could make a new writer’s career, allowing him or her to ride a wave. As a strategy for success, though, it ranks right up there with betting on tsunamis.

// SOURCE: CREATIVE COMMONS / FLICKR / Mike Licht, NoltionsCapital.com

There’s no shortage of literary fodder to create blockbuster movies — just scan the authors involved in this blog. As you’d expect from writers whose imaginations regularly trend toward the fantastic, the variety of subjects, settings and fantasy creatures is as vast as the night sky.

In the comments, make your best guess about the next big thing in popular fantasy. It’ll be fun to revisit these predictions in a year or two.

Scott Bury is author of The Bones of the Earth and the soon-to-be-released One Shade of Red. His blog is at scottswrittenwords.blogspot.com.

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11 comments on “The next big thing in fantasy

  1. Zombies are going strong, but I have a feeling will lose some wind after the “World War Z” film. I’l be curious to see if anything happens with angels (I’m doing a “fallen angel” book myself, of sorts) later this year. Not sure if I see a big future in that one, but it would be…curious.

  2. Vampires and zombies are the obvious current trends (funny how something once considered straight horror now ends up under the fantasy umbrella, isn’t it?), with angels not far behind. The other that has gained steam in the last year or two is realistic heroic fantasy (I think there’s a more official term than that, but I can’t think of it right now), fueled by the Game of Thrones TV series. Suddenly, swords and sorcery fantasy doesn’t need much sorcery anymore. I just fninished reading Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold, which has only the barest hints of magic, and there are many others out there following the same trend (I’ve got one oin the hopper myself).
    What will come after that? If I knew, I’d be writing it…wait, maybe I am!

  3. Pingback: Creating a Brand, and Catching the Wave | Guild Of Dreams

  4. What about superheroes? I think it’d be neat if that was the next craze. I have nothing to back this up other than the Avengers, but I think superheroes would be fun! It’s a little bit more science fiction, maybe, but could be seen as urban fantasy.

  5. Pingback: Creating a Brand, and Catching the Wave | Guild Of Dreams

  6. Has anyone ever come across an analysis of the phenomenon from a sociological perspective? What else was happening in the zeitgeist when Twilight hit, which contributed to its rise? What else is going on that makes zombies such as craze?

    • In response to writtencommunications question- I do recall reading an article awhile back that made the connection that when times are tough economical, zombie fantasy tends to trend – like when Night of the Living Dead 1st came out and Romero made a handful of those… wish I could remember the article- it was pretty interesting and pointed out the popularity now with the likes of World War Z and Walking Dead while the economy sucks.

  7. In response to writtencommunications question- I do recall reading an article awhile back that made the connection that when times are tough economical, zombie fantasy tends to trend – like when Night of the Living Dead 1st came out and Romero made a handful of those… wish I could remember the article- it was pretty interesting and pointed out the popularity now with the likes of World War Z and Walking Dead while the economy sucks.

  8. My novel ANGELS OF WAR explores the Watchers who appeared in the skies over Mons at the start of the First World War. It’s on Amazon for anyone interested. My other work in development brings the descendents of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table bang up to to date, fighting back against an evil media magnate. It’s YA and I’m having a blast writing it.

  9. I believe readers have already read too much about vampires, zombies, witches, elves, whatever. Has anyone read anything lately about the Jinn? People relate genies or the Jinn to Arabian fork tale – Arabian Nights (a genie pops out of the old flask) but interestingly, if you read details about them, Islamic books, the Holy Quran and other useful material has a lot of detail about them. The literal meaning of Jinn is “hidden”, which means God has purposely hidden these creatures from us. Many of the readers may know that King Solomon (Sulayman in Arabic) had the power to command wind in the desired direction, had the power to speak to all the living creatures, including animals and insects, and had the power to rule over the Jinn. They were considered to be his slaves and helped him build the great Solomon Temple. After him. what happened, each religion has the different debatable stories. They are created from smokeless fire and carry the free will as the humans do. These creatures are diversified according to their powers. There are some who can fly up to the seventh level of Heaven, there are some who live on the Earth, walk like us, look like us or even appear as animals and plants. For a writer, choosing a jinni as a fantasy character is limitless. The Jinn have the power to appear in any form, travel the world in seconds as there is no time span for them, have the power to filth a human’s mind (which is the basic task of a bad jinni – a demon). The possibility to write the fantasy fiction on them is limitless 🙂

    • That fits in with the sentiments I have written about on this blog earlier: it’s time to look beyond the conventional boundaries of fantasy fiction. It’s understandable, since the best-selling fantasy authors are still Tolkien, Lewis, and now George Martin, that so many of today’s authors base their tales and imaginary worlds on mythologies and legends from northern Europe. But in today’s connected world, and particularly in the multicultural West (yes, I did use that word – get over it, Angela Merkel) we have the opportunity to mine many more mythologies for inspiration. The result is going to be a reinvigorated fantasy genre.

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