Has urban fantasy finally totally trounced classic fantasy (for the time being)?

We used to include a tag line in our queries for Not So Simple After All:

For those who like their traditional fantasy tinged with light-hearted fun.

It never got us anywhere, and early on we realised that mentioning the word ‘tradtional’ in our fantasy query was akin to a kiss of death. Nobody wanted ‘traditional’ fantasy. Traditional fantasy was Tolkien and Eddings and Jordan. Traditional fantasy was epic fantasy. Medieval worlds with sword and sworcery, where the fate of a kingdom is at stake, if not the fate of the whole world.

Like most fantasy readers I love traditional fantasy, but I’m also over it. That may sound contradictory but you have to give me something special to make me read it now. A different story or some truly special characters. And I’m not talking boy wizards here. I’m talking characters like Robin Hobb’s Fitz and Fool, or even her latest heroine, Thymara.

I spent today checking out the latest batch of manuscripts in my online critique group. Almost without exception, all the fantasy novels were urban fantasy. There was nothing so old hat as vampires or werewolves—although there was one zombie—but the stories were set in our world, with iPods and mobile phones and the internet. The protagonists drove cars or caught planes when they wanted to go places.

The circle has completely turned.

I don’t know how long this trend will last. Many urban fantasy lovers who grew up reading about vampires and werewolves are starting to feel about them the way I feel about traditional fantasy. Yes, they love them, but they are so over them too.

I wonder how long it will be before traditional fantasy returns, in some form or another.

And yes, we still intend to sell Not So Simple After All, only we’re realistic enough to realise it probably won’t be in the next year or two.

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