I’ve got this guest post up at S F Signal at the moment:
Genre definitions are always very slippery things. I was recently asked by the wonderful folks here at SF Signal to take part in a Mind Meld. It was a pleasure, as I’ve always enjoyed reading those thought-provoking posts. The subject we discussed was The Intersection Between Gothic Horror and Urban Fantasy and the subsequent answers really gave me pause for thought.
The concept of the question, based on this year’s World Fantasy Convention theme of “Northern Gothic and Urban Fantasy”, is that Urban Fantasy represents the new Gothic; castles and haunted locations have been replaced by the Modern City. There was a lot of variation in the responses and I realised it was largely due to the definition of urban fantasy being considered. Many people didn’t think there was a connection between gothic and urban fantasy, which really surprised me. Among those who thought urban fantasy might well be born from gothic horror, there was an implication that it’s somehow lighter in tone, or that it needs to have a romantic element or female lead to be urban fantasy. Are any of those things true?
It’s not news to anyone that urban fantasy is regularly used to refer to that branch of modern paranormal romance where there’s not necessarily a happy ending (whereas, to be a romance, the lead couple have to get together in the end). I’ll explore the romance aspects below. But to me, especially in the context of the Mind Meld question posed, urban fantasy is a far broader term. It’s in the broader context of the genre definition that I answered the Mind Meld, as did many others, but it still raised problems with just what urban fantasy is…