Monday, August 07, 2006

Fantasy and the Eighteenth Century

Is the 18th century taking over from the mediaeval period as fantasy's favourite setting ? I ask because I'm just reading Tanith Lee's sequel to Piratica, called Piratica: Return to Parrot Island. On my To Be Read pile is Julia Golding's The Diamond of Drury Lane, which already has a sequel, Cat Among the Pigeons. In adult fantasy, there's the new series from Naomi Novik which began with Temeraire and has already been followed by Temeraire: Black Powder War. The originator of this move towards a more modern milieu for fantasy could be said to be Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, with its Jane Austen-style setting combined with magic and Faerie.

Julia Golding's books, so far as I can tell from reading synopses, appear to be more straightforwardly historical than fantastical, but Tanith Lee's and Naomi Novik's books combine fantasy and alternate history: thus Novik's books feature dragons being used during the Napoleonic War, whilst Tanith Lee's feature a teenage girl who turns herself into a notorious Pirate Captain set in an alternate historical timeline which sees the English having a Revolution akin to the real-life French Revolution of the 18th century.

2 comments:

Jen Robinson said...

How funny that you should have just written about this! I guess you and Chris Abouzeid are thinking along the same wavelength. I would certainly have linked to your post, too, if I had seen it (I'm still not quite caught up from my trip, and haven't been reading the blogs as much as I would like). Thanks for pointing it out!

Michele said...

Oh it wasn't meant as criticism, Jen - I knew you'd been away, so I was just making you aware as I thought it would interest you to know...