Hard fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy literature that strives to present stories set in (and often centered on) a rational and knowable world. Hard fantasy is similar to hard science fiction, from which it draws its name, and hard magic, in that they all aim to build their respective worlds in a rigorous and logical manner. Where hard science fiction uses real scientific principles as its starting point, hard fantasy postulates starting conditions that do not, and often cannot, exist according to current scientific understanding.
Unlike that of its sister genre, the definition of hard fantasy is amorphous in practice. Some instances of the genre feature alternative geography and cultures without the presence of magic or supernatural creatures (such as dragons and elves), typically found in other fantasy settings. Other hard-fantasy settings may feature those elements but with a detailed and plausible explanation for their existence.
The hard aspect of hard fantasy can refer to different elements. It can refer to a consistent history and folklore, as seen in Lord of the Rings, well-defined magic systems as seen in Mistborn or The Name of the Wind, and is sometimes also applied to A Song of Ice and Fire for its detailed political setting, and hard consequences for protagonists' mistakes.
A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of epic fantasy novels by the American novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin. He began the first volume of the series, A Game of Thrones, in 1991, and it was published in 1996. Martin, who initially envisioned the series as a trilogy, has published five out of a planned seven volumes. The fifth and most recent volume of the series published in 2011, A Dance with Dragons, took Martin six years to write. He is currently writing the sixth novel, The Winds of Winter.
A Song of Ice and Fire takes place on the fictional continents Westeros and Essos. The point of view of each chapter in the story is a limited perspective of a range of characters growing from nine, in the first novel, to 31 characters by the fifth novel. Three main stories interweave: a dynastic war among several families for control of Westeros, the rising threat of the supernatural Others in the northernmost reaches of Westeros, and the ambition of Daenerys Targaryen, the deposed king's exiled daughter, to assume the Iron Throne.
Martin's inspirations included the Wars of the Roses and the French historical novels The Accursed Kings by Maurice Druon. A Song of Ice and Fire received praise for its diverse portrayal of women and religion, as well as its realism. An assortment of disparate and subjective points of view confronts the reader, and the success or survival of point of view characters is never assured. Within the often morally ambiguous world of A Song of Ice and Fire, questions concerning loyalty, pride, human sexuality, piety, and the morality of violence frequently arise.
As of August 2016, the books have sold more than 70 million copies worldwide and, as of January 2017, have been translated into 47 languages. The fourth and fifth volumes reached the top of The New York Times Best Seller lists upon their releases. Among the many derived works are several prequel novellas, a TV series, a comic book adaptation, and several card, board, and video games.Equestria
Equestria (; Latin: "three horses"), officially the Kingdom of Equestria, is a fantasy sovereign state used as the primary setting for the animated television series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and its feature film My Little Pony: The Movie. It hosts estimated 10 million intelligent and sapient creatures; the majority being "Equidae". Leading Equestria are four powerful regent princesses: the Princess of the Day, the Princess of the Night, the Princess of Love and Family, and the Princess of Magic and Friendship.
Equestria's foundation is described as the result of the cooperation of unicorns, pegasi, and earth ponies, who come together in harmony to fight the Wendigos and stop an eternal blizzard; Hearts Warming Day is an annual federal holiday that celebrates its founding, and "The Heart Carol" is the national anthem. The "Bit" is the official currency of Equestria and its territories. Instead of English, it is mentioned that they call their language "Ponish". However, because the Latin-English text is seen several times throughout the show, it is understood that this is simply English and Latin under a different name. The name "Equestria" is derived from the word "equestrianism", from the Latin equester, "belonging to a horseman", which denotes a relation to horseback riding. Consequently, it also has an origin in equus and trias, the Latin words for "horse" and "three", respectively. In this sense, "Equestria" can be interpreted as "Land of the Three Horse Tribes".Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often without any locations, events, or people referencing the real world. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became literature and drama. From the twentieth century it has expanded further into various media, including film, television, graphic novels and video games.
Fantasy is distinguished from the genres of science fiction and horror by the absence of scientific or macabre themes respectively, though these genres overlap. In popular culture, the fantasy genre is predominantly of the medievalist form. In its broadest sense, however, fantasy consists of works by many writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians from ancient myths and legends to many recent and popular works.Hard and soft magic systems
The idea of hard magic and soft magic was created by Brandon Sanderson for world building and creating magic systems in fictional writing. The terminology of hard and soft originate from hard and soft sciences, hard science fiction, hard fantasy and soft science fiction and both terms are approximate ways of characterising two ends of a spectrum. Hard magic systems follow specific rules, the magic is controlled and explained to the reader cohesively and scientifically, and can be used for building interesting worlds that revolve around the magic system. Soft magic systems do not have clearly defined rules or limitations and are used to create a sense of wonder to the reader.
Brandon Sanderson created Sanderson’s Three Laws of Magic, which are guidelines rather than actual laws and can be used to create interesting magic systems and world building for fantasy writing.Hard science fiction
Hard science fiction is a category of science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific accuracy. The term was first used in print in 1957 by P. Schuyler Miller in a review of John W. Campbell's Islands of Space in the November issue of Astounding Science Fiction. The complementary term soft science fiction, formed by analogy to hard science fiction, first appeared in the late 1970s. The term is formed by analogy to the popular distinction between the "hard" (natural) and "soft" (social) sciences. Science fiction critic Gary Westfahl argues that neither term is part of a rigorous taxonomy; instead they are approximate ways of characterizing stories that reviewers and commentators have found useful.Stories revolving around scientific and technical consistency were written as early as the 1870s with the publication of Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in 1870 and Around the World in Eighty Days in 1873, among other stories. The attention to detail in Verne's work became an inspiration for many future scientists and explorers, although Verne himself denied writing as a scientist or seriously predicting machines and technology of the future.Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, often abbreviated HPMOR, is a Harry Potter fan fiction by Eliezer Yudkowsky. It adapts the story of Harry Potter by attempting to explain wizardry through the scientific method. It was published as a serial from 28 February 2010 through to 14 March 2015. It consists of 122 chapters and 661,619 words.List of genres
This is a list of genres of literature and entertainment, excluding genres in the visual arts. Genre is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or entertainment, e.g. music, whether written or spoken, audio or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time as new genres are invented and the use of old ones are discontinued. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions.List of writing genres
Written genres (more commonly known as literary genres) are those works of prose, poetry, drama, hybrid forms, or other literature that are distinguished by shared literary conventions, similarities in topic, theme, style, or common settings, character types, or formulaic patterns of character interactions and events, and an overall predictable form. Genres are not wholly fixed categories of writing, but their content evolves according to social and cultural contexts and contemporary questions of morals and morés. The most enduring genres are those literary forms that were defined and performed by the Ancient Greeks, definitions sharpened by the proscriptions of our earliest literary critics and rhetorical scholars such as Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Aeschylus, Aspasia, Euripides and others. The prevailing genres of literary composition in Ancient Greece were all written and constructed to explore cultural, moral, or ethical questions; they were ultimately defined as the genres of epic, tragedy, and comedy. Aristotle's proscriptive analysis of tragedy, for example, as expressed in his Rhetoric and Poetics, saw it as having six parts (music, diction, plot, character, thought, and spectacle) working together in particular ways. Thus Aristotle establishes one of the earliest delineations of the elements that define genre.
Literary genres are often defined by the cultural expectations and needs of a particular historical and cultural moment or place.
The major literary genres defined by topic are:
DystopiaOther major genres are clustered together based on the form of how they are written, from the constrained syllables of a haiku to the controlled rhymes of a limerick.
DIY (Do It Yourself)
Other genres are defined by their primary audiences:
Young adult fiction
Adult Literature (often about sexual behavior)Magic system
A magic system, which might also be referred to as a magical system, is a set of rules that regulate the magical effects that can be produced in a fictional setting. Magic systems are most elaborate in both video games and role-playing games, because of the necessity to balance the game itself. A common feature of magical systems is either abide by its own environmental or physical law of nature, or use a method of limiting both the quantity and quality of spells that can be cased by a magic user.Master of the Five Magics
Master of the Five Magics is a fantasy novel by Lyndon Hardy, first published in 1980. It is the first of a trilogy set in the same world; the second book is Secret of the Sixth Magic and the third Riddle of the Seven Realms. The books feature different characters, but each explores the same system of magic in successively more detail. It may be an early example of hard fantasy.Outline of fantasy
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to fantasy:
Fantasy – genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary plot element, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common. Fantasy is generally distinguished from the genre of science fiction by the expectation that it steers clear of scientific themes, though there is a great deal of overlap between the two.Seth Dickinson
Seth Dickinson is an American writer of fantasy and science fiction, known for his 2015 debut novel The Traitor Baru Cormorant.Superhero fiction
Superhero fiction is a genre of speculative fiction examining the adventures, personalities and ethics of costumed crime fighters known as superheroes, who often possess superhuman powers and battle similarly powered criminals known as supervillains. The genre primarily falls between hard fantasy and soft science fiction spectrum of scientific realism. Superhero fiction originated from the cultural intermingling of Japan and United States literature. It is most commonly associated with American comic books, though it has expanded into other media through adaptations and original works.The Traitor Baru Cormorant
The Traitor Baru Cormorant (published as The Traitor in the United Kingdom) is a 2015 hard fantasy novel by Seth Dickinson, and his debut novel. It is based on a short story Dickinson wrote in 2011 for Beneath Ceaseless Skies called "The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Her Field-General, and Their Wounds".
The novel follows Baru, a brilliant young woman who, educated in the schools of the imperial power that subjugated her homeland, sets out to gain power to subvert the empire from within. A sequel, The Monster Baru Cormorant, was released on 30 October 2018.Wildwood (novel)
Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book 1 is a 2011 children's fantasy novel by The Decemberists' singer-songwriter Colin Meloy, illustrated by his wife Carson Ellis. The 541 page novel, inspired by classic fantasy novels and folk tales, is the story of two seventh-graders who are drawn into a hidden, magical forest, while trying to rescue a baby kidnapped by crows. They get caught up in an epic struggle, and learn of their connection to a magical parallel world while confronting adult authorities who are often cowardly or dishonest. The natural beauty and local color of Portland, Oregon, features prominently in the book.
Ellis collaborated closely with Meloy throughout the writing phase to produce 85 illustrations, which, along with the old-fashioned book design, were particularly praised by reviewers. The majority of reviews were positive, on balance, saying the book was an engrossing story appropriate for its target age, but they also noted that the plot sometimes dragged, that familiar fantasy motifs were sometimes overused, and that stereotypical Portland culture was a little overplayed. Wildwood was on the New York Times Best Seller list of Children's Chapter Books for two weeks and tied for the 2012 E.B. White Read Aloud Award.