I could really use some help here.
How would you define paranormal vs contemporary fantasy?
I’m curious because my post on ‘Paranormal Romance in Decline?‘ brought forth a slew of people asking me this on Twitter.
Here’s my take:
At it’s most basic, I think, perhaps, the definition is vampires (paranormal) vs fae/magic (contemporary fantasy). Anne Rice is paranormal, Harry Potter is contemporary fantasy, given this definition.
But there’s a deeper question here. What is it about vampires that make them the ‘definition’ of paranormal? Some sites seem to say it’s the ESP/mind control. One or two others say it’s the ‘no-longer-human’ element and/or the fact that their powers arise from their no longer being human. No-longer-human, hmm, no soul? cessation of main body functions (i.e. vascular or respiratory)? inability to procreate? Some combination of these, I’d think.
Does this then mean that contemporary fantasy is then creatures who retain their humanity – their human body functions for the most part as a human body is designed to do? Which, I think, would then place shifters in this category/genre. That does work.
Huh. Okay let’s name some popular non-human elements and see, given these definitions where they fall.
- Demons- Have to go paranormal with this one.
- Angels- Also paranormal
- Elves- Contemporary fantasy (remember, I’m only looking at stories with contemporary settings)
- Witches- Also contemporary fantasy
- Demigods – I guess this would depend on the mythos the author creates, might go either way.
- Biogeneticially altered humans – Contemporary fantasy.
- Zombies – I’d have to go with paranormal for this one.
For now, this seems a good working definition. What do you think? Any creatures to add?
(Please note, for the purpose of this discussion, any stories are assumed to be in a contemporary setting. Historical stories are beyond the purview of this particular discussion I’m afraid.)
A follow up post to this discussion is here.