September 24, 2020, 07:13:58 PM

Author Topic: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark  (Read 12273 times)

Offline eclipse

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Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2014, 06:21:03 PM »
It seems a shame that grimdark doesn’t have its own topic; since I do think they are two very different things. If anyone knows someone suitable with edit rights, give them a poke?

Hello very interesting post, here is a link to a topic you might want to look at don't worry about lag time in posts it's always good to see more points added to a discussion  :)

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/grimdark/

and also welcome to the forums

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Offline Gruud

Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2014, 06:30:39 PM »
Sorry, I should have been more clear. I meant a separate Grimdark topic on Wikipedia. I will check that out here though.

Thanks for the welcome! And for the link.

Offline HAnthe

Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2014, 05:08:36 PM »
I think the Elric Saga was more of a nihilistic epic fantasy than either dark fantasy or grimdark.  It had a lot of that going-out-on-adventures feel, but the adventures almost always ended in ruin.

I tried to explain the difference between dark fantasy and horror once by saying that in horror, the protagonists tend to have little or no way to fight back -- whereas in dark fantasy, there may be horrific elements but the protagonists can directly fight the horrific/supernatural enemies that plague them.  They have more agency.

To me, then, grimdark means stories where the characters don't fight those horrors, but either embody or ignore them.  Worlds where violence is a reflex if not the norm, and where the rule of law is shaky, corrupt or completely absent -- where the most pragmatic philosophy is 'do unto others before they do unto you'.

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Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2014, 09:38:32 PM »
I remember once upon a time discussions like these would be "what is the difference between swords and sorcery and high fantasy?" - Dark fantasy can encompass many things - it could be a straight mash-up between horror and fantasy elements. So we could argue that Peter Brett's "Painted Man" is dark fantasy. But you could also argue that some Robert E Howard's Conan stories could also qualify as Dark fantasy as well and for that matter even Fritz Leiber and his Gray Mouser & Fafhrd stories could fit the bill. So it seems to me that Dark Fantasy is just good old swords and sorcery with a horror element after all. It's just that over the years its acquired another label.

Grim-Dark on the other hand seems to me to be a deconstruction of both swords & Sorcery and High fantasy. Just as Alan Moore de-constructed the superhero, so too have writers like Abercrombie and George Martin. There have been many others - but there works seem to have their roots in either swords and sorcery or high fantasy. I am sure its been done before but there seems to be a lot more of it.

Offline eclipse

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Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2017, 07:24:22 AM »
Bumped for inky
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Offline abatch

Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2017, 08:59:29 PM »
For me, dark fantasy can still have noble characters striving to defeat evil, do the right thing, etc., whereas in grimdark, many if not most of the characters are morally ambiguous and "right" is often achieved as a side effect, a peripheral consequence of action rather than as a primary goal. Yes, grimdark is gory, gritty, dirty, etc., but it's the damaged or absent moral compass that really seals the deal.

Offline Yora

Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2017, 09:33:25 PM »
Grimdark is when Dark Fantasy becomes a carricature.

The term itself comes from a work of parody. A joke that was later lost on the people who it made fun of.
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Offline Nora

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Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2017, 11:45:18 PM »
Oh, so you've read Joe Abercrombie and found his work to be caricatural?
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Offline abatch

Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2017, 03:23:48 AM »
"Grimdark is when Dark Fantasy becomes a carricature.

The term itself comes from a work of parody. A joke that was later lost on the people who it made fun of."

What it was intended to be and what it is may well be two different things, kind of like Frankenstein's monster.


Offline RobertS

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Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2017, 03:58:57 AM »
For all practical purposes, grimdark is what publishers who are looking for grimdark submissions accept.

This is true, ironic and recursive. Grimdark is grimdark.
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Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #25 on: October 09, 2017, 04:55:35 AM »
For me, dark fantasy can still have noble characters striving to defeat evil, do the right thing, etc., whereas in grimdark, many if not most of the characters are morally ambiguous and "right" is often achieved as a side effect, a peripheral consequence of action rather than as a primary goal. Yes, grimdark is gory, gritty, dirty, etc., but it's the damaged or absent moral compass that really seals the deal.

This is pretty much my view on the topic. It's more about the way you tackle morality. In dark fantasy as it has come to be known these days, you can still have generally heroic characters. The challenges they face may be quite dark, veering into horror territory at times.

I would consider my own fantasy to have elements of dark fantasy, but very few elements of grimdark. I don't hold back on violence and bloodshed. I kill a lot of characters. I have all kinds of terrifying monsters. But through it all, my main characters remain more on the noble and heroic side of things. They aren't perfect people by any means, but they usually strive to do the right thing.

In grimdark, you have a lot more moral ambiguity with your main characters. Grimdark is all about blurring the lines between good and evil (or in some cases putting forth the worldview that good doesn't even exist). A lot of grimdark would also qualify as dark fantasy, but not all dark fantasy is grimdark.

Offline Lanko

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Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2017, 06:58:55 AM »
Just because Grimdark started with a caricatural style doesn't mean it needs or will stay just confined to that aspect. Tragedy and comedy changed throughout the ages, for example. Or even Epic Fantasy, from LoTR to Stormlight or ASOIAF or even First Law itself.

I think the success of more dark and realistic stories in recent times created a lot of demand for more stories of the same type.
Grimdark might've been a joke word relating to Warhammer and Dark Fantasy something with a different approach than it, but I think Grimdark now simply absorbed the other terms and became the keyword for all works with a gritty approach, whether it's caricatural, with just some humor or absolutely serious or even exploring some of its elements with all three approaches.

So hunting for differences between them today seems like a waste of time.

This can create situations like "this is too dark and gloomy" if you're expecting a caricatural approach or "this is dark, but not as dark as X" and etc.
But for me it's fine because the "dark approach" is there. There will obviously be differences in the "dark scale" of a work, considering the amount of authors out there, just like there is with Epic, Dystopia, Space Opera, etc.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2017, 07:01:47 AM by Lanko »
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Offline eclipse

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Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #27 on: October 09, 2017, 07:33:34 AM »
If you take out Lawrence,Abercrombie and maybe Glen Cook (is he grimdark?) which authors/books do you recommend for Grimdark?

Also which Dark Fantasy Authors/novels do you recommend for Dark Fantasy thanks
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #28 on: October 09, 2017, 07:36:57 AM »
If you take out Lawrence,Abercrombie and maybe Glen Cook (is he grimdark?) which authors/books do you recommend for Grimdark?

Also which Dark Fantasy Authors/novels do you recommend for Dark Fantasy thanks

This exemplifies pretty much what I said about Grimdark absorbing the other terms. Grimdark didn't even exist until somewhat recently and today Glen Cook is considered the "grandfather" of it.
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Dark Fantasy v Grimdark
« Reply #29 on: October 09, 2017, 10:12:55 AM »
I was all "I'll head to Goodreads and check my "gritty" shelf for suggestions!" but GR is down and I literally do not know what to do with myself.

Meanwhile, curious for thoughts: how does grimdark mesh or contrast with what I'd probably call "fantasy noir" like Dan Polansky's Low Town books? To a certain extent, they're just the full realisation of a thief/rogue urban-setting gritty style of fantasy, which probably isn't "grimdark" in its Abercrombie/Lawrence form (they favour more warrior quest/battle-setting gritty fantasy) but it's still plenty damn grim.