Urban F: A Type of Swords & Sorcery?

Last night, during the recording of a roundtable discussion on swords & sorcery for an upcoming podcast at SF Signal, Hugo-winning editor and huge S&S fan Lou Anders made a really neat comment about urban fantasy.

Modern urban fantasy, as Lou said, is almost a type of swords & sorcery.  It has tough protagonists.  They are usually outsiders in their society, in one way or another; “rogue” sort of characters, if you will. They have weapons, often swords or daggers, and they kick ass on monsters. They are even often depicted in cover art as somewhat scantily clad.

The settings are different, of course–paranormal modern worlds instead of fantastical pre-tech ones. Although I’m told that urban fantasy set in historical settings is starting to come out.

The far cooler difference is that most all the protagonists in urban fantasy are women, whereas of course most all of them in swords & sorcery are/were men.

The parallels are fascinating.  Clearly the female protagonist kicking monster ass resonates with millions of readers. I wonder if that means we might see a renaissance in female-centered swords & sorcery? Or is there something about S&S, its innate D&D sort of vibe or the lingering vibe from its classic rather female-unfriendly days, that is never quite going to resonate with the female-majority readership?

I don’t know, but it’s neat to think about.  And I know I’ll never look at a badass vampire-slaying heroine quite the same way again. :)


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