It’s a great time to be someone who loves fantasy. Today there are better, more diverse fantasy stories out in the wild than ever before, and it’s in large part thanks to the mainstream success of series like A Song of Ice and Fire.
Of course, it helped that the television rendition, Game of Thrones, was a phenomenal success too. I myself am a “the book is better” kind of guy, but I appreciate what GoT has done for fantasy in general. There really hasn’t been much fantasy on tv or in the theaters outside the occasional stuff like Lord of the Rings.
Sure, it was better represented in other mediums, many of which are among my personal staples. These included video games, visual novels, anime, manga, and, sometimes, even western comics (graphic novels are growing in popularity and many of them, like Monstress, are deliciously fantasy).
But there just wasn’t much out there if you wanted to sit down and watch a tv series or movie. Superheroes dominated cinema, and when people gushed about shows it was about The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad. Then GoT came along and bam, all of a sudden that was all everyone was talking about.
The books saw a strong boost too, and there seemed to be a kind of sunburst for the fantasy genre as a whole. At least, in novels (ironically spearheaded by the creation and rise of the grimdark subgenre).
Things were going great, and I was becoming increasingly excited at all the raw potential waiting for the void that would mark GoT’s end. That end did come eventually, disastrously, and then there was much lamenting. Jeeezus, the lamenting. It was all I heard for weeks. But not from me, folks. I was smiling like an idiot because this was kind of what I wanted; fans to be left unsatiated, unfulfilled. I wanted them to be angry. I wanted them to be hungry for more.
And hangry they were. I obviously wasn’t the only one who caught this, and in what seemed like overnight GoT’s success and, more importantly, its failed landing spawned a wave of fantasy tv series announcements: Wheel of Time, The Witcher, The Golden Compass, The Dark Crystal, and a Lord of the Rings TV series.
Yikes! And that’s just the beginning; I’m already drooling for a Stormlight Archive or Mistborn series, or a rendition of Kings of the Wyld or Malazan Book of the Fallen. The possibilities are endless, and, if the current waves of approval are to be trusted, actually probable.
As of this moment, The Witcher is being very warmly received, so much so that it has led to the Witcher 3 video game surpassing its previous concurrent player record!
If the trend continues, we could see fantasy becoming a mainstream part of tv and cinema, finally (again?). Or, of course, it could just be another fad that will quickly blow over, like vampires and zombies. Who knows (please don’t be a fad)?
Either way, my personal fantasy staples, which are video games, visual novels, and regular novels, are pretty darn safe and in my opinion still better mediums, but I have zero qualms about adding some tv series and movies to the list. In fact, previously, I didn’t watch much of either as writing and my other hobbies left me little time to binge watching anything. I still haven’t seen Breaking Bad or any of the Avengers movies, and I really have no interest in doing so. Yeah, I’m not exactly the best guy to bring to the movies.
But maybe that will change soon and I’ll become part of the ‘in’ crowd chattering over the latest movies and shows because they will be fantasy. And it’s all thanks to the crash landing of a Game of Thrones.
Sure, I do think we still would have seen something of a similar spotlight for fantasy even had it succeeded, but the way things turned out not only left fans itching for a palate cleanser but also made GoT a far easier act to follow in spite of the success and adoration it previously enjoyed.
I, for one, cannot wait to see what 2020 brings in terms of fantasy announcements.