The Fantastic Genre: The Best Fiction

It’s the uncertainty of the fantastic genre that draws me in. It’s the journey rather than the result itself; take me beyond the threshold.

Fantastic Genre

Borrowing from the European Gothic tradition, the American Renaissance morphs the gothic into a uniquely American form. In this blog, I will shine a light on the ‘fantastic’ genre, in hopes of uncovering the feelings or misperceptions we may have about the ‘dark side,’ or the obscure. 

As I sat there thinking about what genre of fiction most intrigues me, I noticed the pending cloud storm heading my way, looming over the close horizon.  I honestly don’t recall when I first began to succumb to the doom and gloom prescribed to horror.  In Highschool I was a fan of science fiction and nonfiction.  I would read Kurt Vonnegut, Hawthorne, books about relativity or about scientific theories about neutrinos in solar dispersion or other quirky components of our solar system.  Horror wasn’t a thing for me. Even when I began college I was engrossed by the literate and the science fiction.  Yeah, I studied English and writing, but horror wasn’t a dark spot yet. 

Kurt Vonnegut Shares His 8 Secrets on Writing a Good Short Story
The thunderous calamity continued to engross on my area, yet no storm. 

I was uncertain about what it was that drew me to horror or dark fiction.  And then it hit me; it’s that very uncertainty that draws me in.  It’s the journey rather than the result itself, the anticipation or feeling I get when uncovering something.

Were you aware that the birth of the US nation incidentally coincided with the rise of fantastic fiction on the literary scene?  Some main stream examples of this type of literature begin in the 1800’s.  Authors such as Washington Irving, Edgar Allan poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Sarah Orne Jewett, Ambrose Bierce, Jenry James, and even H.P. Lovecraft in the 1900’s.

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So what is the fantastic?

Fantastic Genre
The Fantastic Genre was outlined by Bulgarin Linguistic, Tzvetan Todorov.

First, the text must oblige the reader to consider the world of the characters as a world of living persons and to hesitate between a natural and supernatural explanation of the events described.  Second, this hesitation may also be experienced by a character; thus the reader’s role is tso to speak entrusted to a character, and at the same time the hesitation is represented, it becomes one of the themes of the work.  Third, the reader must adopt a certain attitude with regard to the text: he will reject allegorical as well as “poertic” interpretations.  The first and the third actually constitute the genre; the second may not be fulfilled. (Todorov

Ultimately, what we are looking for is not the supernatural or only the instances in which the traditional gothic tropes are challenged.  As Todorov writes, “we might indeed characterize such events as supernatural, but the supernatural, though a literary category, is not relevant here. We want to find the crux – not between real and the supernatural, but in which ‘the hesitation occurs between the real and the imaginary” (Todorov).

The Magic of the Fantastic Genre is the uncertainty. 

It isn’t the uncovering of the mystery, the end of the long hallway, leading you to the obscure figure which turns out to be the deranged ex wife of a wealthy man (Jane Eyre).  The marvel is in the journey.  It’s the constant feeling of existing between this world and another, not being able to stay afoot in either one.  The second you set both feet in one world you have reached a mainstream genre; thriller, mystery, horror, humorous.  There is no punchline but to feel that thought unravelling in your head, only to be turned over to repeat itself.

The Fantastic Genre

“The fantastic, we see, lasts only as long as a certain hesitation: a hesitation common to reader and character, who must decide whether or not what they perceive derives from ‘reality’ as it exists in the common opinion. […] If he decides that the laws of reality remain intact and permit an explanation of the phenomena described, we say that the work belongs to another genre: the uncanny. If, on the contrary, he decides that new laws of nature must be entertained to account for the phenomena, we enter the genre of the marvelous.” — Tzvetan Todorov

The storm never came, the clouds continue to engross my position -leaving me with that ambivalent feeling.  Yet, I find solace in this uncertainty, and I hope you too, will enjoy being on edge.  

How Reading more Fantastic Genre Will Make You a Better Reader

Fantastic Genre
The Fantastic Genre
  • It will improve your imagination
  • It will make you more American
  • You can be original
  • It blends between two worlds – It’s not quite terror and it’s not quite fantasy
  • It’s almost like being supernatural but not quite there so you can still say it’s realism
  • The feeling will linger even after you finish the story since it doesn’t conclude or uncover any mysteries, monsters or close chapter like other genres do

Modern Writers in the sub genre of the fantastic Genre Would Be:

Fantastic Genre
The Fantastic Genre
  • Neil Gaiman
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Ralph Adams
  • Jonathan Carroll
  • Peter Straub’s “Little Red”
  • Stephen king’s “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet
  • Melanie and Steve Rasnis Tem’s “The Man on the Ceiling”
  • Dan Chaon’s “The Bees”
  • Brian Evensons’ “Body”

You can download many fantastic genre stories printed prior to 1923 on Gutenberg.

If you like this article, we have similar content studying communication from discourse theory, here.

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how it may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Available for download below for Free as Epub PDF, and Mobi. All we ask is for an honest review!

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.


    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]



    On Writing Fear amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of
    horror resides. When I returned to study for my masters in English, the
    University was in tumult. The union of professors was on strike against
    the University. And of course, the students were pawns in the battle. As a
    student, I realized I was powerless in this situation, yet both the professors
    and University felt the need to deploy a rhetoric of fear. On the one hand, the
    school was threatening to lower our grades if we did not attend a class
    that was being covered by fill-in teachers and administrators, and on the
    other, we knew our teachers would be back so we didn’t want to show that
    we attended classes, and did not support them in their strike.

    their abuse of power, the University sent letters and emails to both
    students and their parents explaining that the students were still expected
    to attend class. The University then controlled its social media space and
    print by removing comments that were made regarding the strike – they
    wanted to continue as if nothing was going on. They were in control of the
    narrative and we were left to rumors. The school paper was not allowed to
    print any stories on the matter and the University was threatening to hold
    us accountable.

    We have other books specializing in Horror and sci-fi here. Thank you for your interest in “On Writing Horror.”

Mad Men Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller that causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must-read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all men and women. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology was published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun, and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

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