Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hidden World vs. Alternate Reality

I love reading modern fantasy stories! The Dresden Files, the Harry Potter series, even the Anita Blake books offer some great escapism by allowing readers to explore our world in a new light. It's no surprise, then, that my trilogy is following in their speculative footsteps.

Hidden worlds like the ones that Harrys Dresden and Potter live in show the dangers in balancing the obligations of a secret supernatural society with those of the normal world, and offer some great tension when one world bleeds into the other. Alternate realities like the one that Anita Blake lives in, however, give us a glimpse of what the world would be like if the hidden world wasn't so hidden anymore, and the new issues that arise for the people who live in that world.

Both types of stories make for great settings. Which one is your favorite, and why?


  1. I think I prefer the world kept secret, mostly because I think it's handled a bit better in fiction, since I agree with Butcher's (and Dresden's, as a result of being his fictional character) view on how people aren't going to accept the existence of the supernatural without a fight. Or possible insanity. Harris and Hamilton's worlds filled with vampires being out of the coffin (as they say) usually leave out the original reaction to the reveal, the disbelief until actually witnessing the abilities of the supernatural...I'd think that many people would still comfort themselves with the idea that it's all a hoax, to keep themselves sane and comfortable in the world that used to exist before...but I guess they just don't include those people since it's not as interesting as the fangbangers or the fundamentalists.

  2. Well said! It makes you wonder what sort of reveal would be required for the entire world to accept that supernatural creatures are real and entitled to rights of their own. It would have to be something big, something witnessed first-hand by a LOT of people to counter the disbelief...

  3. Might be why they avoid showing it. I know with Harris they at least said that a vampire from each nation went on television for the big reveal, but they'd still have to prove that it wasn't someone's idea of a sick joke.

    Though, when the shifters in the Sookie books came out and told everyone, any out in public shifted to an animal form to prove it. So maybe the vampires did the same thing. I don't recall if Hamilton ever tries to detail it, though.

  4. Alternately, it could be a small event that snowballs through a community, then through a city, then on and on until it becomes a global phenomenon. That kind of change might actually be more realistic, since it would be more gradual and easier for people to accept than the sudden "Here we are, check out out awesome powers!" approach out of nowhere. I always laugh when stories show people trying to prove the existence of the supernatural over TV, especially in light of what can be done with special effects these days. Joe Average surfing through the channels wouldn't land on a news program and gape in awe at a real vampire showing off his skills on a live broadcast, he'd wonder what movie he just landed on and if the special effects are as good as Avatar.

    Or maybe that's me being jaded after having lived in L.A. for so long...


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