High fantasy sci-fi


i want a setting that was once a high fantasy world but time has passed and the days of quests are over while the age of indoor plumbing has begun but the elves and stuff like still exist
like i want fuckin.. space operas where humans weren’t all that phased by aliens because there had always been other species, and our starfleet utilizing translation potions to help communicate
or a cyberpunk world with like digital magic and the hideous, deformed descendants of dragons creeping through the deepest darkest alleyways of the cities, devouring any fool who dares go down where the neon lights don’t reach
magic mecha to defend us from the giants awoken form their slumber by fucking dwarfs who couldn’t stop mining where they knew they shouldn’t, meanwhile rival mage factions are getting close to all out war to be fought with spellcasting pistols and rifles rather than wands or staffs
come on guys what the fuck happens 1500+ years after our young hero leaves his village to become a mighty warrior i gotta know y’all
*cracks knuckles*
This is a small, but highly interesting genre that I find absolutely fascinating because, generally speaking, Epic Fantasy worlds are VERY OLD and they DON’T EVOLVE (see: Harry Potter, Game of Thrones).
But anyway. I think Brandon Sanderson was writing something like that, which means that in the not to distant future, someone will probably claim he invented it, but IN THE MEAN TIME, here are some recs:
1. Cold Magic by Kate Elliot
2. The Curse Worker Trilogy, by Holly Black
3. The Order of the Air series by Jo Graham and Melissa Scott (these are in the same ‘verse as Graham’s other Numinous World books which take place after the fall of Troy, during the ascension of Ptolemy I, the reign of Cleopatra, and the French Revolution, as well as short stories throughout history).
4. The Many-Coloured Land books by Julian May
5. Actually, I think the Trillium books that Julian May co-wrote would count too, but you have to read MZB to get there so I understand if you don’t want to.
6. The Buried Age, which is a Star Trek book about the theory of very old thing being more advanced than you, an advanced society
I think Kevin Hearne has a series too? Iron Druid or something?

MY POINT IS: please write more of these, they sound like fun.

Epic Fantasy worlds are VERY OLD and they DON’T EVOLVE (see: Harry Potter, Game of Thrones).
The Belgariad and Mallorean by David Eddings have the “Fantasy worlds are static and can never move past their medieval fantasy trappings” thing as an important plot element between the two series, with the latter making trying to break that stasis the overall goal of the series.
This is true! And Eddings doubles down in the Elenium and theTamuli by introducing sci-fi elements to the world-building and mythology. Also at one point there’s kind of a space ship? It’s a little vague (again, bc of the plot).
I don’t usually add things to posts, but I’m going to recommend the Shannara series by Terry Brooks. It’s a high fantasy series set on post-apocalyptic Earth, with the idea being that trolls and dwarves and things all evolved because of… radiation poisoning? It’s not entirely clear. (The one exception being the elves, who were apparently always elves.)
In later trilogies, like Defenders of Shannara, you start to see science making a comeback, and science v.s. magic/whether the two can work together is a recurring theme.
The books definitely have their issues (seriously, there are a lot, as in a LOT—I can elaborate if anyone wants me to, but I don’t want to write an essay here), but they do show a seemingly typical fantasy world changing over the centuries.
(Most people say you should start with the original trilogy and read in publishing order, but I started with Genesis of Shannara, which is set at the end of the world as we know it, and hopped about, and understood it fine. Though I would say read the Voyage trilogy before High Druid, because it’s sort of key to understanding the main characters.)
Anne McCaffrey does this with the PERN books too, to a degree (they make landfall, they do genetics, DRAGONS, they lose technology, several hundred years go by, they find the technology again), and the Darkover books do almost exactly the same thing, but with telepathy (see above re: reluctance to recommend MZB).
Both series have issues, including, but not limited to, consent (in McCaffrey’s case, she wrote for long enough to at least address this matter. Sort of. Which is what happens when you start a series in 1968 and are still writing it past 2001!).
The Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein is also about a pre-industrial world, where a very small group of people practice magic, edging towards a scientific revolution. Although there are twists and turns which are extremely spoilery and it’s not fantasy in the traditional sense.
It’s also notable for being All About Women, and Women Being Friends And Allies, and Men Are There But They’re Usually The Worst, and Non-Humans Are Strange And Sometimes Terrifying But Not Monsters, Please, Angry Mob, Put Those Pitchforks Down. I absolutely recommend them.
(Downside: the series stalled four books in, because the author developed cancer and the books went out of print, but she has recovered and is writing again, and has republished herself. But we have a wait for book five, in which time I do need more people to join with me in going ???? !!!! over book four.)
At some point in the distant past I read a piece of Narnia fic that was set in Narnia’s distant future, when they had reached basically an early 21stc level of technology. The main character was a Faun who, like, worked in an office and rode the subway and had Opinions about the best Calormene restaurants in her neighborhood and shared a crappy apartment with a Telmarine and a Talking Animal. It was a WIP, and I have never been able to find it again, and I want 80 novels exactly like it.
I have a story that’s kinda the reverse of this. I had a WIP that I abandoned, probably forever, but it was set in a medievalish high fantasy setting with vampires and werewolves. Coming back to that world, I’ve decided to write about the first ever vampire, and I’m modelling the culture & technology of his surroundings after the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B culture, that lived around 7000-6000 BC in the middle east. The PPN people were the first people in that region to have farms. It’s early stages, and I’m super excited about the story, even though it’s really tough getting the setting right.
So not what you were asking for, but definitely establishing a high fantasy setting as actually changing over time. And if the past is so different, their future totally could be as well.

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