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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > April 2016 > TURN TO THE DARK SIDE


A growing subgenre of fantasy favours gritty reality over pastoral mythology. Alex Davis girds his loins to brave the world of grimdark

The term ‘grimdark’ is one that is relatively new within genre fiction, and has no doubt been a popular trend in recent times. The quickest of looks online will confirm a real new movement in fantasy, alongside urban fantasy and dark fantasy (which we have explored previously in our articles) giving this venerable old genre the chance to spread its wings.

Having spent a couple of years working at Games Workshop’s publishing imprint Black Library, on Warhammer 40,000 fiction, it’s not hard to decipher where the term emerged from – ‘In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war’ is a common tagline for the game. And in science-fiction terms Warhammer 40k is a fair exemplar of the form, although over time grimdark has increasingly become a descriptor more for fantasy fiction. That’s certainly not to say the fantasy hasn’t featured darker elements for many years, but grimdark has become a distinctive subgenre of fantasy and one that has sparked a lot of interest in just how different it can be from traditional fantasy.

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FREE 2016 Competition supplement: Win £400,388 in over 250 writing competitions • The bigger prize: Why comps are good for you , win or lose • Beat the Brontës: Explore Charlotte's style and try your hand in our special competition • How to: Craft credible historical fiction Use humour in your writing Learn from the short story masters • Star interview with TV scriptwriter Sally Wainwright, Bafta-winning author of Happy Valley

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