I’m writing a fantasy novel and using it as an opportunity to think about the genre in general. There seem to be three types, which surprises me as I thought such an open form would have far, far more. Maybe I’m missing something.
- An idealised mythical setting. Examples would include Lord of the Rings, Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age. (Although, how you can have an age ‘undreamed of’ when you are making it up?) These are, I suppose, the historical world as it should have been with dragons and magic and whatever.
- Something fantastic in our world. I’d count near history in today, so a werewolf in Tudor times. Dracula is our world into which is introduced a vampire.
- Another world. Narnia for example. It often has someone from our world going there. I wonder about John Carter of Mars as that might be defined as SF. The film certainly was, whereas in the books he just dozed off.
Which leads to the question of how many moons? One option would be not to mention one at all and then the reader can populate the night sky with whatever they want. Most have one moon. Middle Earth has a sun and a moon, but then it is our world without the top and bottom.
Gaie Sebold’s Babylon Steel has two moons, the story pivoting around an alignment known as ‘Twomoon’. The novel has Tarot cards, including ‘The Moon’, which I thought was a misstep, but there are portals there to other worlds with any variety of moon numbers. It’s strictly fantasy, whereas the two moons of Barsoom (Mars) in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ work is a step towards reality. He knew at the time what he thought Phobos and Deimos, neither having leather goddesses I suspect. I think if you start adding planetary objects, you end up discussing orbits, and then you are moving towards science fiction. A perfectly good fantasy world can weaken and crumble before the might of logic; once you’ve added enough midichlorians, then any forceful magic slips away through your fingers.
I suppose this is the flipside of my usual obsession with scientific rigour in your science and pseudo-science.
I’ve ended up adding a moon (the moon?) because my characters wouldn’t be able to see a damn thing during a night scene.