Did the War on Terror lead to Game of Thrones and Joe Abercrombie?

Why has fantasy gotten so gritty and violent? Why are we so obsessed with Game of Thrones and book sagas about severed limbs and dirty deals, instead of epic quests involving elves and singing swords and Ultimate Evil? Writer David Chandler shares a fascinating theory over at SFSignal.

In the 1980s, horror movies shifted away from stylized, somewhat sanitized scares towards full-blown gore and intense violence — and to some extent, this may have been a reaction to the Vietnam war. And maybe now something similar has happened with fantasy, in the wake of the War on Terror, writes Chandler:

I think fantasy is responding to the horrors of the War on Terror, just as horror responded to Vietnam... Elves with magic bows and children born under prophecies to save the world just don't fit with the new realities of war and politics. Instead we get constant, grueling warfare (Joe Abercrombie does a great job with this). We get the people in charge making secret deals and engaging in vicious reprisals (George R. R. Martin is the undisputed master here). We get sudden acts of terrifying carnage, and we get the desperate hopes of the people huddling in their mud hovels, hoping this time, just maybe, the war of good versus evil won't be played out on their fields and in their homes this time.

The whole thing is well worth reading. And debating. [SFSignal via Richard Kadrey]