iPods in Narnia

Okay, so there weren’t iPods in Narnia…but there are in ancient Egypt. Sort of. If you read Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles.

A lot of middle grade and young adult fantasy writers find it tricky to balance the more fantastical elements of their world with the myriad of cool, real-world gadgets their characters can access these days. Riordan is one of the best when it comes to doing this well.

He manages to weave iPods, ESPN, Adele, even YouTube, in amongst swords, spirit dreams, cat-goddesses and shabti (ancient clay librarians). And he does it so well that every time I hear Adele on the radio, I automatically think of Sadie Kane, one of his MCs. (Who, by the way, is one of the most hilarious MG characters I’ve ever read!)

A lot of urban fantasy brings the supernatural into our world, but doesn’t spend time going the other direction…what if our world and our technology crashed into the supernatural?

We fantasy writers sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that adding a cell phone will somehow dilute the pure awesomeness of our character’s old-school magical sword or inevitable doomsday prophecy. For some reason, our imaginations don’t like to mix the modern and the magical.

I think we’re missing out!

There are a handful of middle grade books out there lately that do a great job of blending the two through portal fantasy (the kids travel to another world through a door, wardrobe, portkey, what-have-you).

Think of all the fun we can have with “new” technology and gadgets stuck in an “epic fantasy” world. Would Harry and the gang have found the horcruxes faster with Google Maps? What songs would Frodo have on his “Trek to Mordor” iPod mix?

If we give ourselves the flexibility to bend a few of our purist fantasy notions, the possibilities are not only fun to imagine and write, they just might be more relatable to readers, too!


  1. Ah, but some of us like fantasy specifically because we dislike our modern tech obsessed culture. We prefer swords to guns and horses to cars, etc. So, it's fine to have this stuff in Urban or portal fantasy. But please leave my precious epic fantasy alone! ;)

  2. Sarah - Ha! I totally get that way sometimes myself. This was my mini-reminder that sometimes...occasionally...other stuff is allowed to be cool, too. Epic fantasy is forever number 1 in my heart.