I've had some fun ideas related to correlations between fiction genres and historical events, but I need to do a little data munging to actually work them through.
In the meantime, here's a little graph from me playing around on Google Ngram. (Interactive version visible on blog page)
Yeah, I know this completely unscientific and haphazard-- to do it well, it would be best to analyze a large cluster of words for trends.
Even so, it's fun to make a few observations.
- "Magic" is on the rise, although it's been drifting downwards since the 1990s.
- "Wizard" is following a general upward trend, with a huge bump in the 1990s that I"d guess is related to Harry Potter.
- Dragons have generally been on an upward trend, with a bumpy progress I'd love to investigate.
- "Witch" has held quite constant. It's a designation that never goes out of style, apparently.
- Vampires are rapidly gaining traction. The data only goes up to 2008, but I'd bet there's a Twilight bump.
- Fairies are generally on a downward trend, although they had a spike of popularity in the 60's-80's--I suspect they should be thanking flower power.
- Werewolves are slowly trending upwards, with almost no earlier presence except a spike in the 1860s, likely due to The Book of Werewolves.
- If you're wondering what's replacing magic, well, I'd have to say it's likely science. (Not shown, mostly because the words I used--space,science,technology,etc--were popular enough to throw of the scale of the graph.)
I also took a look at detective fiction, which has its own interesting trends. I'll save it for a different post, however.