Medievalism hides in many guises in contemporary culture, of which four will be examined here. One is the popular literature of fantasy fiction and crime novels. Another two are the world of Heritage – covering medieval sites, theme parks, and a vast retail industry of artifacts – and, partly associated with it, the historical re-enactment scene. Last but not least is the development of war and strategy Internet games.
The origins of the fantasy fiction genre may go back to William Morris, but its real modern roots are in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Fantasy fiction invents myths, legends, and characters situated in a world before time, doing heroic deeds and achieving impossible tasks with the help of magical creatures (beasts, demons, magicians). These illustrate the importance of man's understanding of, and working with, the natural world, which ultimately brings about wholeness and happiness. At its best, the genre produced J. R. R. Tolkien and Philip Pullman; at worst, a plethora of run-of-the-mill fantasies meant for rapid consumption. Fantasy fiction's main writers, such as Anne Rice, Ursula Le Guin, Stephen Lawhead, and Robert Jordan, use titles such as The Dragon Reborn, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Belgariad, The Malloreon, the Prydain series, the Song of Albion, all featuring heroes, places, or gods' names with a Celtic resonance, from Sauron and Galadriel to Nynaeve, Aviendha, Amyrlin, Caemlyn, and Belgarath. These suggest to the readers' minds a world before time, inhabited by supernatural creatures, powers and heroes, fabulous myths and legends, where good triumphs over evil, and love and heroic deeds are rewarded.