(fae) Fantasy Book Review Webring

There are those who would say that Thalia Herself is a figure of fantasy. There are differences between Myths, Archetypes, folklore and fantasy, but we won't go into them here — mostly because I tend to cross the lines all over the place, myself. You may regard me as Fantasy if you wish, dear — just keep writing.

What Is Fantasy?

On any mailing list, that question is good for about a week's worth of debate. Which will eventually end without ever coming to a conclusion. In general, "fantasy" is fiction in which things can exist and happen that would not normally exist and happen in our waking lives. Unlike science fiction, it is permissible in fantasy to violate physical laws as we know them, even to flout logic itself -- although most modern readers favor stories in which the fantasy elements are consistent within themselves; if you are going to have magic, have it follow its own logical system.

To me, the most powerful fantasy embodies archetypes, like folklore and mythology do and classic literature often does. It is easiest to deal with archetypes, dream images, and many other fundamentals of human psychology in fantasy, which echoes the earliest stories of our childhood and the human race's childhood.

If you do want to analyze it some more, I found an excellent literary treatise FANTASY [through 1985] on the web.

Ultimately, I define fantasy by reference to stories that I consider fantasy.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, by Patricia McKillip, is one of the classics of fantasy. The review I've linked to calls this "high fantasy", which seems to fit. "High fantasy" is fantasy dealing with wizards, elves, magical beasts -- what most people think of in reference to "fantasy".

The Little Country, by Charles de Lint, is another classic. This is an example of "urban fantasy", by one of the pillars of the genre. "High fantasy" tends to take place "long ago and far away", usually in a low-technology setting. In urban fantasy, the setting is updated to our own modern world, yet the elements of magic and myth and archetype are kept. It takes a great deal of talent to make this work without making it a comic parody, but de Lint has the talent.

The Empire of the East, by Fred Saberhagen, is harder to classify. I located a review at http://sf.www.lysator.liu.se/sf_archive/sf-texts/REVIEWS.INDEX, by Eric S. Raymond, very short. As he says, "Is this post-holocaust technology-of-magic SF, or heroic fantasy with rivets for flavor?" You've got gods, heroes, magic, a coming-of-age quest, and a whopping big army tank -- you want to quibble about categories? As Eric says, "...it's powerful stuff, a grabber from page one. Enjoy!"

Mojo and the Cookie Jar by Douglas Bell is another example of urban fantasy -- and comic fantasy. It's an example of a lot of things, all mixed together. It won the Philip K. Dick Award in 1991. It's out of print, but look for it -- it's worth the effort.

I don't think you need a definition of comic fantasy, do you? If you do, pick up any Discworld book by Terry Pratchett. You'll get the definition.

Some Fantasy Links

Charles de Lint homepage
Master of Urban Fantasy

Terry Pratchett info and links: a fan page
Master of Comic Fantasy

Jane Yolen a bibliography on Inkspot
Mistress of Fables

Patricia McKillip a bibliography from Putnam Berkeley Online
Patricia McKillip a fan page
Mistress of High Fantasy.

SCI-FInder, the dedicated science fiction & fantasy search engine

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