Historically, and therefore throughout Fancyclopedia, fantasy referred to a genre of fiction of which science fiction is a subset. Today, they are generally considered to be separate, though still-linked genres, but one can easily provoke endless argument about just where the boundaries lie, and the old meaning of the term lingers in the names of many fan organizations, fanzines and events.
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction defines fantasy fiction better than we can.
See also: Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantastic, Fsy, Heroic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Literature of the Fantastic, Lost World, Low Fantasy, Magical Realism, Modern Mythology, Off-Trail, Paranormal, Political Fantasy, Pure Fantasy, Science-Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Weird Fantasy, Horror, Classification of Fantasy, Encyclopedia of Fantasy.
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|As a general term, describes the whole field of science-fiction, pure fantasy, and weird fiction; it's also used as synonymous with "pure" fantasy. Other divisions of fantasy in addition to the three above have been proposed but are not generally recognized, so that the whole field remains somewhat arbitrarily divided among these three. When used to designate a division of the general field of fantasy equivalent to the classifications of science-fiction and weird fiction, fantasy means the sort of thing whose only believability is in the reader's acceptance of it for the sake of the story. It may take beliefs which were once widely held, like Hellenic mythology, but if it does it must mix in a modern element; otherwise you're in the province of weird fiction. And there may be a gesture at a pseudo-scientific or "you can't be sure" explanation, but this doesn't make it science-fiction because the explanation isn't meant to be taken seriously. Wollheim suggested the designation of this sort of fantasy as "pure" fantasy to avoid confusion with the general field.
Historically, general fantasy began with primitive mythology and religious stories, and went on thru tales of fays, little men, and the like, paralleled by the darker superstitions of ghosts, ghouls, vampires, etc. In all countries, tho, there are early stories, told for pleasure, of flights to other worlds, as well as the "imaginary wars and battles", "imaginary voyages", and "Utopias" under which Sam Russell says fantasy is still often classified by scholastics.
Distinction of the three types we have given may be traced to the middle of the Eighteenth Century, when the Gothic Weird story arose sooner and developed more highly than SF. Science fiction, of course, could not truly begin until the age of science, and may be said to have started at the end of the Eighteenth Century, when writers like the American Charles Brockden Brown added the element of plausibility thru a scientific explanation to the Gothic tale. Pure fantasy as a regular form appeared late, aside from fairy tales for children, or (like Lewis Carroll's) allegedly for children. The "modern mythology" of Unknown was for the most part pure fantasy; so were the Lovecraft Mythos.
In the decades around 1900 many writers touched fantasy at times: Burroughs, H. R. Haggard, etc. By the World War, mundane magazines published science fiction occasionally, and there were a few minor all-fantasy periodicals. Weird Tales appeared in March 1923, and Hugo Gernsback (who had been publishing at least one stfyarn a month in Science and Invention since 1920) launched Amazing Stories in April 1926, first of the Big Three proz. The rest you know.
|From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944|
|A general term covering science-fiction, weird fiction, and pure fantasy; also sometimes used interchangeably with pure fantasy. Other subdivisions of fantasy in addition to the three above have been proposed, such as political fantasy, but are not generally recognized, so that the entire field remains somewhat arbitrarily divided between these three. Excluded from the class, fantasy literature, are certain types that logically would seem to fall within it; there has been general assent to Tucker's exclusion of salacious fiction with a fantastic background; religious imaginings are generally ignored when fantasy is considered (tho in early fantastories religious elements were sometimes present); and fairly tales and children's animal stories, tho they will be classified as fantasy, do not come within the fantasy fan's field, unless they get into another medium like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Some stories have fantastic elements which however do not influence the action itself, which is of the run-of-the-mill sort (for example, a detective story in which criminals steal an invention); such stories are not fantasy but are said to have fantastic elements or be fantastic, to a certain extent, and are proper subjects for noting in bibliografies, etc. Stories in which seemingly fantastic elements turn out to be hoaxes, like "The Stolen Bacillus", are not fantasy; but the device of it was all a dream" is so conventionalized that its occurrence at the end of a story does not remove the tale from the fantastic classification, likewise the device of a stranger telling a story which the reader is not asked to believe. Scientific inaccuracies come under the general heading of literary license, and an s-f story does not become weird or pure fantasy because of them; similarly, statistical investigation (looking to see what is on the site where Heinlein built his Crooked House in Los Angeles) does not change the classification.
Of the making of definitions there is no end, but a great obstacle in compiling them is that some are definitions of science-fiction only, while other apply to the whole field of fantasy but may be written from the viewpoint of a particular type; thus to August Derleth, Weird Tales author, all science-fiction, and other fantasy as well, is merely an outgrowth of the old Gothic romance from which Poe made his departure. The original FAPA Constitution spoke of fantastic and highly imaginative literature". Earlier, in Fantasy Magazines, Wollheim said, ... science fiction is that branch of fantasy, which, while not true of known present day knowledge, is rendered plausible by the reader's recognition of the scientific possibilities of it being possible at some future date or at some uncertain period in the past. Weird fiction is that branch of fantasy dealing with supernatural or occult subjects, which is rendered plausible by the reader's recognition of the fact that there are people somewhere who at present, or in the past, did believe, or do believe, in the truth of the ideas therein and is therefore willing to concede the truth of these things for the period in which he is reading the story. ... pure fantasy is the branch of fantasy, which dealing with subjects recognizable is non-existent and entirely imaginary, is rendered plausible by the reader's desire to consider it as such during the period of reading." Speer, using a three-dimensional time scheme, defines mundane fiction as that which takes place in the present or the historical past, involving only the operation of known natural laws, and with the events lying within the bounds of what we know happened in the past of our history or is true of the present day; and fantasy as all fiction that lies outside of any of these boundaries.
A more illuminating definition for the non-fastast mite be a listing of the subjects included within the field. On the time scheme mentioned above, a decimal classification has been developed embracing the following subjects: The Future-- Space travel; Extra-terrestrial life and adventures on other planets; Extraordinary astronomical phenomena (e g, destruction of earth); Castastrophies on civilization (intensified Ice Age, plague, sole survivors, our barbarous descendants); Political, social, and economic life (oppression and revolt, matriarchy, decay of man). The prehistoric Past-- Prehuman life; early man; Legendary civilizations; Early historic cultures. Time-spanning (including going forward and back in time, changing the past or the future, suspended animation, and might-have-been worlds). Impossible by contemporary science-- Supernatural elements in the know world (wishes, charms, occult arts, curses, miracles, cults, haunted places and things, possession, beings of religions of medieval tradition, and of modern conception); Unrationalized permutations and alterations (humanoid animals, unliving things personalized); Science's cosmology denies (as in subjective idealism); Life after death; Adventures in mythological worlds; Mythologies of modern conception. Extrapolations taking place in the present or the known past-- robots; Atomic energy; Invisibility; Super-speed; Duplications of persons; matter-radio; Television, spy ray, and projector; Laboratory creatures; Strange animals and plants; Non-carbon life; immortal (for Supermen; ESP; Mind transference; Hypnotism (for old stories); lost Amerind and Arctic lands; Earth's core; Subterranean life; Subsea civilization; Fourth Dimension and two-dimensional; Macrocosm; Microcosm; Littleness. Substantially the same heading are arranged in Russell's classification system under these headings: Extraterrestrial events and settings. Terrestrial events and settings-- The past; Utopias; Future civilizations; Future wars; Future barbarism or Dark Ages; Submarine life; Natural catastrophes. Scientific advances, discoveries, inventions-- The physical sciences; The biological sciences; The social sciences; Psychology and telepathy; Time travel; Large-scale engineering feasts; New lands on Earth. Supernaturalism; The powers of evil. Supernaturalism: The occult. Supernaturalism: Mythology. Pure fantasy. The categories of the Yearbook classification are too horrible to reproduce here.
Historically, fantasy began with primitive myths, then religious stories and on thru tales of fays, little men, and the like, paralleled by the darker superstitious stories of ghosts, ghouls, vampires, etc. In all countries, too, there are early stories, told for pleasure, of flites to other worlds, as well as the imaginary voyages", utopias", and imaginary wars and battles" under which Sam Russell says fantasy is still often classified by scholastics. The weird tale developed sooner and more highly than s-f. Science-fiction could not truly begin until the age of science, and may be said to have started at the end of the Eighteenth Century, when writers like the American Charles Brockden Brown added the element of plausibility thru a scientific explanation to the Gothic scary story. The three fathers of science-fiction are Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells. The latter explored almost all of the fields now exploited in science-fiction magazines, and raised s-f to the level of a literary type. In the decades around 1900 many writers touched fantasy at times -- Burroughs, H. R. Haggard &c. By the World War, mundane magazines published science-fiction occasionally , and there were a few minor all-fantasy periodicals. Weird Tales began in the early twenties, and in 1926 Hugo Gernsback launched Amazing Stories, first of the Big Three pros.
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