[DWJ] Early fantasy?

Roger Burton West roger at firedrake.org
Sun Jun 18 17:34:26 EDT 2006


On Sun, Jun 18, 2006 at 02:06:00PM +0100, Jane Scarlett wrote:

>Well, this led me on to thinking about the other HRH stories I loved - 
>King Solomon's Mines, anything with Allan Quatermain, etc.  And it 
>occurred to me that these are very like fantasy, but set in this world in 
>undiscovered areas, and that it's only as so much of the world has been 
>discovered that fantasy has had to move to other planets and parallel 
>universes.  Unlike SF, which was around at the same time HRH was writing 
>(HG Wells, for example), but hinges on science rather than other 
>civilisations.  

SF has its own backwaters too. For example, there's a whole microgenre
of romances of the air, written in the 1890s-1900s, when it was clear
that heavier-than-air craft were the Wave of the Future but not what
form they'd take. (George Griffith was the principal author of these,
but I believe not the only one.) I quite enjoy them, but I'm in a
minority; similarly, I know that many people have trouble reading SF
stories set on the oceans of Venus now that we know there's no liquid
water there, or stories set in Darkest Africa now that it's all been
mapped, and so on. I don't think there's a clear SF/fantasy divide.

I think this is similar to the way many people don't like to read
stories _written_ (rather than _set_) in societies with different
attitudes from ours; this most often manifests as ideas about race and
the role of women in society, and if I were a Freudian I'd suggest that
this is because that's the area about which our own society feels most
insecure...

R



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