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[page 2] ON FANTASY-ADVENTURE Fantasy-adventure stories are definitely a minority of the imaginative fiction written and published today. In magazine fiction at least, the high water mark was in the thirties. After that it, along with the entire fantasy field, was published into the background by science fiction. The term 'fantasy-adventure' is not actually generally accepted. A better description was discussed at the last Myborian Legion muster, but of several suggestions, none seemed to be completely satisfactory. I propose to describe the field, give some examples, and show how it differs from the rest of fantasy writing. Fantasy-adventure is a branch of fantasy which, in turn, is part what L. Sprague de Camp calls (in his _Science-Fiction Handbook_) _imaginative_, as opposed to _realistic_, fiction. This general class also includes science fiction. I would like to start off with a few intuitive exclusions; what adventure-fantasy is _not_. It is, first of all, not the traditional stories of ghosts, werewolves, pacts-with-the-devil, etc. laid in the world as we, or our ancestors, know it. Possibly stories laid in remote historical times could fit the category, but the few that I am familiar with do not. Neither does it include the lost race fantasies without supernatural elements, thus excluding most of H. R. Haggard's fantasies. It is not superratural horror _a la_ H. P. Lovecraft. It is not stories of quasi-real lands such as _Islandia_ or Graustarkian romances as _The Prisoner of Zenda_ (by some accounts these last are not fantasies at all.) In particular, I would exclude the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs; not with any malice or distaste....they just do not fit the fantasy-adventure class. Of Burroughs' four major series; the Martian, Venus, and Pellucidar stories are science fiction; the Tarzan books are a blend of lost race fantasy and real-world adventure. Then what is fantasy-adventure? Well let us begin with the fantasy element itself. [page 3] There should be a strong element of the supernatural....spells, wizardry, and tokens of magic power....as an @esential@ part of the story. The literary quality of the story is much improved if there is some effective limit to the supernatural forces; either a defence as Prince Vakar's iron sword in _The Tritonian Ring_, or a distribution of magic powers on both sides of a conflict as between Sauron, Saruman, Gandalf, the High Elves, and others in _The Lord of the Rings_. The question sometimes comes up as to whether certain plot elements are actually supernatural, or are really to be considered as a form of science. To me, the only observable criterion is the subjective one: what do you as the reader think the author was trying to do? Thus, to me, _The Dying Earth_ is fantasy regardless of the mathematical trappings Jack Vance gives to his spells; and "The Weakling" in the February, 1961 _Analog_, in spite of the use of such 'supernatural' devices as psionics, is science fiction. A second point of definition is the culture-level of the _story_; in particular as to the weapons and transportation used. I am stressing the word 'story' as I believe that where the hero and his friends (or the villain for that matter) is allowed to settle crucial points with rifle or raygun, with spaceship or submarine; that a science fictional element has been introduced....and that the character of the story is changed to something else. The general cultural level then, defined in terms of our time-line, should be pre-gunpowder medieval or earlier. At the Hyborian Legion muster, the idea of a single strong hero came up in discussion, with a certain amount of disagreement. Of the eleven stories or series I list below, four (_The Broken Sword_, _The Hyborian Age_, "The Dark World", and _The Ship of Ishtar_) have heroes of this type. Two more have single heroes who are just too human to live among the classic examples above (_The Tritonian Ring_ and _The Well of the Unicorn_). The remaining five do not have one single hero. This question involves reader identification with the character. At the Legion muster, it was said of _The Lord of the Rings_; "I can't identify with a hairy footed creature, four feet high!" (Frodo or Bilbo). One answer is to try Aragorn but this is, for me, beside the point. However much I do identify while reading other stories, I do not seem to in this case. I feel that the lack or presence of a single hero may [page 4] make the difference between an enjoyable story and a dull one, to some readers, but that this is not a criterion which distinguishes fantasy-adventure from the other forms of fantasy. Third and last is the thing that to me, at least, is the most important: the world-background of the story. It may well be the most difficult thing for the author of such stories to create convincingly. The contradictory requirements are that it be both alien and familiar....or is it familiar, with a difference? The main thing to the familiarity portion is that it be a _human_ background. I am stretching the term 'human' to include Hobbits, Elves, and Demons....as long as they are given human emotions and motivations and more-or-less human shapes. Stories where magic occurs in an entirely alien setting, as some of C. L. Moore's _Jirel of Joiry_ stories, seem somehow discordant. Somehow magic seems to be part of a human culture. Then how is the background to be alien? The eleven story-groups in the bibliography include five different ways. _The Hyborian Age_, _The Tritonian Ring_, and _The Hobbit_ & _The Lord of the Rings_ are laid in the far distant past of Earth. "The Dark World" and _The Ship of Ishtar_ are laid in present time in worlds somehow @parralel@ to ours. _The Dying Earth_ is laid on an Earth so far in the future that science has been almost completely forgotten and the arts of magic have been rediscovered. _The Broken Sword_ is laid in England, Ireland, and the @Scandanavian@ lands of the first @millenium@. If this were all, I doubt it would seem like a true fantasy world but overlaying the real world are the dwellings of the Elves, Trolls, and Goblins...."halfway between this world and another;". The other four stories are laid on other worlds unconnected to Earth save spiritually. _The Worm Ouroboros_ on Mercury (but hardly the Mercury of science fiction); the Zimiamvian Trilogy in Zimiamvia on a world unnamed (it could be the Mercury of the _Worm_); _Two Sought Adventure_ on Nehwon; and _The Well of the Unicorn_ on a planet described only as "the world of The Well". With the possible exception of _The Broken Sword_, all of the stories take the reader where everything is new; the histories of the kingdoms, the legends of the peoples, politics, customs, weapons, the very face of the land. The author has @millenia@ of history at his disposal to remake a world. I think that this sense of novelty casts a greater spell over the reader than the magic itself. It is something that requires novel length to fully @develope@. [page 5] Of my examples, only one is novella length and that is the least well developed background of the group....still, it's enough to make the story interesting. The others range from a paperback, four single hardcovers, two hardcovers plus additional short stories published only in magazine form, a trilogy, a @tetrology@, and a @heptology@. At this point, we can look at the list of books under discussion. I've read them all, enjoyed them all, and @reccomend@ them all; some less highly than others but all are worth at least a single reading. Anderson, Poul _The Broken Sword_, Abelard-Schuman. de Camp, L. Sprague _The Tritonian Ring_, Twayne. "The Hungry Hercynian", _Universe Science Fiction_, Dec., 1953. "Ka the Apalling", _Fantastic Universe_, Aug., 1958. Eddison, E. R. _The Worm Ouroboros_, Dutton. Eddison, E. R. The Zimiamvian Trilogy (1) _The Mezentian Gate_, The Curwen Press. _A Fish Dinner in Hemison_, Dutton. (2) _Mistress of Mistresses_, Dutton. Howard, Robert E. _The Hyborian Age_ (1) _The Coming of Conan_. _Conan the Barbarian_. _Tales of Conan_, (in collaboration with L. Sprague de Camp, this book overlaps the first two chronologically). _The Sword of Conan_. _King Conan_. _Conan the Conqueror_. _The Return of Conan_, (by Björn Nyberg in collaboration with L. Sprague de Camp.) All published by Martin Greenberg of Gnome Press, may Crom honor his name. Kuttner, Henry "The Dark World", _Startling Stories_, Summer, 1946. Leiber, Fritz _Two Sought Adventure_, Gnome Press. "Lean Times in Lankhmar", _Fantastic Science Fiction Stories_, Nov., 1959. /I think there's another magazine short story but I can't locate it - grh/ [page 6] Merrit, A. _The Ship of Ishtar_, Borden. Pratt, Fletcher _The Well of the Unicorn_, Sloan. (Fletcher, George U.) Tolkien, J. R. R. _The Hobbit_. _The Lord of the Rings_ (1) _The Fellowship of the Ring_. _The Two Towers_. _The Return of the King_. Published in the U.S.A. by Houghton Mifflin Co., in the U.K. by George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. Vance, Jack _The Dying Earth_, Hillman Periodicals, Inc. /paperback/. (l) Not an actual book title, a collective name for a series. (2) An error at the top of page 5, I have _not_ read this book....any copies for sale? grh. The above by no means represents a complete list of all publishings. Almost all of de Camp and Howard and one of the short stories in the Vance book have seen magazine publication, some more than once. _The Ship of Ishtar_ has had at least two paperback editions plus others in hardcover. The only @ommissions@ I'll mention right now are some of the works of Lord Dunsany and Clark Ashton Smith. I haven't read either sufficiently to discuss them in print. Are there flaws in the three point definition I've set up? A few....some I've mentioned in the preceding discussion. Others....two of the six short stories comprising _The Dying Earth_ lean a little heavily on science fiction type gadgets, still the other stories make up for this.... "The Dark World" brings in gunpowder weapons, produced on the spot it is true, but still a flaw even though they play a relatively minor part in the story. This then is fantasy adventure....discussion, definition, and examples. The stories listed contain some of the best writing and most @carefull@ craftmanship in the field of imaginitive fiction. /#######/