Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy works

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Selected fantasy works

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Fantasy

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Cover of July 1953 issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction
Beyond Fantasy Fiction was a US fantasy fiction magazine edited by H. L. Gold, with only ten issues published from 1953 to 1955. The last two issues carried the cover title of Beyond Fiction, but the publication's name for copyright purposes remained as before.

Although not a commercial success, it included several significant short stories by distinguished authors, such as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick. The publication has been described by critics as a successor to the tradition of Unknown, a fantasy magazine that ceased publication in 1943. It was noted for printing fantasy with a rational basis such as werewolf stories that included scientific explanations. A selection of stories from Beyond was published in paperback form in 1963, also under the title Beyond.

James Gunn, a historian of science fiction, regarded the magazine as the best of the fantasy magazines launched in the early 1950s, and science fiction encyclopedist Donald H. Tuck contended it printed very good material. Not every critic viewed Beyond as completely successful, however; P. Schuyler Miller, in a 1963 review, commented that the stories were most successful when they did not try to emulate Unknown.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/2 Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is the first novel by British writer Susanna Clarke. An alternative history set in 19th-century England around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, it is based on the premise that magic once existed in England and has returned with two men: Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange. Centring on the relationship between these two men, the novel investigates the nature of "Englishness" and the boundary between reason and madness. It has been described as a fantasy novel, an alternative history, and a historical novel.

The narrative draws on various Romantic literary traditions, such as the comedy of manners, the Gothic tale, and the Byronic hero. The novel's language is a pastiche of 19th-century writing styles, such as those of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Clarke describes the supernatural with mundane details. She supplements the text with almost 200 footnotes, outlining the backstory and an entire fictional corpus of magical scholarship.

Clarke began writing Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in 1993; ten years later she submitted the manuscript for publication. It was accepted by Bloomsbury and published in September 2004, with illustrations by Portia Rosenberg. Bloomsbury was so sure of its success that they printed 250,000 hardcover copies. The novel was well-received by critics and reached number three on the New York Times bestseller list. It was longlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize and won the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

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Title page of Honoré de Balzac's The Magic Skin (1831).
La Peau de chagrin (English: The Magic Skin or The Wild Ass's Skin) is an 1831 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). Set in early 19th-century Paris, it tells the story of a young man who finds a magic piece of shagreen that fulfills his every desire. For each wish granted, however, the skin shrinks and consumes a portion of his physical energy. La Peau de chagrin belongs to the Études philosophiques group of Balzac's sequence of novels, La Comédie humaine.

Before the book was completed, Balzac created excitement about it by publishing a series of articles and story fragments in several Parisian journals. Although he was five months late in delivering the manuscript, he succeeded in generating sufficient interest that the novel sold out instantly upon its publication. A second edition, which included a series of twelve other "philosophical tales", was released one month later.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/4 The Green Child is the only completed novel by the English anarchist poet and critic Herbert Read. Written in 1934 and first published by Heinemann in 1935, the story is based on the 12th-century legend of two green children who mysteriously appeared in the English village of Woolpit, speaking an apparently unknown language. Read described the story in his English Prose Style, published in 1931, as "the norm to which all types of fantasy should conform".

The novel's three parts all end with the apparent death of the story's protagonist, President Olivero, dictator of the fictional South American Republic of Roncador. In each case, Olivero's death is an allegory for his translation to a "more profound level of existence", reflecting the book's overall theme of a search for the meaning of life. Read's interest in psychoanalytic theory is evident throughout the novel, which is constructed as a "philosophic myth ... in the tradition of Plato".

The story contains many autobiographical elements, and the character of Olivero owes much to Read's experiences as an officer in the British Army during the First World War. The novel was positively received, although some commentators have considered it to be "inscrutable", and one has suggested that it has been so differently and vaguely interpreted by those who have given it serious study that it may lack the form and content to justify the praise it has received.

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Peter Newell's illustration of Alice surrounded by the characters of Wonderland. (1890)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures. The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson's friends. The tale plays with logic in ways that have given the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the "literary nonsense" genre, and its narrative course and structure have been enormously influential, especially in the fantasy genre.

Alice was written in 1865, exactly three years after the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat up the River Thames with three young daughters of Henry George Liddell: Lorina Charlotte Liddell, Alice Pleasance Liddell, and Edith Mary Liddell. Most of the book's adventures were based on and influenced by people, situations and buildings in Oxford and at Christ Church. It is believed that a carving of a griffon and rabbit, as seen in Ripon Cathedral, where Carroll's father was a canon, provided inspiration for the tale.

The journey had started at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. To while away time, the Reverend Dodgson told the girls a story that, not so coincidentally, featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice asked Dodgson to write it down for her. After a lengthy delay—over two years —he eventually did so and on 26 November 1864 gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/6 The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in a time "Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men", The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The book remains popular and is recognized as a classic children's book.

Bilbo's journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into darker, deeper territory. The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien's Wilderland. By accepting the disreputable, romantic, fey and adventurous side of his nature (the "Tookish" side) and applying his wits and common sense, Bilbo develops a new level of maturity, competence and wisdom.

The final chapters deal with the climactic Battle of Five Armies, where many of the characters and creatures from earlier chapters re-emerge to engage in conflict. Critics have cited Tolkien's own experiences and the themes of other writers who fought in World War I, along with the author's professional knowledge of Anglo-Saxon literature and personal interest in fairy tales, as the chief influences.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/7 The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by philologist and Oxford University professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit (1937), but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, much of it during World War II. Although generally known to readers as a trilogy, the work was initially intended by Tolkien to be one volume of a two-volume set along with The Silmarillion; however, the publisher decided to omit the second volume and instead published The Lord of the Rings in 1954-55 as three books rather than one, for economic reasons. It has since been reprinted numerous times and translated into many languages, becoming one of the most popular and influential works in 20th-century literature.

The title of the book refers to the story's main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron, who had in an earlier age created the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power, as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth. From quiet beginnings in the Shire, a hobbit land not unlike the English countryside, the story ranges across Middle-earth following the course of the War of the Ring through the eyes of its characters, most notably the hobbits, Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee (Sam), Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry) and Peregrin Took (Pippin).

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/8 The Silmarillion is a collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's mythopoeic works, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien in 1977, with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, who later became a noted fantasy writer. The Silmarillion, along with J. R. R. Tolkien's other works, forms a comprehensive, yet incomplete, narrative that describes the universe of Middle-earth within which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place.

The Silmarillion comprises five parts. The first part, Ainulindalë, tells of the creation of , the "world that is". Valaquenta, the second part, gives a description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural powers in Eä. The next section, Quenta Silmarillion, which forms the bulk of the collection, chronicles the history of the events before and during the First Age, including the wars over the Silmarils which gave the book its title. The fourth part, Akallabêth, relates the history of the Downfall of Númenor and its people, which takes place in the Second Age. The final part, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, is a brief account of the circumstances which led to and were presented in The Lord of the Rings.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/9 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis. Published in 1950 and set in circa 1940, it is the first-published book of The Chronicles of Narnia and is the best known book of the series. Although it was written and published first, it is second in the series' internal chronological order, after The Magician's Nephew. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

Initially the character of Aslan was not present in the story. Lewis had already conceived of the land of Narnia as a frozen kingdom under the terror of the totalitarian rule of the White Witch, mostly probably reflecting the events of the Second World War and the situation of countries under Nazi occupation. He had suffered from nightmares for most of this life. Around the time he was writing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe he had a number of dreams with lions in them and soon the figure of Aslan made a dramatic entrance into his imagination, effecting a complete transformation upon the story and drawing the novel and the entire series of Narnia stories together.

Lewis very much enjoyed writing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and embarked on the sequel Prince Caspian soon after finishing the first novel. He completed the sequel in less than a year, by the end of 1949. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had not been widely released until 1950; thus his initial enthusiasm did not stem from favourable reception by the public.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/10 Howl's Moving Castle is a young adult fantasy novel by British author Diana Wynne Jones, first published in 1986. It won a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and was named an ALA Notable book for both children and young adults. In 2004 it was loosely adapted as an Academy Award-nominated animated film by Hayao Miyazaki. A sequel, Castle in the Air, was published in 1990. A second sequel, House of Many Ways was released in June 2008.

A young woman named Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three daughters living in the town of Market Chipping in the magical kingdom of Ingary, where many fairy-tale tropes are accepted ways of life. She is very deft with the needle and makes the most beautiful hats and dresses. She unknowingly talks life into objects. As the eldest, she is resigned to the "fact" that she will have no chance of finding her fortune, accepting that she will have a dull life running the family hat shop—until she is turned into an old crone by the Witch of the Waste, a powerful witch who has mistaken Sophie for her sister, the current love interest of Wizard Howl. Sophie leaves the shop and finds work as a cleaning lady for the notorious Howl, famed in her town for eating the hearts of beautiful young women.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/11 Dragons of Autumn Twilight is a fantasy novel by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, based on a Dungeons & Dragons game session. Written in 1984, Dragons of Autumn Twilight was the first Dragonlance novel, and first in the Chronicles trilogy, which, along with the Dragonlance Legends trilogy, are generally regarded as the core novels of the Dragonlance world. The Chronicles trilogy came about because the designers wanted novels to tell the story of the game world they were creating, something to which TSR only reluctantly agreed. Dragons of Autumn Twilight details the meeting of the Companions and the early days of The War of the Lance. This novel corresponds with the first two Dragonlance game modules, DL1 Dragons of Despair and DL2 Dragons of Flame, but the novel has a different ending from the modules. The novel introduces many of the characters that are the subject of many other novels and short stories.

The title Dragons of Autumn Twilight follows a pattern with the other novels in the series, Dragons of Winter Night and Dragons of Spring Dawning, as they all start with Dragons, followed by a series of seasons, Autumn, Winter, and Spring, as well as a series of time, Twilight, Night, and Dawning.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/12 The Gathering Storm is the 12th book of the The Wheel of Time fantasy series. It was incomplete when its author, Robert Jordan, died on September 16, 2007, from cardiac amyloidosis. His widow Harriet McDougal and publisher Tom Doherty chose Brandon Sanderson to continue the book after Jordan's death.

Jordan originally intended to finish the series in a single volume titled A Memory of Light, but when Sanderson began writing the book it became clear a split was required as it was believed a single volume would be too large to print. The expected final book was then split into three volumes: The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light. The books would be published a year apart with the first volume, The Gathering Storm, published on October 27, 2009; a week earlier than originally announced. Upon its release, it immediately rose to the #1 position on the The New York Times hardcover fiction Best Seller list, making it the fifth consecutive Wheel of Time book to reach the #1 position on that list.

The three books will together encompass what can be considered Jordan's final vision of the series. In the foreword, Sanderson states that they can be thought of as "the three volumes of A Memory of Light or as the final three books of The Wheel of Time. Both are correct." He also comments on the differing writing style, suggesting that it could be compared to different film directors directing the same script.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/13 The Eye of the World (abbreviated as tEotW or EotW by fans) is the first book of The Wheel of Time (WoT) fantasy series written by American author Robert Jordan. It was published by Tor Books and released on January 15, 1990. The unabridged audio book is read by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading (Jennifer Mendenhall).

On January 2, 2002, The Eye of the World was re-released as two separate books aimed at a young adult literature market, with larger text and a handful of illustrations. These were From the Two Rivers and To the Blight. The former included an additional prologue entitled "Ravens", focusing on Egwene al'Vere. The American Library Association put The Eye of the World on its 2003 list of Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults.

Jordan has stated that he consciously intended the early chapters of The Eye of the World to evoke the Shire of Middle-earth in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Other strong allusions to The Lord of the Rings exist as well, particularly the incorporeal and invisible Dark Lord, the dark home realm of Mordor compared to Thakan'dar (as well as Shayol Ghul to the fiery pit of Mount Doom), obvious similarities between Trollocs and Orcs, Myrddraal and Nazgûl, and Padan Fain and Gollum.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/14 The Last Unicorn is a fantasy novel written by Peter S. Beagle and published in 1968. It has sold more than five million copies worldwide since its original publication, and has been translated into at least twenty languages. The third-person narrative centers on a unicorn who, believing she is the last of her kind in the world, sets off on a journey to discover what has happened to the others. She encounters a host of diverse characters as her journey progresses, each of them bringing her closer to her goal.

It took Beagle "close to two years" to write The Last Unicorn, and he states that "it was hard every step of the way". Beagle came up with the idea for the novel in 1962 while on an "artistic retreat" in Berkshire Hills after Viking Press rejected his novel, The Mirror Kingdom. He stated that though the idea for the novel was "just suddenly there", he also said that he had "read tons of fantasy and mythology" from childhood, and that his mother told him that he had shared a story about unicorns during a visit to one of the elementary school classes she taught. He also mentioned that he loved the book The Colt from Moon Mountain by Dorothy Lathrop (a story about a unicorn in Kansas) as a child, and that Spanish artist Marcial Rodriguez had given him a painting of unicorns fighting bulls when he was seventeen. Once he had the idea, he did research on unicorns at the Pittsfield Library.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/15 The Penelopiad is a novella by Margaret Atwood. It was published in 2005 as part of the first set of books in the Canongate Myth Series where contemporary authors rewrite ancient myths. In The Penelopiad, Penelope reminisces on the events during the Odyssey, life in Hades, Odysseus, Helen, and her relationships with her parents. A chorus of the twelve maids, whom Odysseus believed were disloyal and whom Telemachus hanged, interrupt Penelope's narrative to express their view on events. The maids' interludes use a new genre each time, including a jump-rope rhyme, a lament, an idyll, a ballad, a lecture, a court trial and several types of songs.

The novella's central themes include the effects of story-telling perspectives, double standards between the genders and the classes, and the fairness of justice. Atwood had previously used characters and storylines from Greek mythology in fiction such as her novel The Robber Bride, short story The Elysium Lifestyle Mansions and poems "Circe: Mud Poems" and "Helen of Troy Does Counter Dancing" but used Robert GravesThe Greek Myths and E. V. Rieu and D. C. H. Rieu's version of the Odyssey to prepare for this novella.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/16 "Harap Alb" or "Harap-Alb" (Romanian pronunciation: [haˈrap ˈalb]), known in full as Povestea lui Harap Alb ("The Story of Harap Alb"), is a Romanian-language fairy tale. Based on traditional themes found in Romanian folklore, it was recorded and reworked in 1877 by writer Ion Creangă, becoming one of his main contributions to fantasy and Romanian literature. The narrative centers on an eponymous prince traveling into a faraway land whose throne he has inherited, showing him being made into a slave by the treacherous Bald Man and eventually redeeming himself through acts of bravery. The plot introduces intricate symbolism, notably illustrated by the secondary characters. Among these are the helpful and sage old woman Holy Sunday, the tyrannical Red Emperor, and a band of five monstrous characters who provide the prince with serendipitous assistance.

An influential work, "Harap Alb" received much attention from Creangă's critical posterity, and became the inspiration for contributions in several fields. These include Ion Popescu-Gopo's film De-aş fi Harap Alb, a Postmodernist novel by Stelian Ţurlea and a comic book by Sandu Florea, alongside one of Gabriel Liiceanu's theses in the field of political philosophy.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/17 Carnivàle /kɑrnɪˈvæl/ is an American television series set in the United States during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. In tracing the lives of two disparate groups of people, its overarching story depicts the battle between good and evil and the struggle between free will and destiny; the storyline mixes Christian theology with gnosticism and Masonic lore, particularly that of the Knights Templar. The show was filmed in Santa Clarita, California, and other Southern Californian locations.

Carnivàle was produced by HBO and ran for two seasons between September 14, 2003 and March 27, 2005. The show was created by Daniel Knauf, who also served as executive producer with Ronald D. Moore and Howard Klein. The incidental music was composed by Jeff Beal. Nick Stahl and Clancy Brown starred as Ben Hawkins and Brother Justin Crowe, respectively.

Early reviews praised the style of Carnivàle but questioned the approach and execution of the story. Carnivàle's first episode set a new audience record for an HBO original series, but the show was unable to retain its ratings in its second season. Carnivàle was canceled after 24 episodes, cutting its intended six-season run short by four seasons. The show won five Emmys in 2004, was nominated for 10 further Emmy awards, and received numerous other nominations and industry awards between 2004 and 2006.

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