Bangsian fantasy is a fantasy genre which concerns the use of famous literary or historical individuals and their interactions in the afterlife. It is named for John Kendrick Bangs who often wrote it.
According to E. F. Bleiler, in his 1983 Guide to Supernatural Fiction, "Bangs' most noteworthy achievement was a contribution to literary typology: the so-called Bangsian story, in which important literary and historical personalities serve humorously as characters in a slender plot line. Bangs did not invent this subgenre, but his work gave it publicity and literary status".
This definition does not take into account that some of Bangs' stories took place in the afterlife. Jess Nevins' 2003 definition in Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen says it is "a fantasy of the afterlife in which the ghosts of various famous men and women come together and have various, usually genial, adventures", which closely agrees with Rama Kundu's 2008 definition. Two early examples include parts of Homer's Odyssey and the entirety of Dante's Divine Comedy.
ARSDnet suggests it is a fantasy "which focuses primarily on the exploration of the afterlife and possibly where various ancient and influential figures ended up in the scheme of things."
Works of Bangsian fantasy
A large number of books and films that are Bangsian in nature are identified within the genre's category. The following are some major genre works:
- A House-Boat on the Styx (1895)
- Pursuit of the House-Boat (1897)
- The Enchanted Type-Writer (1899)
- Mr. Munchausen: Being a True Account of Some of the Recent Adventures beyond the Styx of the Late Hieronymus Carl Friedrich, Sometime Baron Munchausen of Bodenwerder, as originally reported for the Sunday Edition of the Gehenna Gazette by its special interviewer the late Mr. Ananias formerly of Jerusalem, and now first transcribed from the columns of that journal by J. K. Bangs (1901)
- Riverworld series by Philip José Farmer, began 1971
- Heroes in Hell series by Janet Morris, began 1986
- Damned and Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk
- Inferno and Escape from Hell by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
- Old Harry's Game by Andy Hamilton, broadcast on BBC Radio 4
- FantasticFiction > Authors B > John Kendrick Bangs. "John Kendrick Bangs". Fasntasticfiction.co.uk. Retrieved 2006-09-06.
- Nevins, Jess (2003), Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, MonkeyBrain Books, p. 179
- Kundu, Rama (2008), Intertext: A Study of the Dialogue Between Texts, Sarup & Sons, New Delhi, pp. 142–143
- ARSDnet Definition of "Bangsian Fantasy" Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- John Clute; John Grant (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. p. 84.