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Hard fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy literature that strives to present stories set in (and often centered on) a rational and knowable world. Hard fantasy is similar to hard science fiction, from which it draws its name, and hard magic, in that they all aim to build their respective worlds in a rigorous and logical manner. Where hard science fiction uses real scientific principles as its starting point, hard fantasy postulates starting conditions that do not, and often cannot, exist according to current scientific understanding.
Unlike that of its sister genre, the definition of hard fantasy is amorphous in practice. Some instances of the genre feature alternative geography and cultures without the presence of magic or supernatural creatures (such as dragons and elves), typically found in other fantasy settings. Other hard-fantasy settings may feature those elements but with a detailed and plausible explanation for their existence.
The hard aspect of hard fantasy can refer to different elements. It can refer to a consistent history and folklore, as seen in Lord of the Rings, well-defined magic systems as seen in Mistborn or The Name of the Wind, and is sometimes also applied to A Song of Ice and Fire for its detailed political setting, and hard consequences for protagonists' mistakes.
- The Unconquered Country (1986) by Geoff Ryman
- Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn (1988–1993) by Tad Williams
- The Iron Dragon's Daughter (1993) by Michael Swanwick
- Metropolitan (1995) by Walter Jon Williams
- Mistborn (2006–2008) by Brandon Sanderson
- Dragon's Trail (2016) by Joseph Malik
- NecroSeam Chronicles (2016-2018) by Ellie Raine
- Malazan Book of the Fallen (1999-2011) by Steven Erikson
- Hard science fiction
- Science fantasy
- Soft science fiction
- Unknown (magazine)
- Hard and soft magic systems
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- "Dragon's Trail". Oxblood Books. 30 September 2016 – via Amazon.
- "NecroSeam Chronicles". ScyntheFy Press. 2018.
- Hard fantasy, sfnovelists.com, 2008