Fantasy is imaginative creation that goes beyond reality. When fantasy is also combined with rational explanation of how such new phenomena might come about, through invention, development or evolution, or through greater understanding of or modification to the laws of nature, it begins to become Science Fiction but we only really get to that in Part 4 onwards. In the prescientific ages fantastic occurrences are explained in terms of the supernatural, or magic, or as the result of dream or hallucination. Some titles that in their time were considered factual science, history or instruction have been included for their historical influence more than any fantasy content. Realistic science or adventure or horror stories without a fantasy element cannot be completely excluded, since many of them, such as Robinson Crusoe, provide the basic tapestry on which many fantasies have subsequently been embroidered.
Against the name of each author we give a list of their tales. The sequence is roughly chronological. In the first edition the arrangement was according to the date of publication of the story for which the source is principally known, but in this second edition arrangement by authors' dates of birth has been preferred. In most cases this rule gives a similar sequence, since most authors start publishing about age 30 and continue to do their best work up to age 50. However there are well-known exceptions. For example M. G. Lewis wrote The Monk, for which he is best known, at age 19, while at the other extreme J. R. R. Tolkien didn't see The Lord of the Rings in print until he was 63. Another factor favouring reliance on the authors' dates of birth is that it puts them among their contemporaries, and gives an indication of how far the culture of their time influenced them or how far ahead of their time they were.
This collection, originally compiled in 2001 for The Leicester Science Fiction Group (also known as The Outlanders) was intended as a Guide to influential works and authors, not an encyclopedia, but it expanded more than I anticipated. This partial revision was begun in 2003, but the work is on-going. In future I hope to include more plot descriptions of principal titles, and links to other websites, particularly those where out-of-print titles can be downloaded, or where biographies and appreciations of authors are featured. It is also proposed to exclude collections of stories and detailed bibliographical history of stories (but some unrevised sections still include these). When this is done the titles of stories wil be printed in italics and no distinction made between short stories, novels and novellas, since the importance and influence of a fantasy story is not measured by its length (some authors please note!). The date of publication cited is that of the first appearance of the story, whether in a magazine, collection or book. Years are now shown in full (previously the '19' was omitted in twentieth century works), and months by lower case roman numerals (i xii).
The division of the material is into six parts of roughly equal textual length, linked to above. The points of division are generally marked by the appearance of one or more authors whose influence has been particularly great.
The following scheme of background colours enables certain themes to be followed. This is only a rough guide: some writers cover more than one category and some stories are difficult to classify, for instance fairy tales can often be quite horrific.
|fairy tales/satire/humour/juvenile||heroic legend/romance/adventure||science fiction/speculation/eutopia|
|exotic worlds/myth/ecology/magic||ghost stories/mystery/religion||gothic horror/tragedy/dystopia|