A Short History of Fantasy–Part 7
A Short History of Fantasy–Part 7 avatar

In part 6, we looked at some of those works published in the fantasy boom of the 40s, 50s, and 60s. The popularity of fantasy literature exploded in the second part of the 20th century. Because of this, we won’t be able to include all of the influential or important writers and works in this short history.

The works listed below are just a sampling of the fantasy from the 70s to the 90s. Another post will list some great sources for those of you who are interested in finding out more about the history of fantasy or learning of other books and authors you might want to try reading.

The 70s ushered in a period of growth for fantasy in which many new and different sub-genres began to challenge the sword and sorcery that was the mainstay of fantasy since the publication of Tolkien’s work. It also spawned the creation of multi-volume works to which readers were very willing to become addicted.

The Amber Chronicles by Roger ZelaznyIn 1970, Roger Zelazny published the first of his ten part series, The Chronicles of Amber. Nine Princes in Amber introduced readers to the characters who would carry them to mysterious fantasy worlds. This family saga is Machiavellian, gripping, and fundamentally readable. It captured the imaginations of a wide group of followers who willingly waited for the next installment.

A Spell for Chameleon by Piers AnthonyPiers Anthony started his Xanth series in 1977 with A Spell for Chameleon. Initially, these Xanth books were unusual and creative–always with a new slant on some moral concept. Anthony also pleased his many readers with a plethora of puns. The series continues even today with 35 books in the set as of this writing and at least one more to be published this year.

Robin McKinley's BeautyRobin McKinley was among the first of the modern fantasy writers to rewrite famous fairy tales in novel format. Her first novel, Beauty (1978), retold the story of Beauty and the Beast. The idea of fairy tale rewrites has since become very popular with fantasy readers.

The fantasy explosion continued in the 80s with greats like Terry Pratchett, Charles deLint, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Sheri Tepper. (More about these writers in separate posts to come.) There are several somewhat-lesser-known fantasy writers of the 80s who had a strong influence on the genre.

In 1981, John Crowley wrote one of the first urban fantasies (in which creatures from traditional fantasy worlds invade modern life), Little, Big.

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough’s works are, for the most part, lighthearted and funny. Her first novel, Song of Sorcery in 1982, started her humorous twists on traditional fairy tales that she has continued throughout her career.

The Pit Dragon Trilogy by Jane YolenMost of Jane Yolen’s work is aimed at the young adult market, but they are thoroughly enjoyable to adults as well. In 1982, her novel, Dragon’s Blood, was published. This, like much of her later work, is highly original. She has since written many fantasy works, including the award winning rework of Sleeping Beauty, Briar Rose, and an Arthurian-based series, The Young Merlin Trilogy.

Mengan Lindholm's Harpy's FlightMegan Lindholm published her first novel, Harpy’s Flight, in 1983.  This was the beginning of a great career for Megan Lindholm, now better known under her other pseudonym, Robin Hobb. She has to date written 26 fantasy novels; 10 as Lindholm and 16 as Robin Hobb. All of these books are worthwhile reading, both for the characters and the creative ideas proposed in the works.

Part 8 will be our final chapter in this history. We’ll look at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st and summarize how fantasy has developed since its inception up to this point.

2012, Decision Consulting, Inc. (DCI). All rights reserved. All copies must include this copyright statement.

This entry was posted in Fantasy, History and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>