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Classification::Fantasy

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Classification

By theme (subgenres)

Fantasy encompasses numerous subgenres characterized by particular themes or settings, or by an overlap with other literary genres or forms of speculative fiction. They include the following:

By the function of the fantastic in the narrative

In her 2008 book Rhetorics of Fantasy,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> Farah Mendlesohn proposes the following taxonomy of fantasy, as "determined by the means by which the fantastic enters the narrated world",<ref>Mendlesohn, "Introduction"</ref> while noting that there are fantasies that fit neither pattern:

In a "portal-quest fantasy" or "portal fantasy", a fantastical world is entered through a portal, behind which the fantastic elements of the story remain contained. These tend to be quest-type narratives, whose main challenge is navigating the fantastical world.<ref>Mendlesohn, "Introduction: The Portal-Quest Fantasy"</ref> Well-known portal fantasies include C. S. Lewis's novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) and L. Frank Baum's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).<ref>Mendlesohn, "Chapter 1"</ref>

The "immersive fantasy" lets the reader perceive the fantastical world through the eyes and ears of the protagonist, without an explanatory narrative. The fictional world is seen as complete, and its fantastic elements are not questioned within the context of the story. If successfully done, this narrative mode "consciously negates the sense of wonder" often associated with speculative fiction. But, according to Mendlesohn, "a sufficiently effective immersive fantasy may be indistinguishable from science fiction" because, once assumed, the fantastic "acquires a scientific cohesion all of its own", which has led to disputes about how to classify novels such as Mary Gentle's Ash (2000) and China Miéville's Perdido Street Station (2000).<ref>Mendlesohn, "Introduction: The Immersive Fantasy"</ref>

In an "intrusion fantasy", the fantastic intrudes on reality (in contrast to portal fantasies, where the opposite happens), and the protagonists' engagement with that intrusion drives the story. Intrusion fantasies are normally realist in style, because they assume the normal world as their base, and rely heavily on explanation and description.<ref>Mendlesohn, "Introduction: The Intrusion Fantasy"</ref> Immersive and portal fantasies may themselves host intrusions. Classic intrusion fantasies include Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) and the works of H. P. Lovecraft.<ref name="Mendlesohn, Chapter 3">Mendlesohn, "Chapter 3"</ref>

"Liminal fantasy", finally, is a relatively rare mode where the fantastic enters a world that appears to be our own, but this is not perceived as intrusive but rather as normal by the protagonists, and this disconcerts and estranges the reader. Such fantasies adopt an ironic, blasé tone, as opposed to the straight-faced mimesis of most other fantasy.<ref>Mendlesohn, "Introduction: The Liminal Fantasy"</ref> Examples include Joan Aiken's stories about the Armitage family, who are amazed that unicorns appear on their lawn on a Tuesday, rather than on a Monday.<ref name="Mendlesohn, Chapter 3"/>


Fantasy sections
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