Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Brief Essays on Genre, Part 4: On the Origin of Fantasy



On the Origin of Fantasy


The first story was told by a spear-fisher deep in our ancestral past. After missing a cast, the fisher exclaimed, “Did you see that fish?”


“No,” somebody standing nearby said. “How big was it?”


“It was—” The spear-fisher held up hands to indicate the length, then suddenly yanked them farther apart. “—this big!”


For a heartbeat, it had seemed the Ur-story would be mimetic—mainstream. But with a leap of imagination it became fantasy and realism has been a subset of fantasy ever since.


--Michael Swanwick

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