The Fantastic Imagination | Robert H. Boyer & Kenneth J. Zahorski

This is the good stuff. While I admit enjoying the odd swords & sorcerers style of pop-fantasy, it’s work like this that really inspires me. This is more than mere genre-fantasy—it’s literature in its own right.

Boyer & Zahorski’s collection is broad. It covers work from the 19th century as well as the 20th. It’s fascinating to watch the evolution of imaginative ideas from Johann Ludwig Tieck to George MacDonald to C. S. Lewis. The themes were broad as well. You get to read everything from fairy tales to stories about a princess who lost her gravity to an aristocrat who threw a ball and invited Lady Death.

What I found most compelling about this collection was the ability to read a satisfying work of high fantasy in less than 30 pages. I always assumed you had to construct the mythical world before you start working in it. These authors prove that all it takes is a skilled turn of phrase to evoke the feeling of otherness so necessary in high fantasy.

This collection is out of print but it’s well worth tracking down second hand.

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