Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Evil

In fantasy Evil is most often present in a state of uneasy Balance with Good (> Good and Evil). Outside Children's Fantasy it is quite rare for Good to be present without a counterbalancing force of Evil, but there are many instances where Evil is counterbalanced not by Good but by the morally unreliable, especially although not exclusively in Horror and Sword and Sorcery: it would be hard to describe Michael Moorcock's Elric, Robert E Howard's Conan or Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant as virtuous, yet certainly they are the Heroes. Many interesting fantasies, Supernatural Fictions and Psychological Thrillers derive much of their interest from the reader's slow realization that a protagonist, although possibly morally superior to the Evil adversary, is by no means a saint: The Vanishment (1993) by Jonathan Aycliffe (1949-    ) is a supernatural fiction of this type, although there are countless others, while most of the psychological thrillers of Ruth Rendell (1930-    ), under that name or as Barbara Vine, pivot on the same theme, a notable example being The Bridesmaid (1989), as Rendell. Tim Burton's two Batman Movies are among many movies that have played in the same area of moral dubiety. [JG]

see also: Parody.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.