Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Invisible Companion

The real-life phenomenon of children who invent an imaginary playmate – for whom an extra table place must be laid or who requires his/her own toys – inevitably suggests fantasy ICs which are objectively real. Often these prove to be Ghosts, a possibility which continually flickers in Henry James's ambiguous The Turn of the Screw (1898). In Anthony Boucher's "Mr Lupescu" (1945) and John Collier's "Thus I Refute Beelzy", cruel and sceptical adults find a child's IC to be a vengeful Demon. The three Lilacs in John Crowley's Little, Big (1981) comprise the young girl herself, a Changeling, and the boy Auberon's IC version of a Lilac. Terry Pratchett's Small Gods (1992) presents a comic IC who seems to be a Hallucination of the deranged hermit St Ungulant. The unseen shadow-boy of Michael Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Daughter (1993) is literally the heroine's Shadow, a split-off part of her Soul. Bill Watterson's popular Calvin and Hobbes Comic strip shows young Calvin's Perception routinely transforming a stuffed Toy tiger into his IC, the "real" tiger Hobbes – who, when others are present, lapses into the invisibility of toyhood. Notable movie ICs are the eponymous characters in Harvey (1950) and Drop Dead Fred (1991). [DRL]

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.