Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Land of Fable

LOFs can be found somewhere between the identifiable real world – in which all Supernatural Fiction and many kinds of fantasy are set (see Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasies of History, Instauration Fantasy, Slick Fantasy, Urban Fantasy) – and impossible worlds, which are described in this Encyclopedia under various headings including Faerie, Fantasyland, Otherworld, Secondary World and Wonderland. An LOF always has its roots in this world, but in at least some aspects is an impossible one. For instance, the Middle East featured in much Arabian Fantasy is clearly an impossible realm. What distinguishes the LOF from a full-blown Alternate Reality or Alternate World is the fact that the reality-status of the LOF, or its relationship to our world, is not examined. The LOF, usually quasi-historical, stands to this world as Fantasyland stands to the fully developed Secondary World: it is a Template of the real world, designed to operate as a backdrop for adventures. If an author creates a territory which appears to be a LOF, but then proceeds to suggest reasons for its having diverged in some way from our real world, s/he has created an alternate world; if s/he suggests that the characters' Perceptions of their world are somehow intrinsic to its reality, then s/he has created an Alternate Reality.

Heroic Fantasies are often set in LOF versions of the prehistoric world; the same relationship prevails between fantasies about Native Americans and pre-Columbian America, fantasies derived from Saga and Scandinavia, Celtic Fantasies/Arthur tales and Britain, tales of the Greek Gods and ancient Greece, Chinoiserie and China, etc. The LOF has all the colour of the full-fantasy venue, but not the confrontational, Metamorphosis-prone substance. It is only the unexamined LOF which is worth living. [JC]

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.