Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Divination by consultation with the Spirits of the dead. Once considered morally neutral – in Homer's Odyssey Odysseus consults the shade of Tiresias, and in Samuel there is no condemnation of the woman who summons the shade of Samuel on Saul's behalf – the practice came to be associated with Sorcery to the extent that the word became almost synonymous with Black Magic; the gloss added to the latter passage by the Authorized Version thus refers to the woman as the Witch of Endor. The term was so comprehensively blackened that the revival of a form of necromancy at the end of the 19th century required the invention of a new term: Spiritualism. The movement's detractors were quick to point out the fudge, as Robert Hugh Benson does in The Necromancers (1909). The bad repute into which the term has fallen has largely displaced its use into the field of Horror, where it is employed loosely, but there is a substantial subgenre of spiritualist fantasy. Fantasies involving necromancy which do not fit neatly into that category include The Soul of Lilith (1892) by Marie Corelli, All Hallow's Eve (1945) by Charles Williams and the tv series Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969-1971). [BS]

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.