Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Prehistoric Fantasy

Most literary accounts of prehistoric life are best regarded as an extrapolation of historical fiction or as sf, but prehistoric episodes are sometimes included in Visionary Fantasies and fantasies of ReincarnationThe Eternal Lover (1925) by Edgar Rice Burroughs is both – and there is a notable subspecies of fantasy in which accounts of prehistoric events are juxtaposed or interwoven with accounts of much later events in order to display some kind of eternal recurrence; examples include Chains (1925) by Henry Barbusse (1874-1935), Marden Fee (1931) by Gerald Bullett and Red Shift (1973) by Alan Garner. Also of some fantasy interest are accounts of prehistory which allegorize the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve, some accounts of Atlantis and other Lost Lands and Continents, a few tales concerned with the remote origins of Magic and Witchcraft – including those which dramatize the Scholarly Fantasies of anthropologists like Sir James Frazer – some accounts of Atavism and a few tales featuring Dinosaurs. Jean M Auel's series of PFs has been incredibly popular, as has Julian May's Saga of Pliocene Exile, which might best be described as a prehistoric Technofantasy.

Fantasies which deal with entirely imaginary prehistories include Norman Douglas's In the Beginning (1927) and S Fowler Wright's Dream (1931). Several surreal PFs are featured in Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics (coll 1965) and T zero (coll 1967). [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.