Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Ragnarok

The great battle described in the 10th-century Icelandic poem Völuspá, which provides a climax for the "Twilight of the Gods" in Norse Mythology. The Aesir, attacked by the frost Giants and various other enemies, are all but obliterated – a fate presumably influenced by Christian ideas of the Apocalypse, probably also responsible for the appointment of Balder as a Messiah figure. The seeming perversity of the idea is addressed in "The Riddle of Ragnarok" (1955) by Theodore Sturgeon. Ragnarok is a particular favourite in the kind of pulp Science Fantasy which reinterprets myths in terms of sf's vocabulary of ideas, featuring in, e.g., Exiles of Time (1940; 1949) by Nelson Bond and "A Yank at Valhalla" (1941; vt The Monsters of Juntonheim 1950) by Edmond Hamilton (1904-1977). Hamilton also offered a straightforward fantasy account of the affair in "Twilight of the Gods" (1948). The hero of Fletcher Pratt's and L Sprague de Camp's The Incomplete Enchanter (1941) escapes it in the nick of time. The Gods are Not Dead (1985) by Michael J Friedman is a "sequel" to the tale of Ragnarok. [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.