Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

A noted Mythical Creature, perhaps based on conflated Travellers' Tales of the rhinoceros and of the narwhal. The single horn has great powers of Healing but is also a deadly weapon: one of the Brave Little Tailor's exploits was to trick a unicorn into fixing its horn in a tree when trying to impale him. More usually, Virginity is required to catch the unicorn, though in Theodore Sturgeon's "The Silken-Swift" (1953) the creature rejects a technical virgin to favour a raped woman who is a true innocent. Probably the finest fantasy to focus on a unicorn is Peter S Beagle's The Last Unicorn (1968). Pier Anthony's Apprentice Adept sequence features an extensive herd hierarchy of musical unicorns who are also Shapeshifters. Relevant collections are Unicorns! (anth 1982) and Unicorns II (anth 1992) ed Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois (1947-2018), The Unicorn Treasury (anth 1988) ed Bruce Coville and Peter Beagle's The Immortal Unicorn (anth 1995) ed Peter S Beagle and Janet Berliner. [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.