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This study contributes to the discussion on the meaning of folktales, which are taken entirely as seriously as mainstream fiction, and are seen as a continuum with modern literary fantasy, arguing that ‘ultrafiction’ (fantasy fiction and science fiction) have a wider range than either modernism or realism. It discusses both well-known writers and those less often studied, questioning the established ‘canon.’ It seeks an overall view of fantasy and science fiction, addressing the great range of the subject, e. g. mythology and metaphysics, the supernatural, utopia/dystopia, scientific speculation, and social morality.


“This is one of the most stimulating books on fantasy literature published in recent years. Written by an accomplished author of fantasy fiction, it is born out of a lifelong passion for the individual and for free thought….Martin re-names fantasy as ‘ultrafiction’, meaning fiction twice removed from reality….Through a range of exciting readings in international fantasies, from Perrault’s Bluebeard to Michel Tournier’s Le Vent Paraclet, and from the Irish Táin Bó Cuailgne to Stanislaw Lem’s A Perfect Vacuum, we are shown how ‘ultrafiction’ uniquely reflects the indeterminacy of the universe, the speculations of science and the mysteries of the human mind.” - Colin Manlove, University of Edinburgh (ret.)

“Unusually, he brings together in one argument the imaginative riches of the folktale from Bluebeard to Scheherazade, with its metamorphoses, dreams and nightmares, and the more sophisticated metaphysical imaginings of modern writers as diverse as Rudyard Kipling, Michel Tournier, Iain Banks, Jonathan Carroll and Stanislaw Lem. Always his concern, in describing these tall tales, is to ask what they have to tell us about ourselves and the reality we inhabit…. He is unashamedly personal, often informal, chatty even, always willing to risk a paradox or to go out on a limb with a provocative judgement…. You will learn and think a lot under his enthusiastic and well-informed guidance.” – Peter France, University of Edinburgh, emeritus

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface; Foreword
1. Why Fantasy?
2. The Good Girl, The Clever Girl, and Bluebeard
3. Proteus, the Figure Three, and How the World Began
4. Moral Tales from Arabia?
5. The Double (Origins)
6. The Double in Kieslowski and Kipling
7. Stallions and Androgynes
8. Advice on how to Ruin a Novel, or, Modernism, Realism and the Fantastic
9. How Big is the Mind?
10. Utopia and the Shadow of Death
11. Two Modern Utopias (The Automaton and the Feminist)
12. Infinite Questions: Awe (Not Omitting Time)
13. Fantasy as Philosophy, or, Stanislaw Lem
Afterword; Bibliography; Index

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