Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction

Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction
Douglas A. Anderson (editor)
Ballantine, Mar. 2008
ISBN 9780345498908

The twenty-one short stories, poems, essays and other writings that make up this collection are considered by editor Douglas A. Anderson as the sub-title states The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction. Though this reviewer has some doubts about that assertion, the entries are well written and entertaining from a who’s who of literature (Dickens, Tolkien, Grahame, Stevenson, Wells, Potter, Clarke and Kipling, etc) even though the authors were in many case key players (no novels are included which in my opinion would be more likely to be influential). The contributions are excellent with the little notes prefacing them adding to the fun as Mr. Anderson explains the author’s link to C.S. Lewis. The anthology provides a glimpse into the science fiction-fantasy short writings that were out there prior to Narnia, written in the early 1950s. As he did with the equally delightful TALES BEFORE TOLKIEN, Mr. Anderson provides a strong, enlightening and fun to read compilation; hard to resist “a never before published story” The Wood That Time Forgot: The Enchanted Wood by Roger Lancelyn Green (Lewis’ biographer) that inspired THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE.

Harriet Klausner

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