Fantasy is a genre that takes place in imaginary worlds created by authors. All fiction is imaginary though usually the setting is the world we know and only the events of the plot are made up. Science fiction concerns our world, but in a speculative future, often with an emphasis on interaction between humans and technology. If the story takes place within a world totally imagined by the author, outside of time, outside of history, chances are it is fantasy story. It follows that the genre is a smorgasbord, and there is a lot of blurring with other genres. Some authors create universes totally different from our own while others use the known world and tweak it just a little (i.e., an elf behind the counter at the coffee shop). Mythology, folklore, and dreams have always inspired fantasy authors. Because of the fairytale aspect, some fantasy titles are aimed towards young people but can definitely be enjoyed by adults; e.g., the Harry Potter series or The Lord of the Rings. There is a strong tradition in the fantasy genre to write novels in series, so keep an eye out for titles that are the beginning of a multivolume narrative.
Prepared by Nashville Public Library, 2009