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Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works

Science-fiction & fantasy literature: a critical list with discussions.

Welcome to the Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works web site!

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You are here:  Home  »  Introductory  »  Poughkeepsie ( = this page)


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From Elfland to Poughkeepsie



“A tale replete with wizards and warriors is not a fantasy if they are, in effect,
simply scientists and soldiers who spell their names peculiarly and wear bizarre clothing.”


Here is one of Ursula K. Le Guin’s sharpest demonstrations of that point
(extracted from the delightful essay “From Elfland to Poughkeepsie” in her book The Language of the Night).


Here is an extract from an actual modern "fantasy" novel:


And here, a hypothetical extract from
a possible modern mainstream novel:

“Whether or not they succeed in the end will depend largely on Kelson’s personal ability to manipulate the voting.”

“Can he?” Morgan asked, as the two clattered down a half-flight of stairs and into the garden.

“I don’t know, Alaric,” Nigel replied. “He’s good—damned good—but I just don’t know. Besides, you saw the key council lords. With Ralson dead and Bran Coris practically making open accusations—well, it doesn’t look good.”

“I could have told you that at Cardosa.”

“Whether or not they succeed in the end will depend largely on Kelson’s personal ability to manipulate the voting.”

“Can he?” Morgan asked, as the two clattered down a half-flight of stairs and into the White House garden.

“I don't know, Alaric,” Nigel replied. “He’s good—damned good—but I just don’t know. Besides, you saw the key committee chairmen. With Ralson dead and Bran Coris practically making open accusations—well, it doesn’t look good.”

“I could have told you that at Poughkeepsie.”


The one is as appropriate and plausible as the other….

but now, back to the Apologia.