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Fantasy and Science Fiction Medievalisms: From Isaac Asimov to A Game of Thrones

Chapter :  Introduction
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Fantasy and Science Fiction Medievalisms:


Dreams of the Middle Ages

Helen Young

J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was a defining work for the fantasy genre, substantially contributing to the creation of an audience as well as a publishing category and what became its conventions.1 The Lord of the Rings was also a major entry point for medievalism into twentieth-century popular culture and made an impact far beyond the fantasy genre that it helped make.2 In his important Inventing the Middle Ages, Norman Cantor acknowledged Tolkien’s contribution to academic medieval studies but wrote that Tolkien and his friend C. S. Lewis made greater contributions to modern visions of the Middle Ages through their creative works because they “immersed the … reader in medieval worlds and made that person a participant.”3 Tolkien’s presence in popular culture has reached even greater heights and has far surpassed that of Lewis since Cantor wrote in 1991.