Pre-Tolkien Fantasy Challenge


One of the often repeated refrains from the vile Cult of Resentment is that so much Fantasy is just rehashed, Tolkien fanfiction. Unfortunately, there is some truth in this, a lot of modern multi-volume fantasy is quite derivative of Middle Earth. Pale imitators lacking the poetic and moral compass of JRRT. Due to the popularity of the imitators, and the almost systematic erasure of most pre-Tolkien fantasy from the public sphere, a new reader often thinks of Middle Earth as ground zero for fantasy, myself included.

But that is starting to change, big thanks to Jeffro’s Appendix N for one, and also a revival of the pulp aesthetic by indie magazines like Cirsova and Storyhack and the many new writers affiliated with the PulpRev movement.

In order to educate, and also hopefully find some great reading material for myself, I propose a challenge to all my blogger friends.

Pre-Tolkien Short Story Challenge

  • Identify 3 Fantasy stories written before Lord of the Rings was published. 3 stories written before 1954.
  • Review all three on your blog, focusing on pre-Tolkien differences of similarities, and making sure you let us know where we can find them for ourselves.
  • Share the challenge.

I think this will be an interesting exercise. I hope a lot of people join me so I can compile a great collection of reviews that hopefully will inspire others to read older Fantasy.




26 thoughts on “Pre-Tolkien Fantasy Challenge

      1. Thank you for the signal boost. I decided to do this with short stories first because getting people to read longer works is often tough. If the short story one gets some good interest, I will do a longer novel one.

        No time limit, just do some reviews and tag the challenge. If these posts convince at least one person to read all the great old pieces my mission will be complete.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. It has been great digging back into Tolkien this summer, but I’m looking forward to getting back to reading other vintage SF. I am definitely finally going to read some C.L. Moore this fall, and I am planning to read REH’s Solomon Kane stories. Maybe one of my H. Rider Haggard novels? Although they probably aren’t technically fantasy. I don’t have many fantasy books that are really pre-Tolkien, although I don’t think his influence really became dominant until the 80s and 90s.


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  5. Xavier Basora


    Would pre1954 fantasy literature include
    The Breton cycles (aka King Arthur and his round table?)
    Reynard le renard?
    I ask because i’ve never been clear what stories are fantasy and aren’t


    1. Cameron

      Hey! I picked up the Munn book some time ago, but never checked the copyright. Looks like I’ll need to sneak it into 2019’s To Do list. ‘Preciate the head’s up on that one.

      Liked by 1 person

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