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The Encyclopedia of Fantasy is a 1997 reference work on fantasy, edited by John Clute and John Grant. Other contributors include Mike Ashley, Neil Gaiman, Diana Wynne Jones, David Langford, Sam J. Lundwall, Michael Scott Rohan, Brian Stableford and Lisa Tuttle.

The book was well-received upon publication. During 1998, it received the Hugo Award, World Fantasy Award, and Locus Award. The industry publication Library Journal described The Encyclopedia of Fantasy as "the first of its kind".


The Encyclopedia was published in a format matching the 1993 second edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. It is slightly smaller, containing 1,049 alphabetical pages, over 4,000 entries and approximately one million words, the bulk of which were written by Clute, Grant and Ashley. A later CD-ROM edition contains numerous revisions.

The Encyclopedia uses a similar system of categorization to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, but does not include an index of theme entries. A theme index was later included in the on-line addenda: see "External links" below. One of the major differences is that there are no entries related to publishing.

The Encyclopedia often invented new terms for theme entries, rather than using headings that may have previously appeared in critical literature. Examples include:

  • Instauration Fantasy: a story concerning the restoration of past glories.
  • Thinning: the gradual loss or decay of magic or vitality.
  • Wainscots: secret societies hiding from the mainstream of society, as in Mary Norton's The Borrowers.
  • Water Margins: shifting or ill-defined boundaries, used as both a physical description and a metaphor; derived from the Japanesemarker television adaptation of The Water Margin.
  • Polder: defined as "enclaves of toughened reality demarcated by boundaries" that are entered by crossing a threshold.
  • Crosshatch: A situation where the demarcation line between two realities is blurred and "two or more worlds may simultaneously inhabit the same territory"--such as in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • Taproot texts: examples of fantasy literature that predates the emergence of fantasy as a genre in the late 18th century, such as Shakespeare's The Tempest.
  • Pariah elite: a marginalized but uniquely talented or knowledgable minority.
  • Into the woods: the process of transformation or passage into a new world signaled by entering woods or forests.
  • Wrongness: the growing awareness that something is "wrong" in the world, such as when the Hobbits first glimpse the Nazg├╗l in The Lord of the Rings.
  • Slick Fantasy: a style of Fantasy writing which uses certain specific themes: typically a Pact with the Devil; three wishes; or identity exchange. So named because these were the fantasy stories mostly likely to be published by slick magazines, as opposed to pulp magazines.



Characterizing the book as "an excellent and highly readable source for fantasy", the industry publication Library Journal described The Encyclopedia of Fantasy as "the first of its kind".



  • Clute, John and Grant, John. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1st UK edition). London: Orbit Books, 1997. ISBN 978-1857233681. (Hardcover)
  • Clute, John and Grant, John. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. New York: St Martin's Press, 1997. ISBN 0-312-15897-1. (Hardcover)
  • Clute, John and Grant, John. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (2nd US edition). New York: St Martin's Griffin, 1999. ISBN 0-312-19869-8. (Paperback)

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