chapter  5
A GEOGRAPHY OF THE SACRED
Pages 11

A notable feature of modern anthropomorphism and animism is their alliance with the paranormal-with sorcery, prophecy, strange powers and spectacular beings. Many sources are culled for these creeds and creatures, which when yoked together produce unexpected and often lurid synergies. Tolkien’s sentient landscapes, for example, are haunted by elves, orcs and goblins, by ghosts, freaks and half-men, by trees which talk and magicians who make war. They are also inhabited by forces that on occasion seem the purest images of nightmare-forces, in other words, that are straightforward imaginative projections: there is no precedent for them in legend or in the conventions of folk romance. Such worlds are intentionally mysterious-they speak of other dimensions of reality, of other worlds-and self-evidently escapist. Hence they are labelled fantasy. They provide the framework for what is perhaps the twentieth century’s most distinctive contribution to the history of literature, science fiction.