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What is Light Fantasy?

This is a continuation of the Science Fiction / Fantasy Genre Glossary Project posts! Wow that's a mouthful. For the complete genre index click here.

Pigs Fly

When Pigs Fly by Amy Veeninga

What is Light Fantasy?

Light fantasy runs the gamut from humor to pure escapism. Light fantasy can be defined as light in tone, or fantasy that stays away from the dark side of human nature. It is on the opposite end of the spectrum from dark fantasy.

Literary Examples:

  • The Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett
  • Xanth books by Piers Anthony

These examples fall under ''light in tone'. What do you consider light fantasy?

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© Copyright T.S. Bazelli 2010 2014.


  • BrownEyed says:

    I had no idea about this genre until I read this post. Thanks for the share, Theresa!


  • J. P. Cabit says:

    Hmmm…I'm not sure that Because of the Blue Bloods is quite light fantasy. It's more on the sci-fi side but it does have elements of fantasy in it (an unlikely world).

    I'd say that Daniel Pinkwater's books are light fantasy.

    • T.S. Bazelli says:

      I'm not familiar with either, but I think that most YA and MG fantasy would fall under this category. Thanks for adding to the discussion Seph!

      • J. P. Cabit says:

        Well, I like to talk about Because of the Blue Bloods quite a bit…maybe you're just not familiar with the title.

        If you're ever feeling a little frivolous with your time, check out Daniel Pinkwater's "Looking for Bobowicz" at the library on audiobook. The story is hysterical and his reading is exquisite. It's a kid's book, so I'm not sure what you read, but it's pretty funny. (It's about a giant chicken…)

        • Aidan Fritz says:

          It's been a long time since I read Daniel Pinkwater (I distantly remember "Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars"). My first thought when you said Light Fantasy was Low Fantasy and my initial thoughts were that there are more books in this area... but then I realized that the 'L' words tricked me.

          • T.S. Bazelli says:

            Ahh tricky L words!

            I'm not really familiar with low fantasy. What do you define it as?

          • Aidan Fritz says:

            The best description is here. I think of the Guy Gavriel Kay Tigana/Arbonne books as low fantasy, not much magic and not necessarily central to the plot.

        • Aidan Fritz says:

          Cory Doctorow just blogged that Daniel Pinkwater's Lizard Music was inducted into New York Review of Children Classics.

  • Xanth was a good addition... I talked about the Xanth books once on my blog. They got lighter in tone as the series went on, too. The first book or two had some pretty serious themes embedded in them and the humor was more satire. The later humor was almost all based on puns.

    • T.S. Bazelli says:

      I think I picked up one of the books previously but never read the entire series. I thought it was fun, and good for a change. Sometimes it's nice to read something that just makes you laugh.

      • I haven't read the entire series, either, nor do I think it's possible to read the entire series. He's done somewhere on the order of 30-ish Xanth books. But after eight or nine or maybe ten... you're sort of done with Xanth. Over time, the books became more and more geared toward a younger audience. Nothing wrong with that, but I also found they just weren't challenging in other ways, anymore. Not like a lot of modern YAs.

        If you were only ever going to read a few Xanth books, I'd stick with the first 3. They sort of form a slightly cohesive trilogy.

  • John Wiswell says:

    I've never heard of this sub-genre, despite having read a good deal of Pratchett. That makes sense as a niche. The fluffy or humor-based Fantasies. I think I could do with a little more of those.

  • Josh says:

    isn't that photo from another author? I think that photo is from a tutorial.

    • T.S. Bazelli says:

      I found the image on Flickr. You can click the image to get to the creator's website. After a little investigation though, it does look like it's part of a photoshop tutorial! Hmm!

      I've changed the photo now that you mentioned it.

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