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de Camp, Lyon Sprague

modern enchanter twain fantasy

(US, 1907–2000)

Over a long career, Sprague de Camp created some of the basic motifs and scenarios of modern fantasy and science fiction. In 1940, in collaboration with Fletcher Pratt, he began the Incomplete Enchanter series, in which modern scientists find themselves transported to the worlds of Norse, Irish, Finnish, or Renaissance myth, and have to survive by learning the underlying and quasi-scientific laws of magic: the stories were eventually collected as The Intrepid Enchanter (published in the USA as The Complete Compleat Enchanter, both 1989). In 1941 de Camp brought out Lest Darkness Fall, a work which resembles Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court (1889) in sending a modern man back to the sixth century, but contradicts Twain by repeatedly demonstrating that modern knowledge does not confer automatic superiority. Another distinguished fantasy is his Novaria sequence begun in 1968 with The Goblin Tower, in which a ‘king who must die’ refuses to accept his fate, and escapes with the aid of an enchanter of limited competence.

Avram Davidson, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance. See FANTASY  TS

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