adult fantasy n.

fantasy intended for adults rather than children

Associated chiefly with the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, an imprint edited by Lin Carter and published by Ballantine Books from 1969 to 1974, consisting largely of reprints of classic works of fantasy literature.

SF Criticism


  • 1932 P. S. Miller Letter in Wonder Stories Dec. 606/1 page image P. Schuyler Miller

    Third, I think, comes a second fantasy—adult fantasy…. We find Lord Dunsany and maybe a handful of others.

  • 1950 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Winter–Spring 89 page image

    Surely The Prisoner of Zenda is adult fantasy, a miracle world for romantics of all ages, where the impossible comes to pass in most convincing fashion.

  • 1953 Science Fiction Adventures Mar. 160 (advt.) page image

    It’s been too long since enough adult Fantasy with a punch was available, and we felt somebody should do something about it. We’ve decided to do it!… Don’t miss the first issue of Fantasy Magazine at your favorite newsstand now!

  • 1969 P. S. Beagle Last Unicorn (cover)

    A Ballantine Adult Fantasy.

  • 1970 L. Carter Introduction: Mānā-Yood-Sushāi in At Edge of World x Lin Carter

    I have left many marvelous dreams alone, for if this book sells successfully, there may be another volume in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series drawn from the dreams of Mānā-Yood-Sushāi.

  • 1973 L. S. de Camp Emperor’s Fan in John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology 112 L. Sprague de Camp

    The new magazine of fantasy was launched with the issue of March, 1939. Campbell’s circle responded eagerly to his request for adult fantasy.

  • 1980 M. Z. Bradley Darkover Retrospective in Planet Savers/Sword of Aldones (1982) 304 Marion Zimmer Bradley bibliography

    Donald A. Wollheim…has done more to encourage fantasy and science-fantasy in this country during the lean years before ‘adult fantasy’ became respectable.

  • 1982 D. Hartwell The Golden Age of Science Fiction is Twelve in Top of News (1982, issue number unknown) 65 David G. Hartwell

    Therefore all literature is escape, and the charge that escape is somehow pernicious is a ‘jealous argument of very ancient lineage indeed’, used by ‘entrenched intellectual privilege’ against popular literature from the time of Elizabethan drama to the present. And we might note that this argument has been used successfully in modern times to nearly eradicate adult fantasy from serious attention until very recently.

  • 2000 Interzone (#154) Apr. 64/1 page image

    Young-adult horror novel, first edition; a new entry by a British writer who has written some adult fantasy in the past.

  • 2014 J. Abercrombie in SFX (#250) Aug. 94/1 page image Joe Abercrombie

    I wrote six books, six big, chunky adult fantasy books of a similar sort of tone: gritty, dark, cynical, violent…and I thought now’s the time to write some gritty, dark, cynical, violent YA books.

Research requirements

antedating 1932

Research History
Sue Surova submitted a 1982 cite from Marion Zimmer Bradley's "A Darkover Retrospective."
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1984 cite from David Hartwell's "Age of Wonders".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from L. Sprague de Camp in a 1975 reprint of the 1973 "John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1970 cite from Lin Carter's introduction to Lord Dunsany's "At the Edge of the World."
Jeff has a cite from Gary K. Wolfe in Conjunctions:39 (p. 410), 2002.

Last modified 2021-02-07 10:28:01
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.