Low fantasy

Low fantasy or intrusion fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy fiction where magical events intrude on an otherwise normal world.[1][2] It thus contrasts with high fantasy stories, which take place in fictional worlds with their own sets of rules and physical laws.

Intrusion fantasy places relatively less emphasis on typical elements associated with fantasy, setting a narrative in realistic environments with elements of the fantastical. Sometimes there are just enough fantastical elements to make ambiguous the boundary between what is real and what is purely psychological or supernatural. The word "low" refers to the level of prominence of traditional fantasy elements within the work, and is not any sort of remark on the work's quality.

An alternative definition, common in role-playing games, rests on the story and characters being more realistic and less mythic in scope. This can mean that some works, for example Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian series, can be high fantasy according to the first definition but low fantasy according to the second,[3] while with other works, such as the TV series Supernatural, the opposite is true.


Fantasy fiction developed out of fairy tales in the nineteenth century. Early nineteenth century scholarship in folklore led to fantasy fiction dominating Victorian children's literature.[4] The genre diverged into the two subgenres, high and low fantasy, after the Edwardian era. Low fantasy itself diverged into further subgenres in the twentieth century.[4] The forms of low fantasy include personified animals, personified toys (including The Indian in the Cupboard and The Doll's House; building on the earlier The Adventures of Pinocchio), comic fantasies of exaggerated character traits and altered physics (including Pippi Longstocking and The Borrowers), magical powers, supernatural elements and time slips.[4][5]

French fantastic fiction is predominantly within the low fantasy genre. Low fantasy corresponds to the French genre of "le fantastique" but French literature has no tradition equivalent to English literature's high fantasy.[6] According to David Ketterer, emeritus professor of English at Concordia University, Montreal, the French term Le fantastique "refers to a specific kind of fantasy, that in which the supernatural or the bizarre intrudes into the everyday world; the closest equivalents in English would be 'low fantasy', 'dark fantasy' or 'weird fiction'. 'Le fantastique' does not cover the kind of complete secondary world creation typified by Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. There is no tradition of "dragons and wizards" fantasy in French."[6] Where high fantasy does occur, the terms "le merveilleux" or "le fantastique moderne" are often used.[6]

Other Languages
català: Low fantasy
Deutsch: Low Fantasy
español: Baja fantasía
français: Low fantasy
한국어: 로 판타지
italiano: Low fantasy
polski: Low fantasy
português: Baixa fantasia
svenska: Low fantasy
中文: 浅度奇幻