This idea of escape to is at the heart of the Portal Quest Fantasy, where a protagonist – as the category’s name might suggest – enters a fantasy world through a portal. The portal can be physical (like a wardrobe) or more metaphorical (like Sam going further from home than he’s ever been in Fellowship of the Ring). Specifically, the protagonist is going from the mundane world with which they are familiar, through a portal, into a fantasy world with which they are very much not familiar.

Remember the question I posed last time – Fantasy is impossible, but impossible by what standards? Impossible to whom? That fantasy is impossible is a given, more or less (this marks it as different from Science Fiction, which may be possible at some point, with the right technology), but staying away from too much definition and line drawing, the point is that iterations of impossibility help us understand how fantasy texts are working.

It isn’t just in or out, there’s an assessment of everything on its own terms. Not every fantasy book has to adhere to the same terms or rules, fantasy will bleed into science fiction, we’ll see things like alternate history. There are infinite possibilities all loosely circling this thing we call “fantasy.”