Fantasy forms one part of the genre known as speculative fiction: the fiction of "what if?" In fantasy, the normal rules and conventions of biology, physics, botany, medicine, anthropology, geology, and almost any other science are frequently suspended. Animals can talk; magical races exist; fantastic beasts roam the landscape; plants can be sentient; dreams can be prophetic; appearance seldom matches reality. Although Middle Earth resembles the British Isles and the Shire epitomizes medieval rural England in climate, topography, crafts, agriculture, and social organization, the Shire is inhabited by Hobbits -- halflings only half the size of humans. And beyond the borders of the Shire can be found elves, dwarves, orcs, wargs, wizards, goblins, giant spiders, trolls, enchanted forests, and the occasional dragon. Although it reads like history, The Hobbit is high fantasy, a complete and self-contained world of marvels.