The Blue Star Critical Essays

Fletcher Pratt


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Blue Star is a conscientious attempt to describe a fantasy world that has all the complexities of the real one. Instead of imagining a quasi-feudal world whose kings actually rule by divine right, it borrows and reshapes the political and religious disputes of prerevolutionary France, and instead of the idealized relationships typical of romantic fiction, it tracks the course of a much-troubled affair whose final result is a hard-won compromise. As in Fletcher Pratt’s earlier heroic fantasy, magic plays a very subdued role; its function is symbolic rather than deterministic, and it is inevitable that the protagonists eventually put it out of their lives.

If one compares The Blue Star with the fervently adventurous and unabashedly romantic tales of “sword and sorcery” written by Robert E. Howard and his imitators, or with the delicate and decorative “high fantasies” whose tradition extends from William Morris to J. R. R. Tolkien, one can see how carefully and how radically it distances itself from the underlying assumptions of both subgenres. This cannot have helped its marketability and perhaps explains why the story first appeared in an omnibus that Pratt put together himself rather than as a separate volume. The work is one of considerable originality. The explosive success of fantasy literature in the 1970’s and 1980’s produced numerous comparable works, but Pratt was twenty years ahead of his successors.


(The entire section is 508 words.)