Superlative things were done

In 1978, the science-fiction author Michael Moorcock wrote the celebrated essay ‘Epic Pooh’ that lambasted J R R Tolkien and his ilk for constructing fantasy universes in which – whatever the ‘there and back again’ meanderings of the plot – nothing ever really changes. Moorcock felt that his own ‘new worlds’ science fiction of the 1960s was a radical intervention for producing difference, while the fantasists were essentially nostalgic for a past in which everything had its proper place: the king on his throne, the dragons slain, the ordinary hobbits happy with their pastoral lot.

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