Quotes / Standard Fantasy Setting

But a part of my mind remained plugged into what I might call the consensus fantasy universe. It does exist, and you all know it. It has been formed by folklore and Victorian romantics and Walt Disney, and E. R. Eddison and Jack Vance and Ursula K. Le Guin and Fritz Leiber — hasn't it? In fact those writers and a handful of others have very closely defined it. There are now, to the delight of parasitical writers like me, what I might almost call "public domain" plot items. There are dragons, and magic users, and far horizons, and quests, and items of power, and weird cities. There's the kind of scenery that we would have had on Earth if only God had had the money.

To see the consensus fantasy universe in detail you need only look at the classical Dungeons & Dragons role-playing games. They are mosaics of every fantasy story you've ever read.

Of course, the consensus fantasy universe is full of cliches, almost by definition. Elves are tall and fair and use bows, dwarves are small and dark and vote Labour. And magic works. That's the difference between magic in the fantasy universe and magic here. In the fantasy universe a wizard points his fingers and all these sort of blue glittery lights come out and there's a sort of explosion and some poor soul is turned into something horrible.

Terry Pratchett, Why Gandalf Never Married

...I grew up on The Twilight Zone stories and they were as fantastic as they got and were always grounded in humanity and human emotions. I think modern fantasy, and Tolkien’s work took off right after The Twilight Zone was cancelled, began in the 60’s and hasn’t changed since. Withholding judgment, I find that to be a remarkable and depressing fact....

By the conventions handed down:

A Tolkien-type fantasy, the only kind allowed, must take place in something resembling the Middle Ages.

It must have the usual folk accoutrements of trolls, elves, etc.

There must be an Evil Force that everyone once thought had long been vanquished, but which now has returned (which raises a question of whether it could keep returning).

There must be a quest to find or return something.

There must be an invented mythology/language to support the whole business. Note: the writer is free to borrow. For example, I believe there is a relationship between Wagner’s Ring and Tolkien, though I hasten to add I am not accusing the latter of plagiarism.

There must be lots of characters with minimal or no sense of humor.

There must be a disconnect from everyday reality, at no point is the reader to be reminded of the everyday realities of bill-paying, work, and/or family squabbles. Fantasy is to escape. And yes, Serling’s fantasies were not about escape.

There must be no allegory — and here I salute Tolkien. I think that was an absolutely correct decision. Allegory is like satire — nobody understands it and nobody cares about it. By dispensing with allegorical interpretations, Tolkien freed him to write something that anyone could readily interpret for their own purposes (In the 60’s I recall, Orcs = Narcs was all the rage)

These I believe to be all necessary conditions. But the question is: are they sufficient?
— Science fiction author J. Kel, author of Shedding Grace, on "The Tolkien Template"