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Worlds Apart. Relationships with the Land in SFF: Landscape as Identity, Mentor or Antagonist

Luna's fifth Call for Papers, Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction is now in pre-order and will be released on Tuesday 27th of July. Here is a chance to discover the 14 brilliant papers you will find in the book in the order they appear.

Today, we would like to introduce you to Sarah McPherson, presenting the paper: "Relationships with the Land in Fantasy and Science Fiction: Landscape as Identity, Mentor, or Antagonist"


Many fantasy and science fiction authors construct and utilise landscapes within their work in which the land itself is key to the story, not simply a setting but almost functioning as a character in its own right (although not necessarily sentient), and something that the protagonists have a relationship with throughout the book. This can be done effectively in both fictionalised versions of real landscapes and entirely new, imagined worlds. The landscape can aid the protagonists or work against them, and is often a key part of who the characters are, and how they construct their identities. Well known authors from the fantasy tradition who use landscape effectively in this way include J. R. R. Tolkien (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings), Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising Sequence), and Alan Garner (The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath). As well as these, this paper will discuss more recent works in which the landscape is integral to the characters and narrative, from N. K. Jemisin (The Broken Earth trilogy), Kazuo Ishiguro (The Buried Giant), and Zoe Gilbert (Folk). In considering the landscapes of these texts, the discussion will draw on phenomenological approaches from archaeology, specifically ideas around the way landscapes are given meaning as a result of the ways people understand, experience, and relate to them, and what this can tell us about relationships and identity in the context of fantasy and science fiction landscapes. Sarah McPherson is a Sheffield-based writer and poet who loves folk tales, speculative fiction, and finding the weird in the everyday. Her work has been published in Ellipsis Zine, Splonk, STORGY, Emerge Literary Journal, The Cabinet of Heed, and elsewhere, and she has been long/shortlisted in competitions including Writers’ HQ, Reflex Fiction and Cranked Anvil. She has an MA in Landscape Archaeology from the University of Sheffield, and is fascinated by mythology, history, and the natural landscape, and how they impact us and our relationships.

Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction

is now in pre-order!


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