"Thin places" in fantasy

tegeus-Cromis

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I was thinking of the concept of "thin place" -- a place where one reality comes very close to another, say the mundane world and the faerie realm. Not necessarily portals, but places where one can feel the presence of another world impinging upon one's own, and at least promising the possibility of a crossover or communication. I thought this was a pretty common concept in fantasy, but a google search mainly pulls up results having to do with religion/spirituality, especially Celtic Catholicism. (So a thin place is a place where one feels the presence of the divinity, the numinous, etc, but in a theological, not genre-fiction kind of sense.) I couldn't find an entry for it in John Clute's Encyclopedia of Fantasy either. (His notion of "thinning" relates to something else altogether.) Am I misremembering? Is this a notion in common usage in fantasy or not?
 

tegeus-Cromis

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Some links, to show how the concept seems to be most commonly used:





And an interesting recent blog post on "thin places" and the pandemic: COVID-19 and the Thin Place
 
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Teresa Edgerton

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Perhaps more widespread is the idea of times not places where the barriers between the worlds become thin.

Although as far as fairies were concerned, when people felt they were already present all around them in the landscape, likely to be encountered at any time or place, there was no need of thin places or times when the barriers thinned. You just started out walking and expected them to turn up in your path sooner or later (probably sooner)—always supposing that you even wanted to meet them, which for the most part people didn't.
 

.matthew.

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There's the whole Hallows Eve type thing, I think most cultures have something similar (I know for certain Mexico and Japan does) and this does have a knock on effect in fantasy.

You also have the ideas of mirrors being portals to other worlds which appears quite often.

I'm sure there are more (like dreams) but the basic premise is that yes, there are :)
 

The Big Peat

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Unhelpful answer but I can't think of very much where the barriers are merely thin as opposed to non-existant; the end of the Northern Lights, perhaps.
 

HareBrain

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From memory, I think A Different Kingdom by Paul Kearney does this well. It's weird that it's the only example I can think when I feel I've come across the ideas many times.

I suppose Robert Holdstock's books about Ryhope Wood (Mythago Wood, etc) deal with this, in a way.
 

Alan Aspie

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The Tiffany Aching books by Sir Terry Pratchett - and also Lords and Ladies by the same author.
Pratchett uses a lot.

He uses it in cultural, scientific, mystic, political... meanings.

Unseen University and everything connected to it. Cultural development and forces around it. Several characters. Several plots, storyworlds, archetypes...


Maybe this is one reason for Terry's deep friendship with Neil?

 

tegeus-Cromis

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The Tiffany Aching books by Sir Terry Pratchett - and also Lords and Ladies by the same author.
I did read the first Tiffany Aching book. Now I remember she enters a painting at one point (The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke), so it would fit in another of my threads!
 

Montero

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Portal fantasy used to be very popular, new ones aren't published that often now.

Barbara Hambly was one who used portals, and thin places between worlds - her Darwath Trilogy is one, Silicon Mage ones as well.
 

Guttersnipe

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Xanth series by Piers Anthony. The only thing separating Xanth (magical world) and Mundania (our world) is a forcefield.
 

Juliana

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I think it's an easier concept to find in children's fiction... There's a quote I love from E. Nesbit's 'The Enchanted Castle':

There is a curtain, thin as gossamer, clear as glass, strong as iron, that hangs forever between the world of magic and the world that seems to us to be real. And once people have found one of the little weak spots in that curtain which are marked by magic rings, and amulets, and the like, almost anything can happen.
 
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