Emma Bull & Steven Brust—Freedom & Necessity (1997)
Bull is a left-liberal and Brust is a Trotskyist fantasy writer. F&N is set in the 19th Century of the Chartists and class turmoil. It’s been described as “the first Marxist steampunk” or “a fantasy for Young Hegelians.”
Stefan Grabiński—The Dark Domain (1918–22; trans. and collected 1993)
Brilliant horror by this Polish writer. Unusually locates the uncanny and threatening within the very symbols of a modernizing industrialism in Poland: trains, electricity, etc. This awareness of the instability of the everyday marks him out from traditional, “nostalgic” ghost story writers.
M. John Harrison—Viriconium Nights (1984)
A stunning writer, who expresses the alienation of the modern everyday with terrible force. Fantasy that mercilessly uncovers the alienated nature of the longing for fantastic escape, and show how that fantasy will always remain out of reach. Punishes his readers and characters for their involvement with fantasy. See also The Course of the Heart.
Michael Swanwick—The Iron Dragon’s Daughter (1993)
Great work that completely destroys the sentimental aspects of genre fantasy. From within the genre—fairies, elves, and all—Swanwick examines the industrial revolution, the Vietnam War, racism and sexism, and the escapist dreams of genre fantasy. A truly great anti-fantasy.