Someone, I think it was Mickey Rooney, once said, “If I have seen farther than others, it’s because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants.”
But sometimes you can do all right standing on the shoulders of midgets, too.
Here are a few old fantasy novels you’ve never read and never heard of, but which have nevertheless inspired some very famous novels.
The Hamster, the Alchemist, and the Sock Drawer by G.M. Karz was almost certainly the inspiration for C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia (starting with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe); but in Karz’ case, the various elements of the story never quite came together. There’s something unconvincing about a hamster that inspires awe, and a whole public school class of 12-year-olds accidentally entering another world while putting Limburger cheese in the headmaster’s sock drawer.
A Game of Throneberry, by Imhotep B. McGonegal, tries to re-interpret the 1962 New York Mets’ baseball season as Shakespeare’s plays about the Wars of the Roses. The Mets in 1962, their first season, lost their first twelve ballgames. Then along came Marve Throneberry and they got it together to win 40 games while only losing 120. But I dunno: presenting Marvelous Marve as a kind of modern-day Richard III, drowning poor Elio Chacon in a great big barrel of wine hidden behind the set of Kiner’s Korner–really, I can’t imagine what Mr. McGonegal thought he was doing. Inspiring today’s Game of Thrones franchise?
In The Slobbit, Prof, B.Y.O. Boose created a fantasy world centered around extremely slovenly little people called Slobbits. A Slobbit named Bulbo accompanies a group of leprechauns on their way to slay a dragon. It’s difficult because Bulbo is always losing things. Scholars believe this little-known tale prompted J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Hobbit. Could be, could be…
Last but not least, we have The Wizard of Pfudd by Priscilla Chumply, an obscure 19th century fantasy that introduced the whole idea of an entire nation being duped by a fraudulent wizard–although poor Miss Chumply undermined her own work by writing all the dialogue in garbled Classical Greek. Many modern masters of fantasy have been inspired by Pfudd, but none have ever admitted to it.