"We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers."
-- Elric the Technomage, from Babylon 5
"Dreamers, shapers, singers, makers" -- the best description there is of good fantasy authors. There aren't many limits to human imagination. And if somebody can imagine it, sooner or later somebody is going to write a story about it.
Classifying fantasy is even harder than classifying science fiction. Fantasy ranges from the deep past to the far future, into all sorts of possible worlds. Some are a lot like ours is (or was); some are different; some are very different. Some are pleasant, while others are extremely nasty. Some are just for fun, and others provide serious thinking material.
As in my SF collection, there are several fantasy authors that I like so much I've collected large numbers of their novels. Each of these deserves a page of their own:
- The lord of Middle-earth, J.R.R. Tolkien
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld
- Alan Dean Foster
- Katherine Kurtz
- Mercedes Lackey
Then there are the categories of fantasy:
- One type of fantasy that everyone's heard of is epic fantasy.
- I consider mythology to be a type of fantasy, so my mythology and folktale books live among my fantasy collection.
- Swords & sorcery is "traditional" fantasy, what most people think of when they hear the word: barbarian men and beautiful, scantily-clad women wielding swords and other medieval weapons in a basically medieval world. Some swords-and-sorcery is indeed like that. Some is a lot better.
- As with SF, there are fantasy media tie-ins. I have a couple of fantasy movie novelizations, a couple of "Making of" type books, and half a dozen books based on Highlander.
And as always in any genre, there are some books that don't quite fit any of the categories.