But as fantasy matured as a 20th-century genre, authors began to use stories about magic and chivalry not as a way to reconcile women to waiting for better outcomes, but to imagine claiming kinds of power that were previously off-limits to them. Bravery and initiative shattered class barriers in early fantasy stories, turning poor boys and hobbits into knights of the realm and saviors of their worlds. It’s only natural that fantastical settings should, at some point, apply those same meritocratic principles to gender. If it’s true, as Margalit Fox wrote in the Times this weekend in an obituary of science-fiction author Joanna Russ, that “the science fiction writer has the privilege of remaking the world,” fantasy writers often transfigure tropes from the past as a way to prepare readers for the future.