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The Future of Sword & Sorcery

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  • The Future of Sword & Sorcery

    I'm pleased to hear there is a Elric film being made, I need some straight hack-n-slash after that 9-hr mess known as the Lord of the Rings, which subsequently, with the Harry Potter books has filled the stores with books the size of bricks (i.e. Robert Jordon, George R. R. Martin, etc).

    I don't find, neither do I see Sword & Sorcery being written much or filling the shelves of by local bookstore, aside from the Robert E. Howard collections by Wandering Star. The new "Age of Conan" books are alright; just makes me long for Conan more than these would-be follows of Hyborean brutality and adventure. The new Elric's are also alright, but here in the states are hard to get over the counter, I had to purchase mine on Amazon. I have been reduced to used book stores to get by Sword & Sorcery fix, which by the way, Mike's books being the prize after an exhausted search.

    This poses a interesting question: where is the genre headed? I'm getting tired of going to Barnes & Nobles to see these Tolkien ripoff (Wheel of Time being no.1 on my shit list, followed by Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Trilogy).

    :( I miss Conan, and Elric, Corum and Solomon Kane. . .

  • #2
    S&S appears as a genre to have degenerated into formula. And like most such patent nostrums, it tastes bad.

    To some degree, writers and publishers are producing what their marketing research tells them will sell. This is NOT equal to GOOD.

    So if you like the genre (which I think at least CAN be good), you're left reading older, less commercially-driven work: Leiber, Moorcock, and others -- until some hypothetical new writer comes along and turns the genre on its head. Where this hypothetical new writer would get published is a difficult question. Perhaps Perdix's Prototype X?

    Frustrating, isn't it?

    LSN

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    • #3
      I was thinking only the other day that the main problem as I see it with the main fantasy writers nowadays - Feist, Goodkind, Eddings, Hobb, Jordan, Gemmell, et al - is that *all* they seem to produce is fantasy (S&S) novels. It all seems so formulaic and boring. (See Mike's quote in my signature.) Don't these people yearn to write something different? Don't they develop?* I mean, how many vampire novels can Anne Rice churn out before she gets as bored as her audience*?

      When I look at Mike's output (who's pretty much the only fantasy author I read apart from T*lk*in) I see such diverse works as 'The Shores of Death' (SF), 'Stormbringer' (Fantasy), 'The Chinese Agent' (comedy), the Cornelius novels (political satire?), 'Gloriana' (romance), 'The War Lord of the Air' (steampunk?), 'The Dancers at the End of Time' (fin de siecle), the Pyat novels (historical), 'Mother London' (social)... The list of different 'genres' that Mike uses varies quite considerably. Which is what I expect from a 'proper author'. If I don't 'get' Mike's latest novel it doesn't matter because there'll be something different out next year that might be more to my tastes.

      *I am tempted to blame the readers for much of this stagnation as it happens. If they don't demand something different, then there's little motivation for the author to change, is there?
      _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
      _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
      _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
      _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

      Comment


      • #4
        B&N and Waterstones could do with a section entitled 'Non-generic', 'original ideas' or simply 'Other stuff'.
        Most of the PX authors are definitely 'Other Stuff'.
        That's meant to be good by the way! :P

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        • #5
          Queston 1: Perdix's Project X? Where is it and where can I find it? I, myself, am a writer trying to get published and most my stuff gears toward the off-beat, and I've taken Moorcock's ideaology of being diffrent to heart since high school. I've read S&S since i was a kid, starting with Elric of Melnibone (recommended by my english teacher of all people). Its very difficult, even the magazines are fluttered with garbage. Weird Tales, Realms of Fantasy, these magazines and the editors who publish deem "cute, romantic, modern-fantasy" the flavor of the month *yawn*


          As for the book industry, its marketing is crap. its like music, the company blame us for bad record sales and the rise of piracy. The same has occured to books, I rather buy a used book by Mike, torn and falling apart and treasure it that a new Wheel of Time, which, come doomsday I'll use for firewood.

          P.S. ever notice how cool book covers use to be, especially S&S ones. Mike's Elric series in the 70's DAW editions are the highligh of my collection alongside the "classic 12" Conan w/ Frazetta :D

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          • #6
            Originally posted by demos99
            I was thinking only the other day that the main problem as I see it with the main fantasy writers nowadays - Feist, Goodkind, Eddings, Hobb, Jordan, Gemmell, et al - is that *all* they seem to produce is fantasy (S&S) novels. It all seems so formulaic and boring. (See Mike's quote in my signature.) Don't these people yearn to write something different? Don't they develop?* I mean, how many vampire novels can Anne Rice churn out before she gets as bored as her audience*?
            And did you ever try to read one of her "erotic" novels? Ay ay ay! Someone would have to invent new words for previously unseen levels of dreck before a critique could be attempted.

            The future of S&S prose, now Moorcock has written his last fantasy novel, is in the past!

            We have a wealth of MM to revisit, always a pleasure as you all kno, and as Mike and others have pointed out recently in other threads: if you haven't read Fritz Leiber yet... what are you waiting for ??!!!!!

            (And we may hope for more MM comics, perhaps, and dare one say it, just maybe a movie or three?)

            Comment


            • #7
              Mike's Last fantasy novel? Did I get that right or did I imagine it right?

              Anne Rice is bogus, anyone can write a story filled with vampires, sex, drugs, and overly EXCESSIVE S&M. . . yup, books are going down the shiter

              Comment


              • #8
                PS.: Plus I'm currently enjoying The Well of the Unicorn by Fletcher Pratt at last, after seeing Mike's dedication of Elric of Melnibone to Pratt so many times over the years!

                Got a nice new copy of the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks edition via the dreaded Amazon.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Solomon_Kane
                  Mike's Last fantasy novel? Did I get that right or did I imagine it right?
                  Check this thread for some answers to that question; other mentions can be found elswhere:

                  [link expired]

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                  • #10
                    I'm sadden by this fact, though under normal circumstances, I'd be overjoyed that an author lived long enough to see the end of a series, and bow down with time, but kinda sad, since Mike's been my source of S&S for the modern times. I suppose its time for the new guys to wield the swords and don the armor and cloaks

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Oh, and I shouldn't just been seen as having a pop at fantasy or horror writers either. Most novelists these days seem to plump for one particular furrow and mine that until they hit the bedrock. Look at any number of Man Booker prize short list nominees (or rather don't 'cos I wouldn't want to be held responsible).

                      I remember something Pat Mills (or maybe it was John Wagner?) said: as a comics writer you couldn't be 'precious' about what you were going to write. It was no good saying you wanted to be a SF-strip writer if no-one was buying SF scripts that month. You had to be able to turn your hand to writing a detective mystery, or a girl's romance, or a horror story or a western or whatever it was that the editor/publisher asked for if you wanted to earn a living.

                      Of couse, once you 'made it' then you could pick and choose what you spent your time on, but that's true of any profession to some degree.

                      I think the problem is that 'series' is where it's at these days. Whether it's JK Rowling, or Lemony Snicket or Terry Pratchett or Wheel of Time Vol. 28 or John Norman's 'Gor', etc. publishers have this mindset that if you can have a series then you have a ready-made audience for each additional book you produce.

                      And yes, I suppose - if we're honest - we can, to some extent, lay all this at the feet of like Tolkien (although it was his publisher who made him produce LOTR in 3 volumes (never a Trilogy btw)) and Mike (who realised that by splitting his Hawkmoon novel into 4 volumes he could get paid 4 times*), but really I'm inclined to think that a lot of this just comes down to laziness really (either on the writer's part or the publisher's).

                      *Although the entire Hawkmoon Tetralogy is only the size of a single volume of your common-or-garden modern fantasy Trilogy. ;)
                      _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                      _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                      _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                      _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The big diffrence: Hawkmoon (all four books) took a month to read; Wheel of Time (book 1, for which i gave up afterwards) took more than 1/2 a year, i'd read, put it away, it was utter skull-drudgery

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                        • #13
                          P.S.: anyone notice that solomon Kane has got to be the most underrated and unused of S&S's rouge gallery of antiheroes

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by GuyLawley
                            PS.: Plus I'm currently enjoying The Well of the Unicorn by Fletcher Pratt at last, after seeing Mike's dedication of Elric of Melnibone to Pratt so many times over the years!

                            Got a nice new copy of the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks edition via the dreaded Amazon.
                            The Well of the Unicorn is an interesting slant on how fantasy can be used as the basis of something rather different from the usual run of stuff. Some of Avram Davidson's Doctor Esterhazy stories, as well as his novel The Phoenix and the Mirror might illustrate this point further. (Davidson's stuff will not appeal to all fantasy readers, but hey, I like it.)

                            Pratt and de Camp's Harold Shea stories are amusing, but pretty lightweight, and they are not (for the most part) outstandingly well-written. They will appeal to many who like "whimsical" fantasy. This style has a pretty good modern avatar in the person of Terry Pratchett. It also owns some absolutely dreadful technicians. :roll:

                            LSN

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                            • #15
                              Solomon - check out our threads for 'Prototype X' on the "Enclave At The End Of Time" forum. And also -
                              www.prototypex.org.uk

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