lemuriapress (lemuriapress) wrote,
lemuriapress
lemuriapress

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Sword & Sorcery Renaissance: An Opposing View?

Douglas Cohen, also known as the redoubtable douglascohen, recently posted an essay that makes an excellent counter-point to my own recent post about the emergence of a new sword and sorcery renaissance. While agreeing with many of the observations I made in my own post, Cohen wonders aloud about what the genre has really done since 1980 or so.

It's clear to him, to me, and probably to all of you that the genre's Old Masters are currently in the midst of a re-publishing revival, but Doug pointedly asks "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" in a way I think most readers of Lemuria Press will find thought-provoking and a bit challenging.

I would argue that keeping the classics in print is an important part of the bedrock that fuels a revival in any fantasy sub-genre. Dungeons & Dragons (and its associated novel-spawn) grew out of the anthologizing and republishing efforts of folks like Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp in the decade preceding 1974, and fueled movements like Thieves World and a few other shared-world efforts in the 1980s.

The shift toward seemingly endless series epic fantasy in the form of the hugely successful Wheel of Time (and represented today by the likes of George R. R. Martin) is probably responsible in part for the paucity of identifiable S&S mega-star characters post-Elric and Kane. I also think this is an example of where parsing out the differences between S&S, Heroic Fantasy, and Epic Fantasy probably hurts us all more than it helps anyone. Had some modern fantasy been broken up in serial form and published in the pulp era, I suspect it would be considered sword and sorcery.

Since there are no widely popular fiction magazines publishing short fantasy fitting Cohen's description of sword and sorcery (certainly not Cohen's own Realms of Fantasy), modern authors no doubt find it difficult to create the next Conan, Elric, or even Imaro.

I'm interested in my readers' opinion of Cohen's essay, and I'll be watching the comments section here and on his blog to see what all of you have to say about post-1980 sword and sorcery.

As a side note, I'm off to Gen Con tomorrow morning, and have no idea how reliably I'll be online in the next week or so. Suitcase Season continues with a vengeance!
Tags: books, fantasy, sword and sorcery
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