|Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 01:20 am: |
Since I've been doing a Howard core dump lately, and Rhys mentioned C.L. Moore, who would you say are the essential authors in these particular genres? Obviously I'd say Howard and Leiber for S&S. Suggestions for others?
|Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 07:12 am: |
Karl Edward Wagner, maybe?
John Joseph Adams
|Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 07:55 am: |
Look for the forthcoming F&SF reprint S&S anthology from Thunder's Mouth Press (formerly 4W8W), called IN LANDS THAT NEVER WERE. It's due some time in September or October, I think.
Howard and Leiber are certainly essential (and are in this book).
|Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 12:41 pm: |
You can do a manageable list for sword and sorcery, but I think "pulp fiction" is just too broad. You can obviously speak of writers who wrote for "the pulps" and get a list, but you'd have to specify genre (science fiction? fantasy? weird fiction? western? crime? romance?) and even if you did the list would likely still be too long and wouldn't tell you much, since most writers of the period started out writing for the pulps. I think "pulp", at least as used today, denotes more of style/sensibility.
As for S&S, I think a list should likely include Howard, Leiber's F&GM, CL Moore's Joiry, Michael Moorcock's Elric, Henry Kuttner's Elak, Lin Carter's Thongor, KE Wagner's Kane, Tierney's Simon Magus and Niven's Warlock stories (which turn the the traditional story around).
|Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 05:15 pm: |
Who is Tierney? That one passed me by!
|Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 05:16 pm: |
Also: the more I read of her work the more highly I rate Catherine Moore. I can't honestly say I prefer her to Howard yet, but I can almost see that happening.
|Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 06:20 pm: |
Tierney also wrote six Red Sonja novels. I thought they were subpar, but based on Eeeeeevil's recommendation I've been looking for the Simon Magus stuff.
|Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 06:49 pm: |
Tierney has certainly done his share of for-hire hack work, but his own Simon Magus material is very much worth reading. The character is a Gnostic priest based on the Simon the Magician mentioned in Acts of the Apostles. There's a fair bit of Gnostic philosophy in the stories and some borrowings from Lovecraft. They've been collected by Bob Price in a Chaosium volume called SCROLL OF THOTH, with interesting theological annotations by Price himself. There's also a novel titled GARDENS OF LUCULLUS from Sidecar Preservation Society, part of the the same folks who run Fedogan & Bremer. They deserve a broader readership.
Tierney also has a pretty good Mythos novel from F&B called HOUSE OF THE TOAD and a volume of poetry from Arkham House. (One of the only two paperback volumes ever published by AH.)
|Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - 07:42 am: |
Tierney's Scroll of Thoth stuff I've read and liked, especially the weird story involving Pontus Pilate as a vampire. Karl Edward Wagner's Kane pops up in one of the Tierney stories as well.
Oddly enough, I've been re-reading Edgar Rice Burroughs (specifically his Outlaw of Torn) and Jack London, in particular the stories collected in Fantastic Tales and seeing some Swords and Sorcery roots. London's When the World Was Young in particular has a lot in common with Howard, especially the stories The Children of the Night and People of the Dark.
The Burroughs is adequate. I can't say I'm loving it.
I think this week I'll be making a trip to the library to pick up the Moore stories if at all possible.
|Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - 09:45 pm: |
London and Burroughs were huge influences on Howard. But so were Talbot Mundy and Harold Lamb, who tend to be read even less these days. S&S certainly owes a lot to all of them, as well as to H Rider Haggard.
|Posted on Sunday, June 06, 2004 - 02:05 am: |
At the risk of suggesting a known quantity, I'd like to recommend that you give Fletcher Pratt's _The Well of the Unicorn_ (1948) a shot. Technically speaking it's more of an "epic fantasy" than a work of "sword & sorcery," but the distinction between the two sub-genres tends to be blurry at times.
I found _Well_ to be fairly dense and slow-going at first -- Pratt certainly succeeds in forcing the reader into another mindset with his stylized, faux-archaic dialogue -- but it rewards the reader who can stick with it. As far as I know, _Well_ is a stand-alone book, albeit one that begins and ends _in media res_; many another author would've sought to milk the premise for all he was worth and churn out at least another three or four books in the hopes of creating a franchise. I don't believe that that was ever Pratt's intention. (See below for supporting evidence.)
There are many things that I like about _Well_: its pervasive, world-weary cynicism, usually voiced by the enchanter MeliboŽ (I strongly suspect that Moorcock was tipping his hat to Pratt when he chose the name of Elric's kingdom); its utterly realistic view of how people conduct themselves, even in a semi-fantastic setting; the firm limitations to the magickal huggery-muggery that tends to dominate some works in the genre (EX: "...one of the shipmen asked MeliboŽ if he did not possess a spell to make the weather abate, to which the enchanter replied that if he could do that, he would not be a magician but a god." -- p. 331); a strong "warrior maid" more believable and appealing (IMHO) than Marvel Comics' retooling of REH's Red Sonja; and a pirate chieftain who unabashedly prefers the sexual company of men -- and no particular notice is made of this fact, either by the characters (well, one does make the occasional snide remark) or the narrator. _Well_ doesn't get the reader all fired up with vicarious thrills the way more typical epic fantasy or sword & sorcery does (_Well_ is about as effective an "anti-recruiting device" for armchair warriors or wizards as the movie _American Me_ is for would-be gangsters), but it does make him think -- about Pratt's milieu, about the way most other authors present their fantasies, about "the real world." The ending sounds a particularly downbeat, if not actually nihilistic, note. The final sentence, slightly altered, could well be inscribed on the side of mountain -- or on mankind's tombstone.
Pratt notes in his author's preface that _Well_ extrapolates from a short story by Lord Dunsany (certainly one of the fathers or grandfathers of S&S), "King Agrimenes and the Unknown Warrior," "but the events he cites took place generations before any told here" (p. ix).
In an age of endless fantasy and science fiction series ("serieses"?), the first paragraph of Pratt's author's preface gives comfort to the reader who despairs of keeping up with the latest hot author's "dodechology:" "This is the reader's book. All proper names are therefore to be pronounced in any way he chooses, except in conversation with another reader, in which case the two must settle their differences as best they can, for there is no rule." (p. ix) Huzzah! No elvish or dwarvish language courses needed!