The Attempted Murder of Sword & Sorcery

By Jim Fear


So the good people over at Castalia House have put out a review of the new Gardner Dozois/George R. R. Martin anthology, The Book of Swords. You can read the autopsy of this shitpile¬†here, but I’ll just let you know that it doesn’t look pretty. This is the same problem they had with their Old Venus anthology, which is that these people fundamentally do not understand the medium they’re working in. Either that, or they’re actively trying to kill it. They say you shouldn’t attribute to malice what could be attributed to ignorance and incompetence, but at this point I’m really starting to fucking wonder over here.

The problem with Old Venus, as expounded on in many places, is that the stories went nowhere and did nothing. They were vehicles for preachy wannabe litfic, not adventure stories exploring the possibilities of Venus as an inhabitable world in the way that the old pulpsters did. So in the interest of showing these wankers how it’s done, I wrote a story playing with the concept of Old Venus, and it’ll be appearing in Cirsova Heroic Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine this summer. It’s called “Slavers of Venus”, and you can support their Kickstarter here.

Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to have to do more of this kind of thing, because these people are apparently damned and determined to slaughter everything that used to be fun about these old genres. What really pisses me off here is that there are authors in this new anthology that I actually respect, and they’re engaged in this exercise in killing the primary genres that I write in. My opinion on Martin is already well known (for those who don’t know, I really actively dislike the fucker, and try to steer people away from his nihilistic celebration of his personal fucked up sexual fantasies), but some of the rest of these people formerly had my respect.

Robin Hobb is one of my favorite fantasists, and I routinely praise her series of books dealing with Fitzchivalry Farseer and the Liveship Traders. She knows how to tell a damn fine yarn, and it’s very disappointing to see her be apart of one of Martin’s deconstructions and subversions of the genre that she has formerly imbued with so much wonder and so many brilliant ideas.

C. J. Cherryh I’m particularly disappointed about, because I love her Faded Sun trilogy, and I know she’s a better writer than someone who thinks the subversion gimmick is any kind of original or even fun. And really? Beowulf? You’re going to subvert Beowulf and make him the bad guy? While Grendel was raiding the feasting halls while people slept and devouring entire innocent human beings, the hero who came and stopped the slaughter of innocents was the bad guy the whoooole time!

You’re better than this crap, and you know it.

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