Competitive Chainsaw Sculpting — review of Death Carries a Camcorder

Review by Thomas Davidsmeier
Reading Death Carries a Camcorder is sort of like watching one of those lumberjack competitions. Except instead of just trying to cut through a log with a chainsaw as fast as he can, the lumberjack fires up his Stihl and slices out a perfect sculpture of Gandalf from an old stump in about two minutes flat.
Tom Simon is the spectacular lumberjack in question. And, it is not just his Canadian pedigree. As evidence of his prowess with the literary lumber, I give you the titles of his three collections of essais:
Who carves titles like that out of thin air? I wanted to read all of those before I even knew what they were about. You can just tell before you even see the covers (which are also quite nice).
Death Carries a Camcorder is my most recent read from the set. It is a dazzling dissection of the state of traditional fantasy writing and publishing. Mr. Simon rightfully and skillfully skewers the likes of GRR Martin, Terry Goodkind, and Robert Jordan among others.
Here’s a little sample of Tom Simon’s excellent work on the saw:
“But both Donaldson and Martin appear to have become inebriated with the exuberance of their own ingenuity, as well as verbosity. … They set out to be architects, but spend most of their time and skill carving gargoyles on their drains. The least they could do is have a table of contents, and put numbers on the gargoyles.”
I’m not going to lie. It made me a little uneasy as I read it. My first fantasy novel, Blessings and Trials, went live for Wisecraft (Superversive’s YA imprint) on Easter. As I’m reading Mr. Simon’s spectacular take down of the uninspired and uninspiring offerings of tradpub fantasy, I’m constantly asking myself, “Did I do that? I hope I didn’t do that. Man, I know I didn’t do that. Wait, maybe I did that one…”
Fantasy fans will truly appreciate Mr. Simon’s thoughts and analysis as he lays out his take on topics like:  Violence to the Point of View, The Aggravated Trilogy, Archaic Language Abuse, Villainous Heroes, Missing Morality, and much more.
Pithy, powerful, and perceptive, Mr. Simon’s essays are always truly great reads.
*
See Thomas Davidsmeier’s debut novel, Blessings and Trials, on Amazon.