Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Well Runs Dry

I am running out of sword & sorcery. Keep in mind that my definition of the sub genre is narrower than many and mostly confined to less than a dozen authors who hew fairly close to the original genre as defined by Robert E. Howard. And no one currently writing books in the fantasy field today is writing what I would define as actual sword & sorcery, so there's nothing new coming my way. Some folks come close. Bob Salvatore comes to mind, though he's so concerned with elves and dwarves that he's more in Tolkien land than S&S land. The late David Gemmell was also close, but many of his novels are closer to modern, post LotR heroic fantasy than old time S&S.
Some authors work in more than one branch of the fantasy tree. Michael Moorcock for instance, because while his Elric stories fit into the framework of S&S, many of his other series don't. I wouldn't consider the Hawkmoon books to be S&S. Thus, while he is a sword & sorcery author, everything he writes is not sword & sorcery.
So now that I've read all of Robert E. Howard, and all of Fritz Leiber, and all of C.L. Moore, Henry Kuttner, Karl Edward Wagner, Lin Carter, John Jakes, L. Sprague Decamp, and many other authors that few people have even heard of, I have to consider the fact that I am gradually running out of true S&S. I have a few of Charles Saunders stories to go. I think I have a couple of Gardner Fox yarns I've yet to read. There are one of two of the Tor Conan pastiches that I haven't either read or disqualified. Basically though, I can see the bottom of the barrel.
So what will I do when I run out? Keep reading historical novels and re-read the old stuff I really like in between mysteries and non-fiction, I guess. I'm not overly concerned, but I do realize that the supply is finite and I've already exhausted most of it.


Anonymous said...

Hi Charles,

"Golden Blood", 1933, Jack Willaimson.

I read a paperback reissue of this many years ago, my recollection is that is in the classic S&S genre.

If you come across a copy, give it a try.

In any case, I'm a big Williamson fan, and he was more of a sci-fi writer.

And to plug Williamson to your readers, I recommend:

"Darker Than You Think", 1948, a hybrid sci-fi/horror novel, written in the hard boiled style of Hammet and Chandler.

"The Humanoids", 1949, is more straight forward sci-fi, but has a strong element of psychological horror.


Charles R. Rutledge said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I've read some Williamson over the years (including Darker Than You Think) and usually found it enjoyable. I read his last novel, The Stonehenge Gate in hardback a couple of years ago. I'm not familiar with Golden Blood, but will certainly track it down.