Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cimmerian sighting: A new market for swords and sorcery emerges

If swords and sorcery is to stage a comeback—and let’s face it, the genre is not only languishing these days, it’s barely got a pulse—there must be paying markets to furnish an incentive for budding writers. So I was pleased to recently stumble across what appears to be a promising, albeit yet-to-debut publication in the S&S space, and one that also offers cash upon publication: Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.

From a description on the HFQ Web site:

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is an ezine dedicated to publishing short works of heroic fantasy. More than that, through both prose and poetry we hope to hearken an older age of storytelling – an age when a story well told enthralled audiences. Traits of great oral storytelling survive the ages to influence treasures of literature, the pulps, radio plays, late-night game sessions, and now Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.

Our favorite storytellers, a few ancient and a few not, deliver action, reaction, and repercussion – and rarely divulge the thought processes that guide a character. These storytellers know that sometimes an audience just wants to see what happens next, that sometimes it’s more interesting to watch a person open a box than to hear about why he or she decided to open it in the first place.

Not being too hung up on the divisions within fantasy (save the broad, unmistakable strokes of high fantasy and swords and sorcery), I’ll admit to being a little fuzzy on the differences between “heroic fantasy” and swords and sorcery.

Note: To read the rest of this post, visit The Cimmerian Web site.


K. Forest said...

I think the hypothetical difference between 'heroic fantasy' and 'sword & sorcery' is so fuzzy it renders these terms interchangeable. I'm sure someone will disagree.

I'm all for new mags devoted to new S&S fiction, but I wonder if the genre is pretty much played out at this point. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Howard, Vance, Leiber, and others recongnized as major S&S writers, but injecting new blood into this cold beast is prolly not going to generate any new ideas. Brak the Barbarian comes to mind. And all those horrible Conan pastiches penned by Robert Jordan and others who should have known better.

I'm not saying it can't be done. Somewhere out there exists a dude (or dudette) who is just waiting to drop some sizzling S&S fiction on us.

Brian Murphy said...

Hi K. Forest, yes, the problem with S&S (as I see it) is too much imitation and bad pastiche and not enough innovation. The other problem is that there is seemingly no market for short stories, so fantasy writers are pigeonholed into writing lengthy, epic series.