Sunday, December 15, 2019

Flame and Crimson headed to the printer

Behold the kick-ass cover of Flame and Crimson, mortals!

It’s done.

At 11:10 a.m. EST this morning I made a handful of cosmetic edits to the manuscript. Flame and Crimson: A History of Sword-and-Sorcery is back with Pulp Hero Press. In the next few days I anticipate the book will be available online at Amazon, B&N, and other fine retailers.

What can I say? I’m nervous. I’m exhilarated. And I’m glad it’s done. How well it is received is out of my control at this point, but I have accomplished something big that I set out to do. I’m pretty happy with the end product.

Here is a marketing description I put together for Bob McLain over at Pulp Hero Press:

Little did then-obscure Texas writer Robert E. Howard know that with the 1929 publication of “The Shadow Kingdom” in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, he had given birth to a new and vibrant subgenre of fantasy fiction.

Sword-and-sorcery went from pulp obscurity to mass-market paperback popularity before suffering a spectacular publishing collapse in the 1980s. But it lives on in the broader culture and today enjoys a second life in popular role-playing games, music, and films, and helped give birth to a new literary subgenre known as grimdark, popularized by the likes of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series.

Flame and Crimson: A History of Sword-and-Sorcery provides much needed definitions and critical rigor to this misunderstood fantasy subgenre. It traces its origins in the likes of historical fiction, to its birth in the pages of Weird Tales, to its flowering in the Frank Frazetta-illustrated Lancer Conan Saga series in the 1960s. It covers its “barbarian bust” beneath a heap of second-rate pastiche, a pack of colorful and wildly entertaining and awful sword-and-sorcery films, and popular culture second life in the likes of Dungeons & Dragons and the bombast of heavy metal music.

I think readers of this blog will very much enjoy it, as will historians of the fantasy genre. Maybe some die-hard fans of Manowar, too. But I’ve been telling my family and curious non-fantasy reading friends to steer well clear, with this analogy: My wife is a speech-language pathologist. Had she written a book about Asperger’s and speech therapy treatment, I’d be ecstatic for her.  Proud beyond measure, in fact. But I wouldn’t read it (maybe I’d give it a polite skim). I tried to make Flame and Crimson very readable, even fun, but it’s got 24 pages of Works Cited. It’s loaded with citations from the literature, quotations from Amra and The Dungeon Master's Guide, and my geeky analysis and interpretation.

More than that, it’s about a subgenre of fantasy fiction (not even a proper genre). We’re talking beyond niche, here.

But it’s a topic I believe will resonate with readers of The Silver Key. I hope you consider making it a very sword-and-sorcery Christmas and picking up a copy. More to come soon.


Matthew said...


Jason said...

Awesome, congratulations!

Brian Murphy said...

Thanks all. I'm pretty pleased with it and hope it adds some entertaining enlightenment to S&S.

Deuce said...

Great Barber cover! I'm not jealos. At all.

Brian Murphy said...

Deuce, yeah, it’s hideous. :)