My Return and a Rant Stemming from Realms of Fantasy End
Last week, Brian Murphy over at Black Gate posted a blog explaining his reasoning over the demise of Realms of Fantasy (here after RoF). At my last look at the comments of the post, there were fifteen. So I won’t be commenting on any after that fifteen. Yesterday, the writer of Wendigomountain blog had a very interesting take on RoF’s demise that touches on Murphy’s arguments. This post is mostly about Murphy’s post and the comments that ensued. I won’t really be touching on Wendigo’s very interesting argument that RoF was tagged over certain covers and then attacked relentlessly by the blogosphere like hyenas meeting a zebra because I largely agree with him.
I also agree to a large extent with Murphy. I will admit that I have never picked up a copy of RoF in large part because I did not like the covers. To me, they are quite hideous, but I can see why some people would describe them as among the best cover art. Those covers hinted at a more “literary” quality to the short fiction depicted, but as I have also mentioned, I am not fond with the mainstream of fantasy literature. I largely loathe Tolkein derivatives, am rather sick of medievalism, annoyed at urban fantasy, etc. I am also not a huge fan of psuedo-literary fantasy. Give me Mieville, Duncan, Valente, etc. But I don’t want something that (if you take out the fantasy) could be at home in The New Yorker or The Antioch Review. So I had no interest in actually reading it.
To Murphy’s main point of there is too much in the genre to read also has merit. While I am always on the lookout for new writers, there are so many older works that call ones attention. But I really did not have an issue with Murphy’s case. My problem is with the comments. Especially those who argue that Fantasy (and Sword and Sorcery in particular) are threatened by “political correctness.”
First, what the hell do you mean by “political correctness?” If you seem to mean what Greengestalt seems to mean, then that is rascism. But I discount Greengestalt because his comment reminds me of paranoid conspiracy theories. No, no, no. There is no conspiracy to take Conan’s mighty sword. It is just the evolution of the genre. You can’t expect any genre to stay the same. Hell, it changes with each book published.
This then brings me to Theo, who came off as a little abusive to Daniel (I can’t remember his last name). The argument that Tolkein or Lewis would not have been published today because of their politics is laughable. Beyond the fact that there is no guarantee that either The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia would be the same works published today as they were fifty plus years ago. Would Tolkein still have been strongly Catholic? Would he have been more conscious of race? Would Lewis be an Anglican or an Atheist today?
But of course, that is not what Theo is arguing. He is assuming if LoTR and Narnia where pulled from the past, not published, and submitted today. He argues that neither one would have been published due to the politics of the authors. This would be unprovable because so many great narratives are never published and a lot of crap is. However, we can look to his usage of China Mieville on Tolkein.
Yes, Mieville has called Tolkein reactionary and the equivalent of a pimple on the ass of fantasy. But that was years ago. His views of the artistic merits of LotR seems to have changed a bit. If one looks at the interviews and other promotional stuff he did around the release of The City and the City, you will notice that he has changed his tune. I think it was on I09 that he gave ten reasons why Tolkein is great. And Jim Freund got him to admit that his mind had changed during an interview on Hour of the Wolf. And would Mieville even have Tolkein banned or censored? No.
So what, then, is the problem? I think Cat Valente is right. Some readers are upset that their precious genre is changing and scream “political correctness is responsible!”. This is just baloney. Besides that, the only people who argue that Orcs are human too are academics and who really reads them (looks at self in the mirror).
Here endeth my rant. I’m going to post my final two pieces on Conan’s Wizards next week (to be honest, I had to rework my Salome post to include Telasca and I haven’t even started on Xaltotun yet). I am also going to be distancing myself from being so much of an analyst/ reviewer and work more as a writer in my own right. With some residual thoughts and comments, but not nearly so polished.