Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Castalia blogger: Morgan

We're pleased to welcome the first of FOUR new Castalia House bloggers today, as Morgan makes his debut with a post on what he describes as the Sword & Sorcery Extinction Event:
In the early 1980s, if you were new to the sword and sorcery genre, you could go to your local chain bookstore, generally B. Dalton or Walden Books and get the core library in short order. Robert E. Howard’s Conan, Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Michael Moorcock’s Elric were all there. There was a period around 1983 that you could get Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane books, C. L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry, and Timescape editions of Clark Ashton Smith. Sword and sorcery in paperback form went back to 1966 with the Lancer editions of Conan. There was a post-Conan sword and sorcery boom in the late 1960s where you had Brak, Thongor, Kothar with eye catching covers painted by Frank Frazetta or Jeff Jones. That died out around 1971.

There was a second boom in the late 1970s fueled by Zebra Books reissues of Robert E. Howard non-Conan material and Berkley Medallion issuing of nine collections and one novel and another six reissues of previous Zebra paperbacks with new covers. All this created a coat tails effect with new sword and sorcery novels and anthologies published. Many of them were bad. Some of the books were really science fiction disguised to look like sword and sorcery. The minor publishers such as Manor, Zebra, and Tower were looking for anything to slap a barbarian with a sword on the cover. Those publishers were gone in the early 80s leaving Ace, D.A.W., Bantam, Del Rey, and the new Tor Books as the main publishers.
Morgan will be blogging on Sundays; we'll be introducing the other new bloggers in the coming weeks.

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Anonymous Difster December 28, 2014 5:03 PM  

As long as it's not Morgan of the Lake.

Anonymous Bane December 28, 2014 6:18 PM  


Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus December 28, 2014 6:23 PM  

Maybe it's partly Howard's fault. He was too good, too early. There was no "movement". There was him. And afterward, without freedom of speech, nobody could write an acceptably hollow Howardesque without being embarrassing.

No, Michael Moorcock doing an anti-Conan doesn't make a "movement".

People like to feel a sense of contributing on some level. But that was not possible.

Blogger Cataline Sergius December 28, 2014 7:08 PM  

Sword and Socery was oddly popular in the mid 1980s. And not just in paperback...Tragically.

For whatever horrifying reason, low heroic budget producers came to the malignant conclusion, that if there was one thing America had been secretly pining for, it was low budget fantasy.

Honestly we weren't I don't know who gave them this idea but through some horrible process known only to producers with a production budget of $249.28 and a left over ticket stub from Six Flags. A mental gestalt was formed that would mar the genre for decades.

The video stores of the 1980s became a fetid suck hole of barbarians who absolutely, could not make violence look like it would hurt and princesses whom you couldn't care about no matter how hard they stayed topless.

A lot people blame Conan the Barbarian. However a much cheaper film Hawk the Slayer debuted two years earlier. It stared a very sad and embarrassed Jack Palance who was clearly wondering how his life had lead to this tragedy.

And both The Sword and Sorcerer and Ator came out the same year as Conan.

The Sword and Sorcerer , actually had a budget and went on to become a gigantic resume stain for the few actors whose careers survived it.

Ator, on the other hand got one the major features of the genre wrong by only showing Miles O'Keefe's breasts, instead of a girl's. This was a surprisingly understandable mistake.

Though I for one think the genre really took off with Deathstalker. No Rifftrax available, none needed really, there isn't a thing in the world that would make that movie funnier. An evil wizard turns one of his guards into Barbi Benton and sends "her" to assassinate our "hero." Deathstalker effortlessly disarms Barbi-guard, throws her on the bed on the bed and proceeds to...

Blogger Arrgh December 28, 2014 7:11 PM  

That's a good idea. Bring back those old school covers and piss off some SJWs.

Blogger Morgan Holmes December 28, 2014 8:35 PM  

Sword and sorcery has been a genre disliked if not hated by elements within science fiction for decades. The genre arose from different magazine. There was a fair amount of hatred by science fiction fans for WEIRD TALES writers in the 1930s. The negative comments are often great examples of Kevin MacDonald's Culture of Critique. David Goldman's recent slam on heroes in European mythology being a recent one. The genre appeals overwhelmingly to men. Men who don't necessarily read science fiction. Bringing back those old school covers or imitations of them would infuriate the SJWs. It is no coincidence that sword and sorcery was phased out as the publishing houses were infiltrated by SJWs.

Anonymous Will Best December 28, 2014 8:39 PM  

OT: I was interested if VD has changed his opinion on Kindle Unlimited since his July post? The NYT via drudge seemed to put it in a pretty negative light, and its concern as it relates to distorting story length does seem legitimate.

Anonymous Scooter December 28, 2014 8:46 PM  

Welcome Morgan. Interesting post. Glad to hear you survived the CH hazing ritual.

Anonymous JohnBr December 28, 2014 10:51 PM  

Wanted to say that for Christmas I received Wright's "Awake in the Night Land" and I'm very pleased with it.
I got the hard cover and it's put together very well.
The story is fantastic. My only problem is that, and maybe this is just me as a non-sci fi/fantasy reader, I'm kind of confused as to the nature of things in the story: Monstruwacans, Diskos, Silent Ones, a bell that descends from the clouds and apparently sucks people up...and many other terms and phrases.
It's almost like the book assumes that I should already know what all of that stuff is. Now, still though.... aside from that the book is incredible.
Like I said, I'm very new to sci-fi/fantasy.... so maybe that's common with the genre.

It would be nice if the book had a table that kind of gave some background on what some of these things in the Night Land are. I received a book from Gene Wolfe as well (off of Wright's praise for it) and this Gene Wolfe's book has something kind of like that.... like a guide to explain novel concepts and terms that come up in the book.

Anyway, still a great book.... just wish I could better understand the nature of some of the horror.

Anonymous Eli December 28, 2014 10:51 PM  

So, does this mean that Castalia will eventually publish a sword & sorcery old styled novel?

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus December 28, 2014 11:01 PM  

Morgan Holmes: "The negative comments are often great examples of Kevin MacDonald's Culture of Critique. David Goldman's recent slam on heroes in European mythology being a recent one."


Blogger ajw308 December 29, 2014 12:14 AM  

The first two posters have me in a maudlin mood.

Some ghosts rest less easily than others.

Blogger Bies Podkrakowski December 29, 2014 7:13 AM  

Morgan Holmes: "The negative comments are often great examples of Kevin MacDonald's Culture of Critique. David Goldman's recent slam on heroes in European mythology being a recent one.


Also yes.

I liked him once. Goldman/"Spengler" offered refreshingly (at least for me) fresh, realistic and yet deeply grounded in tradition view of the world. But suddenly he started sucking up to Chinese. In above mentioned piece he praises modest wuxia heroes ready to start their career by doing menial jobs for their masters. This makes them better from traditional European dragonslaying heroes. He denigrates them and makes responsible for the fall of European culture (which has fallen, according to him around VII or VIII century A. D.)

"So, does this mean that Castalia will eventually publish a sword & sorcery old styled novel?"

Or movie? With muscled barbarian and half naked chicks on the cover?

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus December 29, 2014 4:02 PM  

If you want a new Conan or Kull, it takes more than a muscular barbarian and a half-naked chick. It takes a fine author with a big, credible picture of how the world works, the willingness to argue it, and the ability to illustrate it in magically evocative and gloomy ways, and a tendency to get specific enough that the stories (though fully focused on their own reality and not tracts) take the reader aback from time to time. The reader should be made to think from time to time: "can you say that?" And in this should be mixed in equal part utter insensitivity to the treacly poison of political correctness, and the sense of alienness you get from legends of the ancient world, where who is guilty of what and why has nothing to do with what you are used to regarding as acceptable.

Good luck finding your man.

Blogger Markku December 29, 2014 6:45 PM  

On next April Fool's day I'm going to trot out Castalia's NEWEST blogger, Ann "Mooo" Morgan of the Lake.

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