In which I respond to a John C. Wright essay on what he terms retrophobia and how it has crippled the third generation of fantasy writers:
This theory of literary retrophobia explains why so many mediocre writers like Terry Brooks, JK Rowling, and John Scalzi, and even genuinely entertaining writers such as Charles Stross, exhibit such a powerful inclination for rewriting the works of earlier, more original writers, not only mimicking their styles, but downright strip-mining their works for ideas, settings, and even basic plots.Read the rest at Alpha Game. It's not related to intersexual relations, but that's where this got started, so that's why I posted it there.
For example, I enjoyed The Sword of Shannara when I was in high school, for example. Yes, it was a mediocre imitation of Tolkien, but it had its moments and it was a preferable alternative to re-reading The Silmarillion for the third time. But after struggling through The Elfstones of Shannara and only making it about a chapter into the third book in the series, I gave it up. I tried again about twenty years later and didn't even make it that far.
The reason, I belatedly realized, was that without the benefit of working from Tolkien's template, Brooks simply didn't know how to write a fantasy tale capable of holding the reader's interest. He's not a bad writer; his Demon books weren't bad. But he simply didn't have any of the deep roots in history or myth that the great genre writers of the past did, and the shallowness crippled the quality of his storytelling.