Oliver experimented with sending six S&S tales to a younger, contemporary fantasy fan, then got her reactions, and discussed promoting sword & sorcery to younger, more diverse audiences.
Among other things, we discuss the work of Robin Hobb, the dilution of the term “sword & sorcery” and other branding issues, living in a character’s head, struggling to connect with Tower of the Elephant, reading trope-setting classics as a contemporary reader, connecting more with emotion-driven sword & sorcery, backfiring magic, quick-moving plots and pacing, how Sof felt S&S has a unified feel and how it differs from the broad trends of contemporary fantasy, Brian Murphy’s definition of sword & sorcery, short stories as a break from the 500+ page installations of trilogies or longer, the evolution of Sof’s own writing, how DO we recommend S&S to people who don’t read it – young and old, why telling someone something is short isn’t actually a great selling point, how S&S’s outsider protagonist tradition primes it for more diversity in its protagonists and appealing to people outside the classic white cishet male demographic, best online platforms for reading younger audiences and the challenge of self-reinforcing popularity, the importance of making books look pretty on social media, the strong art tradition of sword & sorcery, the “convincing you to read based on aesthetic” TikTok format, author newsletters, the fallacy of expecting self-published authors to do everything a publishing house can do, changing trends in fantasy cover art, this thing called “Google”, Sof’s own novel she’s working on, Elizabeth Olsen’s early film “Martha Marcy May Marlene”, and more!
The six stories I assigned Sof to read for our discussion. You don’t have to read them, but maybe you’ll want to?
1) Tower of the Elephant by Robert E. Howard (Free!)
2) Black God’s Kiss by C.L. Moore (Free!)
3) Mzee by Charles Saunders (Flick through to page 60)
4) Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
5) The Second Death of Hanuvar by Howard Andrew Jones (Featured in Tales from the Magician’s Skull issue #3)
6) The Gate of Mist by Cora Buhlert (Absolute last story in this free magazine)
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