fantasy

On Right Wing Fantasist Reactionism

The latest hubbub in the nerdosphere is an absurdly stupid article from Leo Grin that basically says that fantasy was much better in the good-old days when JRR Tolkien and Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian) walked the Earth, and that since then fantasy has succumbed to liberal elite moral relativism to give us gritty, "nihilistic" fantasy writers like Joe Abercrombie, who naturally, by extension, represent the Decline of Western Civilization. Forget that Conan was an amoral figure who basically killed anyone who got in his way and took any woman he saw, and was in turn a send-up of what Howard saw as the namby-pamby chivalric knights that were popular in historical writings at the time. And forget that the morals in Tolkien's work have (pretty deliberately) the complexity of a fairy tale. But then that may be the point; the author wants to see beautiful, noble good up against ugly, traitorous evil and anything more subtle, more realistic than that is somehow the End of Civilization. In other words, he wants the kind of shoehorning of everything into a reductionist, black-and-white worldview typical of right-wing ideology in general.

Elric and Michael Moorcock

I've recently become addicted to the Elric novels of Michael Moorcock. For the uninitiated, Elric was created as a reaction against the kind of Conan-the-Barbarian/Lord-of-the-Rings style fantasy that still dominates sword-and-sorcery novels today. He is the anti-Conan; a frail, albino sorcerer from the decadent kingdom of Melneboné, addicted to drugs to stay alive and to the demon black sword Stormbringer, which both fills him with strength and compels him to kill so that it might eat the souls of his victims. Adjectives frequently used to describe him include "cursed," "tortured" and most of all "doomed." He is totally emo. Elric was most popular in the 1970's, when Blue Oyster Cult wrote a song about him ("Black Blade") and Dave Sim parodied him in the comic book Cerebus as "Elrod of Melvinbone." Yet, with new additions of the books coming out, the prospect of a movie and Moorcock now writing new Elric adventures, the albino seems to be having a resurgence of attention.