20 January, 2010

A sad day, by Crom...

Flashing Swords Magazine is dead.

It was the closest thing around to the 1930s Golden Age markets. It valued excitement and adventure over sentimentality, which meant real characters, whom the readers could identify with and love, overcoming the type of obstacles we don't often face in the modern world, such as Viking raids and attempted mastery of the sword.

At its best, Sword and Sorcery isn't mere escape fiction. It's a writer's attempt to awaken the primal urges modernity too often neglects. What was the socio-cultural significance of the Shaolin? What made a person wish to devote their lives to combative arts? What ignited the souls of Spartan warriors? What were the human truths behind ancient myths?

Modernity colours modern writing, for obvious reasons, but reasons we creative types should rise above. There are many markets for sentimental fiction, and few places to show the beauty of a warrior's heart. Expertly written S&S might still find a home, but where can its exponents grow? We've just lost the only market devoted to publishing S&S. Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber would be crestfallen. In the same blow, we lost a magazine that stood among the best places in the world for a writer to develop his skills. Whenever that happens, the entire art suffers.

So lift a glass to Flashing Swords Magazine. Presently, I believe if I ever achieve half the success I'm after, I will restart FSM from my own pocket. The world deserves a Sword & Sorcery market. It is the oldest genre in existence, and the wisdom of the ancient world is far from redundant. Besides, Sword & Sorcery is good fun. Where else can a writer let loose with blood and thunder? I had hoped to nurture those urges well into my career.

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