Spiral Tower on “The Glut of New Sword and Sorcery”…
[it’s] increasingly feeling like a claustrophobic, crowded field [in novels, but in a good and ‘too much quality to read’ way]. I don’t think the glut of new sword and sorcery literature is a problem. But I do think this acknowledging this new phase in indie S&S might be helpful for writers, readers, and publishers.
Sounds good. I knew the “New Pulp” was a thing, and I’d kind of felt the wider cultural sea-change ‘bubbling under’. But the “New S&S” in novels is… new. I’m spreading the word here. See Spiral Tower’s post for various author names and titles of novels.
So it sounds to me like the new Conan publisher will be bringing their items to market at the right time. There’s a new novel series (though the first book had so-so reviews, I recall) and a new non-Marvel comics series (un-connected to the new novels, according to a recent interview I read). Both are apparently more REH-aligned than the mega-corp Marvel/Disney could have made them.
What’s probably needed then is more outreach, to build young audiences for these “new S&S” novels and anthologies, rather than simply curation and book-reviews for old hands. The old hands probably know enough to detect the good stuff by osmosis, and are canny enough to be able to winnow the good stuff into a pile of the really good stuff. But the process for young people probably goes: hear about the novels -> are there audiobooks -> are there full-cast and music unabridged audiobooks? I’m assuming that the age 13-23 market for reading multiple 600-page manly S&S novels on paper is limited these days, amidst the many time-sucking demands of videogames, anime, manga, YouTube, AI image-making, movies, drugs and booze, sports, part-time jobs, college, online eBay side-hustles and whatever the latest social-media app craze is.
On the other hand, the failing Marvel Comics thinks there’s a market for their new line of “crime novels”… so who knows? Maybe a hybrid highly-illustrated form of novel? But that’s been tried before, with not a great deal of success.
So… yes… a really high-quality crowdfunded audiobooks of the very best of this “New S&S” glut would be my starting suggestion, accompanied by a really good free magazine to curate and signpost the stuff each month. Indeed, one might bundle the magazine back-issues free with each audiobook. Such a thing, modestly priced, would be a big draw and a ‘sub-genre taster’ for many.
Audio would also mean that the old hands could cram in even more reading each month. Just slap on a pair of 300ft RF wireless headphones (not the infernal Bluetooth type), and ‘read’ while doing other things.
I’d also emphasise to young readers (probably male) the courage, pride, honour, what Lovecraft calls the barbarian virtue of “unbrokenness”, etc. Just look at how immensely popular Wilbur Smith’s manly books still are. Of course, a bit of sex never hurt either, something lacking in REH due to the constraints of his time. And perhaps a catchy new youth-friendly marketing formula, alongside the somewhat tired old “S&S”? How about MMM! — manliness, magic and maidens. Sounds like a catchy short title for the free magazine that might curate the “New S&S”.