There seems to be a whisper on the winds, and a smell in the air. Still barely noticed, but anywhere you look where people go to talk about Sword & Sorcery, there seems to be an itching or a hunger for more tales of both the heroic and the eldritch.
Appreciation for Robert Howard remains unbroken, and Conan is still a name that seems to bring another movie, RPG, or videogame to the market every year. Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock are still being discussed, and you will find many who caution not to forget Karl Wagner.
But it has been a long time since the last, or should we say most recent hurrah of Sword & Sorcery. In our times, it seem to mostly live on in curation of the classics and analysis of the Old Masters. A worth cause above reproach, but there is only so much of their works to read and eventually you’ve read it all. And there remains a craving for more.
In recent years there appears to have been a realization that we can not simply create more, but would need to create something new. We want writers to Robert Howard, but we can not tread in his footsteps. Particularly in recent months I’ve come across more and more voices that writers aspiring to create new Sword & Sorcery tales can not tie themselves down to the tales of Robert Howard and the aesthetics of Frank Frazetta. Those works already exist. Everyone remembers Conan, but who would really call himself a fan of Thongor, Brak, or Kothar? It was tried in the late 60s and failed, and it would fail just the same today.
As the late Romantic composer Gustav Mahler said “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but passing on the fire.” And thoughts like these seem to have become more frequent in recent months.
It has been over 30 years since campy B-Movies send Sword & Sorcery to its crypt and permanently cemented its reputation as juvenile trash.
Maybe the time has finally come to break the seals and open that crypt again.