Action Fantasy

March 12, 2019

   Epic fantasy is boring, let's face it. Boring and overdone, not to mention utterly pretentious.  Same stale Tolkien formula...a Dark Lord has the land under his control and an unlikely hero sets out to undo him (or maybe her). I don't read any of that stuff because its all just variations on the same theme. Fantasy literature, well heroic fantasy to be precise, used to be so original. Those were the days of "Weird Tales" and "The Fantasy Fan" and Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard were the kings. Short stories packed with excitement. Epic fantasy, on the other hand, is ponderous, page after page of descriptions about different races, about geography, history, and other topics, stuff that bored the crap out of me in high school. Moreover, it is a con. Readers keep buying books waiting for a resolution that will never come. 


   I read Tolkien and that was my only real foray into fantasy literature. I read one page of Howard but couldn't stomach his writing style, although I do admire his characters and his plots and consider him a pioneer. I read Homer's "The Odyssey,' which could be construed as one of the first epic fantasies, and "The Iliad," which might be among the first sword-and-sorcery tales. Both are different branches on the same tree. 


   A few years ago, I wrote a short-story called "Visions of the Goblin Wizard," which was more or less a spoof of Tolkien. Then I thought, this is an interesting world I've created, why not expand on it I did and in a few months churned out "The Sword of Cullen," a novella. Maybe I churned it out too face because the first version needed a hell of lot of re-editing.


   Not being a fan of fantasy, I was able to write the story in a vacuum, not being influenced by anyone except maybe Homer I went backward to the roots of fantasy, being a fan of Achilles, bringing with me some elements of epic fantasy and even science fiction (the story takes place on another planet), I also borrowed from Christianity and Islam. It was essentially an amalgamation of past, present, and future.  I eventually ended up with four novellas. Three were serials, but they could also stand alone. The fourth was a new adventure. I plan to do more. I was sidetracked by some other projects since last year. Maybe I'll revive the saga in 2020.


   I can't call the Cullen Redgust stories pure sword-and-sorcery, It is more cerebral, not as cerebral as epic fantasy but its more than just people swinging swords. Maybe it belongs to a new genre that I dub action fantasy, action/adventure with some intellect. The stories are ostensibly simple yet actually quite complex on another level. The series has been both excoriated and praised by fantasy  enthusiasts, some calling it garbage, others seductive. I call it different.

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