One of the often repeated refrains from the vile Cult of Resentment is that so much Fantasy is just rehashed, Tolkien fanfiction. Unfortunately, there is some truth in this, a lot of modern multi-volume fantasy is quite derivative of Middle Earth. Pale imitators lacking the poetic and moral compass of JRRT. Due to the popularity of the imitators, and the almost systematic erasure of most pre-Tolkien fantasy from the public sphere, a new reader often thinks of Middle Earth as ground zero for fantasy, myself included.
But that is starting to change, big thanks to Jeffro’s Appendix N for one, and also a revival of the pulp aesthetic by indie magazines like Cirsova and Storyhack and the many new writers affiliated with the PulpRev movement.
In order to educate, and also hopefully find some great reading material for myself, I propose a challenge to all my blogger friends.
Pre-Tolkien Short Story Challenge
- Identify 3 Fantasy stories written before Lord of the Rings was published. 3 stories written before 1954.
- Review all three on your blog, focusing on pre-Tolkien differences of similarities, and making sure you let us know where we can find them for ourselves.
- Share the challenge. I think this will be an interesting exercise. I hope a lot of people join me so I can compile a great collection of reviews that hopefully will inspire others to read older Fantasy.
I floated reading ideas with friends and received enough suggestions to volunteer twice. And the best part, is, with the exception of the occasional short story, these authors will be new to me.
For the first three, I will be reading:
- "At the Mountains of Madness" - H. P. Lovecraft
- "The Abominations of Yondo" - Clark Ashton Smith
- "The Death of Halpin Frayser" - Ambrose Bierce
For the second three, I will be reading works from Lord Dunsany, John Buchan, and Lafcadio Hearn. Availability will determine which stories I will read.
For not reading these six earlier, I offer repentance. And reviews to come.