Monday, November 4, 2013

A Quick Appendix For Some Of The Most Influential Lady Authors Of Sword & Sorcery Fiction

Cover chosen for added irony. ;-) 

Swords and Sorcery fiction has always sort of been the odd man out in the realms of science fiction and fantasy. Despite the trappings of magic, myth, and legend the pantheon of fiction has its genes in many realms such as both science fiction and fantasy. It seemly belongs in both worlds as well as others. But I've heard sword & Sorcery fiction last night over a gaming table described as the refuge of misogynistic writers and reprobates. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The fiction of Sword and Sorcery has at its roots attracted some of the most incredible lady writers seen.

 Many of the ladies of Sword and Sorcery's work is available through the Internet Archive
 A bit of quick background on Sword and Sorcery fiction, we owe the term to Michael Moorcock and a certain Mister Fritz Leiber  who coined the term in 1960.
According to wiki: 
The term "sword and sorcery" was first coined in 1961, when the British author Michael Moorcock published a letter in the fanzine Amra, demanding a name for the sort of fantasy-adventure story written by Robert E. Howard. He had initially proposed the term "epic fantasy". However, the celebrated American sword-and-sorcery author Fritz Leiber replied in the journal Ancalagon (6 April 1961) suggesting, "sword-and-sorcery as a good popular catchphrase for the field". He expanded on this in the July 1961 issue of Amra, commenting:
I feel more certain than ever that this field should be called the sword-and-sorcery story. This accurately describes the points of culture-level and supernatural element and also immediately distinguishes it from the cloak-and-sword (historical adventure) story—and (quite incidentally) from the cloak-and-dagger (international espionage) story too! (Fritz Leiber,Amra, July 1961)
From within the pages of AMRA came the birth of the a whole plethora of stories and writers. 
Starting with C.L. Moore whose Jirel of Joiry needs no introduction.

Andre Norton's Witch World series 

The following is part of the list of impressive writers who paved the way for others to follow.
In no particular importance of appearance are:
C.J. Cherryh 
Jane Gaskell 
Barbara Hambly 
Katherine Kurtz 
Tanith Lee 
R.A. Macavoy 
Sherri S. Tepper 
Joan Vinge 
Patricia Wrede 

This is a very quick list off the top of my head and by no means I'm an authority on the subject but this is the best I could do on short notice. The list also reflects only the first wave of Sword and Sorcery writers there have been many,many, others since.
But that is a blog post for another day.  


  1. Good stuff. I still need to read the Jirel of Joiry series. It's been on my list for quite a while.

  2. Jirel of Joiry is great and very well constructed book. Essential Sword and Sorcery reading. Found my copy at a flea market.Good luck with your quest! Thanks for the comment and more to come!


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