Next year will mark the 90th anniversary of the birth of sword-and-sorcery, that sprawling, brawling subdivision of the literary neighborhood known as fantasy fiction. The occasion of that birth was the publication of a novella "The Shadow Kingdom" in the iconic pulp magazine Weird Tales during the fall of 1929. The author's name was Robert E. Howard, and the tale, which featured a barbarian king named Kull who ruled and battled in an antediluvian milieu that combined elements of fantasy, horror and action-adventure, brought something new to the pages of popular fiction.
In subsequent years, this new genre underwent a succession of booms and lulls. The first boom began with another of Howard's characters, Conan of Cimmeria, whose name and image resonate to this day. The first lull followed in the 1940s and 50s, when pulp magazines fell out of fashion, and then out of existence.
Another boom began in the 1960s, with a rediscovery of the Conan stories and a flood of new authors who followed in the footsteps of Howard, who had died in 1936. (Full disclosure: I am one of those authors.) Oversaturation probably led to another lull, punctuated by the release of the occasional Conan movie that doesn't get it right.
Now, the lull may be over. Esteemed author and editor Robert M. Price has released a sword-and-sorcery anthology called The Mighty Warriors. All the stories in this anthology are new, although some of them feature characters that were created decades ago. I am proud and honored to have a story about my black warrior, Imaro, included in this anthology.
Here's the lineup:
Know, O Prince (Introduction) by Robert M. Price
Spawn of the Sea God by Adrian Cole
The Corpse's Crusade by Adrian Goodfellow
Thongor n the Valley of Demons by Robert M. Price
The Shadow of Dia-Sust by David C. Smith
Amudu's Bargain by Charles R. Saunders
The Temple of Light by Milton J. Davis
Kiss of the Succubus by Charles R. Rutledge
The Living Wind by Ken Akamatsu
"The Last Temple of Balsoth by Cliff Biggers
Lono and the Pit of Dunhaki by Paul R. McNamee
Impressive company, indeed.
I am especially glad to be sharing space with two close friends of mine: David C. Smith, whom I have known since the 1970s, when we were both young writers eager break into print, and Milton J. Davis, my sword-and-soul brother, who has in little more than a decade become one of the most premier and prolific writers and publishers of our time.
If a new sword-and-sorcery boom is about to begin, Bob Price's anthology is the spark that lit the fire. I'm thrilled to be part of it.