Sword and sorcery

From Academic Kids

This article is about a fantasy sub-genre. For information on the game company, see Sword & Sorcery.

Sword and sorcery (S&S) is a fantasy sub-genre featuring swashbuckling heroes in violent conflict with a variety of villains, chiefly wizards, witches, evil spirits, and other supernatural creatures. The term was suggested by Fritz Leiber to Michael Moorcock in 1961.

But the subgenre has much older roots. Ultimately—like much fantasy—it has its roots in mythology and Classical epics such as Homer's Odyssey, but its immediate progenitors are the swashbuckling tales of Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers (1844), etc.) and Rafael Sabatini (e.g., Scaramouche (1921), itself rooted in the Italian commedia dell'arte) - although these all lack the supernatural element - and early fantasy fiction such as E. R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros (1922) and Lord Dunsany's The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth (1910). But S&S proper really began in the pulp fantasy magazines.

Seminal S&S

Seminal S&S books and series include

Other pulp fantasy fiction - such as Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars stories - has a similar feel to S&S, but, because alien science replaces the supernatural, is usually described as science fantasy.

S&S Heroines

Missing image
John_cassaday_red_sonja.JPG
Red Sonja, a modern archetypal example of the female sword and sorcery hero.

Despite the early work of C. L. Moore and others, S&S has had a strongly masculine bias. Female characters were generally distressed damsels to be rescued or protected. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress anthology series (1984 onwards) attempted to redress the balance. Bradley encouraged female writers and protagonists: the stories feature skillful swordswomen and powerful sorceresses. The series was immensely popular and Bradley was editing the final volume at the time of her death. Today, active female characters who participate equally with the male heroes in the stories are a regular feature in modern S&S stories, though they are also relied upon for sex appeal.

Introduced as a minor character in one of Howard's Conan stories, Red Sonja of Rogatine was a popular female S&S character in a comic book series Roy Thomas, a series of novels by David C. Smith and Richard Tierney, and an unsuccessful film, Red Sonja (1985), directed by Richard Fleischer.fi:Miekka ja magia (kirjallisuus)

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