The Flashing Swords Kerfuffle

So there’s a kerfuffle going on right now. (I know. what else is new?) But this one has to do with the sword and sorcery anthology FLASHING SWORDS. You can get all the details about the controversy here, but here’s my two cents about the whole thing.

When a writer sells a story to an anthology you usually don’t give much thought to what the editor of the anthology is going to say in the introduction. Nor should you. The whole point of an anthology is to present stories to the readers. If the stories are to support a certain social or political view, then that should be evident in the submission guidelines for the anthology. That gives the writers the choice to support that viewpoint or not.

If an editor is approaching writers directly and not pointing out his or her hope that your story supports a certain social and/or political agenda then an author has a right to be upset that his/her story is included in what amounts to a political screed with supporting arguments.

I’m not sure what happened with Flashing Swords 6. I’m really not sure that editor (and Lin Carter’s literary executor) Robert. M. Price really planned to have the anthology support his particular anti-feminist bent, but using the introduction as a forum for such incendiary remarks is either unaccountably tone-deaf or deliberate asshattery.

So I feel for the authors who are appalled that their hard work is now being packaged alongside a virulently anti-feminist, men’s rights-type screed and I do not blame them for trying to get their stories pulled from the collection.

For an author to actually have to take the step of getting their story UN-published… well… you know things are pretty bad.

I’m sure that this isn’t the first time an anthology editor has made statements in an introduction that the authors might find egregious. That is the kind of things that literary disputes and feuds are made on, and those kinds of contretemps are myriad.

This has, obviously, gone a step too far, particularly for author Cliff Biggers whose story “Godkiller” was included in the anthology. He has even offered to reimburse any readers who cannot cancel their order with Amazon.

Lin Carter’s Flashing Swords anthologies are the gold standard when it comes to sword and sorcery collections. It is most unfortunate that its triumphant return to bookstores has been so badly marred by this controversy. The anthology’s publisher, Bob McClain has chosen to delist the book and made it unavailable for purchase, due to Robert M. Price’s introduction

However, there are alternatives. Rage Machine Books has a collection of sword and sorcery tales called Swords of Fire. This is not an unbiased recommendation as the collection includes my own Ka Sirtago and Poet tale “Pieces in a Game”, as well as stories by C. J. Burch, David A. Hardy and G. W. Thomas.

You can find that anthology here.

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