Wednesday, September 01, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 30

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

Swords and Deviltry
by Fritz Leiber

The three of swords: Swords and deviltry, Swords against death, Swords in the mistAmong the classic Sword and Sorcery authors, the name of Fritz Leiber has long held high regard. As it should. Leiber is the one who came up with the very term "sword and sorcery" in a 1961 issue of the journal Ancalagan.

For me, I first discovered Leiber's writings when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I ran across a collection of Leiber's fantasy works in a local book store, and I had to have them. I recognized Leiber's name from other fantasy sources which I had read, and the cover of the book was interesting, so I decided to give him a try.

Thus, I was first introduced to the pair of miscreants known Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Fafhrd is a northern barbarian. The Mouser is a little guy with some magical talent and who is really good with a dagger. These two are pals, and they get into all kinds of wild and wacky adventures. Most of the tales have a touch of humor to them, but a number are quite dark and sometimes even walk the borders of science fiction.

It was all great fun, and great reading.

Lankhmar Book 1: Swords And DeviltryLeiber wrote plenty of other fiction, as well, but today he's best remembered for Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

What did I, as a writer, learn from Leiber?

At the time I was reading a lot of dark S&S, mainly Moorcock, so Leiber was a nice change of direction. The humor invested in his tales proved to me that Sword and Sorcery could, indeed, include laughter. I suppose that was part of what I learned, plus it's always interesting to study the literature of great writers.

Up next: Cerebus: High Society

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've got all the Fafhrd stories. Good stuff, although they never quite matched up to HOward's work for me.