Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reading for Sword and Sorceress, week 1

Last week I said that reading for Sword and Sorceress 29 would be a change from all the praying and Bible reading I was doing around Easter. I may have been less than 100% correct about that. There's an awful lot of fighting in the Bible, along with things like Moses calling down plagues on Egypt, and one of my least-favorite Psalm excerpts: "O daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy the one who repays you for all you have done to us; Who takes your little ones, and dashes them against the rock." Sometimes the Bible is pretty grim, as a father who thought reading through the whole thing at bedtime with his five-year-old son discovered all too quickly. The book inspired by his experience, The Harlot by the Side of the Road, is a good read--for an adult. Some Bible stories are not suitable for children.

When Marion Zimmer Bradley first started editing Sword and Sorceress, she got a lot of the type of stories she referred to as "rape and revenge." Since her goal was providing what she called "a satisfying reading experience" rather than having readers finish the book and want to slash their wrists, she didn't buy many of this type of story, but she did buy a few, such as Mercedes Lackey's first Tarma and Kethry story, "Sword Sworn."

So far this year I've been getting stories more along the lines of "murder and revenge," where the protagonist's loved ones will be murdered and she will seek revenge. I feel this is another case where a little of that sort of thing goes a long way, so I'm not going to fill an anthology with them. While I am trying to stay true to Marion's original vision for these anthologies, I'm afraid that I'm of a more frivolous bent than she was. I like stories that are a bit more light hearted.

One thing Marion always did that I have continued, however, is the practice of ending each volume with something short and funny. Deborah Ross and I have been doing that for the new Darkover anthologies as well, both Music of Darkover and Stars of Darkover (coming out this June) end with short, funny stories. When people finish reading an anthology I edited, I want them to be glad that they read it.