Jewish epic fantasy

I recently found this book review which argues that “there is no Jewish Narnia”.

The author seems to mean two things:

  1. There is no major Jewish writer in the ‘epic fantasy’ tradition of Tolkien.
  2. There is no fantasy world which is Jewish in the same way that Narnia is Christian.

There are major Jewish writers of fantasy in the broader sense (for example Neil Gaiman), several important people in comics (Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), and of course lots of science fiction writers (Isaac Asimov).

The essay is interesting, but I think it might be needlessly complex, and possibly inaccurate, to argue that Judaism is inherently oriented towards the real world and modernity while Christianity is inherently oriented towards imaginary worlds and the past. How does Kabbalah fit into that theory?

It seems to me that the most likely reason for point 1 above is that (as the author points out), Jewish people are going to have problems overlooking the problems with medieval chivalry. You’re probably going to have problems writing ‘orcs’- near-humans that are there to be killed by the heroes- when your ancestors were forced into that historical role.

I can’t, however, think of a similarly simple explanation for point 2.

Update on my writing.

They Say the Sirens Left the Seas

Obviously They Say the Sirens Left the Seas is now out, and I’ve been trying to get book bloggers to promote it.

Telelee

Last year I finished a long poem called ‘Telelee’, about visitors from Earth to the fantasy city (or a version of it anyway). I hoped that Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, which has published a couple of my shorter poems, might be interested in publishing it. However HFQ has had it since November last year and, as they haven’t responded to my follow-up email, I think they might have ceased to exist.

Since most poetry magazines pay ‘by the poem’ rather than by the word, there are very few potential markets for it.

So I’m planning to contact another potential market next month. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go straight to self-publishing.

I’m planning to publish the poem along with the short stories I’ve written set in Telelee, most of which were in The New Death and others.

I’m also considering including ‘The Encyclopedia of Telelee’: that is, the things I’ve posted on my blog about the city, edited, cross-referenced and put into alphabetical order. I’m interested to know whether people would find this interesting, or see this as self-indulgent ‘let me tell you about my setting’. Please let me know in the comments.

Confession of a Bounty Hunter and My Name Is John Carter.

I have another finished and unpublished long poem, this time set in the old West. This has even fewer potential magazines than ‘Telelee’, because it isn’t fantasy.

I’m planning to put this one out, along with a couple of other poems set in the old West that are in They Say the Sirens…, and one other, as soon as I write the one other.

I have an abandoned, unfinished verse version of A Princess of Mars, which emphasizes John Carter’s life before Mars. I’m considering rewriting what I’ve done to make it the fourth poem for this publication. However this is ‘in the queue’. I’m currently working on…

Once Upon a Time In Araby

A non-fantasy long poem set in a not-very-historical version of ancient Arabia. Given that, as I’ve already discussed, long poems are very hard to get into magazines, this one will probably end up going straight to self-publishing as well (I seem to have a tendency to be good at things the less commercial they are).

The Case of the Syphilitic Sister and The Adventure of the Resurrected Nobleman

These are unfinished works of prose.

The first is a combination of detective novel and superhero story (via Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Top 10). I’ve written about 10,000 words of this.

The second is a short story in which Sherlock Holmes meets Dracula. However the tone is more serious than that makes it sound. It’s mainly inspired by Neil Gaiman’s A Study In Emerald, which combines Sherlock Holmes with the Cthulhu Mythos.

I’m planning to look at these again in November, when it’s NaNoWriMo.

Unnamed game

A while ago I made Under the Moons of Mars, which was…OK. As I was making it, I found myself less and less happy with using d6 Shooters as a base, and more and more interested in ‘choose your own adventure’-like paragraphs.

I’d like to make a game which would be similar to Barbarian Prince, although with a more original setting, clearer rules, and more variety of characters and encounters. This would use the things I liked from Under the Moons of Mars, along with various other ideas that I’ve either come up with or found in my reading.

I was hoping to pitch this game to Heroic Fantasy Quarterly but, as I said, I think it’s ceased publication (or at least taken a long break). I could pitch it to other fantasy magazines, but I think HFQ was more likely to take it.

It could be put out on computer, and/or in print. The latter would, of course, require some crowd-funding.

Anyway this is probably something I’ll look at after all the other things mentioned above have been dealt with.

Anyway, as always, please let me know your thoughts.

The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

I found this collection a while ago. It’s a.group of Sherlock Holmes stories by authors other than Arthur Conan Doyle, most of which go in the direction of science fiction or fantasy. It might seem like putting the ultimate logician in a situation with no obvious logic would defeat the purpose of the character – and yet, for me, it works.The most famous story from this collection is probably Neil Gaiman’s A Study In Emerald. The non-free version apparently has several more stories.