Some of my SFF analyst/author/blogger cohorts talk much recently of the coordinated expunction over the past several decades of literary giants like Brackett, Merritt, and the old pulp fiction stars. As I’ve said before, I can’t speak much to that. I’m not immersed in the industry or the history, and my understanding of what qualifies as “canon” is hazy.
I have, lately, been listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History episodes on WWI. It’s hard-hitting stuff, and across the several hours I’ve listened to so far, he’s made several side references to Tolkien, Lewis, Wells, and their ilk, who were all contemporaries and (in Tolkien and Lewis’ case) participants in the Great War. This, combined with some of my recent reading about these guys has gotten me thinking.
Here’s the thought, on Twitter:
So why is the Song of Ice and Fire series a litany of rapes and ignominious murders (and I say this as a general fan of the series)? Well, perhaps in part because the writer and the target audience aren’t seeing these kinds of horrors all around them, and there is an appetite for this kind of entertainment. Don’t forget, people are brutal creatures.
I’m not saying this is to be praised, and I certainly cheer for those authors who work toward a return to the pulp heroics of times past. But I think there are numerous factors at play here, and we can at least be grateful that we aren’t craving escape from rationing, and conscription, and death on a grand scale.