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Queer Blades –

Queer Blades

Thursday , 13, October 2022 8 Comments

Queer Blades/Rick Hollon, editor (Farther Trees Press, 2021): Harry Harrison wrote a fake quote attributed to Dr. Frederic Wertham in Great Balls of Fire (1977): “Conan is a crypto-homosexual and the entire school of sword-and-sorcery reflects this fact.”

Harrison was probably paraphrasing from Jan Strnad’s “The Psychological Conan” from Amra V2, #57 (June 1972). Strnad did write: “Howard would not have wanted our knowledge of Conan’s deviant sexuality to make us think less of Conan.”

Sexuality is baked into sword-and-sorcery fiction from almost the start. “The Devil in Iron” has lust as Conan’s driving force in the story.

That an anthology of LGBT themed adventure fantasy has arrived does not surprise me a bit. It is all part of the modern cultural obsession. The Farther Trees website states:

“Sword and sorcery has a lot of baggage. Its classic stories are laden with racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry. Those elements, obviously, are not welcome here. We want to get rid of sword & sorcery’s awfulness and instead explore its potential for awesome. Be inventive with your adventures!”

To get in the right mood, I put together a Spotify list of music by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Pete Shelly (“Homo sapien”), Erasure, Culture Club, Wham!, and Bronski Beat.

This is not some 64 page chapbook but a full book of 247 pages divided by nine stories.

The first story, “Aurum & Indigo” is written in present tense. I don’t like that. A character is called Firecrotch. One story had a character in a tavern ask another if he was hydrating.

The majority of the stories are first person and rather naval gazing in execution. Settings are generic fantasy, maybe boilerplate vague medieval Europe. There is almost no color or pageantry. Dialogue dominates with little action. What action there is not done competently let alone well. If there is any sword-and-sorcery influence, it might be Fritz Leiber in a few stories. These sort of remind me of late period Sword & Sorceress volumes from Marion Zimmer Bradley though these are more at a fan fiction level. It was all rather meh. This has all my gripes on the lifelessness of most fantasy fiction that now goes back around 35 years. There was Janrae Frank who was in the Salmonson’s Amazons! that had an ambiguously gay female warrior duo that had some grit to it. This stuff is estrogen fantasy, even from the males.

If you are looking for Nurse Chapel and Lt. Uhura in a lesbian scene, Xena, Warrior Princess as a midnight taco, or some bathhouse Maciste peplum action, it is not here. Philip J. Farmer delivered more in the opening scene in A Feast Unknown when Tarzan gets violated


One author description has: “She’s autistic, disabled, and several different varieties of queer.” This is not so much the Village People as Land of the Misfit Toys.

These people really needed the help of Andrew Offutt in “John Cleve” mode.

Frankie says Relax!

  • John E. Boyle says:

    Good Heavens. Thanks for enduring this collection and giving us warning, but please don’t do this too often. It can’t be good for you.

  • deuce says:

    ‘Sexuality is baked into sword-and-sorcery fiction from almost the start. “The Devil in Iron” has lust as Conan’s driving force in the story.’

    The same can be said for “Red Nails”.

  • Rowan says:

    Talk about someone reading something they are clearly not the target audience for!

    God damn! So I grew up reading the sword and sorcery of yore. All of the now considered dubious stories of yore. You know the type, I am sure. Filled with viral men, lots of fighting, swooning women, and rape. You know what I will take any day? Actual character development! Classic fantasy is a virtual wank fest for men lusting to be the main character they will never be due to either society or their own ineptitude. Or, women lusting for big strong men to just take them. (Since that is what most women are told they want)

    Just call it what it is, a fetish!

    You were looking for sex based fantasy anthology so you could enjoy the idea of two fantasy type women fucking, and are disappointed that sexuality does not just mean fucking.

    Call it woke, call it whatever you want to feel better by society leaving you in the dust.Do you feel like a big strong traditionalist screaming your opinion out for other with your shitty views.

    Do us and yourself a favor next time, and don’t read books you know you’ll disagree with. It’ll save yourself time more than anyone else.

    • Morgan says:

      Ah yes, the boring is profound characterization excuse. QUEER BLADES failed to deliver. You are projecting. Frankie says “Relax!”

  • Silent Draco says:

    What blandly Renaissance coffee house, with simpering lute music and whiny, banal plaint-singing about a lost kitty, was used to stage this?

    The missing lament, first verse:

    “Where are the horn and the great rider?
    Whose strong arm shall dispatch this spider?
    Alas, my feelings! Burning to ash!
    There is no man to take out the trash.”

  • KC says:

    I wonder if Rowan smoked a congratulatory cigarette with himself after he wrote that.

  • ScuzzaMan says:

    You’re not allowed to criticise anything modern or the moderns will criticise you. What’s worse, they will call you ambiguous-but-negative-sounding names, using words they do not understand.

  • SirHamster says:

    > Do us and yourself a favor next time, and don’t read books you know you’ll disagree with.

    How did you write that wall of text without comprehending the concept of a review?

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