Why has romance in fantasy and science fiction gotten less effective with each decade since around 1940 or so…? The SuperversiveSF crew weighs in!
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Interesting conversation. I have to say that the brief discussion of romance in the REH Conan tales was disturbingly shallow. There’s quite a bit more going on than they seem aware of.
All the women Conan encounters are so different. Olivia is fussy. The Indian princess is regal. The strumpet really deserves to be thrown over his shoulder. And yet, a woman offers to exchange “favors” for assistance is not required to hold up her end of the bargain. Another woman Conan saves gets a chance to return the favor.
The most striking is Belit of course. And you see in her story the sort of transcendent love that C. L. Moore and A. Merritt so lavishly depicted. That sort of take on romance is impossible to produce in the essentially Post-Christian culture that became the norm in the decades following the thirties.
Besides those you mentioned, I would hold up Valeria, Natala, Octavia and Zenobia as interesting case studies. Another misconception about the REH Conan yarns is that Conan is constantly getting laid IN the tales themselves. That’s really not the case, except for QotBC.
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