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Conan Vs "The Feminization Of American Culture" in Flashing Swords #6

Over the weekend, Bleeding Cool published accounts from authors who had found their fantasy work publishing in the revived Lin Carter's Flashing Swords #6 sitting alongside a foreword by editor Robert M Price that they found fundamentally objectionable. So a number of them objected and demand their work be removed. The publisher then delisted the book from Amazon. Some copies have made it out into the wild, however.

Conan Vs
Conan Vs "The Feminization Of American Culture" in Flashing Swords #6

After worries that the book had actually been published in print, and ascribed copyright of all stories to Robert M Price, despite no one signing a contract, today, Cliff Biggers, comic book store owner and longtime sci-fi/fantasy APA writer and publisher, posted the latest update:

I am very pleased to report that Pulp Hero Press publisher Bob McClain continued to discuss the Flashing Swords #6 situation with all of us in hopes of finding a solution. This morning, he approached the authors with a proposed resolution that has been accepted. Bob has confirmed that we hold the copyrights, he has confirmed cancellation of the book (even if Amazon somehow resists it, they have no copies or files to ship), and he has offered the writers a "kill fee" for the stories while allowing them to take the story to any publisher immediately. This is the best possible resolution to a situation that was as unpleasant and unexpected for Bob McClain as it was for all of us, and I appreciate his willingness to bring this to a close.

In the comments to one of the articles we ran, Robert M Price responded to the objections made by Cliff Biggers,

Cliff, where did I say or imply that Sword and Sorcery has no room for women, alternate lifestyles, etc.? You are misrepresenting me. One of the stories features a female warrior protagonist. There would have been a second heroine but for production problems. Should I follow a quota system? I sought stories about Imaro and Changa, great black heroes, but never received responses from the authors (who had both supplied excellent tales about these characters for my previous book The Mighty Warriors). And as for my socio-political opinions, I documented them with examples and have nothing to repent of. And I am amazed, frankly, that you and other authors who piously backed out of the project, can possibly object to my lament over the emasculation of maleness that is everywhere evident these days. And then there is the matter of the PC mob intimidation. You seek to shame me into silence, unwilling to hear other opinions. You are all examples of the very timidity I wrote against, and as heroic fantasy writers, you are the last ones I should expect it from. Some have criticized my treating these subjects in a fiction anthology intro, as if only a frivolous treatment were appropriate. My concern is that Conan-ish literature is a much-needed corrective to dangerous cultural trends. Is my opinion not to be tolerated in the marketplace of ideas? Robert M. Price

He confirmed his identity and Robert M Price then provided the entire foreword from Lin Carter's Flashing Swords #6, rather than the extract seen on Amazon so that we could see what was quoted in full context. I am not entirely sure it makes it any more palatable. This is how the forward read in full…

Many of today's social difficulties seem to me to boil down to what one author (Ann Douglas) called "the feminization of American culture." I guess I do not qualify as a "feminist" by the current definition, because those who think they own the term seem to believe that, in order to qualify, you have to be pro-abortion and march lock-step to the Democratic Party line. You have to be a liberal. And that doesn't describe me. No, I don't qualify because all I believe is that women are at least the equals of men and should be treated and paid as such. But that's not good enough for some people. Women have endured a long history of oppression by men. Who can doubt that? The long night of male chauvinism is passing, but the pendulum is not settling down in the middle. I guess it never does. I think we are seeing powerful women trying to even the score. It is a doctrine of academic and radical feminism that maleness is a destructive poison that has ruined the world for so long and must now be "cured," even exorcised. This trend has been evident for some years. Ever notice how fathers are portrayed in sitcoms and TV commercials? As clueless, blundering fools. I see this as propaganda. But someone will say, "Yeah, but look how awfully women were portrayed in movies, comics, TV shows, for so long!" Right you are! But this is just what I'm talking about: two wrongs making a right is the ideology of revenge, not justice. The "zero tolerance" policy for schools that leads to children being sent home for pointing fingers at each other and playing "bang-bang!" is part of an ultra-liberal ethos that wants to promote a unisex model, and that one sex is female. Boys must have their budding masculinity "educated" out of them.

Sports and games must no longer be based on competition, lest someone feel dejected because of his mediocrity. Poor little flowers! This, in case you hadn't noticed, is no way to prepare young men (or women!) for adult life in a free market economy and in a world full of powerful national enemies. The continuous false rape accusations serve the same end, seeking to make masculinity, even the natural male interest in women, into a "rape culture." Of course, such wolf-crying works against women because soon it will become habitual to dismiss every rape accusation as the shrill lying of yet another Lena Dunham. (Am I thus suggesting we ease up on rapists? No; you don't want to know what I think ought to be done with those bastards.) Nor is it only the self-defeating futility of crying "Wolf!" There's more at work here. It smacks of an ideology of man-hating. I have long been puzzled at the feminist hatred of pornography. "It reduces women to sex objects!" Absurd. It is simply a highlighting of a particular aspect of beautiful women. It is no different from fashion modeling. Does that reduce fashion models to animated mannequins? If I were a sports fan, it would not occur to me to think of the athletes as no more than exploited cattle. There is much more to all such public people. But what we do not see of their lives is none of our business. This is why our society's voyeuristic curiosity about the private lives and scandals of celebrities is so pathetically sick. So then I have to wonder: Are these feminists really protesting male sexual interest in women per se? A woman may be a "sex object," if that's what you want to call it, without being a "mere" sex object. But when feminists refuse to draw such a line, I start thinking of Jill Johnson's book Lesbian Nation, in which she argues that all feminism is at bottom lesbianism. In some schools boys are encouraged to play with dolls, girls with trucks. Many "progressives" want to replace "he," "she," "his," "her," "him," with "gender-neutral" language so as to promote the illusion that gender is a matter of "social construction." No wonder we are observing a sudden epidemic of transgendered youth. They are responding to the propaganda which suffuses our society like clouds of mosquito poison pumped out of trucks coming down the street. Introduction ix The rapid erosion of the family structure ties in with all this because it leaves boys without fathers to mentor them in becoming men. They have awakening male instincts and energies, and if there is no guidance on what to do with them, maleness will come out in a primitive and violent form. Look at Chicago. And take a look at Robert Bly's once chic but never more timely book, Iron John. He employs myth and fairy tale to demonstrate what anthropological field studies have shown about the necessity of male initiation. Maleness is not everything, even for males. I think there is a proper psychological androgyny such as Carl Jung and June Singer describe. But it will not be the result of making men feminine. Remember, to make the tao, you have to have a yin and a yang. In conclusion, I have a suggestion. I urge parents to turn their boys on to Robert E. Howard's tales of Conan, Lester Dent's Doc Savage novels, and Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars books, at least for starters. Some will cringe at this: "Oh, but those books are filled with blood and violence! I don't want little Lyle exposed to that!" But it's not just books that have stuff like that. There's a rough and threatening world out there from which you ultimately cannot shield your little lambs. Better to introduce these hard realities in a context where the righteous man stands up to deadly wickedness and learns to defeat it using not merely swords and fists, but ingenuity, resourcefulness, integrity, and intelligence. Apron strings don't make very good weapons. But books do. Is the pen mightier than the sword? The pen is a sword. And the stories compiled in the present collection are sufficient proof of that. Here you will thrill to new adventures of familiar and beloved fantasy heroes such as Elak of Atlantis (created by the great Henry Kuttner, continued by the great Adrian Cole), Simon of Gitta (a first-second century Gnostic guru, revived by modern myth-maker Richard L. Tierney), and Thongor of Valkarth, the creation of the Wizard of Lemuria himself, Lin Carter. Nor is Thongor our only Lemurian. We offer the exploits of powerful warrior woman Varla of Valkarth in "Varla and the Mad Magician" by Steve Lines and Glen Usher.

You will be pleased to renew your acquaintance with Charles Rutledge's time-faring swordsman Kharrn, Paul McNamee's two-fisted islander Lono, and several other new heroes and authors. In view of all I have said here, it could not be more timely to revive Lin Carter's highly regarded, well-remembered anthology series Flashing Swords. Its five volumes offered the best of new and old sword-and-sorcery tales. These books were fine successors to L. Sprague de Camp's many heroic fantasy collections (e.g., Swords & Sorcery, Warlocks and Warriors) as well as precursors to Andrew J. Offutt's excellent anthology series Swords Against Darkness. Yes, we might have resorted to cute rip-off titles like Clashing Swords or Clanging Swords, but why not just boldly return to Lin's original? Herewith: Flasing Swords #6. My thanks to Bob McLain, mastermind of Pulp Hero Press, for his enthusiastic support of this project! —Robert M Price April 24, 2020

While the book was returned to being listed by Amazon, it has since been withdrawn again, as detailed above.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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