Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Howard vs. Tolkien - Not!

Today’s blog takes us slightly out of the science fiction realm and back to the Hyborian age, and to the tales of Conan the barbarian written by Robert E. Howard, the best that the Fantasy genre has to offer.

Lately, I have been reading the classics of Science Fiction, and Fantasy. There is no other author who is more responsible for creating the model of the Fantasy genre, than Robert E. Howard and the Conan series. I hear the arguments already - Tolkien, Tolkien, Tolkien – I agree Tolkien set the standard for creating a fantasy world and telling an epic story. The last thing I want to do is get into a discussion comparing Tolkien with Howard, as far as I’m concerned there is very little comparison.

What Howard did for fantasy, and what will keep his works fresh and alive for years to come; is that he wrote about very gritty, real characters in a world that leaves room for the imagination to take hold and make the world real to the reader. Where other writers of the fantasy genre differ from Howard, is that there worlds are complete down to the DNA level. Howard left room in his stories for the reader to dream and to make up their own piece of the world for the hole that Howard left in it.

Where, at times, science fiction does not age well and the science that at once seemed fantastic and very probably is proved to be unattainable, fantasy can be timeless. The tales of Conan are the epitome of the golden age of fantasy, and are timeless in their telling. The Conan stories will not age if the Large Hadron Collider discovers the higgs boson, they will be as crisp as the snow fields Conan stomped across on his way to a bloody battle.

No comments: