Cirsova Magazine

If you follow this blog or my other online rants you might remember that three years ago I almost completely gave up on new Fantasy and Science Fiction. I waded through endless endless idiotic short stories, nihilistic postmodern trash. The standard garbage in modern anthologies and magazines. I was so sick of modern SFF that …

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Pre-Tolkien Challenge: The Sword of Welleran

I decided to start the challenge by going back to the beginning of the 20th century by reading Lord Dunsany's The Sword of Welleran. Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany, is considered by many the father of modern fantasy and credited as a major influence by Lovecraft, Tolkien, Howard, and even contemporary writers like Neil …

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Pre-Tolkien Fantasy Challange Roundup: Part II

We are on week three of the Pre-Tolkien Challenge and the whole adventure has been very successful. A lot of great people have joined up and written about their favorite fantasy work from a great era of fiction. Check some of it here in the Pre-Tolkien Challenge Roundup: Part I. Reading the classics of Fantasy …

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Tolkien and Modernity — Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog

Part two of Jeffro going hard on Tolkien. Good convo in the comments and across Twitter. Tolkien was ahead of his time. And that’s precisely what I object to about him. And you know it’s real. People experience a culture shock when they go look up his forgotten contemporaries that they don’t with his work. …

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Pre-Tolkien Fantasy: “The Folk of the Mountain Door” by William Morris — Adventures Fantastic

Tales Before Tolkien Douglas A. Anderson, ed. trade paperback $16 ebook $4.99 Yeah, okay, this may be cheating a bit, but if we’re going to be looking at stories that preceded The Lord of the Rings and may have inspired Tolkien, why not start here? I’m going to look at two stories in this book,… via …

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The Pre-Tolkien Challenge — Clark Ashton Smith

I can't believe I've never read any Clark Ashton Smith.   via The Pre-Tolkien Challenge -- Clark Ashton Smith

Jon Mollison: Algernon Blackwood

Jon Mollison throws down his first review with Algernon Blackwood. I have to admit, I've never heard of this writer, so now I have a new addition to my list of must reads. Algernon Blackwood is a new one for me.  His Infogalactic listing includes a quote from a leading Lovecraft scholar identifying “his work [as] more …

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Pre-Tolkien Fantasy Challenge Roundup: Part I

The Pre-Tolkien Challenge got started two days ago and there's already been a great response. Some great conversation across blogs and on twitter. Exactly what I was looking for. Creating an interlinked community of like-minded people sharing our love for classic fantasy and discussing what made the old works fantastic and how to apply it …

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The Pre-Tolkien Fantasy Challenge


We have the first answer to the challenge! We went all the way back to the 19th century to William Morris.

Things I Like

(Mine is a meager response, I readily admit.)

Alexandru Constantine has issued a challenge to readers. Namely:

  • Identify 3 Fantasy stories written before Lord of the Rings was published. 3 stories written before 1954.
  • Review all three on your blog, focusing on pre-Tolkien differences of similarities, and making sure you let us know where we can find them for ourselves.
  • Share the challenge.

That’s an interesting challenge for me since Tolkien’s The Hobbit was my personal Ground Zero for the fantasy side of reading addiction (hat tip to Rankin-Bass). I have not consumed a wide variety of pre-Tolkien fantasy. I’ve done the Norton Reader, of course, but I suspect Homer and the other classic authors don’t count, nor do the anonymous authors of Beowulf and other old- or mid- English works.

Limiting myself to years closer to the target date, all I’ve really read (that I remember) are stories by Robert E. Howard…

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Pre-Tolkien Fantasy Challenge

One of the often repeated refrains from the vile Cult of Resentment is that so much Fantasy is just rehashed, Tolkien fanfiction. Unfortunately, there is some truth in this, a lot of modern multi-volume fantasy is quite derivative of Middle Earth. Pale imitators lacking the poetic and moral compass of JRRT. Due to the popularity …

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