I am putting the finishing touches on a 12.000 words novella in what I, being old-fashioned (or just plain old) would call the science fantasy subgenre. It’s something long overdue, that I promised to my Patrons a lifetime ago, and that was caught up in too many complications to write here about.
But now here it is. I have a cover, and I am going through a bout of rewriting – which means the story might end up being longer than planned. I hope nobody will complain.
The novella is basically sword & sorcery with a thin patina of science – I took some inspiration from the Recent Dryas Impact Event and some theories about the extinction of the Clovis culture in the Americas, and then threw in a few neanderthals, a few sabretooth tigers (because I like sabretooth tigers), and some evil “Atlantean” ubermensch.
The idea was to tell a story about a primitive man versus a much more advanced but decadent culture.
Being a paleontologist, I had to censor my internal censor – this is fantasy, not a textbook!
And yes, there was quite a bit of Lin Carter’s Thongor of Lemuria in the initial concept, but as the story developed, some Burroughs-esque bits fell in, and in the end one of my beta readers plainly asked me “Isn’t this a little like P.J. Farmer’s tales of ancient Opar?”
So I did a lot of rewriting, shifting the initial concepts, adding stuff, moving bits around. I love and respect Farmer’s work, and I don’t want to plagiarize him – consciously or unconsciously.
I also realized with a certain surprise that I do not have the complete series of Opar books by Farmer and his collaborators, and I developed a deep, burning envy for the French, that can get the whole series in a single hefty 900-pages volume.
Also, while I was working on this story, I witnessed the rise of what some Italian writers call, more or less, “fantasy of hard knocks” – basically what I perceive as a simplistic, knucklehead-oriented sort of sword & sorcery in which adolescent concerns prevail over ideas.
Think Conan without the smarts, or Kane without K.E. Wagner’s superb prose and inventions.
No, I don’t like it.
And my dislike for this approach further changed my story – because I wanted a fast-paced, action-oriented narrative, but I also wanted (and still want) something that will not make my readers feel stupid.
I like my readers to think, so sue me.
So, all in all, the story was blocked for months, while I did some research, and then took care of other projects.
But now here we are, revising the story and then starting to work on the Italian translation – because the story will go to my Patrons in both languages. Then we’ll see what to do with it.
The idea of a hefty 900-pages tome is certainly attractive – I only need to write another million words.