This morning, Bleeding Cool ran the news that the foreword by Robert M Price, as partially seen in an Amazon.com preview, to the revival of the classic fantasy anthology, Lin Carter’s Flashing Swords #6, had caused considerable concern by a number of the included authors. They included friend-of-Bleeding Cool, comic store owner Cliff Biggers, publisher of Comic Shop News and major amateur press writer and publisher. Cliff Biggers wrote
It has come to my attention that in the introduction to the book Flashing Swords #6, Editor Robert M. Price has made several statements that I cannot and do not agree with. I have requested that my name and story be removed from the anthology, and I cannot recommend that anyone buy the book. I’ll make sure that my story “Godkiller” is available in another form at a later date. I apologize to anyone who may have already purchased the book at my earlier recommendation. If you cannot cancel your order from Amazon, contact me and I will personally reimburse you for the cost of this book. None of us who contributed to the book saw the introduction prior to publication. This introduction does not reflect my beliefs, my feelings, or my philosophy of tolerance, understanding, and acceptance. I still believe that sword and sorcery is a fine genre that has room for people of all races, genders, lifestyles, and beliefs, as it has from the early days when women like C.L. Moore and Margaret Brundage played a vital role in developing and popularizing the genre. I am not the only author who has expressed these concerns to Robert M. Price, but I will let those other authors speak for themselves.
RETRACTION: Earlier today I recommended and spoke of how proud I was in seeing my first published Sword and Sorcery story in the returning anthology series, Flashing Swords. I apologize for those words. A short time ago I learned of Robert Price’s introduction and felt sick to my stomach. I wrote and requested my name and story be removed from the book as well as the book that followed. I’m grateful to Charles R Rutledge for bringing this to my attention. If you purchased the book on my recommendation, I hope you will forgive me for this situation. I had not received a proof copy and would not have allowed my name connected to such statements.
Paul MacNamee also added his own:
RETRACTION: It has come to my attention that in the introduction to the book FLASHING SWORDS! #6, Editor Robert M. Price has made several political/socio-cultural statements. I was not aware of this introduction until the book went live for purchase, and I read it via the Amazon preview feature. Whether I agree or disagree, I do not believe in political screeds prefacing my story. If I want politics in my story, I will put them there myself. I did not sign up for a crusade. I signed up to tell a fun story with other stories of sword-&-sorcery. A request to remove the introduction was refused. I have requested that my name and story be removed from the anthology. At this time, it is not clear this will be done. It is certainly not worth going to court over. I have always prided myself on my professionalism in this little area of the world of writing that is mine. So, I will say no further but know that certain typical steps were *not* followed and therefore it is well within my rights to pull the story. I am disappointed the editor has chosen a screed over a quality story. I apologize to anyone who may have already purchased the book at my earlier recommendation. Personally, obviously, I cannot recommend the anthology in its current state. (I am not the only author who has expressed these concerns to Robert M. Price, but I will let those other authors speak for themselves.)
It has also been reported that Charles R. Rutledge had asked for their contributions to be removed. Now, publisher Bob McClain through Pulp Hero Press gets in touch with Bleeding Cool to tell us that he has chosen to delist the book and made it unavailable for purchase, due to Robert M. Price’s introduction. He tells Bleeding Cool
When Bob Price sent me the manuscript, I assumed that he had shared his introduction with the authors, given the controversial content. I don’t agree with much of anything in that introduction, but I also don’t like to censor other viewpoints – so, on the assumption that all the authors were on board, I published the book. The problem, of course, is that the authors didn’t know what Bob had written in the introduction. Surprise! And of course they don’t want to be seen as implicitly accepting or endorsing Bob’s opinions by having their work appear in his book.
I read FLASHING SWORDS as a kid in the 1970s and it’s a shame that the brand has taken such a hit so soon after its reappearance. I’m speaking with most of the contributors about including their stories in a new anthology series – no politics, no drama, just sword-and-sorcery! – that I’d like to release later this year.
Bleeding Cool reproduced the front and cover of the volume below – as well as one page of the introduction that caused such concern.
Flashing Swords! was a series of fantasy anthologies published by Dell Books from 1973 to 1981 under the editorship of Lin Carter. It showcased the heroic fantasy work of the members of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America and included Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber, Dying Earth stories by Jack Vance, the first two parts of the novel The Merman’s Children by Poul Anderson, two Amalric the Mangod stories by Lin Carter, the first part of the novel The Incorporated Knight by L. Sprague de Camp, two Elric of Melniboné stories by Michael Moorcock and many more. Recently Robert M. Price, Carter’s literary executor, sought to revive the series with Lin Carter’s Flashing Swords #6, to be published in August. That has now, of course, all changed.