Authors Pull Stories from
Flashing Swords #6

Editor Robert Price set off a rebellion among the contributors to his revival of a classic fantasy anthology series, Lin Carter’s Flashing Swords #6, when they got a look at the political diatribe in his Introduction to the book.   

Cliff Biggers, a longtime friend and one of those authors, broadcast his decision to pull his story “Godkiller” in protest:

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.

Price’s Introduction talks about “the feminization of American culture.” He seems to see himself as protesting overreactions to injustices that deserve to be called out, where society’s response “smacks of an ideology of man-hating.”  

Amazon’s listing for the paperback remains live at the moment, here, with the “Look Inside” feature still working and the complete Introduction available to read there. And if that goes away, two screencaps of excerpts are here and here.

Bleeding Cool learned that several other writers asked that their work be removed, too: Frank Schildiner, Charles R. Rutledge and Paul McNamee.

Frank Schildiner:

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 McNamee:

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.)

Cliff Biggers subsequently reports, “Pulp Hero Press publisher Bob McClain has reached out to those of us who removed our stories from Flashing Swords #6. He has removed the book from Amazon and has been very understanding of our concerns.”

Publisher Bob McClain, in “Publisher Delists Flashing Swords #6 After Authors Object to Foreword”, told Bleeding Cool he would have been willing to publish the introduction (!) until he received the backlash from the authors.

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.

[Thanks to Cliff Biggers and James Davis Nicoll for the story.]

30 thoughts on “Authors Pull Stories from
Flashing Swords #6

  1. The first link meant to take us to an excerpt doesn’t work.

    Having read as much of the intro as A****n lets us see, I understand why no writer outside one or two of the Sick Puppies would want to be associated with it. I regret their unfortunate experiences, and sit amazed at a publisher who would allow that screed as an intro to a book with their imprint on it!

  2. Michael J. Lowrey: Thanks for letting me know — that’s fixed now. (Not much use for a hyperlink to “here” — you’re already there!)

  3. I read the first few lines in the Bleeding Cool expert of the intruduction. The publisher scewed up o lot.

  4. Managed to read the whole intro on amazon and… wow, that’s quite a statement to chain your authors to, huh.

    (Also, what the hell, publisher!)

  5. 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.

    Yeah, that seems to me like a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of a publisher.

  6. Ugh. I was excited when I learned that Flashing Swords had been revived… then abandoned hope when I read this post. Anyone who brings up “the feminization of American culture” needs some time alone with his thoughts. And hasn’t met many women. Or men.

    I love sword and sorcery. But I also want to hurl (a spear) when fans and writers claim that sword and sorcery must always remain the same — manly manly men; women who exist to be saved; old attitudes about race; and so forth. Blech.

  7. Fritz Leiber died nearly thirty years ago, and his later Fafhrd & Gray Mouser stories were closer to today’s reality than was this introduction. I really feel sorry for the younger writers who have had to pull their stories to avoid being tarred with their editor’s brush.

  8. No political screed masquerading as an introduction belongs in front of any anthology. That’s ridiculous!

  9. I had never heard of him and looked him up and, well, he appears to be a far right religious conservative. On Facebook, he follows/likes “Prosecute Obama” and Michelle Bachmann, Sara Palin, etc.

    What I don’t get is that he must know that fandom has shifted to a more inclusive, diverse, and, dare I say, “liberal” direction. So he knew that writing that screed would alienate a huge chunk of his potential readership. But apparently, he just couldn’t resist sneaking that past the authors.

  10. The publisher’s glib “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”

    begs the question why he would think so many authors would be on board with such an introduction… unless he agrees with it himself, so it didn’t seem strange to him that so many other authors would agree with it, too.

    I mean, I would have taken one look at that introduction and sent it to all of the authors asking if they were on board with it, before I ever approved that book for publication. (Of course, I would also have refused to publish such rubbish, too — that’s not an “other viewpoint”, it’s just bigoted, misogynistic, and hateful.)

  11. This looks like a massive CYA on the part of the publisher, or a self-exposure of — severe ignorance; I certainly wouldn’t have expected a random editor to cc all the people he bought stories from on a general introduction. It would be a courtesy to cc authors on any intros to individual stories — but I don’t think this editor knows what “courtesy” means.

  12. waves at Filers

    It’s been a while since I commented–cannot even remember how long!–but I’m now trying to get back into more online interaction (especially since we’re practicing Major Isolation from everybody around us as much as possible since we live in Texas)!

    I couldn’t resist this item though–and yes, the first thing I noticed was that the named authors on the promotional material all appeared to be men. Surprised not really!

    I’m also not too impressed with the publisher’s assumption and his definition of “censorship”…

  13. @robinareid

    Nice to see you again!

    sigh and then, on the “bleeding cool” story, he adds a comment where he doubles down, thereby showing he doesn’t read and/or understand a thing…. 🙄

  14. @Ita, your remark that “I had never heard of him and looked him up and, well, he appears to be a far right religious conservative” is unintentionally glorious, because Robert M. Price has actually been a very vocal atheist (including occasional forays into actual scholarship) for decades. But there’s a certain sort of atheist whose primary objection to sexist, racist, homophobic patriarchy is just the churchiness.

  15. I remember FLASHING SWORDS with great fondness. I remember reading the WEIRD TALES stories with great affection. I seem to remember that Robert E. Howard wrote strong female characters (Red Sonja, Belit, and Valeria). I remember Leigh Brackett and other female genre writers.

    What I don’t remember (and don’t want to remember) is the weirdness that has come from Robert M. Price. Usually it is the stories or subject matter that causes books to fail. Price has taken it upon himself to make sure this book and any other that graces his name to fail.

    Kudos to Cliff Biggers, Charles Rutledge and the other writers for picking basic human dignity over the money lost from the sale of their fiction. I’m sure they will all find a home elsewhen.

  16. At least one of the authors reports several approaches by other editors. I’m really glad to hear that.

  17. I’ve had a few pleasant experiences reading S&S fiction (sometimes S&S adjacent) published in Cirsova*. They usually include a modestly diverse set of heroes and occasionally include a really interesting sub-text.

    One that read like a toss-off story had a subtext about man-children living in the basement (actually an inaccessible mountain top) that were consumed by studying adult magazines (not for the articles….). It involved an enlightening adventure in which the one that left the mountain ended up really never wanting to go back.

    *yes….I know….

    Regards,
    Dann
    Fate pulls you in different directions. – Clint Eastwood

  18. And it seems the publisher failed again — books have been sent out with the stories in them that he said he’d pull. And the book was up on Amazon again.

  19. Pingback: More Reactions to the 2020 Hugo Ceremony and a bit about the Retro Hugos | Cora Buhlert

  20. According to two of the authors involved, things have been settled. The books are pulled and the authors are being sent a kill fee.

  21. Pingback: Publisher Settles Concerns of Flashing Swords #6 Writers | File 770

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