Over at Black Gate this week I posted a short reflection on Poul Anderson’s 1978 essay ‘On Thud and Blunder,’ his call for more realism in adventure fantasy fiction. A lot has certainly changed in thirty years, but Anderson’s essay is well worth reading for a lot of reasons — not least of which is the wealth of fascinating historical anecdotes he throws around.
. . . Anderson does a wonderful job of skewering so many of the misconceptions and lazy assumptions of the genre, bringing his historical knowledge to bear on such things as the day-to-day realities of a pre-industrial society, the likely workings of politics and religion, and, of course, some of the practical aspects of fighting and combat. ‘On Thud and Blunder’ does more to get the reader thinking in these terms, and inspired to go out and do some research, than a great many of today’s shallow, cynical books written on the subject of world building and aimed at the would-be fantasy writer.
It’s a great essay for the prospective writer of fantasy fiction, as well as for anyone interested in the way the genre has changed over time.