I’ve been very pleased to watch Heroic Fantasy Quarterly‘s reputation grow by leaps and bounds over the past few years, to the point where it is openly acknowledged as one of the premier sources of adventure fantasy. Howard Andrew Jones calls their output “Stirring, polished adventure fiction [that] needs to be seen by more readers,” and Fletcher Vredenburgh proclaims it “My favorite fantasy magazine… Always true to the traditions of heroic fiction, they yet manage to publish tales that push the genre in new directions.” So I was excited to see a thick anthology of their best work arrive last month — and very honored when I was asked to write the introduction. Here’s a sample.
At its very best, Sword & Sorcery showcases the kind of worldbuilding that twists your head around. It’s the floating pocket dimensions of Adrian Cole’s The Voidal. The savage landscapes of Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age. The twisted streets of unmappable Lankhmar, the doomed Atlantis of Kull, the shadow dimensions of Chronicles of Amber…
The setting of a Sword & Sorcery tale is fundamentally very different from the setting of Heroic Fantasy. Heroic Fantasy is castles and keeps and barbarian provinces. It’s wind-swept vistas and dark dungeons, elven forests and cloud kingdoms and subterranean cities and the dangerous borders of Mordor. If you’re going to vacation in the lands of Heroic Fantasy, you’ll need an experienced guide. Because one wrong turn and suddenly you’re an orc hostage.
You needn’t trouble with a guide in the world of Sword & Sorcery. Because S&S… man, S&S will kill you.
Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is an ezine dedicated to short works of heroic fantasy. It is edited by Adrian Simmons, David Farney, William Ledbetter, and James Frederick William Rowe, and published four times a year. Issues are are completely free. We last covered HFQ with issue #25. The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly: Volume 1, 2009-2011 was compiled by the editors of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and published on November 27, 2015. It is 226 pages, priced at $9.99 in paperback and $4.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Justin Sweet. See the complete Table of Contents here.