More Thomas Burnett Swann – Day of the Minotaur

day of the minotaur

Clockwise from Center: Eunostos the Minotaur, some random Panisci, probably Amber the Bee Queen, Thea the half-beast Cretan princess, a blue monkey, and either Chiron or Moschus.

I recently snatched up a stray Swann paperback at the library’s overstock outlet store / art cafe and got around to reading it this week.

I’ve ranted at length about how much I enjoy Swann, particularly Cry Silver Bells, another of his minotaur stories.

Day of the Minotaur is another cozy fantasy romance set on Crete; the island faces Achaean invasion, leading to the half-beast children of the king being forced into exile in the wilds of the island’s interior. All of Swann’s hallmarks are there, though some of the characters come across as a little thin [Cry Silver Bells, a prequel to Day of the Minotaur, fleshes out characters like Zoe and Moschus more, so reading this after having read CSB everyone came off a little strange].

But we’re given our share of monster boys and monster girls, touching romance and bromance, and the tragedy of the ever-retreating magic from the world.

One thing I’ve noticed about a lot Swann’s books is that Ace’s packaging for them are, well, odd and sometimes promise things that aren’t exactly there or might disappoint someone unfamiliar with the sort of stories Swann actually writes.

The tagline “They fought at Time’s dawn for the world of today”? I… I don’t even know what that means, but it takes very loosey-goosey interpretation to arrive at anything close to that from the story therein.

Another thing is the forced Tolkien comparison on the back of the book.

It’s interesting that for how hard Ace pushed Swann as “like Tolkien”, not only are his books very un-Tolkienian in most known senses, but he apparently had not read much Tolkien. In fact, in the one interview published, Swann claims to have only ever read The Hobbit.

Where they are similar, however, is the whimsical portrayal of the pastoral; Tolkien’s Shire and Swann’s pagan realms of fae share a magic that is made more precious by their inevitable decline and disappearance in the face of modernity.

Of course, no one thinks of that as being “Tolkienian” these days. Tolkienian means big sprawling worlds, huge battles, wars against darklords, etc. None of which you’ll find in Swann–a common complaint against him–as he wrote cozy pastoral romances

With the everpresent question of “just how influential was Tolkien really” on fantasy, it’s worth noting that it was being referred to as Tolkienian (or rather ‘like Tolkien/in the vein of Tolkien’) at a time before what was understood to be “Tolkienian” had taken shape. Even before “Tolkienian” fantasy took hold, Tolkien was becoming a marketing buzz-word in the 60s paperback world. Similarly Zebra slapped Tolkien’s name on Adrian Cole’s Sword & Planet stories in the early 70s. While Tolkien’s writing influence may not have been all over SFF in the 60s and early 70s, his name had huge market weight in the wake of the illicit LOTR paperbacks.

The fantasy of Swann is more like that of Dunsany, though this is incidental in that they were both drawing from a common mythical well (Swann’s writing and narrative styles are not particularly Dunsanian, though the theme of magic’s retreat is found in much of both writers’ works).

Finally, I’ll add that for those of our friends who have expressed that while they like stuff like Monster Musume in theory, they’re not actually into lewd stuff and bad oppai jokes: y’all need to be reading Swann. He’s got you covered in the monster girl department. Harpies, Sphinxes, Dryads, Tritons, goat-girls, bear-girls, bee-girls, dolphin-girls….

Also, knowing that A.A. Milne is one of Swann’s favorite authors and influences makes the snacky bear-girl in this that much more pureTM.

 

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Cirsova Summer Special Out Today! + Tangent Online Review

Our Summer Special is Out Now!

Check out this review on Tangent Online.

The Ghost of Torreón
By EDD VICK and MANNY FRISHBERG
A strange experiment gone wrong has granted Professor Rigoberto “Beto” Caminante an extraordinary power—the ability to “ride” radio waves!

The Bullet From Tomorrow
By MISHA BURNETT
A mysterious visitor claiming to be from the future has a simple job for Private Investigator Butch Norton: sabotage an airplane to prevent World War III!

The Star-God’s Grave
By SCHUYLER HERNSTROM
A young sorcerer’s apprentice steals a starship from his master… only to be pressed into the service of a pair of space hussars to undertake a perilous quest!

Bleed You Dry
By SU-RA-U
A simple news assignment—talk to the reprobate son of an aloof dying billionaire—leads one small-town reporter down a trail of death and madness!

The Last Fortune of Ali al’Ahmar
By REV. JOE KELLY
No search for treasure is ever easy, but the hoard of a legendary pirate sought by a shifty client steeped in sorcery may prove tricky for even Sudah’s tough crew!

Halcyon
By CAROLINE FURLONG
An interstellar war has spilled onto the planet Halcyon, where humanity finds an unexpected ally in their fight against an alien race and their sinister masters!

front cover only

Cirsova Summer Special Available for Pre-Order!

The Summer Special will be out June 3rd!

The Ghost of Torreón
By EDD VICK and MANNY FRISHBERG
A strange experiment gone wrong has granted Professor Rigoberto “Beto” Caminante an extraordinary power—the ability to “ride” radio waves!

The Bullet From Tomorrow
By MISHA BURNETT
A mysterious visitor claiming to be from the future has a simple job for Private Investigator Butch Norton: sabotage an airplane to prevent World War III!

The Star-God’s Grave
By SCHUYLER HERNSTROM
A young sorcerer’s apprentice steals a starship from his master… only to be pressed into the service of a pair of space hussars to undertake a perilous quest!

Bleed You Dry
By SU-RA-U
A simple news assignment—talk to the reprobate son of an aloof dying billionaire—leads one small-town reporter down a trail of death and madness!

The Last Fortune of Ali al’Ahmar
By REV. JOE KELLY
No search for treasure is ever easy, but the hoard of a legendary pirate sought by a shifty client steeped in sorcery may prove tricky for even Sudah’s tough crew!

Halcyon
By CAROLINE FURLONG
An interstellar war has spilled onto the planet Halcyon, where humanity finds an unexpected ally in their fight against an alien race and their sinister masters!

front cover only

Summer Advertisements Due Friday!

We’re trying to get everything in for our Summer Special, which will be out June 3rd!

We need all Advertisements in by 5PM EST on May 10th!

250 Character Text Advertisement $25
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1/2 Page – 7.5″ w x 4.5″ h or 3.5″ w x 9″ h
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Send images at 300 dpi and payment via paypal to cirsova at yahoo dot com!

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Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense Out Now!

The Spring issue of the All-New Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense is out now!

The big star of the spring issue, of course, is the brand-new Tarzan story Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She, by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Michael Tierney. Based on a fragment from 1930, this previously “Lost” Tarzan adventure takes place in the Jungle Tales period and, in addition to being a cool adventure in and of itself, ties into and resolves some issues from The Jewels of Opar.  Young Tarzan ponders his nature among his ape family in the jungle when he hears there may yet be another such as he! Who is the white-skinned she who lives among the Gomangani tribes, and is it she whose visage haunts the ape-man’s dreams?!

But in addition to this all-new Tarzan story, we’ve got a bunch of other thrilling adventures that you’ll want to check out!

Atop the Cleft of Ral-Gri, by Jeff Stoner – The Nazis’ never-ending quest for powerful and sorcerous relics to aid the Father-land’s conquests brings the SS to the mountains of Tibet, where a deadly and mysterious weapon is rumored to lay dormant and waiting for a new master!

The Idol in the Sewer, by Kenneth R. Gower – A reverse of fortune sends Kral Mazan fleeing through the labyrinthine sewers of Vasaros empty-handed from his audacious heist! His life may be forfeit to the rat-men who lurk in the tunnels—unless he accepts a job to retrieve their idol for them!

Born to Storm the Citadel of Mettathok, by D.M. Ritzlin – For aeons, Verrockiel the Warlord has struggled vainly to seize the stronghold of Mettathok! With infinite time and resources at Verrockiel’s disposal, what of those fated to claw, tooth and nail, inch-by-inch, progress towards their master’s goals?!

The Book Hunter’s Apprentice, by Barbara Doran – An ancient and powerfully magic book has laid a curse of death upon a sage who had spitefully defiled it! Can Zhi, a book hunter, and Qing, her apprentice with the power to “fall” into nearby closets, retrieve the volume from a haunted manse?!

How Thaddeus Quimby the Third and I Almost Took Over the World, by Gary K. Shepherd – A strange object has fallen from the sky and into the hands of one Thaddeus Quimby III! The alien artifact creates life-like facsimiles of anything imaginable, so it’s only a matter of time before everyone’s wildest dreams may be fulfilled, right?!

Deemed Unsuitable, by WL Emery – A beautiful young woman is at the center of a high-speed chase and shoot-out right where Morgan, a crack-shot Construct, was about to grab some lunch! Against his better judgement, Morgan enters the fray, but who is after this woman and why?!

Warrior Soul, by J. Manfred Weichsel – A strange man with a mysterious camera claims that he can capture the truth and inner beauty of a subject’s soul! Lured in by the photographer and his entrancing prints, a pair of young women find themselves imprisoned and in dire peril!

Seeds of the Dreaming Tree, by Harold R. Thompson – Its fruit are the subject of myth and legend—some hope to exploit it for knowledge and medicinal purpose while others are prepared to kill to keep its secrets! Can the bookish adventurer Anchor Brown survive the trials of the Dreaming Tree?!

The Valley of Terzol, by Jim Breyfogle – Kat and Mangos have been hired to accompany the adventurer Andorholm Wallenoop to the ruins of Terzol in search of an ancient lost delivery! A thousand-year-old receipt offers a clue to fabulous reward or certain death in the Valley of Terzol!

The Elephant Idol, by Xavier Lastra – The blind thief Auger sneaks into the opera house to steal a trinket that the lovely Trännen von Fitzburg received from a lovestruck foreigner! The gift-box’s riddle and its giver’s suicide engulf Augur—and the opera house—in a world of darkness!

Moonshot, by Michael Wiesenberg – The Government wants to put a barn on the Moon—why?! To prove that the United States is capable of landing a barn on the Moon, of course! But the question is, whose barn are they going to send and can they send it to the moon on budget?!

Why the Name Change?

A few folks have wondered why we’ve changed the name of our flagship magazine from Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine to Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventuring and Daring Suspense. The obvious reason is that this is volume 2 of the magazine and it made sense to change the subtitle to denote this. But are we abandoning Science Fiction and Fantasy?

2-1 front cover only jpgThe short answer is “no”, but we’re moving away from the genre terms and the ghetto those tales get placed in.

In talking to people and trying to promote the magazine in person at cons, one thing I found was that “pulp” and “sci-fi” and “fantasy” didn’t really resonate with people the way that “romance” and “adventure” did. And ultimately, good sci-fi and fantasy are typically subsets of the “romance” genre. A Kline or Burroughs story is not all that different from an Ann Radcliffe yarn, only set on Mars or Venus rather than Italy.

Frankly, Romance covers all the best aspects of the genres, encapsulating love, adventure, and mystery, but if I re-positioned Cirsova as a “Romance” magazine, I think that modern expectations from both readers and would-be contributors would be a bit mixed up and I would’ve created even more problems for myself than I already had.

What problems did I have? Well, as much as I enjoy Sword & Sorcery, stories where a guy/gal with a sword fights a monster or there’s some big war in a made-up country with wizards or dragons are a dime a dozen; I’m not interested in the latter, and I see too many of the former without enough spark to really differentiate them from the others I see.

It won’t really affect the sort of submissions I get until next year, but the changes in editorial direction which began in the final issues of volume 1 are fully in place now in Volume 2. Cirsova will continue to feature romantic adventures with science fiction and fantasy trappings as well as weird tales, be they weird tales of super science or occult mystery.

It’s fitting that we officially inaugurate this new direction and shift away from being merely “sci-fi” or “fantasy” with a brand new, never before published, until recently lost Tarzan story by the master himself, Edgar Rice Burroughs. While Burroughs wrote what could be called Sci-fi or Fantasy, what he wrote were essentially Romances. Yes, there were weird elements and the fantastic, but his tradition was not the sci-fi poindexters of Campbellianism or the fantasy of the Tolkien-grotesque, as the genres have fallen into today, but romances of Dumas, Cooper, and Haggard.

Even Verne and Wells, considered the fathers of modern science fiction, wrote in the tradition of the Romance.

What we hope that people will come to realize when they read Cirsova that they will find in its pages not stories of space ships shooting each other or men and elves fighting each other with swords and spells but tales of the thrilling and the macabre in a tradition spanning centuries and many generations of writers.

Speaking of thrilling and macabre, Duel Visions by Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen is out this week!