Thursday, September 29, 2016

Paul Edwin Zimmer

As a kid, few fantasy book made as much of an impact on me as Paul Edwin Zimmer's two 1983 Dark Border books, The Dark Border and King Chondos's Ride. It was the first series of book that I "got" for the themes it was invoking, rather than just its plot.

I started thinking about Zimmer recently when a trip to the bookstore uncovered A Gathering of Heroes, a clear sword and sorcery novel that I'd heard of but could never find. All Zimmer's works are decades out of print, sadly enough. He seems like one of those writers whose good novels have gotten lost in the bulk of fantasy bestsellers in the 1980s, the fate of many mainstream "literary" novelists

At the very least, I've never seen Zimmer discussed in any literary or academic context. There's no academic work on him (although he himself once wrote an article on Tolkien's verse for Mythlore). He has quite a decent wikipedia page, though, apparently both for his contributions to the Society of Creative Anachronism and because of his more famous sister, Marion Zimmer Bradley.

But the neglect of Zimmer seems sad, especially given how good those two Dark Border books were. (I didn't care for the novel he co-write with his sister, The Survivors, and A Gathering of Heroes seems pretty ho-hum, although I'm only halfway through . His other books are all out-of-print and hard to find, although the miracles of Amazon makes thing easier.) I'm thinking I might like to do something on him -- an article, perhaps. In one sense, an academic is no different from a fan, dedicated to bringing one's pet loves into larger conversations.

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