Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

The Most Influential Fantasy Author You Never Heard Of

His name was A. Merritt and in his day, his title was the Lord of Fantasy.

Posting on the man’s birthday, Deuce Richardson sketches out the scope of his influence:

Merritt’s reach was vast. Robert E. Howard, Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Max Brand/Frederick Faust, Edmond Hamilton, August Derleth, CL Moore, Jack Williamson, Leah Bodine Drake, Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, RH Barlow, Hugo Gernsback, E.E. “Doc” Smith, A.E. van Vogt, Leigh Brackett, Robert Bloch, Poul Anderson, Ray Bradbury, Andre Norton, Donald A. Wollheim, Gardner F. Fox, Henry Kuttner, Sam Moskowitz, Julius Schwartz, A. Bertram Chandler, Lester Del Rey, James Gunn, Frederik Pohl, Algis Budrys — all admired him.

The same can be said for newer authors like Moorcock, Mike Resnick, Barry N. Malzberg, Lin Carter, Robert Silverberg, Ray Capella, Brian Stableford, Anne McCaffrey, Stephen King, Karl Edward Wagner, Fred Chappell, CJ Cherryh, Brian Lumley, Robert Weinberg, Gary Gygax, Ben P. Indick, Sheri S. Tepper, Keith Taylor, Robin McKinley, Marvin Kaye, Baird Searles, Ardath Mayhar, Gardner Dozois, Eileen Kernaghan, Piers Anthony, Stephen Hickman, Ed Gorman, Orson Scott Card, SM Stirling, Tim Powers, Raymond E. Feist, Elizabeth Hand, Frank Lauria, Cory Panshin, Douglas Preston, John C. Wright, Paul di Filippo, Charles R. Rutledge, John C. Hocking, Adrian Cole, Dave Hardy, John C. Tibbetts, Steve Rasnic Tem, Ryan Harvey, Christopher Chupik, Keith West, Fraser Sherman, JD Cowan, William Meikle, John E. Boyle, Brian Niemeier, Jim Fear, Jay Barnson and Aonghus Fallon.

Now, imagine if none of those authors had ever written fantasy or sci-fi. At the least, imagine if some of the wild imagination and wonder was taken from their works. Weird/speculative fiction would be completely different without Merritt.

On the odd occasion that he comes under scrutiny by today’s critics, generally amounts to little more than a vapid remark about supposed Madonna Whore complexes evident in his work. (This is typical and representative.) Most of the rest tend to include lame speculation as to why he must have lapsed into obscurity.

It’s all nonsense.

He was both in print and synonymous with science fiction and fantasy up through the seventies in spite of the suppressive fire that was laid down against by petty and mean-spirited “critics” like Damon Knight. The depth and breadth of his influence against such headwinds is a testament to just how powerful his writing really was.

But don’t take my word for it. Read and experience his work for yourself!

You’ll be astonished at just how good it really is.



One response to “The Most Influential Fantasy Author You Never Heard Of

  1. John Boyle January 21, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    The list of authors in that first paragraph by deuce is just amazing.

    Long live Merritt!
    Damon Knight and his like can go pound sand; I’ll be singing the praises of Merritt’s work when they’re long forgotten.

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