When I first began A Dribble of Ink, one of my main mandates was to plug and promote some of those newer authors that I enjoy and maybe aren’t being read by as many people as they should be. One of the methods I came up with to achieve this was to write a series of articles titled “A Changing of the Guard” (the first of which can be found HERE, the second HERE and the third is in the process of being pulled together) in which I would take a brief look at some of my favourite new authors in hopes that I might help to expose them and their novels to some new readers. I was happy with my first stab at creating “A Changing of the Guard” and was thrilled when a deal was worked out between myself and the staff at SFFWorld to publish the article on their website.

The reaction here on A Dribble of Ink was positive and I felt that I was hitting my mark, enough so that I decided to make it an ongoing series of articles. The reaction on the SFFWorld forums, however, was mixed.

Some readers were happy about the article and took them it face value, as a collection of newish authors that were interesting enough to warrant some attention from a new blogger. It was always a great feeling when people would mention that because of my article they went ahead and further researched and author and/or bought their novel! What did surprise me, however, was the reaction some had, challenging my claim that there was a changing of the guard happening in the SF/F world.

At first I was annoyed by this reaction, “They’re missing the point! Focus on these new authors, not the title of the article!” But as I thought more and more about it, and followed the thread on SFFWorld, I was more and more intrigued by the reaction to the article and why readers were reacting in such a manner. The final straw came tonight when I hopped over the Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, one of my favourite SFF related blogs, and noticed his latest article was a reaction to mine!

After picking my jaw up off the floor (my favourite blogger writing a response to an article of mine! I suppose holding the door open for that old lady at the pub was worth the effort!), I decided to write this rebuttal, explaining a little bit about the intentions behind my “A Changing of the Guard” articles and a little about my thoughts on the “Old Guard” vs. the “New Guard”.

In all honesty, I fall somewhere in the middle. Right now is a terrific time to be an SF/F reader with such strong efforts coming out of the camps of both the “Old Guard” (Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Raymond E. Fesit, George R.R. Martin, etc…) and the “New Guard” (Steven Erikson, R. Scott Bakker, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Patrick Rothfuss, Tobias Buckell, David Anthony Durham, etc…). The SF/F field is less about an abrupt usurpation of the throne, and more about a subtle ebb and flow as authors, from both camps, move into and out of the upper echelon of novelists from year to year.

There’s always going to be young blood entering the field and keeping all of those veteran authors on their toes. These new authors by no means invalidate the established authors, indeed one of the beauties of novels is that a good novel, especially in the SF/F fields, stays good forever, and novels that predate even those I refer to as the “Old Guard”, are still read and enjoyed by thousands of new readers every year. Heck, as Pat pointed out, Tolkien (an author who has been deceased for decades) is more likely than not to have the best selling Fantasy novel of the year. If that isn’t proof that the “Old Guard” never really goes away I don’t know what is!

Be sure to check out Pat’s post about his subject (HERE) and head over to the thread on SFFWorld (HERE). There’re a lot of people talking about this subject and I’d love to hear what my readers have to say about it! My third volume of “A Changing of the Guard” is being put together right now and I’ve got some great ideas and feedback on how to make it even stronger and more relevant, and hopefully this article will help clear up the intentions of it a little bit!

  • Remy August 15, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    I think your Changing of the Guard articles are great. The only confusion would lie in your naming of the article. I would think that you would not have received mixed feedback if your article had a different name.

    It must be an honor being able to have your articles posed on SFF World! I am definitely envious of you :).

    I think it is a great time to be a SF/F reader and since I have started the blog I have been exposed to so many amazing authors/books that I have a huge backlog of books to read!


  • The Book Swede August 16, 2007 at 11:14 am

    A fantastic time to be a SFF reader, as has been said. There are more good SFF books coming out, than I think any other time in history!

    You’re article pointed out new and upcoming authors. I take it as that. Simple. I think the confusion was in the name, too. But, much as I like and respect Pat, I think you’re article made sense: in that, there are lots of new and upcoming authors who one day will have the major fan bases.


  • aidan August 17, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Hey guys,

    I appreciate the support! This has become a lot bigger than I ever intended! I’m glad that the original purpose of the novel wasn’t lost on some people! If only I had known the fire I was going to start under the blogosphere by naming the articles A Changing of the Guard!

    I’m not sure whether to be proud or discouraged that the title of my article has caused so much of a stir around so many blogs that I respect so much!

  • Patrick August 19, 2007 at 5:42 am

    Anything that causes a bit of a stir and makes people think is a good thing, Aidan!;-)

  • aidan August 19, 2007 at 10:34 am

    That’s a good point, Pat. I guess I should thank you for bringing so much attention to the subject, I never thought it would take off like it did!

  • Finnegan September 15, 2007 at 10:01 am

    I think those articles are great. On my blog I said that I agreed with Patrick in the sense that in terms of pure selling power the old guard is more than holding it’s ground. In terms of who is writing the most interesting and exciting fantasy it’s a lot less clear. I understand you didn’t intend to be polemic with these articles but you should be pleased by the debate they’re encouraging. Keep up the good work!

  • aidan September 17, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    Finnegan, glad to see you dropping by!

    I sure didn’t intend to set the topic on fire, but I’m glad to see people talking, for sure! I was just giving you a hard time about agreeing with Patrick. I think, in the end, he and I are pretty much on the same page anyway! He had a lot of good things to say in his article and I don’t blame the folk who side with him!