Friday, January 30, 2009
Martial Arts Writers
Genre fiction, such as science fiction, fantasy, espionage, mystery, etc. seems an easy venue for martial arts material. You usually have good guys, bad guys, and a fair amount of activity and contention compared to mainstream writing. A lot of fight scenes, shoot 'em ups, and fast action.
In science fiction and fantasy, there are a fair number of well-known writers who have spent serious time training in martial arts.
I'm not talking here about those who are adept enough at research to fool a reader, nor those who took a few weeks of training at the local dojo or strapped on boxing gloves for a couple rounds when they were at summer camp. Nor ex-military guys who got something in basic training, like Drake, Deitz, and Bunch. They know the gun-stuff and the boots-on-the-ground material, but not so much the hand-to-hand.
Yeah, Sherlock Holmes was a master of Baritsu, the Sandmen had Omnite, and Modesty Blaise had her kick-ass fu. And who can forget Chiun's Sinaju? But those were all arts de l'esprit, made up of mental cloth ...
Offhand, first few writers that come to mind, writing in English, and with apologies to those I missed: Roger Zelazny, Vonda McIntyre and Liz Lynn, who all reached dan-level in aikido. Pat Murphy and Rich Kadrey, Steve Barnes, Dave Smeds, and across the aisle in the thriller section, Barry Eisler's John Rain series. Joe Lansdale, who also writes a lot of horror. Piers Anthony did a martial arts' series in the 70's, when he was still a student of judo. Fritz Leiber was a fencer in his youth.
There are a few fantasy writers whose books I've read who offered martial arts credentials on the inside back cover of the dust jacket, but I confess I can't recall their names at the moment. And a couple who claim to be martial artists about whom I have my doubts, and one in particular with whom I'd love to cross hands ...
And me, of course. I modestly assert than nobody in the English language has written more in their fiction about silat than I -- I was about it before I knew it existed ...
So, who else? If you know of martial artists who are fiction writers -- not from what's in their books, but from a source that talks about their art, put 'em forth. Be interesting to see a list.