R.I.P. Joel Rosenberg, fantasy author and gun rights advocate

Joel Rosenberg, who died yesterday, was a civil libertarian who wrote about liberty in his fantasy novels. For example, in his first novel The Sleeping Dragon, a group of students travel to a magical world and work to end slavery.

As he told the City Pages in 2003:

Slavery is the big social issue in this world. You can't be immersed in Heinlein for a number of years and not have strong feelings about that. Plus, you've got to remember, I'm Jewish. Every year we sit down to the seder, to remember we were slaves. That's a big deal. My people can hold a grudge longer than anybody. We're still pissed off at the Amalekites, and we killed the last of them off 4,000 years ago.

He was a pioneer of urban fantasy, who who helped innovate in the genre by combining Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy with modern-day settings. He also created an alternate history of Arthurian Legend, in which Mordered defeats King Arthur and Camelot never happens. In his Metzada novels, he writes about a Jewish settlement on another planet.

A key reason why the college kids in The Sleeping Dragon were able to overthrow slavery on a traditional fantasy world? They know how to make gunpowder. And Rosenberg was an advocate for gun rights and self-proclaimed "skiffy gun nut," especially after he used a handgun to defeat a burglar in his own house. He was arrested late last year for bringing a handgun into a Minneapolis courthouse. He died of a "respiratory depression" yesterday. [Fox Twin Cities, thanks to Diane Duane for the heads up]