Archive for July, 2015

AAClarkRusty Burke once observed that H. P. Lovecraft was Robert E. Howard’s only truly significant correspondent—not just in the number of letters exchanged and the importance of their content, or even in their length, but in the sheer breadth of subjects that the two men covered in their seven years of acquaintance through letters—and perhaps more importantly, because so much of their correspondence has survived. The same cannot be said of Howard’s correspondence with the other great light at Weird Tales, Clark Ashton Smith. Only ten of Howard’s letters to Smith remain, and none of Smith’s letters to Howard are known to have survived. Still, this presents an interesting historical puzzle for the literary-minded detective. Given what we know of Smith and Howard, both from their surviving letters, and from the letters and memoirs of their friends and correspondents, especially H. P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price, how much of their correspondence can we reconstruct based on the letters that remain?

As background, the first mention of Clark Ashton Smith in Howard’s letters is in a missive to Tevis Clyde Smith c.July 1930 (CL2.58) regarding Lovecraft’s mention in a letter to Howard (AMTF1.31) that Smith had praised some of Howard’s work in Weird Tales, and with Howard replying to Lovecraft (c.August 1930, CL2.61) that he in turn had long been a fan of both Lovecraft and Smith’s poems in Weird Tales, and in fact both men had praised each other’s work in the Eyrie (March 1932, April 1932, April 1933). The earliest reference to Howard in Smith’s published letters dates to c.October 1930, commenting in passing on Howard’s “Kings in the Night” in Weird Tales (SLCAS 122). So before they ever began to correspond with one another, both Howard and Smith were aware of each other’s work, and had a mutual correspondent in H. P. Lovecraft, who encouraged Howard to order Smith’s book:

By the way—I enclose a circular of Clark Ashton Smith’s new brochure of weird stories, all of which are splendid. I advise you to pick up this item—and also the book of poems at its reduced price. Both are highly unusual and meritorious. (AMTF2.619)

DS&OFThe first letter from Howard to Smith that survives is postmarked 15 March 1933 (CL3.42-43); however it is clear from the contents that it is not the first letter in the exchange, but a reply to Smith. Probably the correspondence began in early 1933 or late 1932 with a letter from Howard, but almost certainly after Smith’s The Double Shadow and Other Fantasies (July 1932) was published, since Howard thanks Smith for a copy that Smith had sent him. In that letter, Howard commiserates with Smith on the demise of Strange Tales, the news of which arrived to Smith in early October 1932 (SLCAS 194), where both men had stories accepted but ultimately not published (“The Demon of the Flower,” “The Seed from the Sepulchre,” and “The Colossus of Ylourgne” for Smith, and “The Valley of the Lost” for Howard). Howard’s mention of “The Dark Eidolon” being accepted by Weird Tales further suggests that Smith’s letter preceding this one is from January or February 1933, since Smith only finished that tale and sent it to Farnsworth Wright late December 1932 (SLCAS 198), and typical replies seem to have taken at least a couple weeks.

Howard thanks Smith for his remarks on the Conan tales, and while few of Smith’s early opinions on these survive in his letters except that he liked “The Tower of the Elephant” (SLCAS 199), in a letter to August Derleth regarding his correspondence with Howard, Smith writes: “The Conan tales, in my opinion, are quite in a class by themselves.” (29 August 1933, SLCAS 219)—and this is probably representative of the substance of Smith’s comments to Howard. Given that Howard is enclosing a check for Ebony and Crystal (1922), we can also presume that Smith gave the price for the volume in his letter.

EHPIn a letter to Robert H. Barlow (c. 2 April 1933, CL3.47), Howard writes that he is forwarding some notes, which came from E. Hoffmann Price by way of Clark Ashton Smith—given that no mention of these notes were made in the letter of 15 March, this suggests that Smith had written Howard in reply in either late march or early April, forwarding the material. This was probably Price’s notes on theosophy, which Smith inquired about in a letter to H. P. Lovecraft (1 March 1933, SLCAS 203)

Howard’s next letter (c. July 1933, CL3.95-96) begins with an apology for not answering the previous letter due to being away from home the last few weeks; this probably refers to the same letter as contained Price’s notes. If so, then along with the notes Smith included a signed and addressed copy of his poem “Revenant,” which likely spurred Smith to talk about his proposals for published collections of poetry. The “selection from the already published volumes” is probably a reference to the never-realized One Hundred Poems (SLCAS 206), while the “book of new verse” is likely the also never-realized The Jasmine Girdle and Other Poems (SLCAS 103, 114). The stories Smith mentioned as accepted by Weird Tales depend on when he wrote the letter, but assuming it was late March or early April, likely have included “The Beast of Averoigne” (May 1933), “Genius Loci” (June 1933), and “Ubbo-Sathla” (July 1933). With regard to Howard’s note “Concerning the Necronomicon, etc.” while few of the inquiries remain, Smith later wrote to August Derleth that “HPL and I received dozens of queries, at one time or another, as to where The Book of Eibon, the Necronomicon, Von Junzt’s Nameless Cults, etc., could be obtained!” and probably reflects a comment along those lines.

EC1The letter from Howard letter postmarked 22 July 1933 concerns Howard’s signed copy of Ebony and Crystal (now in the Robert E. Howard Memorial Collection at Howard Payne University), which Smith probably sent under separate cover from his April letter and which arrived after Howard had mailed his earlier letter, otherwise he would have mentioned it to Smith. None of Smith’s thoughts on Howard’s poetry survive directly, but Howard’s remark “the anthology you mentioned” may refer to Wings, a quarterly poetry anthology edited by Stanton Coblentz which had published Smith’s poem “Lichens” (cf. SLCAS 211; in 1949 Coblentz edited a collection Unseen Wings containing poems from Smith and Lovecraft).

At this point, Smith mentioned his correspondence with Howard briefly at this point in a letter to August Derleth:

Howard is a rather surprising person, and I think he is more complex, and is also possessed of more literary ability, than I had thought from many of his stories. The Conan tales, in my opinion, are quite in a class by themselves. H. seemed very appreciative of my book of poems, Ebony and Crystal, and evidently understood it as few people have done. (SLCAS 219)

It is likely that Smith was delayed in answering Howard; a letter to Barlow dated 19 September 1933 opens with “I have exhumed the unanswered letters of the past month or six weeks […] and am answering them all in one fell swoop.” (SLCAS 222) The next letter from Howard in reply is from c. October 1933, and shows that the two pulpsters had been discussing Conan again; “The Pool of the Black Ones” had featured in that month’s Weird Tales, which Smith elsewhere described as “fine romantic fantasy.” (SLCAS 229) Evidently Smith had also tipped in a drawing of a “reptile-being” and a copy of the Fantasy Fan (CL3.135-136), or possibly a circular, as he sent to August Derleth in June of the same year:

A new “Fan” magazine is being started by Charles D. Hornig of Elizabeth, N.J. It will be devoted more to weird fiction than to science fiction. I enclose one of a bunch of rainbow-colored circulars which Hornig has just sent me. (SLCAS 210)

Howard’s comment on Unusual Stories recalls a similar blurb in a September 1933 letter to Derleth:

One William Crawford, of 122 Water St., Everett, Pa., is projecting a magazine of weird and pseudo-scientific tales, under the title Unusual Stories. No payment. I sent him “The White Sybil” in response to a request for material, and he seemed immensely pleased with it. I have a lurking fear that the venture may fizzle like Swanson’s Galaxy; but hope that I am wrong. If you have some unsalable weirds that you want to give away, Crawford would doubtless be a grateful recipient. I took the liberty of suggesting that he might write you. (SLCAS 224)

Incidentally, after receiving Howard’s reply Smith passed this tidbit on to Lovecraft: “Howard writes me that he has sent Crawford some material.” (SLCAS 236) It was very common of Lovecraft, Smith, and Howard to pass on industry scuttlebutt (leads to new pulps, story acceptances and rejections, and if they were paid) back and forth, just as Smith in this letter apparently informed Howard of the publication of “The Holiness of Azéderac” would be published in the forthcoming (November 1933) issue of Weird Tales. Smith’s comments to Howard regarding Astounding and Street & Smith are probably also similar to those made to August Derleth:

[…] the new S. & S. Astounding has three of my tales, none of which has been reported on. These tales are: “The Tomb Spawn” (revised), “The Demon of the Flower” (slightly abbreviated and simplified) and “The Witchcraft of Ulua” […] (SLCAS 223)

The most intriguing comment of Howard’s letter is the postscript, where he mentions Smith’s “remark about the correspondent who maintains that reptile-men once existed.” (CL3.137) This is a clear reference to William Lumley, a correspondent of Lovecraft and Smith’s, and in November 1933 Smith would write of him to Lovecraft: “The idea of a primeval serpent-race seems to be a favourite one with him, since he refers to it in his last letter as well as in one or two previous epistles.” (SLCAS 236) But why would Smith have brought up Lumley? Likely because Smith was at that point working on “The Seven Geases,” which contains a section referring to a race of Serpent-Men, but also perhaps because he made comment or reference to Howard’s own serpent-folk in “The Shadow Kingdom.”

Smith’s next letter probably came in the last half of November 1933, based both on Howard’s apology for the delay in replying (dated 14 December) and as Howard commiserates with Smith that Astounding is no longer accepting weird stories (cf. CL3.136n118). Once again, Smith has enclosed a drawing for Howard, this time of a “life alien to humanity” equated to Tsotha-Lanti of “The Scarlet Citadel”—probably the same drawing of a wizard mentioned in Howard’s letter of January 1934 (CL3.150, 194) Howard’s comment on Smith illustrating his own stories recalls a passage from a letter to August Derleth in October 1933:

Wright finally took “The Tomb-Spawn.” Also, he sprang a genuine surprise on me to do an illustration for “The Weaver in the Vault,” which appears in January. Evidently someone had been extolling my pictorial abilities around the W.T. office. I have done the illustration, taking much care with it, and hope that Pharnabosus will like the result. It will mean seven dollars extra on the story. (SLCAS 232)

It is unfortunate that we don’t have Smith’s description of William Lumley, for both he and Lovecraft have tended to write little about him and his exact beliefs, but would likely have been little more than a restatement of H. P. Lovecraft’s comments to Smith and Howard, though the reference to the “seven-headed goddess of hate” is intriguing. (cf. AMTF 287-8, 307; CL2.369; SL4.270-271, SLCAS 229) It also appears to have been the opening-point for a conversation on the dogmatism of science, where Howard and Smith found some immediate common ground.

Howard’s “I received Lovecraft’s story” is a reference to how both Howard and Smith were part of Lovecraft’s regular circulation of manuscripts, typescripts, and copies of unplaced or out-of-print stories; it is conceivable they might have passed such material to each other before 1933, though if so no record remains. The story in question is Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep,” as confirmed by a comment in a letter from Smith to Lovecraft dated c.4 December 1933:

I trust that Conan and most of the others on the circulation list fully appreciate the treat in store for them. The ms. goes forward to the Cimmerian monarch today. (SLCAS 239)

At this point, while not yet familiar enough to open his letters with anything but “Dear Mr. Smith,” Howard’s letters to Smith were getting longer, and he felt comfortable enough after nearly a year of correspondence to send Smith a Christmas card; if Smith reciprocated, the card has not survived, but he would certainly have made a point of mentioning it in his next letter, probably also wishing Howard a Happy New Year.

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Throng

noun

  1. a large group or crowding together of many people

[origin: before 12th century; Middle English thrang, throng, from Old English thrang, gethrang; akin to Old English thringan to press, crowd, Old High German dringan, Lithuanian trenkti to jolt ]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Across the walls a shadow falls;
The dreary night drags on and on.
The horses stamp within their stalls.
I’ll ride no more to meet the dawn.

…..
My heartbeats fall, a striking maul.
Because my thews are hard and strong,
Within the hour I must fall
To meet the blood lust of the throng.

Along the halls a trumpet calls.
The red arena glimmers nigh.
Thor, let me mock these fools of Rome,
And show them how a Goth can die.

[from “The Cells of the Coliseum“; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 530; A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 68 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 185]

Editors’ Note: The REH Word of the Week first appeared on The Cimmerian blog on July 25, 2007. It was started by Leo Grin and appeared sporadically until August of 2009 when Barbara Barrett took over and she posted a new word weekly. When The Cimmerian blog closed on June 11, 2010, the weekly feature moved to the REHupa website where it remained until today. The REHupa website is undergoing some major changes and there wasn’t a place for the Word of the Week there. Beginning today, it will appear weekly here on the TGR blog. The Word of the Week also appears on the Conan Forum in an expanded format.

This entry filed under Howard's Poetry, Word of the Week.

ranger

The above photo was taken on June 16, 1931 when Amelia Earhart landed her Pitcairn autogiro at Ranger Airfield in the town of Ranger, Texas, which is situated near Cross Plains. She was on a cross-country tour promoting Beech-Nut Gum. The Lone Star Gasoline Co. gave her a free fill-up of fuel before she departed, flying off to her next destination.

Here is a little history of the Ranger Airfield:

Flying across the U.S. in July 1931, Amelia Earhart graced the grass in her Beech-Nut Gum sponsored autogyro. Her visit drew a large crowd but the Great Depression was already placing a toll on the airfield. In 1937, Army Air Corps survey photos labeled the hangar “Abandoned.” But the looming war in Europe would help save the airfield. A Civilian Pilot Training Program was established in 1939 to help provide pilots and mechanics with the knowledge they’d need to fight victoriously. After WWII, the field was modernized and took the shape of a typical general aviation airport. An asphalt runway was added as well as a number of additions to the original hangar. But because of the decline in Ranger’s population the airfield was not improved or maintained thereafter.

earhart-g1-2111aHoward makes no mention of Earhart’s stop in Ranger in his letters, but he may have been aware of it through newspapers accounts. In 1931 Earhart’s career was taking-off (literally). She first gained the public’s attention as an aviatrix in 1928 when she flew across the Atlantic Ocean as an observer (not the actual pilot). Earhart would go on to be the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932.

She disappeared July 2, 1937 over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island on an attempted flight to circumnavigate the globe with her navigator Fred Noonan. Over the ensuing decades, much speculation has been bandied about regarding what happened to the pair of adventurers and to this very day experts are still searching for clues as to what led to their disappearance and where they ended up. Earhart searchers have turned up artifacts such as a piece of plane wreckage belived to have been from her plane, a broken cosmetic jar, possible human remains and other items on the island of Nikumaroro.

Howard wrote a story around 1928 called the “The People of the Black Coast.” The story was not published during Howard’s lifetime and first appeared in the September-October 1969 issue of Spaceway Science Fiction. The science-fantasy story includes some eerie coincidences similar to the real life story of the disappearance of Earhart and Noonan:

There were two of us, at the start. Myself, of course, and Gloria, who was to have been my bride. Gloria had an airplane and she loved to fly the thing — that was the beginning of the whole horror. I tried to dissuade her that day — I swear I did! — but she insisted and we took off from Manila with Guam as our destination. Why? The whim of this reckless girl who feared noting and always burned with zest for some new adventure — some untried sport.

The plane experienced some kind of mechanical problem, forcing the lady pilot and to seek an island to land on. Just as the aircraft fell from the sky, the pair spotted land:

We swam ashore from the sinking craft, unhurt and found ourselves in a strange and forbidding land. Broad beaches sloped up from the lazy waves to end at the  foot of vast cliffs. These cliffs seem to be of solid rock and were — are — hundreds of feet high. The material was basalt or something similar.

So the couple in this Howard story experienced the same fate as Earhart and Noonan may have. It is generally believed that the pair survived the crash and found themselves marooned on an atoll (believed to be Nikumaroro) with no fresh water or food. Of course Earhart and Noonan never faced giant, intelligent killer crabs — instead the two likely succumbed to starvation and dehydration.

Of course I am not suggesting Howard had some kind of ability to foretell the future, but it wouldn’t be the only time Howard put forth a theory that may be historically accurate. Recent findings seem to support his hypothesis regarding cataclysmic events that ended his fictional Hyborian Age some 12,000 years ago. Wm. Michael Mott delves deep into this topic in his “The Hyborian Sage: Real-World Parallels Between Howard’s Essay and Modern Discoveries” essay which appears in the current issue of the TGR print journal.

As the title of this post indicates, this is just fanciful speculation on my part, but nonetheless I have a sudden craving for Alaskan King Crab legs.

This entry filed under Howard's Fiction, Howard's Texas.

Baen-Books-bw

Congratulations are in order for our own Keith Taylor for being a finalist for the 2015 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award for his short story “The Triton’s Son.”  Here is an excerpt of the Baen Books Press release announcing the finalists:

2015 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award Finalists

RIVERDALE, NEW YORK—Baen Books, in association with popular gaming convention GenCon, announced today the finalists for the 2015 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award. The finalists are:

“Saurs” by Craig DeLancey

“Unfound” by Rhiannon Held

“Shell Game” by Joseph L. Kellogg

“Victor the Sword” by Robin Lupton

“Trappists” by Katherine Monasterio

“Burning Savannah” by Alexander Monteagudo

“Kiss from a Queen” by Jeff Provine

“An Old Dragon’s Treasure” by Robert Russell

“The Triton’s Son” by Keith Taylor

“Adroit” by Dave Williams

Finalists will be judged by senior Baen editing staff—including Jim Minz, Tony Daniel and Toni Weisskopf—and special guest judge, best-selling author Larry Correia. The grand prize winner and two runners up will be announced on August 1, 2015 during the award presentation at GenCon in Indianapolis. The contest, launched in 2014, recognizes the short story entries in the contest that best exemplify the spirit of adventure, imagination, and great storytelling in a work of short fiction with a fantastic setting, whether epic fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery, or contemporary fantasy. The winning story will be published on website Baen.com.

“We are very pleased to be presenting this award in association with GenCon and its literary programming track,” said Baen senior editor Jim Minz. “Gaming is not just something we love; it can be a proving ground for exciting stories. Many of our authors are gamers, both as fans and professionals. We believe that gamers have great stories to tell and we want this award to bring favorable attention to our winners—and provide some great stories for lucky readers out there to dive into.”

Best of luck to you Keith, we are all pulling for you to get this well deserved award and reading your story on the Baen website!

This entry filed under News, Sword & Sorcery.

Living Pioneers

If a man is known by the company that he keeps then Robert E. Howard was an eclectic fellow. Of two of his correspondents with the initials H. P. one was a very xenophobic conservative (at least in his youth), the other a radical integrationist. We all know about H. P. Lovecraft but interest in Harold Preece, the other H. P., has grown.

There have been some excellent articles on Preece published here on the Two Gun Raconteur blog and there is very little I can add biographically. Perhaps some comment on his writing career will be of interest.

Harold Preece is not known to have self-identified as “black” like Rachel Dolezal but for a 1930s era Texan he came pretty close. In A History of Affirmative Action (University Press of Mississippi, 2001) Harold Preece is mentioned:

In August 1935, an unusually titled article appeared in Opportunity, the monthly journal of the National Urban League. It was written, the journal’s editor noted, by a Southern white man named Harold Preece, and was called “Confessions of an Ex-Nordic: The Depression Not an Unmixed Evil.”

Preece’s article described his change from early prejudice to anti-racism due to the financial hardships of the depression. Preece wrote:

I waited in line with other men – white and black who spent their days frantically wandering to obtain the same tawdry necessities.  Forgetful of Jim Crow we discussed the appalling debacle and shared crumbs of cheap tobacco. […] To me, white and black no longer exist.  There are only oppressors and oppressed.

Besides Opportunity, Preece wrote for The Crisis, New Masses, and some other communist linked publications.  He also wrote for non-communist magazines like The Nation and The American Spectator.  In The American Spectator Preece published two interesting articles where he more or less apologizes for Clyde Barrow and Pretty Boy Floyd. In the August 1934 issue Preece wrote of Clyde Barrow:

Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were the poisoned by-products of a vicious and diseased social system.  The example of their callousness was set by men whom we politely designate as “successful”, and who have this in common with the most moronic cut-purse: they live without working.

Preece writes about Floyd in the January 1935 issue:

Pretty Boy Floyd was the last of the classic road agents. He was intrepid, daring; he robbed the rich and gave to the poor […] Mr. Floyd perfected the art of thievery to an unprecedented magnitude; and the peccadilloes of a first-rate artist are always preferable to the rabbit-like decorum of mankind at large.

In a letter to H. P. Lovecraft, REH also expresses a bit of sympathy for Pretty Boy Floyd:

Pretty Boy is still at large, and getting the blame for every crime committed in Oklahoma. The cops say he is a rat. I’d call him a wolf. The cops are all afraid of him, judging from the way they’re not catching him; if he’s a rat, what does that make them?

In another letter REH writes HPL, that a friend of his, (probably Preece): “was quite enthusiastic about Floyd. From what he said public sympathy must be a good deal with the outlaw.”

Expressing less sympathy but commenting on the excessiveness of their deaths, REH writes to HPL on Bonnie and Clyde and notes that:

Bullets from machine rifles, ripping through him, riddled her, plastered the interior of the car with blood, brains, and bits of Barrow’s skull. 167 slugs were poured into the automobile of the outlaws.

One of Preece’s more controversial stands was a review of Zora Neale Hurston’s Of Mules and Men published in Crisis, December 1936:

When an author describes her race in such servile terms as ‘Mules and Men’ critical members of the race must necessarily evaluate the author as a literary climber.

This kind of controversy, whether popular humorous depictions of blacks, benefit or malign, has long been a part of black culture criticism.  Good arguments can be made for both views. It is just a little surprising that Preece, a Southern White Man, takes a radical stance similar to Spike Lee’s in his film Bamboozled.

In the 1940s Preece was very active in the black press, writing for publications like The Negro Worker, the previously mentioned Opportunity, and The Informer. Preece corresponded with Roy Wilkins and W. E. B. Dubois as a fighter for civil rights. He continued his support for civil rights in New Masses as well. The October 16, 1945 issue has an article about the Ku Klux Klan.

New Masses

Preece, although writing for Communist Party publications might very well have never been a member of the party. A more famous writer, Howard Fast, also wrote for communist papers before ever joining.  One did not have to a member to have submitted articles to their publications.

Being RedFast, of course, along with others went to jail for their membership in the Communist Party, and for refusing to name names of others in the party.  (Shades of Conan, in “The Queen of the Black Coast.”)  Fast recounts his decisions in his autobiographical book, Being Red.  It is well worth reading.  Fast spent 3 months in jail and his writing career (despite a previous string of best sellers) had effectively ended until he self published SpartacusSpartacus is an absolutely superb novel and was a success despite the blacklisting.  The success of this book and the later film has been said to have broken the “blacklist.” Of course, not every writer was as successful as Howard Fast, so if Harold Preece denied membership in the party to protect his livelihood I don’t think anyone can blame him.

Most likely, like Fast, Preece, if ever a true communist, broke with communism after Khrushchev denounced Stalin. The American Communist Party dwindled to almost nothing after these revelations.  Fast resigned from the party and left his position on the communist newspaper. Fast writes:

All things come to an end.  Being a part of this brave and decent newspaper had been an important act of my life.  Now, on June 13, 1956, a couple of days after the appearance of the secret speech, I wrote my last column for The Daily Worker.

Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, March 1953In any event, Preece switched gears to western writing and had several articles published in Real West, Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, and other venues. He wrote non-fiction western history books as well.  Three of his books are easily available through on-line sources:  Lone Star Man: The Life of Ira Aten, The Dalton Gang, and Living Pioneers. These books all feature very positive views and sympathy with Native Americans that was a bit out of the ordinary for the time. Preece was still fighting the good fight against prejudice.

He remained a believer in social justice until the end of his life.

Read Gary’s follow-up post here.

Be sure and check out Gary’s D for de Camp group. There is always a lively discussion going on there and lots of interesting de Camp documents reside in the Files section of the group.

The Hyborian Age

Since we are half way through 2015, I thought I’d pause and highlight the various Robert E. Howard books and publications that have appeared so far this year.

The latest and my personal favorite is the recent edition of “The Hyborian Age,” one of the rarest Howard items sought after by collectors. I’ve only seen one copy in person at that was at a behind the scenes tour at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin where a copy was being prepared for a public display of Howard materials. It was sight to behold. Of course I couldn’t actually handle it, but it was still a thrill just to see it.

Here is a description of the facsimile publication of the “Hyborian Age” from the Skelos Press website.

Skelos Press is proud to present a facsimile edition of one of the rarest and most valuable of all Conan and Robert E. Howard publications – the legendary 1938 chapbook The Hyborian Age published by LANY Cooperative. Originally compiled by Forrest J. Ackerman, Donald Wollheim, and several other notable fans of the time, this booklet contains the first full publication of Howard’s world-building essay “The Hyborian Age,” along with the first published map of Conan’s world. It also includes the first appearance of the famous essay “A Probable Outline of Conan’s Career” by P. Schuyler Miller and Dr. John D. Clark, as well as an introductory letter from H. P. Lovecraft. This modern facsimile edition includes a new introductory essay by Howard expert and pulp scholar Jeffrey Shanks discussing the history of this publication and the back-story behind “The Hyborian Age.”

This  facsimile edition is the next best thing to owning an original copy and a whole lot cheaper. You can purchase it from Amazon.com.

girasol-WeirdTales-July1933Girasol Collectibles, which is ceasing publication of its pulp replicas, published its final two issues Weird Tales, both featuring a Howard story:  Volume 22 Number 1, July 1933 (“The Man on the Ground”) and Volume 25 Number 2, February 1935 (“The Grisly Horror”). These replicas, which allowed fans to read Howard’s stories as they first appeared, will be sorely missed by the many fans (myself included) who collected them.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t toss out a shameless plug for the new issue of the REH: Two-Gun Raconteur print journal, even though sales very been good for issue 18, I still have copies available.

An outfit called Fiction House Press has published four books of PD material, mostly lifted from the Gutenberg Australia website. Titles include Red Nails, A Gent from Bear Creek, The Devil In Iron (which includes “A Witch Shall Be Born” and “Jewels of Gwahlur”) and Queen of the Black Coast (which includes “The People of the Black Circle”). I  imagine everyone has these stories in one form or another already, but still outlets like Fiction House continue to publish them over and over again just because they can.

Le Guide Howard (The Howard Guide) by Patrice Louinet is a nice little volume that was published in April. It is currently available only in French, but Patrice is hard at work on an English version. Here is a description of the book (translated from the publisher’s website):

His texts have shaped the codes of fantasy. His characters (Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane …) marked generations of readers. For fifteen years, Robert E. Howard knows a true literary resurrection.

Free of interference of those who have appropriate after his death, his founding work is now accessible in all its strength through friendly editions of his work.

Written by Patrice Louinet, one of the biggest specialists in the world of Howard, this guide full of new information explores the many facets of a rich work, debunks the past prejudices, and gives us many reasons to (re) read again and again.

Summary:

Thanks
Introduction
I. Ten myths about Howard
II. The twenty new need to have read (and why)
III. Biography
IV. Twenty other texts that also deserve your attention
V. Few terse words in ten other texts
VI. Conan, the real and imitation
VII. On Howard
VIII. Adaptations
IX. Around Howard
X. Dear Mr. Lovecraft
XI. Read Howard
Conclusion

So if you are like me and can’t read French, fear not because an English edition will soon be forthcoming.

Bobby Derie complied the Addenda and Index to The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, which was published by the REHF Press early this year. In addition to Addenda and Index, Derie created abstracts of all the letters in the three volumes on a Wikithulhu webpage. It’s a perfect tool for scholars and researchers to get a handle on what they are looking for. Here is the blurb for the book from the REHF website:

11594_10203070105425884_2880174201235088716_nThe Robert E. Howard Foundation Press is proud to present this long-awaited index to the three-volume The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard. Compiled by Bobby Derie, author of Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos, with a foreword and annotations by REHF Award-winning author Jeffrey Shanks, this important reference work provides a much-needed tool for researchers studying the correspondence of the father of sword and sorcery and the creator of Conan the Cimmerian. Also included are seventeen letters by Howard newly discovered since the publication of The Collected Letters, including several drafts of letters to H. P. Lovecraft, all wrapped up in fine cover by Jim & Ruth Keegan. This index is a must-have for fans and scholars wishing to explore the fascinating epistolary corpus of one of the greatest fantasy adventure writers of the 20th century.

 

Ordering details also appear on the webpage.

The fourth and final volume of Fists of Iron: The Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard was published in April:

The REH Foundation Press is proud to present Fists of Iron, Round 4, the final volume of a four-volume series that presents the Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard. This volume features the collected Kid Allison stories and measures in at 347 pages (plus introductory material). It will be printed in hardback with dust jacket, with the first printing limited to 200 copies, each individually numbered. Cover art by Tom Gianni and introduction by Mark Finn. Now shipping.

This volume rounds out the collection nicely and is a must have for any true Howard aficionado. Copies are still available. Also, a fifth companion volume is in the works.

The tenth issue of Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword comic appeared in April:

This issue is packed from cover to cover with stories by some of comics’ greatest creators. Ron Marz teams up with Richard Clark to tell a thrilling tale of human sacrifice and swift justice starring Solomon Kane. Alex de Campi and Marc Laming adapt Howard’s famed fable “The Gods of Bal-Sagoth” and John Ostrander pens a brand-new story starring the Cimmerian swordsman Conan! Plus we reprint the timeless Kull tale “Demon in a Silvered Glass” by Doug Moench and John Bolton!

This Dark Horse anthology series always has a wide variety of Howard characters featured in each issue. Issues 1 through 8 have been published in two paperbound books, with four issues in each one.

Finally, if you are either a Friend of REH or a Legacy Circle member of The Robert E. Howard Foundation, three newsletters have been published so far this year, with two more planned. The REHF Newsletter appears quarterly.

As for the second half of the year, who knows what is in store for Howard fans. A lot of things are cooking, we’ll just have to wait and see what is served up.