Happy 101st


As I finish packing the rest of the 2006 issues — international orders are on the way, domestics will ship within a day — we have arrived at the official end of the Centennial. January 22 marked Robert E. Howard’s one-hundred-and-first birthday. Readers of The Cimmerian know all about the controversy concerning that date, as explained in my “Birth and Death” (V3n1 — January 2006). How many of you used my instructions to procure your own official copy of REH’s birth certificate? That’s a pretty cool little gem that should be a part of any good Howard collection.

Those of you looking for some new Howard fixes in 2007 have a lot of choices. Last night I celebrated Howard’s birthday by reading Steve Tompkins’ thought-provoking introduction to Del Rey’s Kull — before Steve, had any of us ever considered the influence of World War I, Jazz Age flappers, and Macbeth on Howard’s Atlantean? And through him, on the history of Sword-and-Sorcery? I then relished re-reading the first two tales in  the book, “Exile in Atlantis” and “The Shadow Kingdom.” If you haven’t yet bought this Del Rey release, head on over to Amazon or your favorite local bookstore and snatch it up. I could do without the (in my opinion) terrible computer-originated line art, but the (also computer-originated) paintings are very nicely rendered and evocative, and having all of Kull in pure text and in one place is a real treat.

If poetry is your gig, then pop over to the REH Foundation website and pre-register for your copy of Rhymes of Salem Town and Other Poems. This is, I think, the single largest book of Howard poems ever published, many of them for the first time. Another place to read a lot of poetry is The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, soon to appear in three volumes from the Foundation. If you are one of the guys who spent countless hours absorbing the two slim volumes of Selected Letters from Necronomicon Press, this new set will knock your socks off. I consider it every bit the publishing achievement that Lovecraft’s five volumes of Selected Letters were back in the day. The vast amount of never-before-seen material found within will remain grist to the scholarship mill for decades, spurring people on to new insights about REH and serving as a base for all kinds of new discoveries about our favorite fantasist.

[redacted] edited the Collected Letters, and he has promised a full index to be released via Lulu Books or some other publisher. That will be a big help when navigating the set, and yet another reason why the Necro Press volumes will become obsolete. Until that is released, why not go to Lulu and grab Rob’s new REH book, Howard’s Haunts? Lots of additional Centennial information for those who can never get enough, plus pictures of a number of Howard-related sites that most fans have never seen.

If Howard’s Oriental and Crusader writings turn you on, consider purchasing the massively overpriced but also massively entertaining volume The Exotic Writings of Robert E. Howard from Canada’s Girasol books. This enormous book of stories, reproduced from the original pulps, will keep you reading for weeks. And if you’ve bought the Girasol Books and would like slipcases for them, contact me and I’ll put you in touch with Cimmerian SuperFan Doris Salley, who designed and commissioned some awhile back for herself and some fellow fans. Who knows, perhaps she can still set you up with one.

And it’s not too early to start making your Howard Days plans. Tentative highlights include a Thursday trip to Fort McKavett and Enchanted Rock State Park, which if you’ve never been to them is a must. We could also hit Clear Creek Cemetery, where Novalyne Price is buried. Barring any unforeseen obstacles, the Guest of Honor this year is Wandering Star/Del Rey artist Greg Manchess, so bring down your copies of The Conquering Sword of Conan for Greg to sign and doodle in. I’m going to try to hold a few less panels this year, and make them a bit less biographical and more story-and-character oriented, more “fun” for the general fan. I know I’m a bit burned out on the endless fighting and controversy concerning biographical matters, and want to reconnect with my original love for the work. We’ll see how it turns out — stay tuned for more Howard Days news as it becomes available.

This July will bring us the first of a two-volume Best of REH set from Del Rey. All restored texts, and fully illustrated by Cimmerian Award winners Jim and Ruth Keegan (they’ll need to setup a promotional website once the book appears to handle all the work offers). This will be the first major attempt at such a project since 1946’s Skull-Face and Others, meaning a set that you can send anyone to and say “If you want to try out Howard, read this.”

If biography is your thing, then why aren’t you reading Blood & Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard? It’s already out there changing common misconceptions about REH with people who thought the story began and ended with Dark Valley Destiny. The book’s author, [redacted], just opened a movie theater in the small town of Vernon, Texas — I can’t wait for the Howard film festival that’s sure to follow.

Having trouble keeping track of all of this stuff? Never fear, bibliographies are here. For the basic American biblio complete with numerous illustrations and biographical extras, get yourself a copy of Cimmerian contributor Leon Nielsen’s new book from McFarland. For a much more thorough, just-the facts compendium, including a poetry and letter index and a never-before-published REH story, hunt down The Neverending Hunt by REH Foundation Board Member Paul Herman and Cimmerian Black Circle chieftain Glenn Lord.

I’m probably forgetting a dozen other things, but you get the idea. Business is booming in Howardia. There’s never been a better time to be a fan, when Howardian riches were so abundant. I’m hoping that this year I can slow down just enough to be able to enjoy the view a bit more, and revel in all of this stuff.

The 2007 Cimmerian Awards — Balloting is OPEN


For the third straight year, The Cimmerian is proud to be presenting a set of Awards honoring Howardian achievements in the realms of research and scholarship. Voting for these awards is open to all readers and contributors to TC. If you have done this before, you know the drill. If not, read on, and begin participating in one of the most fun activities Howard studies has to offer.

All Cimmerian readers and contributors are encouraged to vote. You may or may not know it, but you have been earning voting power in these Awards all year long — every time you purchased an issue, contributed a letter or an essay, or helped out with my annual coverage of big Howard events. These activities earned you VOTES, which you can now apply to each award category. Here’s how it works:

1. First, calculate how many votes you have earned. Use the following guide:

1 VOTE for each issue of Volume 3 of The Cimmerian you have purchased.
2 VOTES for each letter published in The Lion’s Den for Volume 3.
3 VOTES for each essay or poem published in The Cimmerian for Volume 3.
2 VOTES for contributing pictures or anecdotes to TC‘s coverage for the June 2006 Robert E. Howard Days.
2 VOTES for contributing pictures or anecdotes to TC‘s coverage of the November World Fantasy Convention.

For this year’s voting, only Volume 3 (black and gold issues) count; latecomers who purchased back issues from Volume 1 and 2 cannot apply those old issues to this year’s voting. If you are a subscriber, feel free to add on the votes for the issues you are due to receive soon (November, December, Awards, and Index). Some people worry overmuch about this calculation, but don’t sweat it. Just tell me what number you came up with and how you did it, and I will check this against my records and let you know if it needs tweaking. A single vote either way usually isn’t enough to swing a category to a different winner — except in 2004 when Steve Tompkins pulled a Kennedy/Nixon on me and took the Third Place Hyrkanian by a single vote, the bastard. (Kidding, Steve, kidding. Bastard….)

2. Now that you have your vote total, you can browse through the List of Nominees and start selecting your choices. Remember, you get to apply your total amount of votes to each category (for instance, if you have calculated 20 votes, you get to apply 20 to the book category, twenty to the First Place Essay category, 20 to the Second Place Essay category, etc.) Also remember that within each category you may split up your votes any way you wish (10 votes to the first nominee, five to the second, five to the third, etc.) If there is a category where you have no opinion (if you didn’t read any of the nominees, for instance), just put ABSTAIN for that category.

3. Next to your vote for each category, take a minute and write a paragraph about why you voted the way you did. I print these comments anonymously in TC‘s annual awards issue. It’s a great help to me, and it gives the nominees some much-appreciated feedback on their work, even when they don’t win. Best of all, if you submit such comments with your votes, you get a free Limited copy of the annual Awards issue. So don’t just send in votes, toss some commentary into the mix for each category.

4. Once you have decided on how your votes are to be allocated, e-mail me your ballot with your list of winners and commentary. Here’s a sample ballot that you can use as a template:



ATLANTEAN AWARD (Best Book — Single Author): [winner(s) and comments]
VALUSIAN AWARD (Best Book — Anthology): [winner(s) and comments]
HYRKANIAN AWARD — FIRST PLACE (Best Essay): [winner(s) and comments]
HYRKANIAN AWARD — SECOND PLACE (Best Essay): [winner(s) and comments]
HYRKANIAN AWARD — THIRD PLACE (Best Essay): [winner(s) and comments]
AQUILONIAN AWARD (Best Periodical): [winner(s) and comments]
STYGIAN AWARD (Best Website): [winner(s) and comments]
VENARIUM AWARD (Emerging Scholar): [winner(s) and comments]
BLACK RIVER AWARD (Special Achievement): [winner(s) and comments]
BLACK CIRCLE AWARD (Lifetime Achievement): [winner(s) and comments]
BLACK CIRCLE NOMINEE (who you want on next year’s Black Circle ballot): [winner(s) and comments]


It’s that simple. When I receive your ballot, I will record your votes in a spreadsheet. All voting is kept strictly confidential, and as editor of TC I myself do not vote. The balloting will remain open throughout February, and close at midnight on March 1, 2007. The winners will subsequently be announced live at the 2007 Robert E. Howard Days festival, on Friday Night after the banquet, at the pavilion. Be there or be nowhere.

There have been a few slight changes in the rules this year, which I will mention here. Most importantly, the Black Circle Award rules have been revamped. Now each year there is a BLACK CIRCLE AWARD category but also a BLACK CIRCLE NOMINEE category. The NOMINEE category is used to vote people up into the AWARD category for the following year — someone needs to get 25% or more of the NOMINEE vote to get pushed into the AWARD category the next year. The AWARD category is now winner-take-all. Therefore: since last year Rusty Burke and Don Herron were the only ones to pass 25%, they are the only two nominees in this year’s Black River Award category. That contest is winner-take-all. Meanwhile, for the BLACK CIRCLE NOMINEE, put in the name(s) of who you would like to see make the winner-take-all Black Circle Award contest next year. Clear as mud?

I have also decided to loosen up the Essay rules a bit, to allow Book Introductions that are lengthy and substantive enough to function as standalone essays in their own right.

The past two years have seen around half of the total readership of The Cimmerian vote. I would love to get that percentage up this year. If you are at all confused about the voting, feel free to pop me an e-mail and I will guide you through it. It really is a lot of fun if you at all care about Howard studies and the various items released in the field. Feel free to pepper the various e-mail lists with discussions about the various categories and nominees — make your cases and generate groundswells for your favorites. Last year saw an unprecedented number of Howard books and essays hit the streets, so the categories are as competitive as they’ve ever been. Your favorite scholars need your help and your vote. You’ve got a whole month to think it over and send in your ballot. Have fun, e-mail me with any questions, and stay tuned this June for the winners.

UPDATE: You may have noticed that the ballot has been getting tweaked all day as various people have alerted me to oversights or questions requiring some judgment calls. For instance, I’ve taken Leon Nielsen out of the Venarium Award category, as both his book and one of his articles are technically 2007 releases due to be up for awards next year. Therefore I’m saving Leon’s appearance as a Venarium contender for the 2008 awards. A few other overlooked items have been added as well — how could we have forgotten to put Novalyne Price on the Black Circle ballot?! It looks as if the ballot is pretty solid now, though, and won’t be changing from here on out.

Happy New Year Update

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and is set for a spectacular 2007. The Howard centennial leaves us Howard fans out of breath but with a sizable achievement to our everlasting credit. This year will be hard for future generations to top.

The attempt to get a Cimmerian out every month in 2006 failed — too many real-life responsibilities got in the way down the home stretch for me to make it happen. Nevertheless, I’m committed to getting out the remaining 2006 issues necessary to make Volume 3 a complete set. I’m going to attempt finishing the November, December, and Awards issues during the next few weeks, and will start work on the V3 Index soon. Volume 3 slipcases will also be coming sometime this spring.

If all goes as planned, Volume 4 will start with a February issue, and we’ll try for a bimonthly schedule going forward. Also keep a lookout for the 2007 Awards ballot, which will appear on this website soon. And as Rob points out in the last post, there is much in store for Howard fans in the coming year. The Complete Letters, the Del Rey Best of REH set, and much more. Just because the centennial is over doesn’t mean that we’re due for a Howard drought.

I’ll post here when the rest of the 2006 Cimmerians ship.