Getting Out The Vote


Fred “Is He Dead?” Thompson has drifted back into blissful Hollyweird somnolence, and the Big Giant Head has recalled Dennis “The Menace” Kucinich back to Planet Zongo, but lots of Howardians are still out there stumping for votes in the 2008 Cimmerian Awards. There’s only a week left to cast your ballots for your favorite REH books, magazines, websites, and scholars of the past year, so hurry and don’t miss out on your inalienable right to cause trouble and heartbreak in the Howard Nation. Remember, if you don’t participate in the democratic process, you’re a part of the problem. Rock that vote!

The History of the Hobbit Gets Millerized


John Rateliff, author of the endlessly useful and fascinating History of the Hobbit, gets interviewed in a podcast over at National Review Online as part of John J. Miller’s Between the Covers feature. Go for Tolkien and stay for the many other fantasy-related subjects awaiting your discovery, including Otto Penzler on pulps, Dean Koontz on horror, Paul Sammon on Conan, and George R. R. Martin on sci-fi, horror, and fantasy.

Miller on Gemmell


Head on over to The Wall Street Journal, where John J. Miller remembers David Gemmell in an article occasioned by the release of Gemmell’s last book, Troy: Fall of Kings, the final volume of his Trojan War trilogy. Nice to see one of the modern grandmasters of Sword-and-Sorcery fiction getting a posthumous boost in such a forum.

Birthday Toasts


So I was digging through my Howardian archives on REH’s 102nd birthday, reading yellowed manuscripts, delicately handling crumbling photographs, when I came across a famous portrait of the Texan. “Valka!” I gasped to myself, “What a fitting image on which to dwell during this august anniversary!” Properly impressed, I thrice bowed reverently in the direction of Cross Plains, as is my wont whenever Howard’s shade looms before me so magnificently.

Later, I remembered that it was also the birthday of one of Howard’s greatest champions, the writer and critic Don Herron. Possessing a large cache of rare and precious Herronian memorabilia — don’t you? — I began sifting through that chest of immemorial treasures, when lo and behold I came across a familiar likeness, glimpsed through a glass darkly:


Murmuring appropriate benedictions, I turned northward and thrice inclined towards San Jose, where the spirit of the Bard of Cross Plains holds festival by night with the Lord of the Hammett Tour, and Schlitz ever pours in an icy froth from monstrous schooners built to fit nothing less than the gnarled hands of frost-giants.

Happy birthday, Bob and Don.

Some poems about REH


Steve Eng, known to many Cimmerian readers for his epic survey of Robert E. Howard’s poetry in The Dark Barbarian, has a new book of his own verse out. Titled The Defrauding of the Worms: Thirty Years of Poetry, it is the first in a projected four volumes that will collect the poems of Eng, who of late is incapacitated by Primary Progressive Aphasia (causing dementia and loss of memory). This book contains around two hundred items, including some that are about REH, so Howard fans have good reason to seek it out aside from a general love for solid versifying.

Echoes of Cimmeria available for pre-order


Cimmerian reader Fabrice Tortey hails from France, and for the last few years he’s been working steadily on a massive tribute volume to Robert E. Howard. That project is now reaching fruition. Bringing together a generous mix of Howardian luminaries from both sides of the pond, he has assembled a wide-ranging collection of material and added lots of pictures and illustrations. American stalwarts Glenn Lord, Don Herron, Rusty Burke, and others appear alongside French counterparts such as Jacques Bergier, along with other assorted folks such as the inimitable Donald Sidney-Fryer, a scholar facile in both languages. Of course Robert E. Howard himself is represented, and some of those items have never before appeared in that language. The book itself is all in French, but the result is nevertheless bound to entice many collectors from this side of the pond, too.

You can download the official order form here in PDF format (400k file). Note that you can become a “subscriber” by pre-ordering before March 31, 2008. This gets you a numbered copy of the book, along with your name listed on a special page inside the volume.

For those of us wanting to read some of this material in English, take heart: The Cimmerian is on the case.


1906 – 1936
A book edited by Fabrice Tortey

Solomon Kane, El Borak, Bran Mak Morn, Kull the Barbarian King, Conan the Cimmerian and many other characters, all unforgettable creations that sprang from the fertile mind of Robert Ervin Howard. A pioneer of heroic fantasy, the Texan writer has excelled in many genres: tales of adventure, fantasy and horror, sports and western stories, poetry… At the time when Two-Gun Bob finds a second life in France, the Éditions de l’Œil du Sphinx are pleased to pay homage to Robert E. Howard and display his many facets as the man, the boxer, the storyteller, the poet.

Renowned specialists and dedicated fans of Howard have all gathered to explore the epic universe of the Cross Plains Bard. This opus, under the direction of Fabrice Tortey, opens on an overview of Robert E. Howard’s life, completed by more specific biographical studies by acknowledged experts such as Rusty Burke with La dernière lettre / The Note, Glenn Lord with Herbert Klatt : le quatrième mousquetaire / Herbert Klatt : the Fourth Musketeer and The Junto, or Chris Gruber who shares with us his passion both for boxing and the creator of Steve Costigan in Howard et la fabrique de glace / Howard at the Ice House

Four texts of Robert E. Howard are published here for the first time in France: two fragments (Le Tueur / The Slayer; Sous l’éclat impitoyable du soleil… / Beneath the Glare… ) and two poems (Les Cellules du Colisée / The Cells of the Coliseum et Comme un bruit sourd à ma porte / A Dull Sound as of Knocking). Introduced by Don Herron, a series of essays analyzes different aspects of the Texan’s opus : Le Sens du récit chez Robert E. Howard / The Narrative Sense of Robert E. Howard by Simon Sanahujas, Bob Howard ou le pouvoir du regard intérieur / Bob Howard or the power of the inner look by Argentium Thri’ile, Robert E. Howard : pionnier des lettres/Robert E. Howard: Frontiersman of Letters by Donald Sidney-Fryer, Conan, Kull et Bran Mak Morn : les rois de la nuit / Conan, Kull et Bran Mak Morn: the Kings of the Night by Patrice Louinet, Kings of the Night : Une allégorie shakespearienne ? / Kings of the Night : a Shakespearean allegory? by Pierre Favier, Le Phénix sur l’épée et autres fulgurances. Une lecture spirituelle du cycle hyborien de Robert E. Howard / The Phoenix on the Sword and other blinding flashes. A spiritual reading of Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian cycle by Rodolphe Massé, Solomon Kane and Face à Cthulhu : le club des aventuriers de Robert E. Howard / Facing Chthulu : the Adventurer’s Club by Patrice Allart, Solomon Kane et le racisme : une étude en noir et blanc / Solomon Kane and racism : a study in black and white by Olivier Legrand, Des rites impies de sadisme et de sang. Le réveil de l’archaïque chez Howard, Lovecraft et Vere Shortt / An unhallowed ritual of cruelty and sadism and blood: The revival of the archaic in Howard, Lovecraft and Vere Shortt by Michel Meurger, Un nouveau monde, ou l’Almuric de Robert E. Howard / A New World, or the Almuric of Robert E. Howard by Rémy Lechevalier and Jacques Bergier, ou l’homme qui découvrit aussi Robert E. Howard / Jacques Bergier, or The Man Who Also Discovered Robert E. Howard by Joseph Altairac.This thick volume is concluded with a bibliography of Howard’s works published in France, compiled by Simon Sanahujas. Many photographs of Bob Howard, his family and friends, open for us a vista of a past cut short all too soon.

This anthology also contains the works of Howard’s main illustrators in France : foremost is Christian Broutin, with his drawings for “Phoenix on the Sword” in Planète magazine, then Philippe Druillet who illustrated Conan for Édition spéciale, and of course Jean-Michel Nicollet whose covers for Titres SF and the Nouvelles Éditions Oswald have been the French readers’ companions in their discovery of Two-Gun Bob. The cover is by the great american illustrator Frank Frazetta.

Softcover, 22.5 x 17 cm, text in French, about 400 pages


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Bird Brains. . . .

Don Herron has forwarded me a message from the REH Inner Circle group, where he and Frank Coffman were reminiscing about the 2007 Howard Days festival, specifically an event that occurred on our drive back to Cross Plains from Enchanted Rock State Park. We had all gorged on sausage and beer at a fantastic German restaurant in the ‘burg — that would be Fredericksburg, a town legendary for its amazing Teutonic cuisine. While the rest of our group dozed contentedly, Don Herron navigated down an endless Texas highway in the light of the dying sun. Suddenly, WHACK! — something fairly big hit the windshield full on. Feathers and gore splattered across the glass and up over the hood. In an instant it was over, leaving only a quivering glob of bird brains on the windshield to mark what had happened:


Everyone was startled into wakefulness by the sound, but the van itself hadn’t swerved an inch. Don drove onward, his nerves and thews all steel springs and whalebone, in total control of the vehicle:


Throughout the van rose a mad howl of exultation as we beheld the quivering remnants of that ghastly communion between bird and barbaric man. We beat our chests and tore our hair and tattooed a lugubrious melody on our shields, as drenched in ornithographic bloodlust as Solomon Kane in “Wings in the Night.” We knew, with a dread instinct older than Atlantis and Acheron, that this fallen creature was but an emmisary for enemy legions far more horrifying. Yet as the sun fled and darkness engulfed the world, we drifted back into an easy sleep, secure in the knowledge that the Dark Barbarian was at the wheel, holding the terrors of the night at bay with an icy stare that was hoary when the Earth was young.

UPDATE: I’ve been alerted that the people reminiscing were hoping to see some bird brain sunset pics. These two are the best I have:



The 2008 Cimmerian Awards — Balloting is OPEN


Balloting closes at midnight on January 31, 2008.


For the fourth 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.

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 4 of The Cimmerian you have purchased.
2 VOTES for each letter published in The Lion’s Den for Volume 4.
3 VOTES for each essay or poem published in The Cimmerian for Volume 4, and for each Cimmerian Library volume published in 2007 with your name on it.
2 VOTES for contributing pictures or anecdotes to TC‘s coverage for the June 2006 Robert E. Howard Days.

For this year’s voting, only Volume 4 (black and midnight blue issues) count; latecomers who purchased back issues from Volume 1, 2 and 3 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 (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.

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 twenty votes, you get to apply twenty to the book category, twenty to the First Place Essay category, twenty to the Second Place Essay category, etc.) Also remember that within each category you may split up your votes any way you wish (ten 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]
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]
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 January, and close at midnight on January 31, 2008. The winners will subsequently be announced live on June 13 at the 2008 Robert E. Howard Days festival (Friday Night after the banquet, at the pavilion).

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. 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.