Another Frazetta Painting Up for Auction

Heritage Auction Galleries is handling the consignment of a Frazetta painting that is probably well-known to most Sword-and-Sorcery art devotees. Here’s the description from the website:

Warrior with Ball and Chain, Flashing Swords #1, paperback cover, 1973

Oil on board

23 x 19 in.

Signed lower right

This stirring, savage, and superb Frazetta masterwork, sometimes titled Warrior with Ball and Chain, first appeared on the cover of the sword and sorcery anthology edited by Lin Carter, Flashing Swords #1, Dell Books #2640, 1973.

One of the top Frazetta paintings in private hands, Warrior with Ball and Chain was purchased in the February 1993 Guernsey’s auction, and according to its listing there, is one of the largest Frazetta covers ever painted. Some aficionados feel his piece may have been originally created for the Lancer Conan series of the late sixties, but not used there, since the Conan figures of two of the Lancer covers are so similar to the Warrior.

A copy of the Flashing Swords #1 paperback is included with this lot.

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Maliszewski and “The Books That Founded D&D”


James Maliszewski, the proprietor of Grognardia and a Friend of The Cimmerian, has posted an article on The Escapist website. It is called “The Books That Founded D&D” and I found it quite interesting. I thought it worth some commentary.

Mr. Maliszewski starts his essay noting the various reasons why J.R.R. Tolkien should be dismissed as major influence upon the role-playing game that Gygax and Arneson developed. Most of the evidence used to back this up is cited from Gygax’s own writings. The fact that these writings date from before and after the threatened lawsuit by Tolkien Enterprises means very little, in my view.

Tolkien deeply influenced Dungeons and Dragons. That is my humble opinion and I stand by it. The Elves as portrayed in D&D would be far different if JRRT had never written his novel, The Lord of the Rings. The same for D&D dwarves. Double ditto for “orcs,” which species (with that particular appellation) would never exist, but for Tollers. Triple ditto for the “halflings” in the game (whom I always considered ridiculous, in game terms). All of that, however, is fodder for another blog entry. Now, let’s get to all the stuff that James Maliszkewski and I do agree on (more or less)…

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American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny From the 1940s Until Now (Library of America)


John Collier • Tennessee Williams • Truman Capote • Shirley Jackson • Vladimir Nabokov • Ray Bradbury • Harlan Ellison • John Crowley • Joyce Carol Oates • Stephen King • Michael Chabon • Tim Powers • and 30 others

“What remains when the conscious and functioning self has been erased is mankind’s fundamental condition — irrational, violent, guilt-wracked, despairing, and mad.” — Peter Straub

In order to provide some closure in regard to my post last week, which discussed Terror and the Uncanny From Poe to the Pulps, I thought it fitting to take a quick look at Volume Two in the Library of America’s American Fantastic Tales series. Above, you can see a list of the marquee authors featured in this volume,as well as a blurb from series editor, Peter Straub (which paraphrases Lovecraft’s “oldest emotion” axiom, by the way).

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Enterprising Reboot


I would suppose that everyone who is interested in the new “Star Trek” movie has seen it by now, so I won’t worry about spoilers. A long time ago, Fritz Leiber wrote a story — “Try and Change the Past” (Amazing Science Fiction, March 1958) — postulating that the space-time continuum resists change. If a time traveler alters the past, the future may be slightly changed, but soon the future finds its way to the former norm. “Star Trek” reminds me very much of this story; while the intrusion of a Romulan from the future changes the history of the galaxy in some major ways, by the end of the movie most of the crew of the Enterprise have found their way to the positions and characters that we know from ST:TOS.

First of these history alterations is the destruction of a starship commanded by James Kirk’s father. We see the fatherless Kirk grow up as a juvenile delinquent; him stealing and wrecking his step-father’s classic car is our introduction to the character. Next he is seen hanging out in a bar, hitting on the lovely cadet Uhura and getting in a fight. There is a James Dean rebel quality in Kirk 2.0, or to quote from Ted Anthony’s perceptive AP review:

[Chris] Pine’s Kirk is Shatner’s on Red Bull and vodka — rebellious and sarcastic, vaguely felonious, tragically hip, soaked in irony and maybe a bit ADD. He leaps, then — maybe — looks.

I found the scene where Kirk overcomes the Kobayashi Maru no-win scenario particularly highlights this aspect, as Kirk doesn’t even pretend not to be cheating. And somehow I suspect, egalitarian future and all, that if this Kirk had been raised by his father he would, like the 60’s Kirk, prefer blondes.

Ted Anthony paints Kirk as an iconic American character, born of the New Frontier but true heir of the old one, having a dual nature, exuberant and impetuous, yet serious and intelligent; “hawk and dove, humble and arrogant, futurist and traditionalist — and in the most American duality of all, childlike and completely adult.”

That last duality brings Breckinridge Elkins to mind, somehow.

Frontier scholar Richard Slotkin weighs in comparing Kirk with the persona George Bush tried to mould for himself, the “compassionate conservative” — but notes Kirk’s “right-wing style” is actually controlled by his “ingrained progressivism.”

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto (Spock) are well-cast as the young leads, which really helps. Add in a strong story which, from the get-go, allows the writers freedom to stray from the massive weight of Star Trek lore, a powerful villian played with dire scowls by Eric Bana, great effects and plenty of action and you have a film that should captivate old fans and new alike.

After Aquilonia and Having Left Lankhmar: Sword-and-Sorcery Since the 1980s

[When Howard Andrew Jones writes about sword-and-sorcery and the desirability of “putting a new edge on an old blade,” it behooves those of us as protective of the subgenre as he is to pay attention, and perhaps pay him the compliment of trying to put our own thoughts in order. To that end, and with a bemused glance at a June 22 post by Gary Romeo, who never loses an opportunity to generalize about Howard purists even if he did lose the chance to celebrate the centennial of his nearest and dearest, I’m rolling out the following article, originally written in 2006 for an anthology that apparently could not be more snake-bitten were it to traipse barefoot through Stygia]

The subgenre of modern fantasy with which Robert E. Howard is nearly synonymous died down in the mid-1980s but did not die out. Far from it; sword-and-sorcery proved to be as difficult to kill as many of its protagonists. But before we can celebrate Howard’s legacy by following the subgenre’s fortunes for the last several decades, we need to establish what we mean by sword-and-sorcery. For starters, what is meant at least for the purposes of this article is an approach to heroic fantasy that became aware of itself when Howard decisively expanded on the promise and premise of Lord Dunsany’s 1908 story “The Fortress Unvanquishable Save for Sacnoth” with “The Shadow Kingdom” in 1929.

The verb “expanded” is chosen with no disrespect whatsoever intended toward Dunsany’s story; it is possible that during his much-debated involvement with sword-and-sorcery, L. Sprague de Camp never did the subgenre more of a favor than when he selected “The Fortress” for his anthology The Fantastic Swordsmen (1967).

(Here, on the other hand, Leo argues that the only place for poor old “Sacnoth” in an S & S muscle car is: the ejector seat)

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