More El Borak News


Over at the Official Robert E. Howard Forum, Paradox rep Jay Zetterberg proffered REH fandom the lowdown regarding the final contents of El Borak and Other Desert Adventures. This volume, due out February 2, 2010 from Del Rey/Ballantine, looks like another keeper. For those not willing or able to click over to, I reproduce the table of contents (and submit some random thoughts of my own) below.

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Last days to buy The Cimmerian


I just know I’m going to get some outraged emails at 12:01am on September 1 from people irate that they had no adequate warning of my decision to stop selling back issues after August 31, and upset that I’m being such a hardass about my deadline (I’ve already had people vainly ask me to extend the deadline just for them, or let them keep things on layaway for days, weeks, or months, despite my very clear blog post last time about those things). So to be perfectly clear as we come down the home stretch:

August 31, 2009 is the date after which all excess unsold copies of The Cimmerian will be destroyed. If you want any after that, you’ll have to wait for already-sold copies to appear on eBay, or scavenge at the REH Museum in Cross Plains for what copies they might still have.

No, I’m not going to change my mind. No, there will be no extensions or copies held on layaway.

August 31 is the date. Get ’em while you can.

And to be assured of getting your order, your don’t just need to send me an email requesting the issues by the deadline, your money needs to be sitting in my PayPal account by midnight of the night of Aug. 31–Sept. 1, Pacific Time. Any monies sent after that time will be refunded and the orders will go unfilled. And any email conversations that we might have had before the deadline that were ultimately not sealed by a payment will be considered void.

I’ve been overwhelmed with orders the past few weeks and am slowly working through them whenever I get free time, so if you’ve sent in money and I’ve confirmed receipt, don’t worry, you’ll be getting your package soon. Any questions, feel free to ask. If you have been sitting on the fence for the last five years, you have until Monday evening to get in on the action.

I can’t make it any more clear than that.

Last month to buy print editions of The Cimmerian


August 31 is the date after which all excess unsold copies of The Cimmerian will be destroyed. If you want any after that, you’ll have to wait for already-sold copies to appear on eBay, or scavenge at the REH Museum in Cross Plains for what copies they might still have.

No, I’m not going to change my mind. No, there will be no extensions or copies held on layaway.

August 31 is the date. Get ’em while you can.

A Review of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #13

My copy of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #13 came in the post on the same day that a long-awaited guest arrived. Due to previously scheduled essays, I’m only now getting around to singing this issue’s praises. Morgan Holmes has already weighed in on the REHupa site, but I hope that this review will complement his.

I must admit that I never read the earlier issues of “TGR” when they were published back in the 1970s. I was but a wee lad back then. However, I have perused the “Out of Print” section on Damon C. Sasser’s website. REH: Two-Gun Raconteur has always been a worthy publication, mixing real Howardian scholarship, quality art and fannish fun. That was definitely my impression when I bought the first “relaunch” issue in 2003.

REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #13 greets you with a full-color cover depicting Kull and Brule whaling away at serpent-men. Sasser went with color covers (one of the advancements of civilization we can all be thankful for) a while back. That move got my unequivocal support at the time, and this cover changes that opinion not one whit.


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Echoes of Cimmeria is at the printer

echoes_of_cimmeria_coverAt long last, Fabrice Tortey reports that his large and meaty French tome about Robert E. Howard, Échos de Cimmérie, is at the printer and will be available shortly. It promises to be filled with interesting essays about Howard from both French and American writers. Last year Donald Sidney-Fryer read the galleys in the original French and reviewed the book in TC V5n6. I also published some of the contents of the book, translated into English, in TC V5n2.

Information on ordering the book, and a breakdown of the contents, can be found here.

UPDATE: The book is now available at Amazon here.

Steve Tompkins and the book that never was….


Here’s something I commissioned for the print edition of The Cimmerian but never used.

A few years ago, Charles Hoffman and Marc Cerasini undertook a revision of their old Starmont Reader’s Guide: Robert E. Howard, which was first published in the late 1980s. Wildside Press was supposed to bring out the updated version circa 2006, but — like so much else at that press — the book fell through the cracks and never appeared. At the time, I charged Steve Tompkins with interviewing Cerasini and Hoffman, and planned to have the result run in TC concurrent with the release of the book. With their revised tome MIA, however, I tucked the (lengthy and interesting, as it turned out) interview into my files, against the day when Wildside would finally get its act together.

Well, since then whole years passed, the print Cimmerian ended its run, and now Steve himself is gone. So I figure it is as good a time as any to finally unleash this interview into the world. It’s actually a very enlightening discussion — Steve asked many deep, intelligent questions, and really brought out the best in the authors. For those of you who never bought the print Cimmerian, this post is also a peek at what my TC print subscribers were regularly exposed to: Howard articles of a depth and breadth not to be found anywhere else.

So here we go: the late, lamented Steve Tompkins interviewing Howardists Charles Hoffman and Marc Cerasini about their critical volume on Robert E. Howard, plus much else. Take it away, old friend:

STEVE TOMPKINS: For each of you, what was your first exposure to Howard? If as seems likely you made the acquaintance of Conan by way of the Gnome Press or Lancer collections, please tell us what you made of the presence of posthumous collaborations and pastiches.

MARC CERASINI: I can recall my first exposure vividly. I was maybe thirteen or fourteen years old and had purchased issue # 11 of Castle of Frankenstein magazine for thirty-five cents. Inside Lin Carter had a column touting the new publishing releases and he covered the Conan books extensively. Now, the first Lancers had just come out and I was eyeing them anyway because of the beautiful Frank Frazetta covers (I knew Frank’s work from Creepy and Eerie — Vampirella had not come out yet.) On Lin’s recommendation — and the fact that my parents were going to Expo ’67 and felt guilty about leaving me behind and so footed the bill for a shopping spree — I went to my local mall and purchased the first four Conan books, and an Aurora model of Blackbeard the Pirate.

On a sunny afternoon in June I read “The People of the Black Circle” and I was hooked — changed forever. Prior to my exposure to REH, I was reading a limited amount of science fiction and horror (The ABC’s of course — Asimov, Bradbury and Clark; as well as some John Wyndham; HG Wells and Jules Verne; and the classics Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore). I also read too many comics: Marvel superheroes (which I discovered with Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man), DC war comics like Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, Johnny Cloud, the Navajo Ace, Star Spangled War Stories where U.S. Marines battled dinosaurs and the Japanese on remote South Pacific Islands during World War II, and even movie and television tie-in books. One irony of my writing life is that I grew up reading Michael Avallone’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. novels and now I’m writing 24 novels for HarperCollins.

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His Like Will Not Be Here Again

This has been an incredibly hard post to compose for a myriad of reasons. Steve Tompkins was nonpareil. His wit, his style, his awe-inspiring intelligence, his impact on Howard studies (and weird literature studies in general), his sheer output; there simply has not been any commentator on our beloved genre(s) quite like Mr. Tompkins. Many writers have pontificated about this or that aspect of weird/fantastic literature. Not one did so in quite the way that he did, nor did they do it quite so well, in this blogger’s opinion.

I never met Steve Tompkins (though we had a near miss at WFC ’06). I corresponded with him for about right on four weeks. Many others who knew him much better have already weighed in with praise for the man and his work. I can only give my perspective as a fan and as someone who hoped to call Steve Tompkins a friend someday.

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REHupas on sale at eBay


Just a heads-up to all Howard fans out there looking to increase their holdings of REHupa mailings. In the coming days I will be posting a bunch for sale. The first five are already up, with more to follow in the coming days. For information about why REHupa mailings are so collectible, go here.


Also, for those of you looking to complete your Deluxe sets of The Cimmerian, there have been some lots for sale at eBay that include some of the out-of-print issues you are looking for. The latest is here.

Fire and Water, Or At Least Serious Swiggage of Firewater


Right about now there are seemingly two kinds of people, those who are already missing TC-as-a-print journal, and those who aren’t in a position to miss it, because for reasons best known to themselves they’ve been missing out ever since the spring of 2004. The good news is, it is still possible to remedy the latter delinquency, to escape the darkling plain where certain ignorant armies persist in clashing by night, by pouncing in a swell foop on the back issues Leo will be selling for a little while longer. The alternative is, I suppose, to repair to a repurposed fallout shelter and read the exciting Princess-Sumia-gets-abducted-yet-again scenes in old Lin Carter paperbacks to one’s action figures.

As a student of the American classics, Leo must be feeling a little like Tom Sawyer at the moment, kibitzing at his own funeral. He gave TC a Viking-by-way-of-the-coast-south-of-Kush sendoff with “A Cimmerian Coda” at the end of V5n6, and the motif is reinforced by the seagoing synchronicity of Donald Sidney-Fryer’s “A Ship Sails Out to Sea”:

The moon came up just as the sun went down,

Leaving behind a blaze, a fiery crown,

A coronal of purple, gold, and flame:

Inside this blaze the ship appeared to drown

Better a coronal than a coronary, nicht wahr? And how perfect that The Last of the Courtly Poets should be The Last Cimmerian Poet as well.

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The August TC Has Arrived

Steve has been singlehandedly holding up this blog like Atlas lately, with post after fascinating post on a variety of S&S and related subjects. The rest of us, alas, have been negligent.

[redacted] has been busy for months on both The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard Volume III (due real soon) and The Complete Poetry of Robert E. Howard (due anywhere from late this year to early next year — but we know how deadlines in Howard land tend to slip and slide all over the place, so I’ll wait for Rob to weigh in with a more definitive estimate). I’m still amazed that these long-awaited Howardian holy grails are finally being dragged kicking and screaming into existence, Rosemary’s Baby style, and while he’s receiving a lot of help with acquiring typescripts, proofing, and art design, it is Rob who is the indefatigable force willing these books together one day, one page, one letter or poem at a time. May Crom (and his wife) continue to ignore him.

[redacted] was here recently taking on the latest editorial outrage inflicted on Howard (here and here), but he’s also busy with the movie theater he owns in Vernon, Texas and with a variety of fiction and fannish projects (you can always pop into his personal blog, Finn’s Wake, for details on what he’s working on).

I, for my part, have found myself increasingly pulled away from fandom over the last year, and what finite time I have spent in the arena was dedicated to getting out the August issue of The Cimmerian, just released and mailed to subscribers last week. The cornerstone of the issue is a long essay of unusual depth and quality of research, focused on Howard’s relationship with the pulp Argosy, and ultimately whether Howard would have brought Conan to the prestigious market had he lived. There’s also tons of information, quotations, and opinions within about Lovecraft, E. Hoffmann Price, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Farnsworth Wright, and a host of lesser characters. The main reason the August issue is a month late was because I was waiting for this monster of a piece to be finished, and I’m glad I did because it’s well worth the wait.