The Cimmerian V5n6 — December 2008


Edited by Leo Grin | Illustrated by Socar Myles
40 pages

This issue was printed in two editions. The deluxe edition, numbered 1–75, uses a black linen cover with foil-stamped amethyst text. The limited edition, numbered 76–225, uses an amethyst cover with solid black text.



Features a short article from an Australian academic on Howard’s relationship with the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, a sumptuous appreciation and analysis of REH’s only Conan novel, a piece of deep research on the genesis and editing of Howard’s Sword-and-Planet novel Almuric, a review of an enormous new book of Howardian criticism and fandom from France, a delving into Howard’s creation of and Fritz Leiber’s naming of the Sword-and-Sorcery genre, plus poetry by Donald Sidney-Fryer, art from Socar Myles, and the Lion’s Den letters column.


In Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard (2006), [redacted] states that director John Milius, in adapting Conan the Barbarian to the big screen, took pains to deliberately draw “as many Nietzschean themes as possible” from Howard’s work. The resulting film was a patchwork of Howardian parallels with the German philosopher — most prominently the idea of the übermensch, or Superman — with just enough Conan left “for the average person to ‘get’ the idea of Conan.” This point carries an implication: if there is so much of Nietzsche in Howard’s work, should it not be possible for the reader to “get the idea” through reading Howard?

— from “The Nietzschean Herd” by Nicholas Moll

Mocking professional LOTR bashers, Tom Shippey has written that what really sends them up the wall about Tolkien’s masterpiece is “an improper ambition, as if it had ideas above the proper station of popular trash.” Howard displays a similarly improper ambition in his only Conan novel; mediocre Sword-and-Sorcery is one vast pawnshop of gimcrack gewgaws and zircons, but the Heart of Ahriman operates on a different level altogether. This gem is neither an unspeakably evil, unspeakably dull piece of costume jewelry like de Camp and Carter’s Cobra Crown in Conan the Buccaneer, nor a handy-dandy, demon-begone equalizer like the Ring of Rakhamon in The Return of Conan. Although luridly rubescent, the Heart also underscores the fact that white magic works best when robed in gray. With its essential unknowability, its save-or-damn-ambiguity, the fallen star is the rogue agent of a distinctively Howardian eucatastrophe, as well as a mirror in which men can see themselves-themselves as they dream of being.

— from “Strong to Save or to Damn” by Steven Tompkins

After going through this possible A-list, we drop down a few steps to Otto Binder (1911-1974). Binder (pronounced Bender, not Bineder) started out writing in 1932 with his brother Earl under the name Eando Binder. (“E. and O.”-get it?) By 1937 Earl dropped out, so Otto carried on solo under the Eando Binder name. Today, he is most famous in a pulp sense for a story called “I, Robot” which introduced Adam Link — a title later reused by the publisher on the popular book from Isaac Asimov. At first glance, one might wonder why such a relatively obscure author attracts attention when so many other candidates populate the pulp jungle. The interesting twist with Binder is that he worked for Otis Adelbert Kline’s literary agency, acting as New York representative in the middle 1930s for the Chicago-based Kline. OAK eventually moved his family and agency to the New York area, where the publishing action was, with editorial offices within easy reach.

When they lived in Chicago earlier, the Binder brothers had used Kline as an agent. Otto moved to New York in December 1935, where he made the rounds to various New York editors, pushing Kline’s clients — including Robert E. Howard.

— from “The First Posthumous Collaborator” by Morgan Holmes

The de Camps included Jane Griffin, a competent academic and native Texan, as their chief Texas collaborator for the insights that only a native could make about the Lone Star State. Otherwise Griffin was, alas, the completely wrong collaborator, since she had no understanding nor appreciation of Howard as an original fictioneer, and in particular she could not abide the Conan saga. When at a fantasy convention years ago the present critic met both the de Camps, who then introduced him to Griffin — all three were gathered at one spot — Jane confessed to me her inability to read much of Howard’s fiction with anything other than distaste. His Conan stories apparently made her feel rather ill.

— from “Shadows and Light” by Donald Sidney-Fryer

I got to meet Fritz Leiber personally when I moved to San Francisco in 1974. Among many distinct memories the moment stands out when Fritz chuckled, shook his head, and said in absolute wonder, “Lin Carter claims I invented the term sword and sorcery!”

Sometime between 1961 and that moment Fritz Leiber had completely forgotten he’d coined the term. Obviously, he had long since lost whatever files of Amra and Ancalagon he may have had. He had experienced long episodes of drinking from time to time, most recently after his wife Jonquil died in 1969, which certainly could have doctored his memory. But you’d think if you coined a term that appeared time after time in one paperback after another, you’d remember — hell, if most of us managed to coin a term for a genre that experienced such widespread popular usage, I think we’d drink out on it the rest of our lives.

Yet for Fritz, the memory was gone.

— from “Sword-and-Sorcery” by Don Herron

The news that The Cimmerian is to be discontinued hit me like the news that a good friend is terminally ill.

— Glenn Lord, writing in The Lion’s Den