This volume is set to be loosed onto a terrified populace just in time for Halloween, on Tuesday October 28, 2008. There’s been no Table of Contents released for this as far as I know (Rusty, if the lineup is set give us a sneak-peek rundown at REHupa.com!), but it’s going to be big, and chock full of Howard’s most memorable horror tales and verse.
Some readers who haven’t read widely in this area of the Texan’s oeuvre might be asking, “Exactly how good was Robert E. Howard at horror?” The most influential horror writer of the twentieth century, H. P. Lovecraft, wrote that
He [REH] was almost alone in his ability to create real emotions of fear and of dread suspense. Contrast his “Black Canaan” with the pallid synthetic pap comprising the rest of the current issue of W. T. Bloch and Derleth are clever enough technically — but for stark, living fear…the actual smell and feel and darkness and brooding horror and impending doom that inhere in that nighted, moss-hunted jungle…what other writer is even in the running with REH?
Now granted, Lovecraft didn’t live to see Robert Bloch write Psycho, and thank God he didn’t live to see what Derleth did to his Mythos, but I think the point stands. If you want a more modern take on Howard’s horror credentials, Stephen King wrote in his 1981 critical overview Danse Macabre that Howard’s “Pigeons from Hell” was “one of the finest horror stories of our century.” That same tale was adapted for Boris Karloff’s Thriller, and is still considered one of the scariest episodes of anthology horror television ever produced. Howard’s horror stories have lots of fans — check out this blog post, where the proprietor proclaims that “The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard is the exact reason Peggy and I established the Dark Forces Book Group.”
Yep, Howard’s horror stories and poetry are pretty freakin’ awesome, and it’s going to be wonderful to have the best of them collected in one textually pure, fully-illustrated volume. All praise to Rusty Burke, Patrice Louinet, and the rest of the Del Rey editorial gang for making this book happen.
UPDATE: Rusty has just posted the Table of Contents along with some art samples and more details at the REHupa website. Looks like an incredibly meaty book.