Sunday, February 20, 2022

Tales From the Magician's Skull - Blog Round-Up Early Feb 2022


Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog Early Feb 2022 Round-Up

JAN 28 My Favorite Solomon Kane Tale: “Wings in the Night” by Robert E. Howard by Fletcher Vredenburgh

“Wings in the Night” (1932), is one of Solomon Kane’s, Robert E. Howard’s swashbuckling Puritan, African adventures. In the face of darkness, he sees himself as Satan’s implacable foe.  Kane’s a dour man, dedicated wholly to defeating evil and meting out justice. In two separate stories, he spends years hunting for the killers of innocents. A skilled swordsman, he has freebooted in the New World, suffered at the hand of the Inquisition, and fought vampires and cannibals in Africa. In this story, he battles great bat-winged, razor-taloned monsters.

This story is one of REH’s most visceral, and blood is spilled on every other page. Also, it’s one of my favorites. As it opens, Kane is fleeing from a band of cannibals when he discovers a devastated village and within it, a mutilated, yet still living man, tied to a stake. The village appears to have been attacked from above. One body hangs high up in a tree, impaled upon a branch. Continuing to evade his pursuers, he finds himself set upon by a winged creature with a manlike face.

FEB 4 Archiving the King’s Blade Champion: An interview with John C.Hocking by S.E. Lindberg  

John C. Hocking is a nigh-obsessed reader and writer of lurid pulp fictin, the author of Conan and the Emerald Lotus, “Black Starlight” serial, and their time-lost companion, Conan and the Living Plague, as well as an obedient thrall of Tales From the Magician’s Skull. Recently Black Gate reviewed John C. Hocking’s Conan Pastiche; then they cornered him to learn more about his pastiche and weird fiction muses in an interview. That post is a companion with this interview and we hope you’ll brave the Black Gate and check it out. Here we focus on Hocking’s original Archivist and King’s Blade series — now to the interview!

FEB 17 Adventures in Fiction: Andre Norton by Jim Wampler

Famed fantasy and science fiction author Andre Norton was born on February 17, 1912. Join us, as we celebrate her birthday by taking a look at her works and their influences on both adventure gaming and genre fiction. Born as Alice Mary Norton in 1912, Norton started writing while she was still in high school in Cleveland, Ohio. In fact, she completed her first novel while still attending high school, though it was not published until later in 1938. Wishing to pursue writing as a career, in 1934 she had her name legally changed to Andre Alice Norton, and adopted several male-sounding pen names so as to prevent her gender from becoming an obstacle to sales in the first market she wrote for: young boys literature.


FEB 17 Adventures in Fiction: Margaret St. Clair by Michael Curtis

Margaret St. Clair was born on February 17, 1911. Her work appears in Gary Gygax’s Appendix N, and is important for lending a crucial concept to the D&D game: the idea of dungeon levels. Here is Michael Curtis with more information on this important writer…

The titles and authors appearing on the Appendix N list are varied. Some are fantasy, others science fiction, and they range in time period from works contemporary to when Gygax was designing D&D to much earlier stories. While some of the Appendix N authors’ contribution to fantasy role-playing are obvious, not all lend themselves to easy discovery.

FEB 18 Ballantine Adult Fantasy: E.R. Eddison

The success of The Lord of the Rings in paperback lead to a fantasy boom in publishing — and in particular a boom at Ballantine. In the wake of Tolkien’s success they turned to fellow English fantasist E.R. Eddison for more fiction in a similar vein, re-publishing both his landmark 1922 novel The Worm Ouroboros, but also the three books in his 1930s Zimiamvian Trilogy.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Spawn of Dyscrasia review by BJ Swann

This review made my week. Like bizarre, horrific fantasy? The Dyscrasia series may be for you. Thanks to B.J. Swann for the kind words!

BTW, the series is continuing, currently in the form of short stories being published across various eZines and anthologies.

Here's a blurb:

"Lords of Dyscrasia offered an epic tale of apocalyptic dimensions steeped in extreme strangeness. Helen’s Daimones dialled back the scope, providing a more intimate story with more relatable characters. Spawn of Dyscrasia balances these two extremes, alternating between the earth-shattering battles of inhuman sorcerers and the earthier perspectives of mortal protagonists. The result feels perfectly balanced, as does the cast of characters. We get to see Lord Lysis, the transcendent undead demi-god, unleash his freakish might against a new eldritch enemy. At the same time, we also get to witness the trials of the very human Helen as she struggles to find a place for herself in a diseased world ruled by weird magic and plagued by monsters. We also get to see a lot more of Echo, one of the more mysterious but weirdly compelling characters in the series. The result is a tightly-woven tale offering a compelling mix of intrigue, horror, weirdness, and genuine human drama.
The weirdness, as usual, is pretty much off the scale. We get to see diseased orchards where the hearts of golems grow from fleshy trees. The psychic mating rituals of regal insectoid hybrid monsters. Skulls blown apart by animate blood known as Lapis Elixir. And just wait till you see what a Behemal Centimani is! The weirdness here is so intense it makes most books I’ve read in the Bizarro genre feel like realist lit fic in comparison."

Friday, February 4, 2022

Tour Guide of John C. Hocking's Archivist Series

Originally posted on the Tales of the Magician's Skull Blog: Archiving the King’s Blade Champion: An interview with John C. Hocking

Saved here for redundant archiving!

John C. Hocking is a nigh-obsessed reader and writer of lurid pulp fiction, the author of Conan and the Emerald Lotus, “Black Starlight” serial, and their time-lost companion, Conan and the Living Plague, as well as an obedient thrall of Tales From the Magician’s Skull. Recently Black Gate reviewed John C. Hocking’s Conan Pastiche; then they cornered him to learn more about his pastiche and weird fiction muses in an interview. That post is a companion with this interview and we hope you’ll brave the Black Gate and check it out.

Here we focus on Hocking’s original Archivist and King’s Blade series — now to the interview!

You’ve had six [now seven! — ed.] Benhus tales (The King’s Blade series) that appeared in each of the Tales From the Magician Skull magazines. The first one appeared in 2019, and is called “The Crystal Sickle’s Harvest: From the World of the Archivist.”. Tell us more about the Archivist series and how it informs the King’s Blade.

John C. Hocking: The Archivist stories take place in the same world, the same city, as those about Benhus. They just occur 12 or 15 years later. The Archivist sprang from my desire to keep writing sword and sorcery but step away from using a mythic warrior character like Conan.

Hocking’s King’s Blade Series in Tales From the Magician’s Skull by issue number:

  • I. “The Crystal Sickle’s Harvest”
  • II. “Trial by Scarab”
  • III. Tyrant’s Bane”
  • IV. “Guardian of the Broken Gem”
  • V. “In the Corridors of the Crow” *read the preview*
  • VI. “Calicask’s Woman”
  • VII. “The Gift of a Poison Necklace” *read the preview*

The Archivist series seem difficult to track down. Any comment about readers with OCD/completionism that desire to read these?

JCH: Right now, there are 8 stories about the Archivist and his friend Lucella:

  1. ‘A Night in the Archives’ appeared in the Flashing Swords ezine Vol1-#2. available online
  2. ‘Web of Pale Venom’ appeared in Flashing Swords #3 and was recently reprinted in Goodman Games ‘Cubicles of the Skull’. available online
  3. ‘The Lost Path Between the Worlds’ appeared in the Flashing Swords ezine #4 . available online
  4. ‘A River Through Darkness & Light’ appeared in Black Gate #15 (last print issue of BG).
  5. ‘Vestments of Pestilence’ was featured, and available for reading on Black Gate.
  6. ‘Pawns in a House of Ghosts’ appeared in Skelos #3.
  7. ‘With a Poet’s Eyes’ appeared in Weirdbook #38.
  8. “From a Prison of Blackened Bone’ is awaiting publication by Weirdbook.

I imagine I’ll eventually try to assemble a collection of all the Archivist yarns. I’d like to add a few more entries before then, though. I outlined a novel about the character but can’t say if I’ll ever write it.

Can you compare/contrast the Archivist with Lucella & Benhus?

JCH: The Archivist is an unlikely hero, a more cerebral and self-absorbed character than most you’d see in Sword & Sorcery. His ability to fill a heroic role in the dangerous environment of a S&S tale is boosted by his connection to the lady soldier, Lucella. Although the Archivist is unselfconsciously brave when the occasion calls for it and can throw a mean dagger, Lucella is the real fighter of the two. Odd as it may sound, Lucella’s attitude toward violence, and how fighting affects her, are as realistic as anything in my work, as I patterned it after the only people I’ve known who really, truly loved a serious fight. The Archivist is wry and often pre-occupied, but a thoroughly decent fellow with a strong sense of justice. Lucella is more pragmatic but tends to follow his lead. I find the relationship between the Archivist and Lucella more satisfying than much of my work. The two basically combine to form one functional hero.

The Benhus character is an attempt to create a Sword & Sorcery character in the mold of hardboiled crime fiction. He lacks the experience, knowledge, skill set and sense of justice that the Archivist and Lucella bring to the table. Benhus is very young, but tough, determined and possessed of few scruples, especially when it comes to self-preservation. His occasionally callous behavior can be alienating to readers not expecting it. The fact that the guy is in so far over his head, is so isolated from any substantial assistance or understanding, that he is surrounded by people vastly more powerful and better informed than he is, that he must watch his every step to avoid losing his position or his life—I hope all this leads readers to identify with the guy, even if they might find him a less than delightful dinner companion.

Juxtaposing the Archivist and Lucella with Benhus was great fun. For anyone who might care to know, the Archivist encounters an older and more seasoned Benhus in ‘Pawns in a House of Ghosts’.

Let’s focus on Benhus now. In the TFTMS 2021 Kickstarter updates & interviews, you revealed that his name was a tribute to Ben Haas. He was a writer who wrote westerns under several pseudonyms [(1926 – 1977) aka John Benteen, Thorne Douglas, Richard Meade)]. Please expand on Ben Haas, and how Benhus may embody some aspect of his writing/characters?

JCH: I admire the work of Benjamin Leopold Haas as one of the most polished and seemingly effortless pulp writers of the 1970’s. He spun formula men’s adventure fiction into gold over and over and over again. If I’ve tried to adopt anything from his writing style it would be a ceaseless forward movement and a steady, zero-padding approach to storytelling. But one of the things I admire most about his work is the one I will never even be able to approach—his remarkable coupling of prolificity and solid, satisfying storytelling.

Each of the TFTMS issues come with illustrations. Can you comment on these depictions?

  • I. Jennel Jaquays: I wrote a whole essay for the first Tales from the Magician’s Skull Kickstarter about how happy I was to have Jaquays illustrate one of my stories. That is one elegant image.
  • II. Russ Nicholson: This one explodes off the page. One of the most spectacular single page monster images I’ve seen, and I was delighted to have it attached to my story.
  • III. Matthew Ray: I loved the tight depiction of the three main characters (four if you include their undead foe). That’s a particularly good King Numar Flavius right there.
  • IV. Samuel Dillon: Lushly detailed, almost pointillist, illustration captures a good likeness of Benhus.
  • V. Doug Kovacs: This one startled me because it’s such a serious attempt to illustrate a specific scene from the story and do so with as much accurate detail as possible. The artist even gets Zehra’s tattered hand restraints.
  • VI. Jennel Jaquays: Lucky me—a second Jaquays illustration. I worked hard to make the creatures in the Wall of Demons as nasty as I could. The artist made them nastier than I imagined. That white eel/serpent horror is ingeniously disgusting.

And each story, true to TFTMS form, comes with DCC stats (thanks to Terry Olson). What are your thoughts on gamifying your world? Have you had the pleasure of reenacting a story?

  • I. Crystal Sickle Wraith (creature) & Nobleman’s Comfort (wand)
  • II. Great mud scarab…knockout powder, message vial= (magic item)
  • III. Blind sight (spell), nobleman’s comfort (more wand abilities), Silver risen (a spell?), Tyrantsbane dagger (weapon)
  • IV. Nobleman’s Comfort (wand, even more abilities) and Scimitar Nemesis (creature weapon)
  • V. Carapaced Mauler (creature)
  • VI. Gray Umbra Guardian (creature)

JCH: I haven’t been in a real RPG in 20 years, so I’m not really qualified to comment intelligently on the stats. But I’m delighted with the idea that fragments of the stories appearing in The Skull might find their way into gamers’ adventures. I wish the Skull had a space where anyone who saw any of our statted creations showing up in a game could tell us how it went.

Generally, S&S spawned in the short story form, and characters did not necessarily develop (i.e., as much as they may in a novel). The Benhus short stories are stand-alone episodes, but there is definite progression of character (especially with the titular “king” of the King’s Blade branding, issues #3 and #5 ramped up the relationship). Do you have a long-term vision for a collection/novel?

JCH: Yes and no. I want to keep telling an unspooling, chronological series of stories about Benhus. I have plenty of ideas for what happens to the character and how it affects him and those around him. In his near future I’ve plotted a story that could probably be presented as a novel but will more likely be broken into shorter narratives that I’ll submit piecemeal to Tales From the Magician’s Skull. Writing a novel is such a difficult, sustained and uncertain effort that I’m more comfortable wrestling with short fiction these days.

Be sure to check out the companion interview on Black Gate to learn more about Hocking’s Conan pastiche and weird fiction influences. And for the the latest story in the King’s Blade series, be sure to pre-order a copy of (the soon to be released) Tales From the Magician’s Skull Issue 7!


John C. Hocking Interview

 BEAUTIFUL PLAGUES: AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN C. HOCKING - originally posted on Black Gate Feb 4, 2022

To help reveal the muses that inspire weird fiction and horror writers, this interview series engages contemporary authors on the theme of “Art & Beauty in Weird/Fantasy Fiction.” Recent guests on Black Gate broaching this topic have included Darrell SchweitzerSebastian JonesCharles GramlichAnna Smith Spark, & Carol Berg, Stephen Leigh, Jason Ray Carney. See the full list of interviews at the end of this post.

Today we corner John C. Hocking whose Conan pastiche we reviewed a few months ago.

John C. Hocking is an American fantasy writer who is the author of two well-acclaimed Conan novels and has also won the 2009 Harper’s Pen Award for Sword and Sorcery fiction for his story, “The Face In The Sea”. He lives in Michigan with his wife, son, and an alarming quantity of books. He is a nigh-obsessed reader and writer of lurid pulp fiction, the author of Conan and the Emerald Lotus, the "Black Starlight" Conan serial, and their time-lost companion, Conan and the Living Plague, and an obedient thrall of Tales From the Magician’s Skull.

For clarity, we'll actually corner him twice. Firstly, here on Black Gate, we'll cover his weird, pulpy muses & Conan pastiche; secondly, in a companion interview, we'll cover his King's Blade and Archivist series on the Tale from the Magician's Skull Blog.

Friday, January 28, 2022

TFMS - mid-end Jan 2022 Blog Roundup

Tales from the Magician's Skull Blog Roundup, mid to end-Jan 2022


Skull Champion of the Fifth Order, Bill Ward, continues to marshal his army of articles! Here is the latest headlines (linked) with blurbs:

JAN 26 Adventures in Fiction: Philip Jose Farmer by Jeff Goad
Today we are celebrating the birthday of Philip José Farmer. While he isn’t around to celebrate this day with us, his books are still here inspiring writers and game designers as they have for decades past.
Farmer found early acclaim in the pulps, winning the Hugo in 1953 for Best New SF Author only a year after the publication of his first tale in Startling Stories. He continued writing for Startling Stories where his work would be found beside that of other Appendix N luminaries like Jack Vance and Fletcher Pratt. Other early works can be found in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a publication that features a letter to the editor from Gary Gygax himself in the August 1963 issue.
Farmer’s first novel, The Green Odyssey, was published by Ballantine Books in 1957 and was the start of a prolific output of novels for Ballantine Books, Ace Paperbacks, and other publishing houses. He released 15 novels in the 1960s then topped that with another 23 in the 1970s!

JAN 25 Classic Covers: The Savage Sword of Conan
How do you skirt a restrictive comics code and make visual Conan stories with the requisite blood-pumping grittiness that is integral to Howard’s adventures? You make a magazine of course! Already popular in his initial comic book incarnation of Conan the Barbarian, Marvel introduced the more adult-oriented The Savage Sword of Conan in 1974, quickly achieving a wide circulation and, thanks to writer and editor Roy Thomas’ legendary first 60 issue run, eventual cult classic status. Savage Sword featured straight Howard adaptations, pastiche, and original stories, and included more than just Conan tales but adventures from other popular Howard characters such as Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and King Kull.

JAN 23 The Best Of The Conan Pastiche Novels by Howard Andrew Jones
If I didn’t love the writing of Robert E. Howard I would probably never have bothered with any Conan pastiche. As a matter of fact, those Conan novels on store shelves in the ’70s and ’80s made me so skeptical of Conan that I didn’t try Robert E. Howard’s fiction until years later. I wrongly assumed that because the series looked cheap and mass-produced that Howard’s writing would sound that way. (Robert E. Howard, of course, had nothing to do with the mass marketing of his character, having been dead for decades before that marketing was carried out by other hands.)
You can fit the sum total of all the Conan that Howard wrote (including some fragments and rejected stories) into one large hardback. That’s not a lot of fiction about such a great character, and so for decades, people have been trying to create new tales of adventure starring Conan, mostly because they wanted MORE!

JAN 22 Adventures in Fiction: Robert E. Howard
There may not be a more iconic character in fantasy—and particularly sword and sorcery—fiction than Conan the Barbarian. From his first appearance in Weird Tales back in 1932, the character has influenced how we see any iconic sword-wielding hero. And for that, we can thank Robert E. Howard.
Over the years a number of posts on our site have been focused on Mr. Howard and his impact not just on literature, but also on the world of role-playing games. All of those posts can be found under our Adventures in Fiction banner, but we want to give you direct links to a trio of our favorites, as well as the post included here. So, after reading below, be sure to go give a look at Films of High Adventure: Robert E. Howard, Real Life Adventures – The Robert E. Howard House, and Gen Con Videos, Part 1: Gaming in the Spirit of Robert E. Howard.

JAN 21 It Was a Dark and Silly Night – A Look at John Bellairs’ The Face in the Frost
Whimsy and suspense don’t generally mesh all that well together, for they tend to swing toward opposite poles of reader engagement. Whimsy tickles the intellect, relying on novel juxtapositions and a great deal of textual playfulness – it’s cute, it’s precise, and most often it resides in a place of certainty and safety. Suspense – or more accurately in the case of John Bellairs’ 1969 debut novel The Face in the Frost, dread – is instead the assassin slipping past the intellect to knife that deepest part of the hind-brain, or perhaps its better to say its the cold, rhythmic pounding of subtle waves of suggestion that periodically climax in the massive erosive collapse of the shoreline of a reader’s composure. This horror effect absolutely requires a sort of visceral engagement with the material, a thorough Secondary Belief just like with fantasy – the kind of thing that jokey anachronisms, deliberate wordplay, and humorous allusions would seem to undermine at every turn. But Bellairs manages the trick of juggling these disparate elements with the sure confidence of a natural storyteller in a concise, captivating way that rarely places a foot wrong and never comes close to overstaying its welcome.

JAN 20 Adventures in Fiction: Abraham Merritt by James Maliszewski
Of all the literary influences on D&D and DCC RPG, Abraham Merritt is perhaps the “most-influential of the least-known.” His work is rarely read in this modern time, yet he is named by Gary Gygax as one of “the most immediate influences on AD&D. Today, on January 20, 2020, the 136th anniversary of his birth, we provide a little more insight into this little-read but well-deserving author. You can also learn about all the Appendix N authors by listening to the Appendix N Book Club. For Merritt in particular, his most famous work, The Moon Pool, was recently covered in a special session on the Appendix N Podcast in which Joseph Goodman participated.

JAN 19 Appendix N Archaeology: Edgar Allan Poe by Bradley K McDevitt
Ok, class, before we start… let’s have a show of hands. Who here thinks about reading Edgar Allan Poe and gets traumatic flashbacks to seventh-grade English?
I thought so. Having the father of the modern horror story force-fed us tends to have that effect, as opposed to other lesser writers like Lovecraft, Howard, or Tolkien, all of whom we had to discover on our own.
Poe was the first successful writer to pen stories intended with no purpose but to ensure the reader would not have pleasant dreams that night. I dare anyone suffering from claustrophobia to go back and read A Cask of Amontillado or The Black Cat and then sleep with the lights off. Go ahead, I double-dog dare you.

JAN 18 Adventures in Fiction: John Bellairs by Ngo Vinh-Hoi
John Anthony Bellairs was born on January 17th, 1938 in Marshall, Michigan, which he described as “full of strange and enormous old houses, and the place must have worked on [his] imagination.” A shy and overweight child, he “would walk back and forth between [his] home and Catholic school and have medieval fantasies featuring [himself] as the hero.” He found refuge in books, excelling in college as an English major and even appearing on an episode of the TV quiz show G.E. College Bowl in 1959, where he recited the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales in fluent Middle English. After getting his Master’s degree Bellairs taught English at several colleges across the midwest before taking time off in 1967 when he moved to Bristol, England, for a year to concentrate on his fiction writing. Many years later a fan asked Bellairs about his time in England only to have him reply “I lived for a year in Bristol [England], and it was the most miserable year of my life.” Bellairs’s misery was everyone else’s good fortune though, as this is when he wrote The Face in the Frost.

JAN 14 Where to Start With Robert E. Howard
Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) was a giant and a father to giants, his literary creations so potent that they have informed popular culture and permeated mass consciousness down to the present day. But their very ubiquity can obscure and deceive – if two people strike up a conversation about Conan, are they actually talking about the same Conan? What’s going on with all of these other writers penning stories of Howard’s heroes, and do they need to be read in order? Out of the dozens of reprints and collections over the years, just where do you actually start?

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

TFMS bi-weekly Blog Roundup


Tales from the Magician's Skull Blog Roundup, end-Dec-2021 to min-Jan 2022
Skull Champion of the Fifth Order, Bill Ward, continues to marshal his army of articles! Here are the latest headlines (linked) with blurbs:

Dec 27: Appendix N Archaeology: Clark Ashton Smith by Michael Curtis

Gamers often point to Appendix N and decry the absence of a particular author (or three, or seven, or…), declaring Gygax’s omission of them to be a literary crime of some sort. Putting aside the unbelievable idea that gamers may complain about things for the moment, we must realize that Appendix N is not a list one can argue with. It is a catalog of all the literary influences Gygax chose to recognize as wellsprings from which Dungeons & Dragons flowed. Since it is representative of one man’s work, we can’t claim he made the error of excluding a particular author, even if we believe we can see their influence in the final product. Game design, like art, is a subjective process and one tends to see what one is inclined to see.

Dec 28: The Self-Made Mind: The Art of Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith, an untutored genius self-educated in both poetry and pulp, also turned his restless mind to art. In everything from his simple line sketches and watercolor landscapes, to his carving and sculpture, Smith demonstrates the same characteristics of baroque intricacy, imaginative grotesquery, and dark humor that are a hallmark of his writing.

Dec 29: New In The Online Store: Tales From The Magician’s Skull #0

This may be #0, but it’s certainly far more than zero.

Back by popular demand, resurrected from the dim corridors of lost time, it’s TFTMS #0! This special issue of Tales From the Magician’s Skull was only available to Kickstarter backers — but now it’s back and available as a PDF! It’s filled with stories and articles about sword-and-sorcery fiction, and features a spectacular cover by legendary artist Ian Miller! Let’s take a look!

Jan 3: Classic Covers: J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was the book that launched a thousand trilogies, and made Tolkien’s name synonymous not just with modern fantasy fiction, but publishing mega-success. With more copies, in more languages, in more editions, than anything else in its category, and with an entire sub-industry spun out of publishing various notes, unpublished drafts, and side-excursions of its author, The Lord of the Rings remains the gold standard by which all other secondary worlds, and all other fantasy blockbusters, are judged. With covers ranging from the iconic to the iconographic, the literal to the surreal, many even featuring the art of the good Professor himself, and with editions spanning leather-bound limited-run collectibles to utterly ubiquitous mass-market paperbacks, copies of Tolkien are as ever-present and universal in the physical world of books and book collections as the tales they tell are ingrained in the imaginations of modern readers.

Jan 7: A Kind of Elvish Craft: Quotations from The Lord of the Rings

“To make a Secondary World . . . commanding Secondary Belief, will probably require labor and thought, and will certainly demand a special skill, a kind of elvish craft. Few attempt such difficult tasks. But when they are attempted and in any degree accomplished then we have a rare achievement of Art: indeed narrative art, story-making in its primary and most potent mode.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories”

J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal lecture/essay “On Fairy-Stories” is nothing short of a manifesto of his art, and a spiritedly reasoned elaboration of his Theory of Story — specifically Fairy-Stories, or tales of the Land of Faërie.

Jan 11: Reading About Robert E. Howard

It’s safe to say Robert E. Howard has passionate fans. And this passion goes beyond buying stacks of books and old comics and limited edition resin sculptures, beyond pilgrimages to Cross Plains or Valeria cosplay, beyond, even, mimeographing ‘zines in their basement or writing fiction inspired by Howard’s example. For you see, Howard’s fans have dared to set their sandalled feet upon the tumbled jeweled thrones of literary criticism, and they’ve been trampling such thrones for decades. Here’s a look at just some of what they’ve been saying.


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Rogues in the House Podcast

As posted on Black Gate:


Rogues in the House

In 1934, Weird Tales magazine published Robert E. Howard's Conan story "Rogues in the House." Bob Byrne covered the story on Black Gate as part of his "Hither Came Conan" series.

Just a few years ago, in late 2018, Sword & Sorcery enthusiasts and content creators forged Rogues in the House - the Ultimate S&S Podcast (the link is a portal page to multiple listening Apps). This post spotlights it because it is more than just a source of perspectives. The crew genuinely wants to support a growing community. Their roundtable discussions always start with the "Bazaar of the Bizarre" round table, in which the cast shares recent events or learning opportunities (the session a call out to Fritz Leiber's 1963 Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser story of the same name.

Beyond luring in S&S authors like Howard Andrew Jones, Scott OdenJohn R. Fultz, and  Jason Ray Carney, they've got guests covering Movies, Video/Board Games, and Art. We embed three selections here: