Rediscovered: de Lint via Swann

Aha! A Sudden Autograph Hound Super-Sunday is upon us!

A week or so back Brian Leno — the most maniacal Autograph Hound of my acquaintance — mentioned he was digging around in his holdings and came across a couple of those charming Thomas Burnett Swann fantasy paperbacks of yesteryear, perhaps with Gray Morrow covers or possibly George Barr. Brian has had them in hand since they came out in the late 1960s or 70s but hadn’t gotten around to reading them. No doubt his To Be Read pile would dwarf the library at Alexandria.

Yesterday he let me know: “I read a Thomas Burnett Swann for the first time the other day, and it was okay. He’s a good writer, will try more. Just got in the mail today an omnibus of his Minotaur series, also has a critical bibliography and biography of Swann, so I’m looking forward to it. Always need to know more about the author.”

But, Brian notes, “I remember when you had a few blogs on signatures that were hard to decipher. I want to nominate Charles de Lint for an award.

“Top line The Minotaur Trilogy. Looks like something an untalented kid would mark up a sidewalk with, and that’s being charitable.”

So, is the de Lint John Hancock above worse than Peter Straub? Worse than James Ellroy? You decide.

The closest my path came to crossing de Lint’s was back in the 1980s when he and fellow Canadian Charles R. Saunders were editing a zine together — each issue had a different title. Beyond the Fields We Know was one. I showed up in Dragonfields with an article about pastiches of the Robert E. Howard character Bran Mak Morn, but I only dealt with Saunders as the issue went toward press.

Thomas Burnett Swann I never exchanged notes with, either, but several of my pals such as Donald Sidney-Fryer did — and Fu-Moran of The Romantist had quite a little correspondence going with him. I was then and remain under the impression that Swann was gay, but my predominant memory of Fu telling me about their letters was how Swann wouldn’t stop talking about the actress Stella Stevens. He was a HUGE Stella Stevens fanboy.

As Fu and I thought at the time: Go figure.

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