Birthday 115 today for Robert E. Howard, the Texan who wrought his influences into the genre of headlong adventure known as Sword-and-Sorcery. A pulp writer in his lifetime, his works now tread the world stage under sandaled feet.
Leading up to this moment I punched up a couple of online S&S tales from the most recent practitioners of the form. Mostly to nudge me one way or the other into accepting — or rejecting — a request to write a survey of S&S by this summer. Over the years I’ve written and edited fat books on the topic — written as much as I’ve edited. I’ve done encyclopedia entries.
I’m still mulling the idea over, but if it means complete coverage up to the moment, naw, not worth the time it would take. I managed to skim the two recent S&S “stories” while wondering, Do these guys perceive the same words and ideas as I do when they read REH?
Maybe they just don’t know how to write. . . .
But I guess in a survey one could just dismiss all the junk with a quick aside.
The disappointment was washed away by a celebratory reread of REH’s “The Tower of the Elephant” and “Rogues in the House” — I’m halfway through “Beyond the Black River.” Howard and his genre at their best.
And if you want to check out a somewhat more formal essay marking this day, Morgan “The Morgman” Holmes offers some thoughts on the DMR blog. In his files and in his brain Morgan has the makings of the most complete history of S&S that will ever be done, if he can wrestle it into print. He’s read it all, Howard and Leiber, Jakes and Moorcock, de Camp and Carter, even the terrible PBOs that came out during the boom of the 1970s.
I think he’s even reading the newest attempts by the writers I wouldn’t call writers. That’s dedication — dedication to the ghost of Robert E. Howard.