Monthly Archives: January 2015

Last Day to Join Sasquan if You Want to Nominate for the Hugos

Today (January 31) is the deadline to get a membership (attending or supporting) to Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention if you wish to nominate works for the Hugo Award.  You don’t have to nominate today, but your membership must be purchased by today in order to do so.  Supporting memberships are $40 US.  Information about costs for citizens of other countries is on the website.

Keep in mind this is nominating for the Hugos, which will establish the final ballot.  The membership deadline for voting on the final ballot is later in the year.

Blogging Jirel of Joiry: Black God’s Kiss

Black God's KissBlack God’s Kiss
C. L. Moore
trade paperback $12.99

Shortly after she began chronicling the adventures of Northwest Smith, C. L. Moore created a second series character, one that would have an even greater impact on the genre. I’m talking, of course, about Jirel of Joiry.

Instead of setting these stories in space like she did with Northwest Smith, or in some age before the dawn of recorded history, like Howard did with Conan, Moore chose to place Jirel in the fictional French kingdom of Joiry, square in the Middle Ages.

There were only five Jirel stories, plus the Jirel and Northwest Smith team-up “Quest of the Starstone” that she wrote with her husband Henry Kuttner.  But for the first time in the history of the field, here was a female character who was worthy of her own series.  Note: the rest of this post will contain spoilers. Continue reading

Blogging Northwest Smith: The Cold Gray God

150px-Weird_Tales_October_1935“The Cold Gray God” adds a slight Lovecraftian element to the Northwest Smith saga.  First published in the October 1935 issue of Weird Tales, the story opens with Smith being accosted on the street of Righa, a city in the polar regions of Mars, by a fur clad woman.  Smith thinks she’s a Venusian, but she behaves in a way a Venusian woman wouldn’t.  Fro one thing, she touches him.  I couldn’t help but think of women in Islamic countries from the way she is describes.

Although he’s somewhat repulsed by her, there’s something familiar about her, too.  At her request, Smith accompanies her back to her house.  There he discovers she’s a famous singer who simply vanished a few years earlier.  She asks him to help her retrieve a box from a man who is frequently a notorious bar.  She tells Smith he can name his own price, hinting that he can have her it that’s what he wants.  Leery, Smith still accepts her offer, asking for ten thousand dollars. Continue reading

Catherine Lucille Moore: Fantasy and Science Fiction Pioneer

C. L. MooreNot to mention one of the most important writers of the past century.

Catherine Lucille Moore, better known as C. L. Moore, was born on this day in 1911.  She sold her first story, “Shambleau”, in 1933.  (review here)

In certain circles among science fiction and fantasy authors and fans, one can find a popular belief that women authors have been suppressed and had their voices silenced by The Patriarchy.  And That Has to Change.  While it is true that until recently more authors have been men than women, one has to wonder what parallel universe some of these people have fallen out of.  Either that or if what they’ve been smoking is home grown or Columbian imported.  Many of them act like they’ve never heard of Ursula K. Le Guin, Leigh Brackett, Kate Wilhelm, or Andre Norton, among others. Continue reading

Robert E. Howard, Still Influential at 109

reh1Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Howard.  For someone who wrote for the pulps, which were considered by many to be barely above subliterate trash during their heyday, he’s got a remarkable legacy.

His books are still being reprinted, with new ones coming out on a regular basis.  Howard has been the subject of multiple biographies.  A foundation has been formed in his name that gives a scholarship to a graduating senior each year.  His work has been adapted to film.  (Okay, not necessarily adapted well or faithfully, but it at least has been adapted.)  He wrote some of the seminal works in the field of sword and sorcery, works that have been widely imitated for decades.  And his collected letters reveal a young man whose mind and imagination were too big for the narrow confines of his small Texas town.

How many best-sellers from his era can you name beyond the obvious ones of Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Parker, and Hemingway?  How many works of “serious literature” that bravely explore “the human condition” and promote social justice from as little as ten years ago, never mind two or three decades back, are still in print or even remembered?Swords-sm

Howard wrote with a passion, but then there weren’t many things Howard didn’t approach passionately, at least things he chose rather than had thrust on him, such as nonwriting jobs.  His ideas and passions came through in his writing.  That’s part of what makes so much of his work, whether fiction or poetry or correspondence, both fun and deep.  Too many of today’s crusaders for [insert cause du jour here] need to take some time and study Howard’s works and see how it’s done.  Howard communicates things like his views on barbarism, civilization, honor, loyalty, etc., clearly and unambiguously without ever interfering with his narrative or throwing the reader out of his story.  Would that we had more like him writing today.

So take a moment today and remember him.  Raise a glass in his honor.  Spend some time in one of his worlds.  With snow overnight and more expected for the rest of the day, I’ll read some more in Swords of the North myself.  It’s a fitting day to immerse myself in that Northern thing.

Howard Andrew Jones has posted a solid tribute here.

Arriving in Today’s Mail

20150120_203602The index and addenda to The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard arrived today.  It probably won’t be of much interest to the casual reader, but it’s a highly useful tool to the serious (and not so serious) scholar.  In addition to the much needed index, the book also contains 17 letters and drafts that were not known at the time the Collected Letters was published.

Pricing and ordering information are here.  Of course, members of the Robert E. Howard Foundation get a discount.

Kudos to Bobby Derie for putting the index together.  It was a lot of work.

Take a Voyage on a Ghost Ship

Ghost ShipGhost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and her Missing Crew
Brian Hicks
Paper, $16.00, 289 p.
ebook $9.99 Kindle $11.99 Nook

I said at the first of the year that I wanted read more history.  Here’s one of the first historical books I’ve read.  Clearly I’m not going to limit myself to major events.

I first read about the Mary Celeste when I was in 5th or 6th grade, maybe 7th.  This was during the late 70s, and I was interested in all things mysterious.  I was also much more gullible at the time, buying into all sorts of pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo that today I wouldn’t believe for two seconds.  In the course of reading through this sort of thing, I came across the story of the Mary CelesteContinue reading

C. C. Finlay Named New Editor of F&SF

fsf-july-august-2014_med-2C. C. Finlay (who began his writing career under the name Charles Coleman Finlay) announced on his blog today that he is now the new editor of F&SF,  Gordon Van Gelder will continue in his role as publisher.  Gordon left a substantial inventory of stories.  There will be a period in which issues of the magazine will contain selections by both editors until the stories in the inventory are published.

Finlay guest edited two issues last year. The first was the July/August issue.  The second has yet to see print.  It’s the March/April issue, which is the next one out of the gate.  He was guest editing a third, when the position became permanent.  Which means I don’t have to rush to meet tomorrow’s deadline since there’s no way I’ll have something ready.

Adventures Fantastic would like to wish Mr. Finlay all the best.  I look forward to reading the stories he selects.

Clark Ashton Smith Turns 122

ClarkAshtonSmithToday marks the 122nd anniversary of Clark Ashton Smith’s birth.  He was one of the Big Three of Weird Tales, the other two being H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard (but then I probably don’t need to tell you that).

Like Howard, Smith was also a poet as well as a fiction writer.  (Yes, Robert E. Howard wrote poetry, some of the best I’ve ever read.)  Unlike Howard, Smith’s fiction has a complexity to it Howard’s lacked, especially in word choice.  Isaac Asimov went on record complaining that he didn’t like reading Smith because he had to keep looking words up in the dictionary.  (You see, kids, in the dark days before computers we had these things called dictionaries and when you didn’t know a word, you went to the dictionary and…ah, never mind.)  And if Asimov had to look it up, then you know it probably wasn’t on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

smithPortrait01In spite of the work involved at times, Smith is still very much a writer worth reading.  I’ll be tackling at least one of his collections later this year for the posts I’m doing at Black Gate on the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.  There were four now highly collectible volumes of Smith’s work published as part of the BAF series.  In fact the very first BAF book I ever owned was Smith’s Hyperborea.  I’ve only dipped into Smith’s works a little, but he was a writer of wild imagination.  We could use more like him today.

Weird Menace Anthology Open for Submissions

dime_mystery_193409There was a discussion on James Reasoner’s blog yesterday that he may come to regret, but I certainly hope not.  He was featuring Dime Mystery Magazine, which was one of the top weird menace pulps back in the 1930s.  The September 1934 issue, which is shown on the left.  James said he’d considered doing a weird menace anthology for Rough Edges Press.  Several rabble-rousers, myself included, urged him on.  Any resemblance to the crowd chanting for the guy on the ledge to jump is a product of your warped imagination.

Well, James has taken our advice, and we hope he doesn’t live to regret it.  He sent out an announcement today for the anthology.  Some of you should seriously consider submitting to it.  You know who you are.  I’m going to try to get something ready.  Click the Read More tag for the announcement. Continue reading