Monthly Archives: January 2016

Blogging Jirel of Joiry: Black God’s Shadow

weird_tales_193412“Black God’s Shadow”
C. L. Moore
First published in Weird Tales, December 1934

“Black God’s Shadow” is the second Jirel of Joiry tale, a direct sequel to “Black God’s Kiss“.  The story opens while Jirel waking from a dream in which Guillaume is calling her named.  She’d sent Guillaume to his death with a kiss from the Black God she had encountered in a strange world she’d entered through a tunnel beneath her castle.

Now she realizes that she’s doomed him to an eternity of torment.  Overwhelmed by guilt, Jirel returns to that strange otherworld to seek some way of freeing Guillaume’s soul so he can go to his eternal rest. Continue reading

C. L. Moore Turns 105

C. L. MooreToday marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of science fiction and fantasy author C. L. Moore.  I wrote last year about what a pioneer she was on both her birthday and later in the year.

This year I’m going to mark that anniversary differently.  Rather than repeat myself, this will be a short announcement, a reminder if you will.  Before her marriage to Henry Kuttner, at which point everything they wrote became a collaboration to a greater or lesser degree, Moore had established herself as one of the premiere writers in both the science fiction and fantasy fields.  Her iconic characters Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry became the template of numerous characters to come.

I’ve blogged about both Smith and Jirel over the last couple of years, but those projects have gotten stalled.  I’m going to reboot them and finish those stories.  Look for a new Jirel post soon.

Until then, raise a glass in Catherine Moore’s memory and read some of her stuff.  You’ll be glad you did.

Howard Hits 110

REH_beerYep, everyone’s favorite author from Cross Plains was born 110 years ago today.  I’ve got too many irons in the fire to write a long tribute today.  I’m in the middle of reading “The Man-Eaters of Zamboula”, which is the topic of discussion at Howard Andrew Jones’ blog today.  Check it out, because there’s always some good discussion there.

Even though he died nearly 80 years ago, he still casts one of the longest shadows over the field of fantasy and imaginative literature.  The only two authors who still have as much influence are (arguably) H. P. Lovecrat and J. R. R. Tolkien.  So read something by Howard, a story, a letter, a poem.  Marvel at the way he could write a scene or a bit of verse.  Spend some time in a land undreamed of.  And raise a Cimmerian size glass in Howard’s memory.

Kickstarter for New Sword & Planet/Heroic Fantasy Magazine

CirsovaI just backed a Kickstarter for a new sword &planet/heroic fantasy semi-pro publication called Cirsova.  The issue is already put together and according to the Kickstarter page, the authors and artist have been paid.

I really like the idea of a publication that has an emphasis on sword and planet.  I’ve had an itch to read more S&P for about a month.  As soon as I clear a couple of titles I’ve committed to review, I’m going to be reading a lot more of it.  I’m hoping this one takes off.

RIP, David G. Hartwell (1941-2016)

David G HartwellDavid G. Hartwell passed away from some type of brain hemmorhage about an hour ago as I write this.  I was heading to bed and decided to check my Twitter feed one last time tonight.  Hartwell was one of the major editors in the fields of science fiction and fantasy for the last few decades.

His annual anthologies Year’s Best SF (1996-2013) and Year’s Best Fantasy (2001-2008) were among the most eagerly anticipated books of the year for me.  He also edited a number of standalone anthologies.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hartwell several times over the years, although I hadn’t seen him in recent years.  He was always open and approachable.  He had an enthusiasm for the literature of the fantastic that was always refreshing to be around, and his knowledge of the field was considerable.

Adventures Fantastic would like to express our deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Happy Birthday, Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith (8)January 13, 1893 saw the birth of Clark Ashton Smith.  Along with his friends and correspondents Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft, Smith was regarded as one of the Big Three at Weird Tales during was is generally regarded as the magazine’s golden age.

Given his stature in the field, it’s a little surprising how brief his career as a writer of fiction was.  Most of his fiction was written between 1929 and 1934.  Smith’s first literary love was poetry.  He also worked as an artist.  Clark Ashton Smith was never able to completely support himself through his artistic endeavors, and he frequently did manual labor around his hometown of Auburn, California.

Smith’s fiction is not for the week of vocabulary.  He wrote several story cycles that take place in exotic imaginary lands in prehistory or on other planets.  Smith’s Collected Fantasies is back in print in paperback and electronic editions.  (Click the individual titles for links to electronic versions.)

Honoring David Drake

Onward DrakeOnward, Drake!
Mark L. van Name, ed.
Baen Books
Hardcover, $25
ebook $9.99

There’s been a long tradition in the field of honoring outstanding authors with an anthology.  Sometimes the anthology comes after they’ve passed on, but usually the anthology is published while the authors are still with us.  Such is the case with David Drake.  He’s a giant whose works have changed the genre, and for the better I might add.  It’s good to see this tribute to him, especially as he’s still with us to appreciate it.

Onward, Drake! contains both original fiction as well as essays in honor of Drake.  There’s a pretty wide range of stuff here.  Although David Drake built his reputation with his military science fiction, particularly the Hammer’s Slammers series, he’s written in a wide variety of subgenres:  epic fantasy, dark fantasy and horror, space opera, and humor.  As if that weren’t enough, he’s also been an editor and historian of the field with a great appreciation of the pulp writers.  I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything I’ve read by him

The highlights of the anthology are two new stories by Drake himself.  Continue reading

“Philtered Power” by Malcolm Jameson

Unknown March 1940“Philtered Power”
Malcolm Jameson
First published in Unknown, March 1940
Available free in Amazing Future Tales From the Past, Vol. 5

As a follow up from yesterday’s post about the Retro-Hugos, here’s a look at one of the stories that’s eligible.  It’s a fun fantasy romp about the misuse of a potion, one that’s misused with the best of intentions.  There will be spoilers, just in case you care.

Afterwards I’ll have a few things to say about Malcom Jameson, whose career was tragically cut short by cancer. Continue reading

Some Thoughts on the Retro-Hugos

No, I’m not going to talk about the Hugo Awards and all the drama associated with them in recent years.  I want to address a particular category that was introduced in the 1990s and has been on the ballot sporadically since then.

A bit of background first.  The Hugo Awards were named Hugo Gernsback, who was the editor of the first pulp devoted solely to science fiction, Amazing Stories.  The Hugos were first presented at the 1953 Worldcon.  There were none awarded in 1954, but they have been awarded annually every year since 1955.

In the mid-1990s, the Retroactive Hugos, commonly referred to as the Retro-Hugos were added to the list of categories which may be considered for an award.  They can be given 50, 75, or 100 years after a Worldcon in which no Hugos were awarded. These years are 1939-1941, 1946-1952, and 1954.  It is up the Worldcon of any given year as to whether a Retro-Hugo will be awarded.  They have been given in 1996 (1946), 2001 (1951), 2004 (1954), and 2014 (1939).  They will be given this year for 1941, meaning that stories published in 1940 are eligible.

I see both positive and negative aspects of this.   Continue reading

Blogging Brackett: “Shannach – the Last”

Planet Stories - November 1952“Shannach – the Last”
Originally published in Planet Stories, Nov. 1952

Another longer work, this time set on Mercury.  Brackett’s Mercury is a twilight world of valleys surrounded by mountains that pierce the shallow atmosphere.  From what I understand, life only exits in valley’s along a twilight zone along the terminator.  Since this story refers to the Sun rising and setting, either I’m missing something or there’s a slight wobble in the planet’s orbit which creates the day and night effect.

None of which stopped me from enjoying this adventure tale.  Trevor is a prospector whose ship has crashed.  There’s no life in the valley where he crashes, and he can’t get over the mountains because he doesn’t have a pressure suit.  (Don’t ask me why.)

He’s trying to find a way to another valley through a system of caves when he is swept away by an underground river.  He ends up in a large valley with a city in the distance.  And that’s when his troubles really start. Continue reading