Category Archives: birthday

Frank Frazetta at 90

Frank Frazetta would have turned 90 today (February 9) if he were still alive.

It’s hard to know what to write for this post. Frazetta’s stature in the fields of fantasy art and comics cannot be overstated. His work has graced the covers of some of the most fundamental titles in the canon. (I’ll probably get hate mail for even suggesting there’s such a thing as a canon.)

It was Frazetta’s covers to the Lancer (later the Ace) paperback reprints of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories that helped to put that character on the map.

And then there were the Burrough’s covers. And Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane. And…You get the idea.

Frazetta casts a long shadow, and that’s a good thing. He brought a vitality to fantasy art that  had been lacking. I was fortunate to see some of his originals on exhibit a couple of years ago.

It’s been less than a decade since we lost him. He’s still missed. Raise a glass tonight in his honor.

An Observation of Lloyd Alexander’s Birthday

Lloyd Alexander was born on this date, January 30, in 1924 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the author of a number of books, mostly for younger readers.  He is best known for The Prydain Chronicles.  The final volume, The High King, won the Newberry Medal in 1969. The Newberry is given for outstanding works of children’s literature.

I read part of The High King when I was a kid, but I didn’t know at the time that the book was the final book in a series.  We’d just moved to Fort Worth, and I was reading through the Newberry winners at the public library. Since The High King had a Newberry sticker on it, I picked it up. I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on in the book and never finished.

A number of years ago, the SFBC published an omnibus edition of The Prydain Chronicles. I bought a copy, but I never got around to reading it.  Has anyone read it, and if so, what did you think of it?

Update: Fletcher Vredenburgh has posted cover art for three different editions of The Prydain Chronicles. Check it out.

Rereading C. L. Moore

Catherine Lucille (C. L.) Moore was born today (January 24) in 1911. These days she’s remembered for one of three things. Creator of Northwest Smith. Creator of Jirel of Joiry. Wife and writing partner of Henry Kuttner and coauthor of some of the greatest science fiction and fantasy classics of the 1940s.

All of which are achievements which should be acknowledged. Moore was one of the best stylists of her era and a true trailblazer.  But she also wrote quite a bit of fiction that was her solo work that wasn’t Northwest Smith or Jirel but in many cases was just as good.

Much of this short fiction is collected in Judgment Night or The Best of C. L. Moore. I’m going to be dipping back into those volumes as it’s been years and in some cases decades since I read some of those stories. Outside of a small circle of pulp fans, she’s not that well known, and I aim to change that as much as I can.

But first I’m going to read some C. L. Moore that I’ve not read at all. Ten years ago a collection entitled Miracle in Three Dimensions was published.  I’ll talk further about this book in future posts. The thing about the book that makes it stand out is it contains five stories that have never appeared in one of Moore’s collections (although three of them have been anthologized), one of which has never been published before its appearance in this book if the ISFDB is correct. Continue reading

Robert E. Howard’s Birthday, 2018

As far as I know, there aren’t any Howard Anniversaries this year. If there are, they’ve slipped my mind. I usually read something by an author whose birthday I’m posting about. The problem is all the Howard stories I want to read or reread are too long given the time available. I’d still be reading them on C. L. Moore’s birthday (two days after Howard’s).

Instead, I’m going to do something a little different.

Howard was born on January 22, 1906. One hundred twelve years ago. The world has changed a lot since then. Continue reading

Poe’s Birthday

Edgar Allan Poe was born on this date (January 19) in 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts.

I doubt anyone reading this blog intentionally, as opposed to stumbling across it, needs an explanation of who he was and the influence he still has. He casts one of the longest shadows over the field of dark literature.

I’ll read something by him in a little while.  I haven’t decided what yet. But I thought I would ask, what’s your favorite story by Edgar Allan Poe? Or poem for that matter?

Clark Ashton Smith at 125

Clark Ashton Smith was born on January 13 in 1893. He was one of the greatest fantasists of the Weird Tales era on indeed any era. Writing contemporaneously with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft, Smith was considered one of the big three of what many consider to be the golden age of Weird Tales.

Unfortunately, he has not fared as well as those two in the years since he died.  (Smith died in 1961, but he had stopped writing fiction years before.)  He is still revered among fans of weird fiction, but he is not as well known among the general public. This is highly unfortunate.

There are probably several reasons contributing to this relative obscurity compared to his two contemporaries named above.  For one thing, he never had any series characters, such as Howard did, with Conan being the most well known. Much of Lovecraft’s work was set in what has become known as the Cthulhu Mythos, uniting a variety of stories against a common background with common elements.  Smith wrote multiple tales set in a number of story cycles, but for the most part these works shared a setting with no recurring characters and no mythos to link them.

Smith’s style is probably the biggest obstacle a modern reader needs to overcome. He started out as a poet, and with its lush prose, his work reflects that. Smith knew his way around a dictionary and wasn’t afraid to use it. While this might be off-putting and not in line with contemporary trends, I personally find it a good thing. While reading Smith might involve some mental work, and not something to be attempted at bedtime if you’re tired, I have always found reading Smith to be rewarding. Continue reading

Birthday Musings: Why We Need More Men Like J. R. R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on this date (January 3) in 1892 in what is now South Africa. He needs to introduction here.

For this birthday observance, I’m going to use the quote on the left as my jumping off point. I’ve subtitled this post “Why We Need More Men Like J. R. R. Tolkien”.  That’s not just clickbait.

Tolkien wrote one of the most influential works of literature, one that resonates with people and is still popular nearly half a century after his death.  I want to briefly examine why that is. Continue reading

A Birthday for Beaumont

Charles Beaumont

Charles Beaumont was born on this date (January 2) in 1920.  If you watched The Twilight Zone marathon on the SyFy Channel over the weekend, you probably saw one or two episodes that he wrote. His birthday is often overlooked since he shares it with a more famous author, Isaac Asimov.

Beaumont died way too young in 1967, but he left a mark of the field of the fantastic that still lingers today if you know where to look and what to look for.  And not just because he wrote some of the best remembered episodes of The Twilight Zone, either. Continue reading

A Leigh Brackett Renaissance?

Leigh Brackett, circa 1930

Today is Leigh Brackett’s birthday.  She was born December 7, 1915 in California.  I posted yesterday that I would try to get a review of her novel Alpha Centauri or Die.  Obviously that didn’t happen, although I did get all my exams written.  That review will go up next week after the smoke from the semester clears and all the tears have dried.

What’s that, you say?  You don’t know who Leigh Brackett is?  Well, Pilgrim, you’ve come to the right place.  (You are a pilgrim, right, searching for pulp enlightenment?) Continue reading

L. Sprague de Camp at 110

Lyman Sprague de Camp was born on November 27, 1907.  He passed away in 2000.  I hadn’t intended to do another birthday post so soon after the ones earlier this week, but when I saw today was de Camp’s birthday, I couldn’t pass it up.  L. Sprague de Camp had one of the longest careers in the field (over 60 years) and worked as both author and editor.  He was a major player in the history of Robert E. Howard.

We’ll talk about de Camp and Howard in a bit.  First, I want to look at de Camp as a writer independent of Howard.  Among Howard fans, that work tends to be overlooked. Continue reading