Category Archives: Lin Carter

New BAF Post on The Young Magicians

Young MagiciansI’ve got a new BAF post up at Black Gate.

This one is on The Young Magicians, the second anthology of the series that Lin Carter edited.  It’s a companion to Dragons, Elves, and Heroes.  This one starts at William Morris and continues up to what was then the present day (1969).  Included are selections by Lovecraft, Smith, Howard, Kuttner, Merritt. and de Camp, as well as Lin Carter himself.

Has it Really Been That Long Since I Posted?

I guess it has.  Time flies, whether you’re having fun or not.  The Fourth was laid back.  My wife took a few days off from work to visit her parents, and my son went with her.  Since I had classes starting while she was gone, I stayed here and had the house to myself, just me and the dogs.

Things have been hectic at work.  Classes started on Tuesday, and I still had seven teaching assistant slots to fill before labs started on Wednesday.  That number went up before it went down, but all the positions are filled and all the labs are covered.  I’ve got a good group of students in the course I’m teaching.  Summer students tend to be of higher quality than the general student population, and that seems to be particularly true about this bunch.  My class is every day from 8:00 to 9:50 in the morning, and they’ve done a great job of showing up on time and awake.  I wonder if the quiz I started class with on Wednesday had anything to do with it….

Age of IronAnyway, I’ve been a bit distracted, but I’m working on some things.  I’m reading Age of Iron by Angus Watson, which is up for a Gemmell Morningstar Award.  I’ve not gotten far, so I’m reserving any comments for the review.  I’m also reading for my next BAF post at Black Gate.  This is the Lin Carter edited anthology The Young Magicians.  Now that I’ve made it through the James Branch Cabell story, I should make better progress on it.

So unless something happens, I’m probably not going to have much to post about until next week.

I Look at The Spawn of Cthulhu

Lovecraft Spawn Cthulhu frontMy latest post on the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series at Black Gate is up.  It’s over The Spawn of Chthulu, edited by Lin Carter.  Here’s the link to it.

This a collection of stories centered around Lovecraft’s “The Whisperer in Darkness”.  All of the stories that follow have some connection to Lovecraft’s tale.  I take a look at all of them.  If you’re into Lovecraft, check it out.

I’m Now Blogging for Black Gate

Beyond the Fields We KnowI mentioned this here recently, but now it’s official.  My first post for Black Gate went up this afternoon.  I’m looking at the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.  The first post was an overview, giving a little historical context and laying out what I’m going to be doing.  The following posts will be reviews of the individual titles in the series.  You can read my post here.

I’d like to thank John O’Neill for giving me the opportunity to blog for Black Gate, which is one of the top websites for fantasy.

I Look at the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series

bk_dream-quest_lovecraftI started to refer to this project as Sooper Seekrit Project Number 3, but it will go public too quickly to really have that title.  Number 1 was the Amazing Stories gig.  Number 2 has been put on hold indefinitely, and will thus remain secret for a while longer.

John ONeill asked me about a month or six weeks ago if I would consider doing some posts for Black Gate.  After a brief back and forth, this is what we settled on.  I said I would be glad to do it, but it would have to wait until October was over.  He agreed.


Lin Carter

So here’s the deal.  I’m going to be reviewing the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series edited by Lin Carter.  The first post will be a brief overview of the series, placing it in its historical context.  Then I’ll start reviewing the books.  I’m going to take them in order of publication at first, but at some point I’ll start jumping around.  Some of the titles I find the most interesting were published later in the run.

KhaledFor those of you who might not be familiar with it, the Adult Fantasy Series was a series of books published by Ballantine Books in the late 1960s through the mid 1970s.  Edited by Lin Carter, the series included a number of works written in the 1800s or early 1900s, many of which had fallen into obscurity or were unfamiliar to American readers.  The books had gorgeous wraparound cover art and are highly collectible today.

I’m not going to be on a regular schedule, at least not for a while.  My intention is to get about one post a month done.  I’m still doing a weekly post for Amazing Stories, and that will continue through the end of the year.  Then I’m going to cut back.  Trying to review an independent work every week is starting to put more of a strain on my schedule than I want.

At the Edge fo the World

Blogging Kull: The Screaming Skull of Silence

Kull:  Exile of Atlantis
Robert E. Howard
Del Rey
trade paperback, $17.00, 317 p.

This is the first of four extremely short stories in the annals of Kull, or at least first in the order of arrangement in this volume.  This one is different from any of the Kull stories that have come before it. It was submitted to Weird Tales, but Farnsworth Wright obviously didn’t care for it since it wasn’t published until 1967 in the Lancer Books volume King Kull.

The tale opens with Kull listening to Brule, his chancellor Tu, Ka-nu the Pictish ambassador, and the slave and scholar Kathulos discussing philosophy (nothing new there).  Kathulos is saying that what we perceive as reality is an illusion.  To make his point, he gives an example of sound and silence, saying that sound is the absence of silence, while silence is the absence of sound.  Kathulos mentions that Raama, the greatest sorcerer who ever lived, thousands of years ago locked a primordial silence in a castle in order to save the universe.

When Brule mentions the castle is in Valusia and he’s seen it, the comment gets Kull’s attention.  He decides he wants to see the place.  Although the other try to dissuade him, he takes them and a hundred of the elite Red Slayers with him.  They find the castle on a hill after days of riding around looking for it.  How the kingdom continues to run or why Brule doesn’t remember the location of the castle is never explained.

As they approach the castle, Kull can sense waves of silence emanating from it.  The only door is sealed.  Next to the door is a gong, green in color and varying in its depths, sometimes seeming to be quite deep and at other times appearing shallow.  Despite the warnings carved on the castle, Kull breaks the bonds.

What rushes out is a palpable silence that knocks all but Kull to the ground.  The men are all screaming, but no sound proceeds from their mouths.  Sensing the silence wants to destroy all life, Kull tries to resist the silence but eventually staggers and falls.  As he does so, he strikes the gong.  Although he can’t hear it ring, Kull senses the silence draw back.  He takes the gong from its stand and begins to ring it, forcing the silence into the castle and eventually destroying it.  This is a pretty good trick since not even Raama was unable to destroy this silence.  The silence screams as it dies.

And that’s all there is to this one.  It has some unique points.  For starters, Kull finds his usual weapons, in this case his sword, useless against a malevolent silence.  He is forced to use his brains rather than his brawn.  For Kull that’s not too much of a stretch since he uses his brain on a regular basis.  It was nice to read that something other than a blade is needed every once in a while.

There’s nothing remarkable about the prose, at least by Howard’s standards.  It’s good, serviceable, and pulls the reader in.  It’s just not his best.  Even so, it’s still better than most of his imitators have done when they were hitting on all cylinders.

The appearance of Kathulos provided the right amount of philosophy needed as a framework to get the action moving.  Howard was reading a lot of philosophy during this period, as evidenced by his correspondence that has come down to us.  I may slow down this series of posts in order to research some of the philosophers who were influencing his work.  Or I might devote an entire post just to that.  We’ll see.  Time constraints will determine that.

This is the second and last story in which Kathulos will appear.  The sorcerer who manipulated him, Thulsa Doom, never appears again in the Kull stories, at least in none of the ones written by Howard.  (I’m not going to consider the comics here.)  For the Lancer Books edition of King Kull, Lin Carter “finished” an untitled draft, eliminated all references to Karon the Ferryman (!), had Felgar be Thulsa Doom in disguise, and called it “Riders Beyond the Sunrise”.  But the more we discuss Carter’s violations of Howard’s works, the more we legitimize them, so that’s the last we’ll  talk about Carter in this post.

Like I stated, this is one of the shortest of the Kull stories.  In some ways it’s one of the more interesting ones because of the nature of the villain Kull has to defeat.  It certainly adds variety to the series.