My long overdue re-appearance on the F&S blog has finally come. At present I am reduced to a single laptop and use of an ISP that I think actually uses camels to deliver e-mail. It’s not a pretty picture, but I have to return to the fray.
First up: BLACK SAILS!
Straight from Sam & Josie Hawken of 1018 press comes a tome of tales of piracy and fantasy on the high seas. There are a whopping 16 yarns of sea-dogs, curses, salt, swords, and sorcery.
- "The Ghost Ship," by Charles Edward
- "The Death of Captain Eugene Bloodcake and the Fall of the Horrid Whore," by Joel A. Sutherland
- "Black Curse of the Noose," by David Hardy
- "The Breaking of Hell's Bones," by Christopher Heath
- "The Curse of the Dull Knife," by L. Roger Quilter
- "Sea of Cards," by Scott Almes
- "In the Lesser Southern Isles," by Cat Rambo
- "The Curse of Isla Cura," by George Mann
- "On the Old Dabreau," by Jens Rushing
- "The Siren's Lure," by Jordan Lapp
- "The Call of Kuazataml," by Jonathan Moeller
- "The Wandering Star," by Donna Taylor Burgess
- "His Mother's Son," by Michelle Klein
- "Black Mary's Curse," by Kim Despins
- "The Squall," by Steven Winkelstein
- "La Malédiction de Mort," by Juleigh Howard-Hobson
My own contribution “Black Curse of the Noose” is my first proper horror story. Not that it is without bloodshed and battle, however the focus is on the anti-hero’s peculiar sense of what is and is not a fitting way to die. It’s definitely the most savage tale I’ve written to date. I haven’t yet got my contributor’s copy (I am pretty much holding my breath, I’m so excited!). I’m looking forward to some classy entries by Christopher Heath, Jordan Lapp, and Joel A. Sutherland (he wins for coolest title).
You can order it today by going to http://www.lulu.com/content/883546.
REH DAYS 2007
The annual pilgrimage to Cross Plains for Robert E. Howard Days passed off well. There was much merriment, much blowhardery, and much eating of catfish. And, despite being a gathering of REH fans, no one had a fist-fight, nor died of heart-attack, heat-stroke, nor alcohol poisoning.
We set out on Thursday with the intent of meeting the crew at Enchanted Rock. This is a great dome of rock thrusting up from the Texas Hill country. It has served as the inspiration for Cimmeria, the home of Robert E. Howard’s Conan, as well as Lost Knob, the site of a tragic staff picnic in James Hynes Kings of Infinite Space. I made a point to wear my “Hello, my name is: BOY G” nametag.
Anyway the plan was guys in Cross Plains would drive south to Ft. McKavett and then to Enchanted Rock State Park. We stopped in Frederickburg for a visit to Dooley’s 5& Dime store. It’s part fly-in-amber, part tourist kitsch. The place is way cool and missus finds crazy bargains on hairnets, white gloves, and handkerchiefs. I like the straw hats and the young ‘un likes the toys.
We rolled from there to Enchanted Rock, arriving at 2:45. Given the late time and the uncertainty that we’d actually meet up with the Howardheads (I am the last man in N. America w/out a cell phone), we paused in the parking lot, took a good look and headed north. I’d already made reservations for my room twice (don’t ask) and was frankly a bit antsy. More so since this was a new route for me.
As it turned out, we made good time. Route 16 and 190 skirt Loyal Valley, the epicenter of the Mason County feud that raged in the 1870s. It was a battle between mostly German-Texan ranchers and Anglo-Texans. Bitterness from the Civil War era lynchings, rustling, and some plain, old-fashioned gangsterism contributed to a violent conflict. Passing down 190 I saw places that still bore the family names of prominent feudists. The past often stays close in small towns. We made Cross Plains safely and got our room, which I may add did not seem to have mice.
Friday began my days of panel-going and presentations. At the high school library, fans were treated to a talk by Greg Manchess on his artwork for the third Wandering Star/Del Rey volume of Conan tales. Like Gianni, he’s influenced by the Brandywine artists. I quite like his work, though I’ve a pet peeve about curved swords. Manchess’s vision of Conan manages to have the savagery of Frazetta, with the lushness of Wyeth. A nice combo. He also showed us work from a forthcoming children’s book on Magellan. Manchess’s historical art is truly stellar.
Next I sat in on Duece Richardson’s talk on the geography and history of Kull’s Valusia. Suffice to say it’s a complex subject, but Howard left us some rather good clues as to who lived next to what, and feuded with whom else. Duece had some interesting ideas about how the often conflicting visions of Atlantis, Mu, and Lemuria could have fit together in Howard’s work.
I also got to meet Norris Chambers. Whenhe was a youngster his father worked with Dr. Howard, and Norris knew Bob as a boy. I can’t wait to see what all will come of Leo Grin’s interview with Mr. Chambers.
Dinner involved lots of catfish (my favorite) and more slides from Greg Manchess. I spent quite a bit of time outside playing with my young’un (she’s not much for sitting still and quiet, especially when she’s got Indy Bill Cavalier to make her giggle). The missus got to see the slide show and seconded my opinion on Manchess’s Magellanic manifestations.
On Saturday, I held forth at the library on “Desert Adventurers”, REH’s various American gunslingers who hang out in Afghanistan, the Arabian Peninsula, and other parts of the Wild East. I brought along some scans of artwork that had appeared in Top Notch when the El Borak and Kirby O’Donnell tales first appeared back in 1934/35. No one fell asleep and the audience even laughed out loud at a few points.
I spent a good of the afternoon visiting the Barbarian Days festival. I always enjoy chatting with the guy that brings his Ferret armored car every year. The young’un liked looking at the old autos. She took it in stride when I told here how they started cars with a crank instead of a key. If I’d have let her I think she’d have climbed in and tried to drive one away.
At Caddo Peak in the evening, I climbed the peak with the young’un at my side. She made it all the way under her own power. Not bad for a 5-year old. After a third straight evening of carousing at the pavilion, I crashed for some blissful sleep.
On the morrow, we rose and had a last fling at Jean’s Feedbarn (that and the Staghorn are two of the best little eateries in Texas). I chatted with Don Gosnell, the Cross Plains policeman, about Howard Days, oddball crimes, and little towns to visit. He told me that the catfish came from Cook’s Fish Barn outside of Rising Star. We drove back by way of Rising Star and stopped off in a local thrift store that is a resource center for families in crisis: Women's Christian Ministry Resource Center. We chatted with Iris Ratliff, who runs the place about her work. She’s a very nice lady working in a very good cause.
The run home was uneventful. My ninth straight REH Days was over. I’m putting together my priorities from old projects and new ones and counting the days for number ten.