Saturday, March 14, 2009


By Robert E. Howard

This is the one and only true collection of Robert E. Howard’s “spicy” tales. Spices were risqué stories of the pulp era. They would generally fall into some recognizable genre, adventure, detective, zeppelin, etc. but with some semi-explicit sex.

The stories in this set oscillate between jolly ribaldry and sadistic cruelty. I’d recommend against reading too much into the latter. There was a strong tendency in the pulps to demand more sexually-oriented cruelty. After WWII the men’s adventure pulps became more-or-less entirely devoted to tales of torture practiced on helpless females by Nazis, Commies, hoodlums and horny rhinoceroses (Weasels Ripped my Flesh!). REH simply diagnosed the trend early. Though not averse to making a buck off of it (bucks not being easy to come by in the Great Depression) REH did write his spicies pseudonymously.

Once you can take a step back from the political incorrectness of the whole, one can read these tales for what they are: ludicrously over-the-top stories written in a not-so-innocent era before celebrity sex tapes and internet porn.

-Dave Hardy

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