After much deliberation, I finally settled on Suldrun’s Garden as my next read. I haven’t read a full fantasy novel in over a year, so it will be nice to go back. The cover and the art that goes along with this is beautiful and I think I will enjoy the more magical fae type of magic over the manufactured “systems” preferred by so many fantasy writers today.
Robert E. Howard is the master of 1930s pulp action. One of my favorite writers. It was Conan that got me into Fantasy, and it was getting back into reading Conan that brought me back and excited about the Pulp Revolution happening right now.
But, I have to admit that I have not read very much of Howard’s non-Conan stories. So when I came across this beast for 4.99 in the Kindle store I picked it up. Holy shit it was awesome. When I get big ass short story collections I usually read a few in between novels, or I read one or two stories during my lunch breaks. Not this time. I read this collection all the way through.
This collection is massive, with 30 or so stories and a bunch of assorted poems. The stories span Howard’s entire career and are chock full of his usual badass action. You get everything from ghost haunted sailors, voodoo zombies, cursed rings, desert explorers, and weird western.
Howard’s characters are not your usual pansies that populate modern horror. No, these guys are tough motherfuckers that when presented with tentacled horrors from the stygian depths they go a killing with sword and pistol. In one of my favorite stories, The Horror from the Mound, when our cowboy protagonist accidentally digs up a 17th-century Spanish Vampire buried by Conquistadores who begins murdering the local Mexicans, he doesn’t run away. Hell no, he breaks its spine and sets the moldy motherfucker on fire.
One thing I want to mention that some of you readers might find sacrilegious. I think Howard writes Lovecraftian fiction better than Lovecraft. I like the idea of Lovecraftian more than I actually like Lovecraft’s writing. I find all his crap boring as all shit, filled with idiotic purple prose. Lovecraft’s characters are boring, unmemorable, wimps(I think Lovecraft was some loser recluse himself, either way he looked like Pongos owner in 101 Dalmatians,) who are usually professors or tourists. The whole “ohh muh god I saw something that made me go insanee.. soo horrible, much tentacle,” nonsense bores me to tears. Howard’s characters respond to the Lovecraftian shit by going “da fuck is that, ok deep breath, I have to kill it.”
My favorite stories in the collection are pieces well worth reading: Pigeons From Hell, a scary haunted house story featuring voodoo, slaves, and southern plantations, Black Cannan about a bunch of racists and a black revolt involving some terrifying swamp creatures, The Fire of Asshurbanipal where two treasure hunters end up in a haunted desert city, and one that really did it for me, Out of the Deep, where the washed ashore body of a sailor is really a fucked up sea creature.
Of course, like in all huge collections, some of the stories aren’t my kind of beer. There were a few stories, and this is a theme both Howard and Lovecraft share, focusing on some de-evolved proto-humans living beneath the earth. Not a huge fan of the whole racial memory, obsession with miscegenation these guys had, and the stories were mostly dudes going down into holes where indescribable shit was going on. Worth reading but not my favorite. Give me the voodoo zombie vampires.
So yeah, drop the 5 bucks and pick this collection up. If you like short stories, pulp fiction, and Conan, this one will not disappoint. I think my next Howard read will focus on Solomon Kane.
Addendum to the post: I hope much more knowledgeable pulp readers correct me if I am wrong. It seems that Howard is not only the father of Sword and Sorcery but also the Weird Western. The story I mention above, The Horror from the Mound, about a cowboy digging up a vampire on the Texas frontier, was written in 1932. My google-fu indicates that this is the first story mixing a realistic wild west setting with the supernatural in a modern fashion.
Eric is one of my favorite guys blogging and writing Fantasy right now. He’s a starting author with a lot of the same tastes as me and going for the same Indy aesthetic that I am going for. He put out a 99 cent short story that I picked up and enjoyed. Go ahead and pick it up yourself, read it, enjoy, and continue to support independent writers.
“If you’re a fan of short fiction, be it fantasy short stories or episodic fiction, I am excited to say that my new story Forsaken is available today on Amazon. Forsaken is the first tale in The Exiled Crown series, a short fiction series I have several future stories planned for. I hope you’ll give Forsaken a try and I […]
Last night we got back from Taiwan. Reunited with our beast Quinn and passed out. The trip was fantastic. Taipei is an excellent city, filled with so much stuff to see and do. I wish we had more time.
Taipei has to be one of the coolest places I have ever visited. It has this great feel of Japan and China combined, with a dash of Los Angeles. Great public transportation, clean streets, and very friendly people.
We tried to explore as much as possible in the three full days we had. On our first day, we walked over 20 miles, just wandering through the city, taking in sights, stopping for beers. At night we hit one of the famous night markets where Judy ate the famous stinky tofu.
On day two, we went up to the hills above the city and hiked through tea farms. We ended being escorted around by a stray dog that followed us the whole time, showing us where the trail was.
On day three we went East to the old town of Jiufen. It’s this old village built on the side of the hills overlooking the Ocean. Tea houses, street markets, and food stands, all lining narrow streets. Supposedly it was the inspiration for Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, but he denies it. I see the resemblance. The highlight of this area was drinking tea at a famous teahouse that used to be a hub for artists and writers.
It was a fantastic trip. I ate a bunch, drank booze, smoked cigarettes, listened to some great music, and got to experience a taste of a great country.
Today I unpacked, ate some Japanese Denny’s, and tidied up the house a bit. Now I’m sitting here catching up on blogs. Tonight I might go out for a few drinks, being that I am still on vacation.
Judy used her nice camera and she took a bunch of excellent pictures. Much cooler than my cell phone pics. I’ll share those when she gets them edited.
In a few hours, the Judy and I will be hopping on a Vanilla Air flight from Tokyo to Taipei. I’m pretty excited. Exploring new places is one of my favorite things to do.
The best thing about this trip is that we are going from Japan to Taiwan. Living in Japan is already an exciting adventure. Japan is a country that, while modern and a 1st world, is vastly different than Southern California where we came from. So on this trip, we will be contrasting two places foreign to us. Now I know that the differences between Taipei and Tokyo aren’t that vast. Nothing like going from Japan to Malaysia or Cambodia. But I will keep an eye out for the little cultural differences that I find interesting.
One of my favorite things about traveling is that it allows me to absorb images and scenes that I can draw on for my writing. Yes, doing research using the internet and books is valuable. But, nothing matches the first-hand experience of actually seeing wild jungles and ancient temples.
Alright, I’m off. I’m going to try to post a few pictures when I get there.
So after a long burst of non-stop work, I am finally on vacation. Tomorrow Judy and I will go on our first vacation since moving to Japan. We will be flying to Taiwan, where we will be doing a bunch of exploring, a bunch of drinking, and lots and lots of eating.
Besides being excited about our upcoming trip. I’m feeling good because these last few days I managed to actually sit down and write a lot. I finished and edited a great Pulp Fiction story that I’m really proud of. It has jungles, muskets, powdered wigs, shapeshifters, and sorceresses. I also started the outline for my next story. I’m really aiming for a lot of writing this year.
We also managed to get to our local Chinatown for a few drinks, a bit of the Lunar Festival, and some exploring. Check out that crazy cat building. I don’t want to know what horrors go on inside.
I’m a huge fan of short stories, huge fan of short story magazines, and a huge fan of pulp fantasy. So out of all the awesome things I came across last year Cirsova magazine was towards the top of my list. Hands down my favorite short story magazine out there.
So, when given the chance I backed the 2017 edition on Kickstarter for ONE freeking dollar. One dollar gets you two digital issues and helps the indy magazine fund next year. So if you support indy writing, pulp fiction support the kickstarter by throwing at least one dollar and also go grab yourself a back issue on amazon. You won’t be dissapointed.
The Pulp Revolution and the focus on Appendix N fiction are to me the most exciting thing out in SF&F right now. It has greatly influenced my current writing by inspiring me to go back and apply the same adventure and excitement from my childhood imagination to new and modern themes.
The “Pulp Revolution” seems to be met with confusion, misunderstanding, and conflation when those unfamiliar with what is going on first catch wind of it. As such, I wanted to try to def…