First, why Conan and the Emerald Lotus is my favorite Conan pastiche, with the possible exception of Conan and the Living Plague.
Second, an overview of the better Conan pastiches, filtered through my own sensibilities.
From time to time I talk about world building on this site. I think any writer has to give an awful lot of thought to world building, i.e. presenting a setting that’s not just consistent and logical but interesting.
One of the reasons role-playing game setting books appeal to me so much is that a good one just drips with ideas, and can be chock full of world building inspiration both for writers and gamers. I’ve discussed other great settings, but I’m overdue discussing the Hex Crawl Chronicles written by John Stater.
Howard: While I understand it’s a different kind of story for Conan, and that it’s interesting to look at through the lens of understanding how Howard’s writing developed, I’m evaluating each of these tales with a fairly simple agenda foremost: Do I enjoy them as stories, and do they achieve what they’re designed to do?
I learned some more cool news yesterday — my first two Pathfinder novels, Plague of Shadows and Stalking the Beast, are now available on Kindle. I’m assuming that my new one will be as well, when it’s released in October.
Speaking of which, there are still twenty days left to enter the Goodreads contest for a chance to win a free copy of Beyond the Pool of Stars! Swashbuckling action! Hair-raising escapes! Lost jungle ruins! Lizardmen! A kickass female protagonist! What are you waiting for, eh?
Bill Ward and I are working our way through the Del Rey Conan collection The Coming of Conan. This week we’re discussing “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter.” We hope you’ll join in!
Howard: Those first two paragraphs are so well written I had to stop and re-read them. Here, again, is proof of Robert E. Howard’s incredible descriptive powers. Some of that talent seems to have been innate with him, but I can’t help thinking he’s even better than he could have been because he spent so much time working with poetry, where every word counts even more than in prose. Well, actually, every word in prose should count, but too often prose writers don’t write that way. Howard at his finest always remembers this.
Ringo continues to get a bad rap as a drummer. The idea is that he’s just a lovable, average lunkhead thrown in with three geniuses and that anyone could have filled those shoes, but that just doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. If you listen to Beatles tracks and focus in on the percussion, you can hear how Ringo gives every single song a distinctive sound, so much so that if you were able to tune down the rest of the band you could identify a Beatles track just by what Ringo’s doing.
Howard: Look at the story’s opening quote. That’s practically the gold standard of quotes from imaginary historical sources. That fabulous “Know, O Prince” and all that follows has been imitated but rarely, if ever, equalled. This, fellow fantasy fans, is the way it’s done. Admittedly, there are a few phrases in the middle of the paragraph that are less inspired. I’m looking at “Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem.” Most of the rest of the quote paints lovely word pictures, but those phrases don’t remotely approach the poetic majesty of the rest — what does Zingara look like? What does Koth look like? But the rest is lovely, and the quality picks right back up with “dreaming west” and powers on to that fantastic finish, “Hither came Conan…”
GenCon attendees Wednesday night might have seen me sporting my favorite t-shirt. It’s also my first born’s favorite t-shirt, and seeing as how he’s somehow gotten as tall as me, I turn it over to him sometimes for special occasions.
Anyway, said first-born spotted a pretty cool pic of someone holding said t-shirt the other day, and I thought I’d share it with you.
I’m not quite done with my GenCon wrap-up article I thought I’d be posting today. Fiction writing is going great, although I’m still suffering from some sleep deprivation due to the con. I just didn’t sleep well at the convention, despite not being up TOO late. At least, though, I didn’t come home sick like a lot of my friends and colleagues. A lot of times conventions end up as breeding grounds for illnesses and I usually work to stay hydrated. I guess that did the trick.