I became a Raymond Chandler fan only a few years ago because I’d seldom wandered beyond the genre walls I threw up for myself — historical fiction, history, fantasy, the occasional space opera or hard science fiction novel. As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, I fell for Chandler’s prose, so it was only natural that I explore his canon.
On my birthday last year my friend Brad gifted me with a copy of Chandler’s complete short stories. They include a slew of tales Chandler never wanted reprinted during his lifetime, perhaps because he wasn’t as fond of them, but more likely because he had cannibalized them in the construction of many of his Phillip Marlowe novels. It also includes a final Marlowe short story.
My thoughts? Well, first, there are some great short stories in here that any fan of mystery fiction might have heard of, like “Gold Fish” and “Red Wind.” If you don’t already own a Chandler short story collection that contains these tales — and some other strong ones as well — then this collection is a must have. But that other stuff? It varies. “The Pencil” is the last Marlowe story and it seems somehow faded and removed and tired. It has some of that famed polish, but it’s not written at the height of Chandler’s game and is probably only worth a look for completists. Read More
If you’re going to make a sweeping change with the stroke of a pen that can potentially affect millions of people, then you’d best have contemplated the ramifications of what you’re doing. You’d best understand the small details and not just intend to do right. If you’re changing a rule, directive, or law then you have to understand the whys and wherefores of that rule, directive or law before you make alterations.
But through a combination of arrogance and ignorance, our new president has generated a storm of misery, catching up people who loyally served our country’s military as translators, people who already have been thoroughly vetted and have green cards, people who are thoroughly vetted and have visas, and thousands and thousands of innocent children — and those are just the most obvious examples of his poorly wrought executive order.
I am appalled and enraged.
This site will never be devoted to political subjects. But this is not a political subject. This post is about a humanitarian disaster brought about by careless action.
So far I have no public appearances scheduled this year. But you may well see me in public with a sign until this nonsense is addressed. And God help us, given this president’s inability to admit wrongdoing and blindness to his own lack of understanding, this is probably only the start of things worth protesting. I’ll see you on the lines.
My friend Mick dropped me a line the other day asking for details on my new Pathfinder book, Through the Gate in the Sea. First off, I have to confess to me that it’s strange to think of it as “new” because I turned it over in 2015, and addressed some editorial feedback last summer. It’s felt over and done with for a while — except of course it’s never been released!
It’s the sequel to my third Pathinder novel, Beyond the Pool of Stars, which was my favorite of the Pathfinder novels published so far. I think I like this one at least as well, and there’s a new point-of-view character in it that I really enjoyed writing. Well, make that two, although one is new to the narrative.
If you liked what you saw in Beyond the Pool of Stars, with it’s Indiana Jones style search for missing treasure crossed with a Burroughsian jungle trek plus some pretty cool lizard folk characters, you’ll find more of it. I think the tension’s ratcheted up as our heroes track down clues to a lost city of Mirian’s lizard folk friend Jekka’s people, which may be fully inhabited. The problem is it lies through a mystical gate in the sea, and other people want to get there before them because of the sorcerous secrets that may lie behind.
Here’s the official descrip: Read More
What is best about Robert E. Howard’s writing? The driving headlong pace, the seemingly inexhaustible imagination, the splendid cinematic prose poetry, the never-say-die protagonists? It is hard to pick one thing, so it may be simpler to state that Robert E. Howard possessed profound and often astonishing storytelling gifts. Without drowning his readers in adjectives (he had the knack of using just enough adjectives or adverbs, and knew to let the verbs do the heavy lifting) or slowing pace, he brought his scenes to life. Vividly.
Writer Eric Knight may have most succinctly described this particular aspect of Howard’s power in an article on Solomon Kane:
“’Wings of the Night’ features a marathon running fight through ruin, countryside, and even air that only a team of computer animators with a sixty-million dollar budget and the latest rendering technology (or a single Texan from Cross Plains hammering the story out with worn typewriter ribbon) could bring properly to life.”
I don’t spend a lot of time talking about the Ballantine Fantasy series anymore, but it was a great introduction to the history of fantasy fiction, and I always enjoyed Lin Carter’s introductions. Thanks to these books I became much more familiar with the grandsires of most of what we’re reading today. Some were interesting in a historical way (as in — huh, so that’s where THAT idea came from), some were curiously different from what we’re reading today, and then a handful of authors crept onto my favorites list mostly due to this series, among them Lord Dunsany.
But this particular Ballantine anthology is a favorite of mine simply because it contains, so far as I know, the only printing of Lin Carter’s very best short story, “Zingazar.” He’s in full Dunsanyian mode, imitating, as he always seemed to do, someone else’s style. But THIS time he knocks it out of the park, riffing on Dunsany’s “The Sword of Welleran” to deliver what I happen to believe is a stronger tale than the master himself, a minor sword-and-sorcery masterpiece.
Morgan Holmes and I have imagined, for years, a “best of” Lin Carter collection that would get 1-2 of his good short novels and a grab bag of his best short stories. This would definitely be right in there. Heck, I like this one so much I contributed an essay about it into a Lin Carter critical studies book. Anyway, if you’ve got this book, read the tale.
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