Perilous Momentum

An Iconic Frank Frazetta painting of Conan.

At long last the official web page of the new book imprint I work for has launched, although it’s more of a starter page. There are ambitious plans afoot for what the web site will contain. You can see the beginnings of it here, and if you click around you’ll find a brilliant essay by the brilliant Bill Ward. He’s written a number of essays for the site, and so has the equally brilliant Ryan Harvey, but in its primal form the web site is only showing a few pieces. Nor does it permit comments on the article page, but it will eventually.

You can also see an excerpt from John Chris Hocking’s second Conan novel, Conan and the Living Plague.

While many with the imprint are in Frankfurt this week, I’m editing some more Conan work. And I’m also revisiting some Conan pastiche. I’d never read Conan and the Grim Grey God by Sean Moore all the way through, and you know what, it’s pretty good. I don’t think he quite got some of the feel right, but he comes really, really close. This one of his is definitely going on my best of pastiche list. If the poor fellow hadn’t died so young I’d definitely be pushing to reach out to him for more work.



8 Comments on “Perilous Momentum

  1. I’m pretty pumped about these future Conan projects, and I’m glad that Hocking’s Living Plague will see publication; what I’ve read thus far is excellent. I also got the impression that other REH creations will be featured in various novels, like Belit and Shevatas. Any chance there will be further tales of Bran Mak Morn, El Borak, Cormac Fitzgeoffrey or Cormac Mac Art? Also, I’d love to see the saga of Esau Cairn continued, and there must be more lives of James Allison that need telling…

  2. Hey Troy — sure, send it my way!

    Stan, it’s just a really good book, no question about it. I’m delighted to see it going into print at last.

    I’m not yet sure what the future will hold, because the imprint is still so very new. But it is my sincere hope that only the finest writers with a strong sense of the characters, the world, and the style of REH, are allowed anywhere near his work. It may take us a while to find those people. It’s not just that future writers have to be talented. They have to UNDERSTAND the original work at a very deep level! Some previous writers loved Conan, but just didn’t seem to really understand the character, judging by the resulting work…

    • You hit the nail on the head Howard. Understanding the character. In my somewhat limited exposure to current fantasy/adventure/historical writers, Scott Oden is the first one who jumps into my mind. Of course,Mr Hocking is a no brainer, and Stackpole did wonderful work with the novelization of the disappointing Conan 2011 movie. I understand Ramsey Campbell did a pretty good job of the Solomon Kane movie novelization, not sure if he would be an option. I think David C Smith would be a great contributor, and he’s familiar with the material. Possibly Keith Taylor, a fantastic writer of historical S&S; his Bard tales are truly excellent. I wonder if Charles Saunders would be interested, he’s a living legend in Sword and Soul circles…
      Man, the list is endless, but the same question remains. Can they capture the essence of the character? REH, at his best, was lightning in a bottle. Tough act to follow.

  3. Good morning Howard,

    Just seeing this, but it is exciting news. I’ve been wanting to read Hocking’s second Conan novel since I first heard mention of it, years ago. Any idea on a release date? I went over and kicked the tires on the new site, and am looking forward to seeing how it develops, but while I saw some details on the new book, did not see a date mentioned.

    Congratulations to you and the new imprint. From the site’s About Us, it sounds like there are a great many wonderful things to come. With you onboard, I have no doubt that they will.

    Best Regards,

    • Hi Jason,

      There should be more tires to kick very soon, and possibly a release date…

      Thanks for your kind words and good wishes. I really appreciate them. We sure do mean to deliver strong fiction.

  4. Morning all,

    I read the Emerald Lotus a couple of weeks ago. It had been on my bookshelf for some time and with all the enthusiastic comments about its author, I thought it was about time to read it.
    By the nine hells of Erlik it’s bad. Very, very bad. It’s actually the first pastiche I found hard to finish.

    The storyline is same old, same old (an evil sorcerer thirsty for power, a plot REH rarely used), action scenes are boring, Conan is unrecognisable (knocked out twice in 40 pages!!!), he actually does not even appear in many chapters…

    • I saw your earlier post, and I’ll repeat my earlier reply, with a few further expansions. Elsewhere you’ve said that you’re not a native English speaker, and I can’t help thinking that this may have something to do with what may be a different way that you’re evaluating the pastiche. Depending upon your comfort level with the language, if each story translates only as a series of actions rather than any kind of word poetry I suppose that would make some of the pastiche more palatable.

      But even considering THAT, I’m astonished that THIS book is the first pastiche you found hard to finish. So many, many others portray a Conan that doesn’t sound or act like him. So many, many others portray a Hyborian world that doesn’t feel much like anything Robert E. Howard wrote about. THIS was the first pastiche Conan I ever read where I sat up and took notice and appreciated not just the story, but the deep knowledge of the world, the depiction of Conan, and the writing SKILL of the author.

      Conan acts like Conan, which puts it head and shoulders above almost all other pastiche. The author is clearly familiar with the world, setting, and feel of Robert E. Howard’s world and characters, and that is conveyed through the prose. The prose is clear, clean, and evocative, which also raises it several notches. The plot makes sense and has proper rising and falling action, with a great deal of forward momentum, which may sound like simple good writing but is, again, absent from a great deal of pastiche.

      Conan doesn’t appear in every scene in the original stories and is sometimes absent as we learn about other characters. And sometimes he’s defeated before he triumphs. I didn’t see that aspect of this novel as any kind of detraction. As to the plot, if you reduce any plot to its barest essentials, it can sound very similar to another.

      As to your criticism that it’s the “same old, same old” this is the FIRST Hocking Conan story, so he’s not repeating his own themes, and by your own admission it’s a plot REH himself rarely used.

      In this text Conan is super competent. Yes, he’s defeated early on in minor ways. But Conan is knocked out and captured in the prose of REH sometimes.

      In my opinion this one has well earned its reputation. I’m a bit befuddled that you don’t like it, but everyone’s entitled to an opinion. That you find it among the WORST has me utterly baffled, but to each his own.

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