Saturday, 24 January 2015

Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams

... Interesting choice of cover illustration.

Since it's C.L. Moore's birthday, I thought I'd talk a wee bit about Jirel.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Literary Afterlives

See, Howard just got pirates. None of this "arrrr matey" theatricality: just a surly, burly man slouching with a sword.

22nd of January, another in a month with a disproportionate amount of memorials to death authors who've shaped my imagination. Tolkien, Smith, Lovecraft... Howard.

Even before I knew Howard's work, he was always there. He was in my genes, as my parents and grandparents read his work - and the work of those which informed his writings, like Conan Doyle, Burroughs, Haggard - so if nothing else, it's keeping in the family. During the long spell between when I read Almuric and my rediscovery of Howard through Conan, he still managed to be there, that liminal figure on the boundaries of my imagination. Howard's ideas and thoughts echoed throughout the stories I enjoyed even without my realising it: many of the things I liked were mirrored in Howard's work.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Hobbit: The Official Movie Of The Game

What do you mean, you don't remember the bit in the book where Bard steers a rickety wagon down a street, over his children, and crashes into a troll?
It might surprise you to learn that I actually enjoyed The Hobbit: The Official Movie of the Game, and quite a great deal, too. After so many years, I've finally found my zone when it comes to them: I treat them much as I'd treat any ridiculous over-the-top blockbuster, which is to say, poke fun mercilessly and complain about how it wasn't like the books. I don't see why that should be such a controversial option, it's the internet, after all.

Because I need closure, a series of vignettes from that game's final session. And boy, does this film feel less like an adaptation and more like an RPG gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The King's Mitramas Message

 Art by Gigi.

After his Accession on the Day of the Lion in the Year of the Elk, The King issued his first Mitramas Message from his balcony at Tamar. In his message, he paid tribute to his supporters, and asked people to remember him at the time of his official Coronation the following year.

Each Yuluk, at this time, the King of Aquilonia spoke to his people from this grand balcony. Today, by your will and consent, I am doing this to you, who are now my people.

I was born in Cimmeria, the son of a blacksmith with no royal blood. In many ways, I was no different to the rude savages who founded the ruling dynasties of this kingdom so many thousands of years ago, they who founded this land on iron and sinew. My predecessor and his kin could trace their lineage for a thousand years, but they showed precious little kingly aptitude in government. By Crom, I may have no royal blood, but it is as red as anyone's from the painted nobles of Pellia to the lowliest beggar of Shamar, and none have spilt their blood as freely for this nation as I!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Palaeontology Weeps in a Jurassic World

It's been... jings, over four months!?! As many of you will know, I've been very preoccupied over the last few months, but with that over, I'm getting back to normal - if you can call it "normal."

Since I was talking about dinosaurs, I feel like I should make a few comments about the Jurassic World trailer, especially after my typically far-too-detailed analysis.

Of course, you cannot trust a trailer to always give an accurate representation of a film, yet at the same time, I'm not sure what I think.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Dinosaurs of Jurassic World

Taking a brief break from work on my various projects to do a wee post. What about, what about...



Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Robert E. Howard in Scots: "Men of the Shadows" (Poem)

Ever since my first post on the subject, I've wanted to try my hand at translating some more Howard into Scots. Of course, the problem with Broad Scots is that it varies so much by region: Doric is distinct from Lallans, Ulster from Orcadian, and so forth. As such, I looked mostly to the writings of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Fergusson, John MacPherson, John Buchan and Lewis Grassic Gibbon.

I've tried a balance between including as many Scots words as possible, while also not "overdoing" it and making it a pile of gibberish.

Men o' th' Shadaes

Frae th' blee reid daw o' Creation,
Frae th' rouk o' timeless time,
Cam we, th' first gey nation,
First on th' upwart clim.

Savage, untaucht, unkennin,
Glaumin' thro' eildit nicht,
Yet mirkly keppin th' lowin',
Th' hint o' th' comin Licht.

Raikin th' lands untraivelt,
Biggin oor laundmerks o' stane.
Doutitly gresping at glore,
Gaupin ayont oor ken
Dummly th' eildins' lore
Naurin on carse an fen.

See, hou th' Tint Gleed smouders,
We are ane wi' th' eons' maun.
Nations hae trod on oor shouders,
Pauterin us intae th' coum.

We, th' first o' th' rmenyie,
Airtin th' Auld an th' New―
Leuk, whaur th' sea-clood aurie
Blandin wi' ocean-blae.

So we hae blandit wi' eildins,
An th' yird-wind oor eshes steers,
Vainisht are we frae Time's pages,
Oor Myndin? Wind in th' firs.
Stonehenge o' faur-yont glore
Mirksome an lane in th' nicht,
Curmur th' eildit lore
Hou we kinnelt th' first o' th' licht.

Speak, nicht-winds, o' man's creation,
Whisper ower craig an fen,
Th' sang o' th' first gey nation,
Th' lest o' th' Stane Eild men.

Pict (or Caledonian), who lived in northeastern Scotland in Late Iron Age / Early Mediaeval times;William Howitt, John Cassell, John Cassell's Illustrated History of England: From the earliest period to the reign of Edward the Fourth., Editor: John Frederick Smith, Publisher W. Kent and Co., 1857. Page 6

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Cinniúint na Déithe: Clontarf 2014

Mr. Bates,
New York City.
Dear Mr. Bates:
You may, or you may not have noticed my work in Weird Tales, Oriental Stories, Ghost Stories, Fight Stories, Action Stories, and Argosy; but that doesnt matter so much. The point is, I’m deeply interested in the intention of your company to bring out a new magazine devoted entirely to historical tales. I want very much to do business with this magazine, and would appreciate any pointers you might give me as to how to make the market [in case this story is not acceptable]._ I realize that editors do not have time to give detailed criticisms; but just a line or a few words scrawled on a rejection slip would help me wonderfully.
I’m hoping you can use this tale – “Spears of Clontarf” which I am enclosing. It deals with a phase in history too much neglected by writers – that of the Dano-Irish wars which culminated in the final shattering of the Viking power at the battle of Clontarf. Those days of war and rapine represent an age crammed with vital drama, enough to supply a hundred thrilling volumes.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Requiescat in Pace, Miguel Martins

I've typed, deleted, retyped this post a dozen times now. Nothing seems adequate. I'm just so frustrated and sad and bewildered and baffled.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Still Remembering Steve

It's been 5 years now. I wish he could be here to give his thoughts on new Howard and Tolkien developments, the Hobbit films, the 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf, everything. Even that ridiculous Shadow of Mordor game. But he's surely not forgotten:

Before his death in 2009 Steve Tompkins was probably the most erudite of the Howard scholars on the scene. Now, Leo Grin has received the blessing of Steve’s family and put out a call for material by the late, great critic. Here’s what he’s looking for:
• As complete a bibliography as possible of what Steve published in various fanzines, websites, and comic book letter columns.
• e-texts of these items, either from the original Word docs, or from OCR.
• scans of the actual printed pages, to compare to the e-texts as necessary when editing.
• any email correspondence or paper letters anyone cares to share. Where personal confidences must be retained, strip out the offending passages and replace them with a “***REDACTED***” placeholder.
• Any remembrances of things Steve said to you in person or over the phone, no matter how fleeting or seemingly trivial. Just tell the story and context as best you can. Doesn’t have to be composed for deathless publication, just the facts for now.
If anyone would like to help in this endeavor, shoot us an email at and we’ll get you in touch with Mr. Grin.

I'm hopeful we'll have a concrete book to supplement the undoubtedly rich legacy left behind.