Monday, 31 May 2010

Looking to the Future

I spent a lot of my free time on The Cimmerian, and it's daunting to think what I'm going to do without it.  So, I have a few ideas.

Concentrate on The Blog That Time Forgot
This is the first that springs to mind. I'm glad to have my cadre of readers, so I must be doing something right: I could spruce it up with images for the banner, some nice backgrounds, clean up the various areas.  I'm also going to start using the "Pages" tool. However, it feels a bit weird to mix my somewhat informal posts about Transformers and comics and dinosaurs with my more serious ones.  Just be thankful I haven't posted my Top Twenty Girls To Acquire for a Seraglio. That said, I do have a couple of non-REH/Tolkien articles lined up: the character vandalism & hypocritical sexualisation of Lara Croft, mythic resonance and literary antecedents of The Transformers, the evolution of dinosaurs in popular culture, the bizarre balletic poetry of professional wrestling, and a few others I'm keeping secret for now.

Working on getting TBTTF up to a more presentable level would hopefully fill some small fraction of the void left by TC. It might even take off like The Silver Key, Grognardia and Atop the Fourth Wall. Another thing that wasn't as possible on The Cimmerian was back-and-forth feedback: though I got some emails from readers, there's something to be said for a good comments section. It makes everything public and freely available, and discussion is always welcome.

Join another REH Blog Site
There are a lot of fine Howard and related blogs apart from The Cimmerian: the REHupa blog, Damon Sasser's Two Gun Raconteur blog, The Black Gate, and what have you. I'm a big fan of TGR, and (if Damon et al would have me) I would seriously consider it. I suspect many bloggers will be making their way to the myriad other blogs, so even with me being a wet-behind-the-ears newbie in comparison, it's a possibility.

The thing that concerns me most about joining an existing site is, simply, jitters.  Even with a Venarium award nomination under my belt, plenty of congratulations on good jobs and insights, and comments from the movers and shakers of Howardom... I still feel like a kid all the time.  I can't count the number of times I'm reading Howard, think I've stumbled upon something totally new, only to realise it'd been done before in Amra or REHupa or even The Cimmerian journal. It got a bit frustrating sometimes. It's your classical West Coast of Scotland syndrome: for all my success, I keep expecting someone to turn around and try to cut me down to size, so I don't get a big head - even if I wasn't going to.  So I just do it myself to stop them from enjoying their petty victory: sadly, it means I'm too humble for my own good.

Create an Heir to The Cimmerian
This is obviously ludicrously ambitious, but hear me out. The Cimmerian is one of the only blogs which held Robert E. Howard and J.R.R. Tolkien in equal esteem and value. From its inception, Leo intended it to be a Shield Wall for not just Howard, but his English counterpart, the other titan Argonath guarding the Anduin of fantasy fiction. As such, I feel that with The Cimmerian's passing, the internet will lose that unique perspective. Many Tolkien sites are dismissive of Howard, and most Howard sites tend to concentrate on the Texan: TC was the most prominent to view both as equals, and it would be a shame for that to be lost.

Of course, such a theoretical website would not be The Cimmerian: it never could. At best, it would be its enthusiastic, precocious younger relative, the one who nips at the heels of their awesome older brother and emulates them, wanting to be just like him when they grow up. The other matter is that The Cimmerian is, obviously, a very Howardian name: a name for TC's offspring should be applicable to both Howard and Tolkien, and perhaps others in fiction and history. My choice would be Shieldwall: evocative of everything the site stood for without excluding Tolkien in the name, and broad enough to accomodate history, mythology, fiction and other authors.

Those are the three I'm thinking of just now. Any comments or suggestions would be most welcome.


  1. I don't have any problems with a mix of more serious posts and '20 girls for the seraglio' fun (my own blog is a mix, after all, and there will be a few more academic posts once I got those Bachelor examns done with). A sidebar with subcategories to find older articles and a few more illustrations would be nice, and sufficient to spiffy this blog up, imho. And I love the comment feature; I missed that on The Cimmerian.

    Start a Shieldwall blog would be another interesting option. Since you already have a Blogger account, it won't be much of a hassle to add another one (I have three, though I only use one right now). I agree with a mix of RE Howard and Tolkien since I'm a fan of both. Another plus could be that other Commerian orphans with no blog of their own may consider joining (I'm thinking about Keith Taylor, for example).

    What I don't like so much is for you to join one of the existing blogs. I read Black Gate (though I wish they'd get rid of the black background that gives me a headache) and I occasionally look into REHupa, but that one is not The Cimmerian. The Two Gun Racconteur seems to be very Howard focussed, too; I can't imagine to get a series of posts about Uther the Black Bearded Madman there, or a Silmarillion reread. I'll miss that sort of stuff, so I would wish for you and others to keep that legacy, somehow.

    My vote goes to a Shieldwall blog first, expanding your own blog second.

  2. Thanks for the in-depth thoughts, Gabriele!

    I'm alright with BG's background, but I agree it isn't for everyone. I settled on the current colour for TBTTF because it seems the easiest to read. I'm working on a "Categories" section: right now I have one for my major and soon-to-be-major series. I'll also (if Leo gives me the go-ahead) be transposing some of my work from TC onto here or Shieldwall, so there's a backup in case of disaster.

    I'm hoping Keith gets onto Black Gate (they already have Charles), or starts up his own site. I'd be happy to invite him over to Shieldwall. Shieldwall would mostly be exclusive to Howard & Tolkien, with TBTTF sometimes cross-posting. I'd want to keep a balance between "honouring TC's memory and following in its footsteps" without becoming either a clone, or a pale imitation.

  3. Och, but there should be a wee corner for David Gemmell, Bernard Cornwell and others who stand in the tradition of Heroic Fantasy / historical fiction. ;)

  4. Oh, I'm sure there shall! I haven't written much about Gemmel (I'm not really a Druss fan, surprisingly, but I really liked Jerusalem Man). Sharpe is fricken' badass, and I have to read the Arthur trilogy.

  5. Read the Arthur trilogy. Really.

    It has shieldwalls. :D

  6. I'd love to see a successor to The Cimmerian, but I have no idea what that would entail or how much work it would be to get it off the ground. It's certainly something I'd support enthusiastically at any rate.

  7. Having talked it over with Leo, he thinks that it's better all around for me to concentrate on TBTTF, rather than attempt a successor to TC. Be "blissfully original" in his words.

    If I get Shieldwall up and running, it would have similar goals to TC, but a very different style. Still scholarly, but you wouldn't mistake the two sites on a tab.

    And I'm certainly glad to have your support, James!

  8. Sounds like good advice from Leo. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how things unfold here!

  9. Hi. I don't know if I've ever commented before, but I've been reading both your blog and The Cimmerian for several months. I'm sad to see The Cimmerian go, but I really like the sound of the possible "Shieldwall" blog - I've been a Tolkien fan far longer than a Howard one and greatly enjoyed the Tolkien posts on that site. Either way, I'll be continuing to read TBtTF (and maybe commenting a little more often!)

  10. Thanks for the first-time comment, T!

    Well, it's still a possibility in the future. Shieldwall would not just be me, but probably other former TC bloggers, as well as new blood who wouldn't normally be on TC. Certainly I won't be cutting back on the Tolkien posts, since I've been a Middle-earth fan longer than a Hyborian Age fan (though they both hold an equal share in my heart).

  11. other vote for a shieldwall blog, the name is really great, could be a good idea a team of Brian Murphy, Keith J Taylor, Jim Cornelius, William Maynard, jefrey Shanks and Miguel Martins and Al Harron of course...
    by the way Michael Moorcok could be other great author to write about in the shieldwall and I would like history themed articles like the stuff of Keith J Taylor and Jim Cornelius in TC...
    the trilogy of the warlord by Bernard Conrwell is great one blog in Spain about historical fiction rank it in second place just after I Claudius by Robert Graves in a ranking of the best historical novels...

  12. Well Francisco, I don't think Shieldwall would have all the TC members, at least at first (though it would be awesome to have the gang back together).

    I've spent a lot of time arguing about Moorcock's views, but I haven't really talked about his fiction, which is a shame since I really like it.