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August – 2015 –

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The new edition of the classic Tunnels & Trolls game arrived in my mail box last week. Weighing in at 367 pages long, it is a positively monstrous tome. It is far from imposing, however. The core rules are simply not terribly different from the earliest editions. There are many refinements, but the spirit of the […]

People have asked me what fiction I would use for a sword and sorcery anthology. I made it known in an earlier blog post that I found Tachyon Press’ The Sword & Sorcery Anthology wanting in terms of contents. I will tackle first of what I would use for an introductory anthology. Say Scholastic Book […]

In January 1860, a cattleman was slain at a water hole in the Mojave Desert, about 180 miles east of Los Angeles. A few months later, two teamsters were attacked and died nearby. This was on a critical commerce route to Los Angeles, and the businessmen of L.A. petitioned the U.S. government to ensure the […]

Jack Williamson is another one of those names on the Appendix N list that, for too many people, simply doesn’t register as being of any significance. The fact that his career spans eight decades means little now in terms of fame and recognition. That will seem outrageous to some, but I ask librarians and book store […]

Pulp-fest took place last weekend in Columbus, Ohio. One dealer there had some boxes with a nice variety of sword and sorcery paperbacks. I had most of them but still managed to find a few obscure items. I also upgraded my copy of Gordon D. Shirreffs’ Calgaich the Swordsman (Playboy Press, 1980). Calgaich the Swordsman […]

The “Closing of the American West” was initially marked at about 1890 or so, when a historian noted that the U.S. Census had measured non-Native populations in pretty much all locations that had been considered “The American Desert” prior to the Civil War. It is an important idea, as the U.S. Frontier is almost entirely […]

Michael Moorcock’s Elric has a tremendous following. And it’s true, there’s a lot here to like. Elric is the quintessential fighting man that can wield both swords and spells. The magic system that’s in force in his setting is based on hereditary pacts with demons and is clearly powered by fatigue points. And the sword Stormbringer […]

Griots A Sword and Soul Anthology/ Edited by Milton J. Davis & Charles R. Saunders (Mvmedia, LLC, Fayetteville, GA. 2011) Back in 1979, Andrew J. Offutt had this to say in the introduction to Charles R. Saunders’ story “Mai-Kulala” in the book Swords Against Darkness IV: “Charles Saunders hopes to sell an anthology of hf […]

What if demons weren’t monstrous spiritual forces out to corrupt the souls of humans that have dealings with them? What if instead they were rather strong and fairly unattractive… but other than that were just plain, ordinary, upstanding folks? Salt of the earth types, as it were…. And what if there was a reason they had […]

One sort of fiction that skirts the periphery of sword and sorcery fiction is the cave-man tale. Robert E. Howard’s first story in Weird Tales (“Spear and Fang”) was stone age yarn. P. Schuyler Miller’s “The People of the Arrow” (Amazing Stories, July 1935) is an interesting prehistoric story of genocidal warfare. Miller (1912-1974) was […]

The cover on this one is outrageously mismatched to its actual content. There simply isn’t a Conan clone to be found within the pages of this book. There’s not even anything remotely like a swords and sorcery tale here. It’s as if in 1969, Robert E. Howard had defined fantasy in the minds of typical fans to […]

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