There is yet another collection of Robert E. Howard’s “Conan” stories out, this time from Dover Books entitled The Weird Tales of Conan the Barbarian. I found out about the collection from Bill Thom’s indispensable Pulp Coming Attractions site (which links to the Castalia House blog posts on pulp related items).
I went to Dover Books website to get more information. I was frankly appalled. First, the cover. What the hell! Did the art director go to an 8th grade art class to get the artist? This is embarrassing. It looks like it was drawn with crayon. The anatomy is off as Conan’s head looks out of proportion.
Now to the contents: Five stories are reprinted from Weird Tales – “The Devil in Iron,” “The People of the Black Circle,” “Beyond the Black River,” “Red Nails,” “The Hour of the Dragon.”
“Black Circle” and “Red Nails” were three part serials in Weird Tales. “Hour of the Dragon” was a five part serialized novel in the magazine. “Black River” was a two part serial; “The Devil in Iron” was a novelette that ran in one issue.
There were 17 Conan stories in Weird Tales from 1932 to 1936. The stories are not a chronological group, just a haphazard grouping of stories to fill out a 400 page book. From the title, I don’t get the impression this is part of a series. It is just a thrown together opportunistic trade paperback of public domain fiction. I wonder how corrupt the text may be.
Multi-author anthologies and single author collections should have some sort of unifying theme or internal consistency. You see books like this and think, what is the point?
Contrast this to Dover’s Thirty Hours with a Corpse by Maurice Level that just came out. S. T. Joshi edited what appears to be a very comprehensive volume of Level’s conte cruel tales. This is how to produce an author collection.