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Beyond the Black Stranger –

Beyond the Black Stranger

Sunday , 3, September 2023 Leave a comment

Charles Hoffman has been one of the most perceptive writers on Robert E. Howard’s fiction. His “Conan the Existentialist” has been reprinted three times after its original appearance in Amra #61 in 1974. He has had non-fiction pieces in The Dark Man, Crypt of Cthulhu, Spectrum, The Cimmerian, and The Robert E. Howard Reader.

He co-wrote with Marc Cerasini The Starmont Reader’s Guide to Robert E. Howard in 1986, expanded as Robert E. Howard: A Closer Look. That book had a profound influence on me. Charles Hoffman is always able to find something new when he looks at Howard, Lovecraft, or horror fiction.

He has a new collection of essays: Beyond the Black Stranger and Others. New essays on Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft.


Preface: REH and HPL

Beyond the Black Stranger: Discovering the Missing Link in Conan’s Last and Greatest Saga

Cryptic Worlds of Frozen Death: At the Mountains of Madness, “Who Goes There?”, and the Tragedy of the S. S. Viking

Passion’s Barren Bliss: “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” and “Vale of Lost Women” – A Study in Contrasts

Flights to Hidden Lands: H. P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” and James Hilton’s Lost Horizons – A Study in Contrasts

Rediscovering “Marchers of Valhalla”

Length is 330 pages. The central piece is Hoffman’s examination of Robert E. Howard’s “Beyond the Black River,” “The Black Stranger,” and “Red Nails.” He also throws in “Shadows in Zamboula.” He makes the case “Black River,” “Black Stranger,” and “Red Nails” make up a trilogy.

It is always interesting to see his thoughts on H. P. Lovecraft including two essays that look at “At the Mountains of Madness” in comparison to two other fictional works.

I enjoy good literary criticism. This is not academic wankery attempting to shoe horn racism, sexism, or homo-sexuality into an inspection of an author’s work. Charles Hoffman just makes discerning observations. When you are done, you want to pull out your Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft and do some re-reading. Available in book format.

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