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Comic Books (Dark Worlds Quarterly): The blending of genres continues in 1981, with many stories falling into the Science Fiction category. SF was big in the 1980s and Sword & Sorcery on the wane. We are only one year away from Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Conan. You’d expect an up-surge in interest but in many ways 1982 will be a breaking point for S&S.

Weird Tales (Tellers of Weird Tales): From March 1923 to May/June/July 1924, The Rural Publishing Corporation of Chicago and Indianapolis published thirteen issues of its new magazine, Weird Tales. There was one bimonthly issue during that time, July/August 1923, and one month with no issue at all, December 1923. Weird Tales was otherwise a monthly magazine until the thirteenth issue, which did triple duty, covering May through July 1924.

Robert E. Howard (Sprague de Camp Fan): Neither the Gnome Press nor the Lancer/Ace Conan series included this essay by Robert E. Howard. Most likely the manuscript hadn’t been discovered yet. In any event, it was first published in A Gazeteer of the Hyborian World of Conan, Starmont House, 1977.  Read More

Chandler H. Whipple (1905-1977) was a pulp writer who started in the westerns pulps in 1932, mostly under the name “Robert Enders Allen.” He co-wrote “Boot Hill Payoff” with Robert E. Howard for Western Aces, Oct. 1935. Howard’s agent, Otis Adelbert Kline had arranged to have Howard rewrite a story unsold by Whipple.

Whipple wrote mostly westerns but he worked for Popular Publications and produced some stories for the weird menace titles Dime Mystery and Terror Tales. He produced a series that ran in Dime Mystery in 1935.

Title Issue of Dime Mystery
The Son of Darkness Feb-35
Curse of the Harcourts Mar-35
Shadow of the Plague Apr-35
White Lady of Hell Jun-35
A Child for Satan Sep-35
The Last Harcourt Oct-35

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Every week, the Castalia House Blog spotlights some of the many new releases in independent, pulp, and web novel-influenced science fiction and fantasy.

Aetheric InFusion (Magical Fusion #3) – Johnathan Brooks

Exposed as a “Fusion prodigy” to the Mages of Copperleaf Academy and the Martials of Fort Pinevalley, Larek struggles with the attention and expectations this label brings. Not only does he need protection against those who may wish him harm, but he also has to contend with the needs of his Professors and the Dean of Copperleaf Academy, who wish to use his abilities to help teach others about his discoveries and to outfit the local Scission Interception Corps with his powerful creations.

It’s not because of selfish reasons that they desire the SIC to be better equipped, though, but one of necessity. Changes in Scission and monster behavior throughout the Kingdom has thrown all of their previous defensive strategies into turmoil, and more and more member of the SIC have to venture out from behind the safety of the city’s walls to hunt down and kill the threatening monsters roaming across the landscape.

If that wasn’t bad enough, word of Larek’s abilities – and potential origin – have begun to spread, leading to rumors that, if they were to reach the wrong ears, could result in devastation. The powerful Fusionist must now juggle the expectations of his Professors with keeping his presence at the Academy a secret, or else his entire world might come crashing down.

Echoes in the Deep (Peacemaker Wars #2) – J. N. Chaney and Terry Maggert

With Veteran pay comes veteran problems. And the Guild, more often than not, is the issue.

He’s become an effective enforcer of the law, but unfortunately, crime is growing a lot more complicated. Someone is slaving artificial beings to ships, running contraband across the stars in a fatal practice that marries murder, theft, and kidnapping. Even as Mark’s crew grows, he discovers these crimes aren’t just horrific—they’re common.

And he means to stop it.

Deep in the black between stars, Mark finds an ancient and bizarre place, filled with the galaxy’s discarded junk. And in the middle of that cold, distant void lies a massive ship—one that holds secrets that will rock the halls of power in known space—and turn crime into profit.

Diving headlong into new cases, Mark will find that the elite criminals aren’t scared of a farm boy from Iowa. That professional killers are lurking in the shadows.

But he’s no longer alone.

Implacable Resolve (The Last Hunter #12) – J. N. Chaney and Terry Mixon

In war, even the simplest things are hard.

Admiral Jack Romanoff and his people have begun the liberation of Vesuvius from the xenophobic Novarites, but even something that straightforward is difficult. The enemy outnumbers them, and removing the threat won’t be easy. Worse, they are killing humans in job lots, so time is of the essence.

When retreat isn’t an option, you must advance.

Jack wants to spare as many Novarite civilians as he can, but the killing must end. With them on a planet and him in space, that limits his options, but he will compel their surrender by any means necessary. It will be a delicate dance, but he won’t stop until they admit defeat or die.

In the face of overwhelming odds, never let your resolve waver.

Orphan of the Shadowy Moons (Wild Stars #6) – Michael Tierney

He led Mankind on its first exodus to the stars when Atlantis fell 75,000 years ago, but who is the Ancient Warrior? Old beyond reckoning, his true identity has been forgotten by all, on Earth and in the Wild Stars—including himself!

While on the run from the fleet of Artomique Dreadnoughts, Daestar and Bully Bravo take the Ancient Warrior to one of the Extragalactic worlds where his memories can be unsealed. At last, the origins of the Ancient Warrior can be told!

Abandoned on a savage flooded planet as an infant to die of exposure, a young golden child is found and adopted by a powerful warlord and raised to be his heir. The orphan boy is given the name Strazis—same as the Shadowy Moon under which he was found.

Growing up in the household of the most powerful man on the planet, Strazis finds himself at the center of countless intrigues and machinations of both the Worldlord’s biological children and a mysterious faction of assassins who are somehow connected to the strange appearance of abandoned golden children, including Phaedra: the most beautiful girl young Strazis has ever seen.

When Strazis narrowly escapes raiders who murder many of the Worldlord’s other heirs, he must quickly grow and learn what it means not only to be the Worldlord’s son but be a Worldlord himself.

Originally written in the 1970s but serialized in Cirsova Magazine for the first time in 2022, Michael Tierney’s epic sword and planet adventure novel has been decades in the making.

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Comic Books (CBR): The trade paperback contains all six issues of Space Western Comics that were originally released in 1952 and 1953 and starred Spurs Jackson, an Arizona rancher who is captured (along with some of his ranch hands) by some Martian invaders. Once on Mars, Spurs and his men overthrow the evil Martians and return control of the planet to Queen Thula, who names Jackson the Prime Minister of Mars. Jackson and his friends go on a number of other science fiction adventures over the course of the series.

Fantasy (Ken Lizzi): I have been belatedly reading through Keith Taylor’s Bard series. I was going to write “working my way through” but that phrase suggests effort, labor. The Bard books are effortless. Reading them is a joy, not a chore. Book Four, Ravens Gathering, is, as the title suggests, a story of a convergence, a gathering. Characters, entire armies, are gradually brought into position for a climactic confrontation.

Comic Books (Dark Worlds Quarterly): In fact, comics had been using a scenario of prehistoric humans living with dinosaurs since before Arthur Conan Doyle exploded the idea on the world in 1912’s The Lost World. Here are some comics that picked up the idea for one story. There were long-running comics that were based on Cavemen & Dinosaurs, like the comic strip Alley Oop, Westerns’s Turok Son of Stone, frequent Edgar Rice Burroughs comics usually featuring Tarzan, Joe Kubert’s Tor. Read More

In January 1936, F. Orlin Tremaine, editor at Street & Smith for Clues Detective, Astounding Stories, Cowboy Stories, and Top-Notch presented Donald Wandrei with that month’s issue of competitor Popular Publications’ Dime Detective. There were two stories that were imitations of Wandrei’s “Ivy Frost” stories from Clues Detective.

One was a non-series story, “Black Widow’s Might” by Leo Stalnaker. A four page story involving death using female black widow spiders. The other story was “The Case of the Crazy Witness” by Frederick C. Davis.

Frederick C. Davis (1902-1977) was a pulp magazine writer producing reams of detective and western stories. He is best remembered today as one of the writers of the “Operator #5″ pulp “novels” and as the writer of the “Moon Man” stories in Ten Detective Aces. Read More

Every week, the Castalia House Blog spotlights some of the many new releases in independent, pulp, and web novel-influenced science fiction and fantasy.

The Forever World – Ethan Rhodes

On a routine border patrol, pilot Zane Lucas encounters a mysterious cluster of drones. When he reports it to the Scorpius head office, they quickly sweep it under the intergalactic rug and place him on leave.

That same night, Zane is contacted by an estate lawyer from the distant planet Earth and learns he’s the sole beneficiary of a person he’s never met. Determined to get answers, he finds himself thrust into a dead man’s quest, along with a resourceful colleague, Julia Rossi.

Zane’s mission is tied to an old myth based on The Forever World book.

His father used to read it at bedtime, before he went missing during a bloody war with the Gral twenty years earlier. Their alliance is on the brink of collapse and the revolution is just beginning.

Can Zane find The Forever World, if it in fact exists?

Would this fabled planet help restore the balance?

Time is running out, and the drones are multiplying.

Grilled Armageddon (Cooking with Disaster #1) – Dakota Krout

The world as we knew it is gone. Food and water are poison. Learn the new rules, or die trying.

Eli ‘Nacho’ Naches is a fearsome assassin who has lost everything in a post-apocalyptic world full of monstrous creatures. He knows where he fits in this horror-show, and he’s only been hanging around to see what’s going to be thrown at him next. When he’s finally put in chains and sent to the chopping block, he goes readily… only to be unexpectedly sent back in time to his younger body with his memories intact, and the chance to make a difference.

But Nacho isn’t interested in saving the world. He just needs to save the people that matter to him, and give them a chance to survive in a world where everything but the air itself is poison. Knowing that all their lives are on the line, Nacho the battle-scarred killer needs to get his college-age friends to listen to him, plan their builds, and secure a safe location to bunker down. Obviously, each of those goals is an Epic quest all on its own.

Welcome to the Juxtaposition. May Your Future Be Delicious.

Prince Conqueror (The Prince of Britannia #7) – Fred Hughes

The empire’s assault on the Sol System is imminent, but scouting reports reveal the Mordorians have nine of their hard-to-kill dreadnaughts protecting the system. It took everything the imperials had to defeat three of the powerful ships in the Pegasus System, but Marshal King, aka Crown Prince Henry, has finally gathered a sufficient force to make the attempt.

Events back home have forced his hand, as what Hazard feared most has happened—they’ve lost control of the Black Dragon Virus. Someone stole a sample from the Marxist planet of Lenin, and now it’s ravaging the planet Delhi.

After a hurried meeting with the Empress, Hazard rushes back to the front with a new battle plan, for they can’t wait any longer—billions will die if he doesn’t find a sample of the original virus. Ready or not, the Imperial Fleet heads for a showdown in the Sol System. It’s time to find out if Hazard can become the Prince Conqueror. Read More

Robert E. Howard (Sprague de Camp Fan): There is a scene in the Robert E. Howard biopic, The Whole Wide World, where Novalyne Price discovers REH carries a gun in his car. REH justifies its presence saying that this is dangerous country. ”Outlaws, vagrants, they’re all here.”

Star Wars (Fandom Pulse): The Star Wars universe is facing a new challenge as discussions about a second season of “Ahsoka” seem to be non-existent, according to actress Rosario Dawson. The news comes after a lackluster performance in both ratings and audience reception. The fate of the beloved character and the future of Disney’s Star Wars are hanging in the balance.

Conflict (Special Ops): The Battle of Marawi stands as the most extensive urban conflict in the history of the Philippines, also recognized as the Siege of Marawi and the Marawi Crisis. Commencing on May 23, 2017, and concluding on October 23, 2017, the battle marked a significant chapter in the nation’s history. Following the successful five-month-long campaign to reclaim Marawi. Read More

Years ago, I read Ron Goulart’s The Dime Detectives, a history of the detective fiction pulps. I learned some things including the author Merle Constiner. Goulart had this about the “Luther McGavrock” series:

“For Black Mask Constiner wrote of Luther McGavrock, a private eye who was headquartered in Memphis and worked on strange and wondrous cases across the rural South. The eleven McGavrock noveletes were as full of odd lore and quirky characters as those about the Dean, and they featured Constiner’s odd, dark humor. Some of the small backwoods towns of the tales are as nasty and inbred as any of the weird New England hamlets that H. P. Lovecraft celebrated.”

Only one Luther McGavrock story was ever reprinted that I am aware of: “The Turkey Buzzard Blues” in The Hard-Boiled Detective (Vintage, 1977). Steeger Books has been collecting and publishing collections of various series from Black Mask magazine. Read More

Every week, the Castalia House Blog spotlights some of the many new releases in independent, pulp, and web novel-influenced science fiction and fantasy.

An Outlaw’s Vengeance (The Last Eternal #6) – Jacob Peppers

Some shadows are not shadows at all but Death, watching, waiting.

Only sometimes, Death is not content to watch.

Sometimes, he comes with purpose.

And tonight, on this darkest of all nights, Death came not for the wanderer, as it had so many times, but for his friends. To save them, the wanderer will have to stand in the darkness and face down the shadows lurking there. Shadows trained by none other than Assassin, the greatest killer ever to walk the face of the world.

Wounded, the wanderer plays a dangerous game of cat and mouse through the streets of Celes, one that isn’t over until his corpse, or those of his pursuers, falls lifeless to the ground.

But those are just the beginnings of his troubles, for even should he survive the night, the darkness will return. Death will return—he always does.

The Queen’s Blade – D. K. Holmberg

A soldier with a past meets a future he cannot ignore. The Queen’s Blade saga begins.

Zaren Joha, once a formidable soldier, now spends his days maintaining peace in a quiet tavern in Lavrun. No more military rigors. No more blind obedience. The job is uneventful, yet it allows him a semblance of normalcy.

But his tranquil life in Lavrun is about to change. An encounter with the mysterious Waleith, a man with deep connections to the queen, draws him into a world where his brawn is not enough. The tavern’s usual hustle, the sailors’ brawls, and the regulars are soon overshadowed by a brewing storm of magic and intrigue attempting to topple the throne.

As Zaren grapples with powers beyond his understanding and confronts the echoes of a magic-tainted past, survival in this new world demands more than physical strength. To protect those he has come to care for and to navigate the treacherous currents of royal politics and ancient magic, Zaren must embrace a role he never anticipated.

No longer a soldier, he must become the Queen’s Blade.

The Shattered Construct (Essence Wielder Book 3) – Dan Michaelson and D. K. Holmberg

A unique connection to essence is key to protecting the empire.

Dax and his friends have settled into their roles at the Academy. They’ve stopped another attack, which has gained them notice, but also allows them a measure of freedom in their studies. With Desmond now serving as headmaster, they think everything will be different. Better.

But the flows of essence are changing.

Those who study such things don’t know what that means, but all agree it’s dangerous.

When asked to travel north during the term break, beyond the unclaimed lands, Dax has little choice but to go. What he finds changes everything he knows about essence—and what it means to wield it.

And it just might be the key to destroying the Order for good. Read More

Reading (Free Beacon): My first vague inklings of sexuality came from Robert E. Howard’s Conan books—but, then, my first creeping sense of a malevolent supernatural, like a gateway drug for H.P. Lovecraft, came from those Conan stories, too. Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan of the Apes, Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World: a dive into the genre of lost primitivism that began with Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli in the first Jungle Book.

Comic Books (Dark Worlds Quarterly): In Savage Sword of Conan – The Original Marvel Years Omnibus v01 (2019), Roy Thomas tells how John Buscema did not like Alfred Alcala’s incredible inking of his pencils. This stunned me. I LOVE Alcala’s work on SSOC. I had heard somewhere else (I don’t recall where but also according to Roy Thomas) that Big John did not care for Ernie Chan’s inking either!

Fiction (Goodman Games): Did you know that L. Sprague de Camp coined the terms “extraterrestrial” and “E.T.”? It’s true! While the noun existed before de Camp, he was the first to use it to describe alien life in a 1939 article for Astounding Science Fiction. This is one of many examples of how De Camp’s impact on the genres of science fiction and fantasy far exceed his level of contemporary fame. Read More

I have been reading Robert Bloch for over forty years. I never wrote to him like I did to Fritz Leiber, Donald Wandrei, Carl Jacobi, and Hugh Cave. I first discovered him in that all so influential anthology Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. I still like rereading a story by him from Weird Tales here and there.

I picked up his novel The Kidnapper a few years back at a used bookstore. It is another book that I needed to scratch off the “to be read” list. This was Bloch’s third novel and published by Lion Books in 1954 as The Kidnaper. Lion Books was an imprint of Martin Goodman who published pulps, men’s magazines, and comic books that would become Marvel.

This is very much a 1950s crime story told in first person. Steve Collins (real name Stanley Kolischek) is a low level criminal back in Milwaukee after a filling station hold up job in Florida. He takes a night shift job at a tool & dye maker. He befriends the nebbish Leo Schumann and gets himself a 20 year old girlfriend in the form of Mary Adams. Mary is a maid for a very wealthy business owner. Steve first thinks up a job to rob the mansion of jewelry when Mary’s boss and wife are gone on vacation. That gets thrown out as the vacation plans change. Read More

Appendix N (Goodman Games): We’ve talked a lot about Fritz Leiber, whose birthday we’re celebrating today, over the last few years. Leiber, born December 24th, 1910, is most widely known among gamers as the man responsible for the fantastic Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories. In the years running up to DCC Lankhmar, a lot of ink has been spilled discussing Leiber’s most famous creation.

Conan (Sprague de Camp Fan): It has been said that any Conan story not written by Robert E. Howard is fan fiction. I agree with that but “fan fiction” doesn’t necessarily equal bad fiction. And there is the distinction between authorized and unauthorized continuations. This book is unauthorized fan fiction. The publisher is Dorrance Publishing. You might have seen their ads on the internet. As vanity presses go, they are one of the oldest (established in 1920) and appear to be fairly successful.

Pulp (Dark Worlds Quarterly): 1924-1925 proved a good two years if you liked novel serials with four by Edgar Rice Burroughs, two by Ralph Milne Farley and singles by Ray Cummings, Rufus King and Wil McMorrow. Several of these would become paperback perennials for ACE Books. For Semi-Dual fans, there was another installment of the world’s most famous ghost buster. The short stories are mixed bag with familiar names like Paul Anderson, Robert W. Sneddon, B. Wallis, E. Charles Vivian and Fred Jackson.

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