Sword & Sorcery (Echoes of Crom Records): Join me and Mark Dexter ( Marco Concoreggi ), the vocalist for heavy metal band, Dexter Ward as we talk about H.P. Lovecraft, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Dracula, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter of Mars, Dracula, Conan vs. Kull, sword and sorcery novels vs. short fiction, sword and sorcery comic books, Battleroar, Hyrkanian Blades, USPM, Blades of Steel Festival 2024, Cauldron Born, and more.
Review (Sprague de Camp Fan): This 320-page novel, A Gathering of Ravens, came out in 2017. Here we are introduced to Grimnir, the last Orc. Grimnir reappears from the shadows and journeys across Denmark and England and Ireland. Grimnir is on the path of revenge and retribution. The Viking Chief Bjarki Half Dane has slain Griminir’s brother, and Grimnir swears he will kill Bjarki Half Dane. Grimnir knows that the old ways are dying.
Weird Tales (Tellers of Weird Tales): So what about Houdini‘s other two stories in Weird Tales? Well, “The Spirit Fakers of Hermannstadt” came first. It’s a two-part serial that appeared in the issues of March and April 1924. Although it was in two parts, I’ll call it one story.
Fantasy (Not the Bee): There’s no denying that Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels are expertly written, with intricate world-building, complex characters, and excellent pacing. Yet, there is an underlying philosophy that weaves through it all that results in an endless cycle of chaos, tragedy in the face of an indifferent universe, and a pervasive gray-sense of morality.
Popular Culture (Wasteland & Sky): But the greater issue at hand is the conclusion reached near the end of the video. It isn’t just memories of walking into record stores and meeting new people with similar musical tastes, or buying that new Smashing Pumpkins CD and hearing comments from the clerk on its overall feel. It’s more of wide-encompassing collapse. The era of the rock star is over, but so also is a shared cultural musical identity that can be built on, reacted against, or even given a different spin.
Cinema (Art of the Movies): And so, after the wild and trashy 70s and the horror inflected 80s we reach the 90s, arguably the last truly great decade for cult movies.
Crime Fiction (M Porcius): The Screaming Mimi has nineteen chapters, and Sweeney spends 17 or 18 of them doing the stuff guys always do in detective stories–travelling here and there throughout the town–and beyond–looking at documents and talking to people–generally over drinks–in his quest for clues. He goes to bars, he calls in favors, he goes to a nightclub, he blackmails a creep, he rides a train, he commits a burglary, he suffers a burglary, he gets beat up.
Satire (Lit Hub): This morning, Open Culture pointed me to the work of screenwriter and graphic artist Todd Alcott, who—when he’s not writing movies—translates his favorite songs into vintage book covers, mostly of the pulp fiction and mid-century modern variety, but with some other genres (nature guides, self-help books, etc.) thrown in for good measure.
D&D (Grumpy Wizard): 2024 is the 50th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why D&D has lasted so long, been so successful, and continued to gather new fans throughout that time. The answer I’ve come up with is that it is not just one thing. The reason D&D is such a powerful cultural force is caused by many factors all working in different ways at different times. The more I consider it, the more complex it seems.
Weird Fiction (Vintage Pop Fictions): Mistress of Dark Fantasy is a collection of stories by Dorothy Quick that were published in pulp magazines from the 1930s to the mid-50s. Most of them appeared originally in Weird Tales. These are horror tales combined with love stories. That’s a common enough combination in gothic romances but these are not gothic romances.
Old Radio (Comics Radio): A ghost train and corpes replacing wax figures in a museum are the important elements of a very strange case.
Audio (Horror Babble): “An Inhabitant of Carcosa” by Ambrose Bierce.
James Bond (Commando Bond): While this certainly lends a focus to sartorial items, holsters, and handguns, it also includes one of the most important pieces of any discerning gentleman’s wardrobe – his timepiece. I’m grateful for the chance to share my viewpoint today in a playful response to the “Why Rolex” piece previously published. Here, we will first share the full story of Omega’s origins with James Bond, followed by a detailed analysis of the history of product placement in Bond, and the critical role it plays in keeping the franchise alive.
D&D (The Other Side): In my exploration of the Forgotten Realms product Moonshae, I discovered an interesting bit of knowledge. In the back of that book it mentions that Adventure Module N4 Treasure Hunt can be used with the Moonshae Islands. I later discovered that the islands in N4 were moved over to the Forgotten Realms for this purpose.
Fiction (Dark Worlds Quarterly): In the Science Fiction department, Doyle was in many ways H. G. Wells’s successor. As Wells veered off into politics and didactism, ACD himself was obsessing over Spiritualism. Despite this, he did write many important tales in the 1910s. Challenger and his crew went to The Lost World (1912), then survived The Poison Belt (1913) and eventually ended up talking about Spiritualism.
Cinema (Bounding Into Comics): In offering up further proof as to why he was the right man to helm any adaptation of the popular tabletop game, Henry Cavill has declared that his ongoing work on a Warhammer 40K film and television series for Amazon Prime has been “the greatest privilege” of his entire career.
Fandom (Critical Drinker After Hours): Everyone’s favourite purveyor of delays and excuses is back with another ill-informed rant, this time at what he perceives as “toxic fandoms” online. Well George, maybe if you spent more time writing and less time fretting about social media, you might eventually finish your book.
Tolkien (The One Ring): As the Production Calendar continues apace on Season 2 of Prime Video’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” (rumor has it Season 3’s halfway written!) certain enigmatic details are clearer while other things remain deeply shrouded. It’s like scrying in the Mirror of Galadriel without any guidance.
Science Fiction (Wert Zone): ews has sadly broken that Christopher Priest, one of British SFF’s most inventive and confounding authors, has passed away at the age of 80. Born in Cheadle, Cheshire in 1943, Priest had various jobs as a young man, including an accountant and audit clerk. He discovered an enjoyment of writing at school, and began penning fiction shortly after leaving school.
Tolkien (Notion Club Papers): Christopher Tolkien published the surviving material of The Notion Club Papers (in The History of Middle Earth – Volume Nine) in two parts, each of which has a particular character who serves as the main mouthpiece for Tolkien’s own ideas; an alter ego. These characters are Ramer in Part One, and Lowdham in Part Two.
D&D (Wert Zone): Dungeons & Dragons turns 50 years old today, or at least today-ish. The first few copies of the original release of the game hit the wild in late January and early February 1974, although the ad hoc nature of the game’s development and release means there’s always been ambiguity over the precise date.
D&D (Monsters & Manuals): A few years ago, I wrote a piece on D&D as a kind of ‘monastery of the mind‘, which seemed to strike a chord with some readers. I was thinking about this earlier today when paging through a PG Wodehouse book and coming across a quote from Evelyn Waugh, I think on the occasion of Wodehouse’s death:
Fiction (Benespen): The very first thing Chesterton addresses is the unity of pre-modern stories, with various parts being written by different people at different times. Yet, he insists that this does not compromise the unity of these works, and I wholly agree:
Pulp (Fantasy Literature): The potential buyer would have to look long and hard to find a wackier pairing than is to be found in the publisher’s D-119: The Whispering Gorilla and Return of the Whispering Gorilla. Long out of print yet arriving on the scene boasting some considerable renown, both these titles proved irresistible for me as a customer to ignore.
Pulp (Paperback Warrior): The Winter 1939-1940 issue of Jungle Stories featured the fourth Ki-Gor story, “Ki-Gor and the Secret Legions of Simba”. If you aren’t familiar with the character, you can read reviews of the first three Ki-Gor stories HERE. The idea is that Ki-Gor grew up in the jungles of Africa after his father, a Scottish missionary, was murdered by natives. Ki-Gor, in his mid-20s, comes to the rescue of a downed female pilot named Helene and the two become lovers.
Fiction (DMR Books): There are few terrors more gripping than the prospect of being buried alive. Edgar Allan Poe, the master of the horror tale, wrote a number of stories about that horrific yet fascinating topic, including “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “Berenice,” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” Then there’s his less famous “The Premature Burial.”
Lovecraft (Tentaclii): A new series of Lovecraft Country sourcebooks from the makers of the Call of Cthulhu RPG, under the series title “Arkham Unveiled” and with the first book possibly titled “Call of Cthulhu: Arkham”. Supposedly the series is to start publishing in February 2024 [update: Amazon now says March 15th] and will then grow to cover Kingsport and Innsmouth etc.
Cinema (MSN): Tombstone and Wyatt Earp both battled it out to be the best and most popular western of the 1990s, and looking back years later, there’s one clear victor in this fight (and it’s not even close). Both Tombstone and Wyatt Earp are biopics of the iconic lawman Wyatt Earp, released just a few months apart, and they tell the same story in very different ways (with different runtimes). Tombstone, directed by George P. Cosmatos and starring Kurt Russell, was released on December 25, 1993. Wyatt Earp, directed by Lawrence Kasdan and starring Kevin Costner, was released on June 24, 1994.