Sensor Sweep: Harold Lamb, Shaver and Lovecraft, Windy City Pulp & Paperback Show

Monday , 16, April 2018 5 Comments

Fiction (Pulp Archivist): “Also of note is that the epic retribution intended in each of these scenes falls considerably short, for a rogue is never a crusader and the shades of gray that cloud these tales never clarify into black and white.

It is easy to dismiss this myth of Melniboné as a mere Leftist revenge fantasy, but Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice puts the decadence of the myth of Melniboné in context.”


Fiction (DMR Books): “ ‘lin carter and l sprague de camp finished unfinished works of howard and made full stories out of them as well.they are worth having as if it was not for them there would be no conan movie no conan comics and would not be ass [sic] popular as it is today[.]’

— Quoted verbatim from a proud member of the subliterati on Facebook circa late 2017.

The view expressed above, after you puzzle out its quaint syntax and typos, is one often seen around the webz even in these supposedly more enlightened times. The part about “Conan comics” is especially laughable. L. Sprague de Camp considered comics to be “trash.” Roy Thomas went to Glenn Lord and between the two of them, they made Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian the bestselling comic of the 1970s. However, once de Camp saw the comics were a cash cow worth milking, he clamored to get in on it. “



Fiction (DMR Books): “Harold Lamb died on this date in 1962. He left behind a staggering amount of quality fiction and nonfiction. He was one of the very top contributors to one of the premiere pulps, Adventure, and went on to become a popular and award-winning historian.

What we’re concerned with today is his impact on sword and sorcery fiction. There are a lot of things we don’t know in that regard. We don’t know whether CL Moore or Henry Kuttner were fans. Clark Ashton Smith appears to have never read Lamb, though Smith actually wrote a novel as a teen that wouldn’t be that out of place in Lamb’s oeuvre. We know nothing about Fritz Leiber’s feelings when it came to Lamb.”



Writing (Brian Niemeier): “It’s my pleasure to present the readers of this blog with the foreword to my upcoming short story anthology.

Spend some time on authors’ blogs or online writing groups, and you’ll meet people who claim to be aspiring writers. I use “claim” because there’s no such animal. Our actions define us. If you write, you’re a writer. If you don’t, you aren’t.

About eighty percent of Americans say they want to write a book. Wanting to write doesn’t make them aspiring writers. Only half of them will ever sit down at a keyboard to start a book. Only half of those who start will finish. The writers are the tiny fraction driven to see a book through to completion; then start on the next. In saecula saeculorum.”


Conventions (Mystery File): “The older I get, the longer this drive gets! Five of us drove from New Jersey to Chicago in the usual 15 seat white rental van. We take out the last two rows of seats to make the cargo area bigger. We need the space for all the books, pulps, and artwork that we will buy during the convention. During the long drive I pondered the age old question of which is worse: to forget your want list or to forget your medication. I know of two collectors who had to deal with these mistakes. I think forgetting your want list is worse. How can you collect without your lists?”


Fiction (Tellers of Weird Tales): “During the pulp fiction era of the twentieth century, an American author of science fiction and fantasy stories created a world in which beings from the distant stars long ago came to Earth and now live in its hidden places. These beings look upon us as savages, or as like insects, or even as food. The author in question wrote numerous stories based on this premise and created what might be called a literary cycle. Other authors contributed stories to this cycle as well, and it generated great interest and enthusiasm among readers and fans. The author’s editor helped formalize his creation and even gave it a name. We still use that name today, long after the author’s death. The author’s name was of course–no, not H.P. Lovecraft–it was Richard S. Shaver. And this is where a problem begins.”


Fiction (Tolkien and Fantasy): “Initially I thought this particular topic of study was going to be more difficult than it turned out to be. There are some anomalies (like the Canadian printing of Dunsany’s King of Elfland’s Daughter that was distributed in England and in Canada, see here, scroll down to the second scan), but such anomalies turned out to be the exceptions rather than the rule.


RPG (Table Top Gaming News): “Dragon Heresy is a fantasy RPG that uses modified 5th Edition rules to bring you into the Norse legends of old. Glory is yours, if you can grasp it. But with any RPG, getting started can be rough. There’s always going to be a learning curve. Thankfully, there’s the Dragon Heresy Introduction Set that can get you swinging your axe in no time. This new set is up on Kickstarter now.”


RPG (Kotaku): “Slay the Spire, a roguelike where you try to deckbuild your way out of brutal dungeons, went into Early Access on Steam last November and has since been slowly winning over unsuspecting players who go into it with low expectations. I am one of those recent converts.

Developed by Mega Crit Games, Slay the Spire takes RPG dungeon crawling and remixes it around modern card mechanics. At the beginning you’re presented with a map of different rooms connected by meandering and intersecting paths. You choose where to start and then follow the path from one discrete room to the next.”

  • Douglas Cole says:

    Thanks a ton for the shout-out. There’s a lot of stuff out there right now talking about Dragon Heresy, but I’d like to draw attention in two places:

    1) My podcast roundup: I’d pay particular attention to Down with D&D for rules, and if you’re an OSR fan, my conversation with Matt Finch was very good.

    2) I GM’d a game with a new twitch group called Roles to Astonish last night. Four hours, four new players, fun was had as I tested out a new micro-setting with them. It played out well, and though it’s a long video, it highlighted how quickly the game plays at the table.

  • Emmett Fitz-Hume says:

    The Richard Shaver stuff was pretty interesting and new to me.

    I found the initial link (the way it was written) somewhat clunky. That guy has an odd style of writing. I can’t put my finger on it.

    But I sure went down the rabbit hole looking up more about Shaver and the Deros.

  • deuce says:

    Cool post on Melnibone from Nathan. There’s plenty to dissect when it comes to Moorcock and his pathological hatred of the Evil British Empire of Evil.

    Then again, you ain’t seen nothin’ until you’ve read Moorcock’s “Bastable” series.

  • Lew Cabos says:

    I think the Shaver mysteries today would be called Ancient Aliens.

  • Lew Cabos says:

    If someone was a real Howard fan it’s Roy Thomas. Those comics with Barry Smith artwork probably did more to launch Howard and Conan than all the de Camp and Carter garbage combined.

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