Archive for the 'Robert E. Howard' Category

Solomon Kane

I am a huge Robert E. Howard fan and I finally got to watch the 2009 film Solomon Kane, which tells the origins of Solomon Kane. Even though it’s not based on one of Howard’s stories, I think it’s incredibly faithful to the character Howard created in 1928 and is the best adaption of a Howard character (he authored Conan the Barbarian for those unfamiliar with his work). I also listened to the DVD commentary from director Michael J. Bassett and lead actor James Purefoy and it is a delight. Hopefully there will be sequels, it was planned as a trilogy, because it is sword and sorcery done seriously and with great action, acting, and set designs.

A mysterious crate left at my door

Early in June I woke at dawn to let my dog out and found a wooden crate, the type used decades ago by a tea importer, outside the back door. The box was nearly identical to one I had found in an old barn in Ohio years earlier. The Ohio crate had contained diaries and journals of several people as well as newspapers and photographs – all from the 1890s – and a previously unknown story from author William Hope Hodgson that appeared to have been written in 1913 shortly before he left for the war that claimed his life. I had published several of the diary entries and the Hodgson story online as The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire.

My dog sniffed the box outside the back porch door with a suspicious air before she walked off to do her business under the trees.

I looked around, but did not see anyone. On top of the crate was an envelope with a handwritten note inside. The writer claimed to have tracked me down and left the chest to me because of my previous interest in the contents of the other crate. I carried the crate inside with my dog following at my heels. I set it on the kitchen table. Inside I found letters, notebooks, folders holding sheaths of yellowed, typewritten manuscripts, and a photo album containing dozens of images from the 1920s and 1930s.

As my morning coffee brewed, I glanced through the contents of the folder on top. It appeared to have been a manuscript written in the style of a 1930s pulp magazine story. My first guess was, of course, that the story was fictional. But as I went through the box and read the notebooks and what appeared to be investigation reports I began to wonder. I now suspect the story referred to actual events and the unknown author wrote up the account as a fictional story. I do not know if the author ever attempted to publish his or her stories, but I suspect from the writing style they were intended for Weird Tales or another pulp horror or adventure magazine such as Weird Spicy Tales.

In the initial story, with chapters posted on Fridays (photos on Wednesdays), and in other stories, there are references to other investigations, hidden pasts, dark deeds referenced only in passing, and secret organizations. I shall do my best to fill in the blanks where possible, but those secrets might be hidden away in other crates, perhaps to be unveiled at a later date.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15

Solomon Kane – The Return of Sir Richard Grenville

Solomon Kane

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Harry at has some exciting news for Robert E. Howard fans:

Folks, I’m gonna pray this goes well – I hope to god that Michael Bassett launches this into the stratisphere. SOLOMON KANE is an absolutely awesome character – just look at the art – and go buy some of Howard’s collected stories on SOLOMON KANE. They’re unbelievably great! Let’s just hope the movie is half as good!

Conan the stock investor

Phil McCallister at The speculates on the stocks that Conan would buy:

The first thing Conan would do is search for a company with the word “Sword” in its name. I doubt that he would do any research on the company he finds, which is of course, Thunder Sword Resources Inc. (CVE: THU). With a name like that, how could Conan the Barbarian not buy?

Everyone that read the Robert E. Howard stories knows that Conan wouldn’t buy stocks. Whenever he had coin in his purse, he’d immediately spend it on wine and women. McCallister watches one movie and suddenly he thinks he knows what kind of investor Conan would be.

Conan’s revival

Finally a National Review writer pens a column I agree with. From The Wall Street Journal:

The Conan stories make up only a small fraction of this huge output: There are 21 of them, including a novel, and they were written at breakneck speed between 1932 and 1935. As with everything by Howard, their quality varies dramatically: A fantasy classic such as “Beyond the Black River” remains a riveting tale that undermines popular notions of frontier progress and manifest destiny; “The Vale of Lost Women,” however, is a clunky piece of hackwork that would be instantly forgotten were it not for the fame of its star character.

Yet the stories share a fundamental power because Howard was a skilled action-adventure storyteller. So were a lot of other pulp writers, of course. What ultimately set Howard apart was a dazzling imagination that dreamed up the sword-and-sorcery subgenre of fantasy literature before anybody had heard about J.R.R. Tolkien and his hobbits.

With Conan, Howard created a protagonist whose name is almost as familiar as Tarzan’s. In his influential essay on Howard, Don Herron credits the Texan with begetting the “hard-boiled” epic hero, and doing for fantasy what Dashiell Hammett did for detective fiction. Suddenly, the world–even a make-believe one such as Conan’s Hyboria–was rendered seamier and more violent, and Howard described it in spare rather than lush prose.

Interesting how John J. Miller never mentions that Conan overthrew a tyrannical ruler. I guess when you have a history of surrendering your freedoms to the whims of a despot like Miller and his colleagues at the National Review do, you don’t want to point out when heroes fight for their liberty. Or perhaps that is the answer there: Conan fought for the causes he believed in. The chickenhawk hacks at the National Review want others to fight their fights for them.

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