Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Some sword and sorcery stories: Robert E. Howard, C. L. Moore, Manly Wade Wellman

A week ago I had a feeling I'd like to read something that wasn't work-related in any way. As usual, I had some trouble finding something suitable to read even though I have some 5,000 books in my shelves.

However, I picked up a Finnish anthology of old sword and sorcery stories, mainly from Weird Tales, but also from some other pulp mags. The book is called Mustan jumalan suudelma AKA Black God's Kiss after the story by C. L. Moore in the book. Of the stories I read, Moore's was the best. It's full of surreal images and still it moves with a breakneck pace. Very beautiful and thrilling. The story came out first in Weird Tales in 1934.

The other stories I read were Robert E. Howard's novella-length "The Black Stranger" (1934-1935, unpublished in Howard's life-time, published in 1953 in abridged form and in 1987 in original form) and Manly Wade Wellman's "Thunder in the Dawn" (Amazing Stories 1939). Wellman's story was a bit slow and dated, I didn't feel the thrill of adventure in this, even though the premise is pretty good: a stone age warrior is really the Hercules of the Greek lore and is the cause of Atlantis sinking in the ocean. Howard's story pits Conan against some pirates and settlers, in the story everyone deceives one and another. It's a great read, though I still preferred C. L. Moore.

The striking cover in the book was drawn by Jukka Murtosaari, a friend of mine, who's studied classical American illustration art for decades now - and it clearly shows. The editor of the book is one Markku Sadelehto, who's done a good day's work bringing American pulp fiction to Finnish readers, as he's edited tons of anthologies for different publishers for over 20 years now. His magnum opus is the edition of the collected stories of H. P. Lovecraft. The sixth and final volume came out just two months ago.

Alas, I didn't have time to read more of the stories from the book. I've read this when it came out some 20 years ago, but don't remember much of it.

4 comments:

George said...

I just picked up a copy of WARRIORS AND WIZARDRY edited by Sean Wallace (Running Press). You can check it out at www.runningpress.com.

Richard said...

I've read the items you did in this review, but of course not in this edition, but in others. You're quite correct, as much as Wellman wrote the same kind of thing as Burroughs and others, his work seems more dated and awkward when read today.

Juri Nummelin said...

"Naïve" was the word I meant to use originally, but forgot.

Juri Nummelin said...

And thanks, George, for the recommendation!