Robert E Howard - Conan and Friends!

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
18,146
Which Conan stories do folks think come closest to transcending the limitations of mere pulp entertainment? It's a while since I read very many of them. My impression is that "Tower of the Elephant" is one, and "Beyond the Black River" another -- stories that are more than mere exercises in pulp exploitation. Conversely, "The Slithering Shadow" is just that. It really is trash.

The Phoenix on the Sword and The People of the Back Circle perhaps ?
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
7,738
Baylor, would you like to say why you think so? I’ve read these stories and am not sure what the case for their transcending pulp entertainment would be.
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
18,146
Baylor, would you like to say why you think so? I’ve read these stories and am not sure what the case for their transcending pulp entertainment would be.

The Phoenix on the Sword King Conan fall into a sleep and finds himself the tomb of the 1500 years dead sage Epimetrius who tells him he's in danger of being overthrown and killed and other worse dangers coming give a Phoenix mark on his sword to destroy a demon sent by the Stygian Sorcerer Toth Amon . The scene in the Tomb and of what Conan beholds there and and Epimetrius, elevates this story above mere pulp . It is very well written polished fantasy story . And, for the record , this was also originally a King Kull story . :)

The People of the Black Circle in the story the character Devi Yasmina sister to rule of the kingdom Vendhaya goes after the Black Circle wizards who murdered him. They capture her and they show her , her past lives and show her human existence life and death and rebirth. This elevates the story and also fact that the secondary character gets a respectable amount of air time in this story.:)


And to your mind ,what makes Tower of the Elephant and Beyond the Black River stand out? And for the record ,I do think they are both excellent stories.
 
Last edited:

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
7,738
Baylor, you're asking about something I wrote ten years ago, which is fine in itself, but I'm not prepared to discuss it now. : )
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
18,146
Nothing to apologize for!

I also admit to being a biased with regard to Howard. I liked his stories when I first read them and I still do . I could visualize Conan, the settings , everything . The man knew how tell an exciting story and know how put the reader into the story. Is it a great literature ? No, it s not , I have no illusions about that. But, he was fun to read and, I would not be the reader I am now , had I never discovered him.
 
Last edited:

JimC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2020
Messages
220
"Del Rey books is the best way to read Conan"

What's the consensus on the Gnome Press editions?
 

KGeo777

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
567
Location
Canada
I nominate Tower of the Elephant as transcending the pulp genre because it's not just a story about an adventurous youth seeking treasure--the relationship between him and the captive creature is interesting and unusual. Here's a monster who is not the bad guy, he is a victim.
I am sure Lovecraft was fascinated by it because in that story it has the Lovecraftian element of opening the door to another reality with dangerous entities but because of Conan, it's not like a standard Lovecraft story where the protagonist is absorbed or defeated. Things are put back in order. I always like a story where there's some recognition of an elemental power in Nature that is not divine yet sublime. Like Moby Dick, the whale is regarded as something immortal or otherworldly. An alien peer of existence.
Howard's writing was more optimistic than Lovecraft's.
Another one I think stands out is THE SHADOW OF THE VULTURE although that's not fantasy, it feels like something unusual-not just because of the woman warrior (who reminds me of Athena in the Odyssey) but also the drunken hero and the unseen sister. It makes me think of a Poe work or the Maltese Falcon where there's a character who is referenced a few times but we never see him (the Russian who had the statue first).
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
18,146
"Del Rey books is the best way to read Conan"

What's the consensus on the Gnome Press editions?
I nominate Tower of the Elephant as transcending the pulp genre because it's not just a story about an adventurous youth seeking treasure--the relationship between him and the captive creature is interesting and unusual. Here's a monster who is not the bad guy, he is a victim.
I am sure Lovecraft was fascinated by it because in that story it has the Lovecraftian element of opening the door to another reality with dangerous entities but because of Conan, it's not like a standard Lovecraft story where the protagonist is absorbed or defeated. Things are put back in order. I always like a story where there's some recognition of an elemental power in Nature that is not divine yet sublime. Like Moby Dick, the whale is regarded as something immortal or otherworldly. An alien peer of existence.
Howard's writing was more optimistic than Lovecraft's.
Another one I think stands out is THE SHADOW OF THE VULTURE although that's not fantasy, it feels like something unusual-not just because of the woman warrior (who reminds me of Athena in the Odyssey) but also the drunken hero and the unseen sister. It makes me think of a Poe work or the Maltese Falcon where there's a character who is referenced a few times but we never see him (the Russian who had the statue first).

My favorite single Howard story is Kings of the Night. Why ? Because in the story you have Bran Mak Moren, King Kull and Cormac. Three of Howard heroes in one story . And what a story it is! :cool:
 

hitmouse

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
2,678
I nominate Tower of the Elephant as transcending the pulp genre because it's not just a story about an adventurous youth seeking treasure--the relationship between him and the captive creature is interesting and unusual. Here's a monster who is not the bad guy, he is a victim.
I am sure Lovecraft was fascinated by it because in that story it has the Lovecraftian element of opening the door to another reality with dangerous entities but because of Conan, it's not like a standard Lovecraft story where the protagonist is absorbed or defeated. Things are put back in order. I always like a story where there's some recognition of an elemental power in Nature that is not divine yet sublime. Like Moby Dick, the whale is regarded as something immortal or otherworldly. An alien peer of existence.
Howard's writing was more optimistic than Lovecraft's.
Another one I think stands out is THE SHADOW OF THE VULTURE although that's not fantasy, it feels like something unusual-not just because of the woman warrior (who reminds me of Athena in the Odyssey) but also the drunken hero and the unseen sister. It makes me think of a Poe work or the Maltese Falcon where there's a character who is referenced a few times but we never see him (the Russian who had the statue first).
Is pulp a genre? It refers to a very loose “type” of story that was published in “pulp” magazines back in the day, which were of a variety of genres: sf, horror, western, romance, detective, etc.

Although many of the stories were low- rent and formulaic, the quality varied tremendously, and within that enormous volume of work there was some fine fiction and some true classics.
 
Last edited:

KGeo777

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
567
Location
Canada
Is pulp a genre? It refers to a very loose “type” of story that was published in “pulp” magazines back in the day, which were of a variety of genres: sf, horror, western, romance, detective, etc.

Although many of the stories were low- rent and formulaic, the quality varied tremendously, and within that enormous volume of work there was some fine fiction and some true classics.
I meant genre as in a category, a type, a group--since that was what asked but it's a valid point--why should pulp be considered lesser because it was cheaper? This is the same bias with movies--there are many Hollywood movies that cost a huge amount to make and they are all but forgotten and/or were ignored when they came out.
And there are cheaper movies that have better reputations. The assumption is that where you find money put into something, you find quality and respectability which is most definitely not supported by all evidence.
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
18,146
I meant genre as in a category, a type, a group--since that was what asked but it's a valid point--why should pulp be considered lesser because it was cheaper? This is the same bias with movies--there are many Hollywood movies that cost a huge amount to make and they are all but forgotten and/or were ignored when they came out.
And there are cheaper movies that have better reputations. The assumption is that where you find money put into something, you find quality and respectability which is most definitely not supported by all evidence.

Id love to a studio in Hollywood do an adaptation of Norvell Page's novel Robot Titans of Gotham. its the first of his Spider Crime fighter novels. This one has hit franchise written all over it. :cool:

As the book itself, it's a terrific read .:cool:
 

Similar threads


Top