In The Ballad of Bobbie Howard, I imagined a universe in which both the author of Conan and the Providence Recluse are women.
Then, in The Shape of Things to Come (yes, I know, not very original, as a title), I imagined a universe in which both Howard and Lovecraft surviving their early demises, and living a long and productive life – REH as a Hollywood screenwriter and HPL as the director of Weird Tales.
Finally, in Lone Star, I wrote about a balkanizad post-depression America, in which Texas rebels led by Howard face their final showdown against the troops of President Lovecraft, leader of the pretty fascistic Eastern Coalition.
In terms of themes, I wanted to explore the weight and impact of two of my favorite authors in different circumstances.
I thought out that a female Robert Howard would have been, probably, more resilient and pro-active, less prone to melancholia.
I dreamed of a world in which the ideas of my beloved pulp writers (HPL, REH and all the others, Hamilton, Brackett, Leiber, Kuttner…) actually created a better world.
And I wanted to set the Lovecraftian view of the universe at arms against the Howardian view of civilization – have the two authord debating not in letters, but on the battlefield.
And I wanted to have fun, of course.
The first two stories were published by the literary magazine LibriNuovi, and received good feedback, and no end of hate mail.
In particular, some “true believers” took exception at the depiction of their favorite author as “a chick” in Bobbie Howard, and at REH marrying “a Jewess” in Things to Come.
A good friend of mine still misses no chance to point out that REH himself would have punched me in the face for the first of those stories.
Now, many years later, I realize that such a violent reaction is a testimony to the fact that my stories did strike a nerve – I caused a reaction in my readers, which means I did do something right, after all.
But back then, my disappointment at the reaction of some readers was such, I shelved the last story in the cycle, and it still lays here somewhere on my hard disk. I was a littlelet down, at the time, and I did not want a rabble of fantasy fans to storm my house with torches and pitchforks, to burn me at the stake as a heretic.
Now, during the last weekend, my friends Marina and Angelo, and a few others, did catch The Shape of Things to Come, and suggested I should translate the story in English, and circulate it.
As a matter of fact, Bobbie Howard was translated, back in 2009, as some friends in Japan wanted to read it.
I should simply clean up the translation, and ask for a revision to a friend.
And curiously enough, I did translate the first half of Things to Come.
So now I might just finish the job.
And maybe complete once and for all my “Howard as Mal Reynolds” story.
And then see if the stuff can be published somehow.
More work on my plate.
I like keping myself busy.