It is Robert E. Howard’s birthday.
Is there anything I can say about Howard that was not said already, and better than I ever could? Unlikely.
I could once again say that Howard was one of those writers that I read as a kid, and made me say
This! This is what I want to write.
And I did – I wrote some horrid Conan pastiches when I was fifteen, and they are dead and buried, and it’s better that way.
If there is one thing I took with me from reading Howard it is not his larger-than-life characters, or his dynamic prose when describing action.
The one thing that I still try to copy from Bob Howard’s works – not that I have any hopes of equaling him any time soon – is his sense of place, his worldbuilding, his skill in creating places that speak of adventure from the word go.
A list of names is enough…
Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars – Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west.
This is so powerful.
The names alone are intriguing and thrilling enough, with their promise of adventure, to drag us in and hold us.
We want to know more. We want to be there.
Forget Conan the Cimmerian. We’d follow Elmo the Cobbler through his adventures, just to visit such places.
So, happy birthday, Two Guns Bob.
And thank you.