East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Back in the saddle: the return of the Horseclans

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Back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth – i.e., the early ’80s – I was for a while a member of a science fiction and fantasy fans club. Apart from regular meetings that I was not able to attend, because they were held 500 kms from where I lived, and I was fifteen, and broke, I received a bi-monthly magazine that featured stories, art, articles and reviews.
The most interesting part for me were the reviews – especially the three or four pages devoted to a roundup of what noteworthy titles had been recently published in the USA. The plots, the titles and the covers were the stuff that dreams were made of.

Among the wonders these pages revealed to me, there was a thing called “Horseclans”, a series that seemed to come up with a new title every other issue of that mag – and I was awed by the Ken Kelly covers, and intrigued by the plots and setting as sketched in the reviews.

The Horseclans series by Robert Adams was not available in Italy in translation – and it was because of this fact, that books I needed to read were not available in my language, that I started reading in English.
But I was not able to order the Horseclans books in those pre-Amazon days.
A small press announced a translation – in deluxe hardcovers – in 1987, but nothing came of it. The publisher went belly up.
And when finally Amazon arrived, the Horseclans books were out of print.

I was finally able to catch a couple of titles as ebook reprints, in 2012 – alas, without the Kelly covers.

And now I am happy to report that the Horseclans books are being reprinted by Pulp Hero Press, without the cover art by Kelly but with more than adequate art, and the first volume – The Coming of the Horseclans – is already available in ebook for less that three bucks.

So to recap…
There was a nuclear war in 1980 – as you’ll probably remember – and civilization collapsed.
Greece conquered America – I kid you not – and bands of cannibal hippies roam the land, while sinister and sexually ambiguous fascist techno-wizards plot in the dark.
But Milo Morai, immortal badass, is back to set everything straight, and he’s bringing his clan of battle-hungry horse-riding telepaths with him.

They don’t make them like that anymore, right?

Maybe this should be filed as a guilty pleasure, but really, why should I feel guilty for a little old-fashioned fun?
And again, the Horseclans books hail from that strange time when fantasy and science-fiction were still probing at their boundaries, and no editor had yet thought of turning genres into templates.
The ’80s were weird, and expectations for the future confused – we hoped for light, and feared darkness. And it is strange how, forty years on, things have turned out.

But the Horseclans are back, and we’re going to have some fun again.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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