East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Researching the Cimmerian

It is always good when a new job provides the opportunity to go back to a character we love. Right now, I am struggling with doctor John Watson’s voice as I try and finish my first Sherlock Holmes pastiche (the editor’s waiting), but in the meantime, I’ve had to dug out a few books about my old friend Conan the Cimmerian.

Of the various books, none is as thorough as GURPS Conan, but certainly none is as gorgeous as Roy Thomas’ huge Conan – The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Savage Barbarian (classy title, uh?), that has been sitting here on my shelf for ages, waiting for the right moment to be something more than a private pleasure, and turn into a research item.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Robert E. Howard’s Birthday

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. Continue reading


Conan, Temple of the Black One

51N8uOWY4hL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_According to the author’s introduction, Conan, Temple of the Black One began its life as an outline Robert M. Price sent to Lyon Sprague De Camp, for a hypothetical Conan apocryphal novel to be published by Tor.
When the Conan novel line fizzed, what with Sprague De Camp’s death and all the rest, the outline was left in limbo, and finally Price decided to flesh it out and turn it into a short story, that was finally made available a few weeks back “as fan fiction”.
And I got a copy.

Well, because Conan.
And because Howard.
And because Robert M. Price, a man responsible of some of the best anthologies of supernatural horror I have here on my shelf.
So there. Continue reading


Rough & Cheap

I’ve just left a conversation in which the works of Robert E. Howard, and his Conan stories in particular were described as rough and cheap.
Now, I beg to differ.
Granted, at his worst Howard was basically a competent storyteller, compensating with darkness and pathos his lack of a good story. But at his best, Howard’s Conan was not cheap, and was not rough.


Being notoriously incapable of letting a matter rest when it peeves me, I’ll summarize my points here. Continue reading