HOWARD, Robert E(rvin)


HOWARD, Robert E(rvin)
(1906-1936)
   US writer. REH wrote no sf - although Almuric (1939 Weird Tales; 1964) is a PLANETARY ROMANCE in the manner of Edgar Rice BURROUGHS - but his association with H.P. LOVECRAFT and WEIRD TALES helped to maintain the sf community's interest in his extravagant SWORD-AND-SORCERY stories. His few contributions to Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos do not bring out the sf elements. He was the real parent and inspiration of the sword-and-sorcery (or HEROIC FANTASY) genre (although earlier writers have been retrospectively recruited to it by historians), which existed as an enclave of the sf marketplace until FANTASY became a marketing category in the late 1960s, after which REH's work enjoyed a spectacular posthumous boom. His first professionally published story was "Spear and Fang" for Weird Tales in 1925; he quickly became an amazingly prolific writer ofvigorous adventure fiction in several pulp genres.REH's most celebrated works are those which comprise the Conan the Barbarian series; 17 of these appeared in Weird Tales 1932-6, and 4 more were published posthumously. The series has been extended vastly, first by the fan Bjorn Nyberg (1929-), whose pastiche novel was edited by L. Sprague DE CAMP; then De Camp turned several other unpublished REH stories into Conan stories, and he and Lin CARTER wrote many more around fragments and outlines as well as creating pastiches of their own. Further adventures have been produced by Andrew J. OFFUTT, Robert Jordan (1948-) and Steve PERRY, among others.The popularity of the series was further enhanced by the film Conan the Barbarian (1981) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, although it de-emphasized the fantasy element. The bibliography of the series is inordinately complicated, but the whole of the authentic canon can be found in 5 GNOME PRESS vols: in order of internal chronology, The Coming of Conan (coll1953; includes 2 non-series stories, 2 revisions and some supplementary material), Conan the Barbarian (coll 1955), The Sword of Conan (coll 1952), King Conan (coll 1953) and Conan the Conqueror (1935 Weird Tales as"The Hour of the Dragon"; 1950; rev vt The Hour of the Dragon 1977). Gnome also issued the De Camp/Nyberg The Return of Conan (1957; vt Conan the Avenger1978) and the De Camp revisions in Tales of Conan (coll 1955).Lancer published 11 vols of a 12-vol set, later completed and reissued by ACE BOOKS: again in order of internal chronology, these are Conan (coll 1967), Conan of Cimmeria (coll 1969), Conan the Freebooter (coll 1968), Conan the Wanderer (coll 1968), Conan the Adventurer (coll 1966), Conan the Buccaneer (1971; by De Camp and Carter), Conan the Warrior (coll 1967), Conan the Usurper (coll 1967), Conan the Conqueror (1967), Conanthe Avenger (1968), Conan of Aquilonia (coll 1977; by De Camp and Carter) and Conan of the Isles (1968 by De Camp and Carter). Two omnibuses -The Conan Chronicles (omni 1989UK) and The Conan Chronicles 2 (omni 1990 UK) -assemble the first 6 titles of this sequence. Using the original magazine texts, Donald M. Grant issued handsome illustrated editions of many of the REH stories including The People of the Black Circle (1974), A Witch ShallBe Born (1975), The Tower of the Elephant (coll 1975), Red Nails (1975), Rogues in the House (coll 1976), The Devil in Iron (coll 1976), Queen of the Black Coast (coll 1978), Pool of the Black One (coll 1986) and The Hour of the Dragon (1989). A Berkley paperback series advertised as "theauthorized edition" and ed Karl Edward Wagner includes The Hour of the Dragon (1977), The People of the Black Circle (coll 1977) and Red Nails(coll 1977). The Conan Chronicles (omni 1989). Two MARVEL COMICS based on the character are Conan the Barbarian and The Savage Sword of Conan.Other REH sword-and-sorcery series include one set in Conan's imaginaryprehistoric world, collected in King Kull (coll 1967, ed and with additional material by Lin Carter. Others are collected in Bran Mak Morn (coll 1969; cut vt Worms of the Earth 1987) and Red Shadows (coll 1968; vtin 3 vols as The Moon of Skulls 1969, The Hand of Kane 1970 and Solomon Kane 1971).REH wrote at high speed and his work is unsophisticated, but itis vigorous, fast-paced and easy to read. His suicide - after learning of his mother's imminent death - brought to a premature end what might have been an extraordinarily productive career.
   MJE/BS
   Other works: Skull-Face and Others (coll 1946; vt in 3 vols as Skull-Face and Others 1976 UK, The Valley of the Worms, and Others 1976 UK and The Shadow Kingdom 1976 UK);Always Comes Evening (coll 1957), poetry; The Dark Man and Others (coll 1963; cut vt Pigeons from Hell 1976); Wolfshead (coll 1968); Tigers of the Sea (coll 1976); The Book of Robert E. Howard (coll 1976); The Second Book of Robert E. Howard (coll 1976); The Robert E. Howard Omnibus (coll 1977); Sword Woman (coll 1977); Black Canaan (coll 1978); The Gods of Bal-Sagoth(coll 1979); Lord of the Dead (coll 1981); Cthulhu: The Mythos and Kindred Horrors (coll 1987) ed David A. DRAKE; Shadows of Dreams (coll 1989), poetry.
   About the author: The Last Celt (1976) by Glenn Lord, bio-bibliography by the agent of REH's estate; The Annotated Guide to Robert E. Howard's Sword \& Sorcery (1976 chap) by Robert E. WEINBERG; TheUltimate Guide to Howardia 1925-1975 (1976) ed Wayne Warfield; Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E.Howard (1983) by L. Sprague De Camp; The Dark Barbarian: The Writings of Robert E. Howard: A Critical Anthology (1984) ed Don Herron.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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  • Howard, Robert E[rvin] —    (1906–1936)    pulp writer from Cross Plains, Tex., best known as the author of “sword and sorcery” tales of Conan, King Kull, Bran Mak Morn, and Solomon Kane, in which the supernatural, historical fiction, and adventure are mingled. When… …   An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia


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