Monday, November 09, 2020

The Annotated Guide to Robert E. Howard's Weird Fantasy - Fred Blosser

I'll read anything Fred Blosser wants to write about Robert E. Howard and his work. Since I started reading Blosser's articles and essays in THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN more than forty years ago, I think it's safe to say I've been reading him longer than any of the other REH scholars, and I always enjoy what he has to say.

His latest book is THE ANNOTATED GUIDE TO ROBERT E. HOWARD'S WEIRD FANTASY. Blosser breaks down Howard's fantasy stories into several different categories, including Cthulhu Mythos, The Little People, Gaelic Fear, Ghosts, Science Fiction, Texas Terrors, Swampland Shadows, Skull-Face, De Montour, Jungle Horrors, Faring Town, Psychic Investigators, and Shudder Stories. For each story, he discusses the plot, fills in the background of how Howard came to write it, and places it in the context of Howard's other work. As Blosser mentions in his introduction, this volume is aimed more at newer Howard readers, but even though I've been reading Howard for more than fifty years and have read some of these stories multiple times, I still always get something from Blosser's insights into them.

I'll admit, my favorite sections are the ones on Texas Terrors, since I've always loved Howard's Weird Westerns, and his Weird Menace yarns, since that's one of my favorite genres in recent years. But all the areas of discussion are interesting, informative, and entertaining. Blosser does include the endings of the stories in his plot summaries, so those who haven't yet read the stories themselves might be wise to steer clear of those. But for those who have, THE ANNOTATED GUIDE TO ROBERT E. HOWARD'S WEIRD FANTASY gets my highest recommendation. You'll probably learn a few things, and I guarantee you'll have a good time.


JasperAK said...

Thank you for this. I'm always looking for more thoughts on Lovecraft and Howard. I wishlisted all of his Informal books and a few others. I enjoyed his Sons of Ringo I believe you mentioned not too long ago.

Deuce said...

I came in as Fred's work for SSoC was tapering off. I probably read his first REH article about the same time I bought the Amra collection, THE SPELL OF CONAN. That said, I've always considered him a fellow traveler/elder brother-in-arms. I love thinking about, sorting out and collating Howard's splendidly-realized universe. Glad to see he's getting these out.