Issue 1 Cover Reveal

 

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Issue 1 is coming April 14!

Featuring:

“Skin Deep” by Nicholas Ozment
“Dead Men Tell Tales” by Dave D’Alessio
“The Executioner’s Daughter” by R.A. Goli
“Pension Plan” by Dusty Wallace
“Saturday Night Science” by Michael M. Jones
“Island of Souls” by Matt Spencer
“The Waters So Dark” by Josh Reynolds
“Thicker than Water” by Rob Francis

Cover art by Luke Spooner/Carrion House
Interior Art by Dean Spencer

 

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Pulp Appeal: Dashiell Hammett

Continental Op Cover

The Continental Op from Cameron’s library

Dashiell Hammett lived the life of a hard-boiled detective before he created one of his own. His Continental Op character was one of the most popular detectives of the 1920s pulp fiction era. Hammett’s work with the Op and other characters appeared alongside such notable writers and characters as Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, among scores of others.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, or even many of the people who came after, Hammett has the distinction of having been a private detective, which lends his stories even more gravitas than his stripped down fiction and inclusion of grime and grit do alone. The Continental Op, the character he spent the most time writing about, is loosely based on his own experiences working for the Pinkerton Agency before and after the First World War. The Op is never named, nor are any of the agents he interacts with in his dealings with the Continental Detective Agency. His most famous outing, the 1929 novel Red Harvest, was initially serialized in Black Mask, the quintessential pulp publication for hard-boiled detective fiction. In fact, Red Harvest was so influential Time magazine included it among its 2010 list of the all-time best 100 novels in the English language.

The Continental Op isn’t Hammett’s only creation, and not even close to his most famous character. For that you have to look to Sam Spade. Spade is the protagonist of The Maltese Falcon, and when that story made the transition from page to screen, he was played to great acclaim by Humphrey Bogart1. Spade’s quest to uncover the plot behind his partner’s murder and the mysterious eponymous statue leads to so many betrayals and double-crosses that it’s sort of bewildering. The statue itself is mostly a McGuffin, as its role in the story is merely catalyzing and not terribly material. The film was popular, and so was the novel. The Maltese Falcon has also been included in a list of all-time best 100 novels in the English language, this time by the Modern Library Assocation.

The cold-eyed, hardened detective that Hammett wrote so much about, whether as the Op or Spade, is upended by the last of his famous creations, Nick and Nora Charles, the stars of Hammett’s final novel, The Thin Man. The Charles’ are wealthy alcoholics who want nothing other than to enjoy life while getting soused. Since the stories are all set during Prohibition, it makes their drunken behavior fairly amusing. The relationship appears to be loosely based on Hammett’s own relationship with Lillian Hellman. While Nick Charles does have some of the detachment endemic to Spade and the Op, before the start of the novel he managed to get out of the detective business in time to save some of his empathy. The plot of the novel follows Nick being reluctantly pulled back into a murder investigation while his witty wife assists and sometimes gets in the way. The Thin Man appears on film2, along with several sequels, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, and, in another nod to the quality of Hammett’s skills, was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture, and has been routinely included in the American Film Institute’s lists of great films.

Incidentally, my first experience with Hammett’s work was The Thin Man series of films, as my parents are (pretty much have always been) aficionados of the Turner Classic Movies channel. The Thin Man and its sequels are frequently shown on the channel, and, while as a young kid I wasn’t old enough to really understand everything that was going on, the smarmy back-and-forth dialogue was certainly engaging. After I reached adulthood, I discovered the Continental Op through a library book sale, and after that I began to read Hammett in earnest.

Hammett pretty much stopped writing in the mid-1930s and became a radical left-wing political activist, officially joining the Communist Party where he was a member up until the Second World War. Despite suffering from tuberculosis, he managed to enlist and serve as a newspaper reporter in the Army. After the war he went back to political advocacy and was eventually investigated and then blacklisted during the McCarthyism craze of the 1950s.

While he may not have been the first3 to write a hard-boiled detective, Dashiell Hammett is perhaps the most influential mystery writer in American history. Yes, that’s a bold claim, especially as Edgar Allan Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue” is commonly considered the foundational work of detective fiction written in English. While Poe did set the gears in motion, leading directly to mystery as a genre in its own right (a feat celebrated by the eponymous Edgars, the yearly award for best mystery story) the popular image of a detective rests almost entirely upon the work of Hammett. Other writers who came after him, like Raymond Chandler, ensured that hard-boiled detectives weren’t a passing fad, but Chandler himself says that it was Hammett that started him on his authorial career.

1 Bogart also played Chandler’s Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep.

2 The film is rather expensive to purchase digitally now, but luckily there’s a radioplay version available starring Powell and Loy.

3 That would be Carroll John Daly, who, at the time, was even more popular than Hammett.

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Pulp Appeal: Clark Ashton Smith

Image result for clark ashton smith

Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-colored sun
Of secret worlds incredible, and take
Their trailing skies for vestment when I soar,
Throned on the mounting zenith, and illume
The spaceward-flown horizons infinite.

-The Hashish Eater – or- The Apocalypse of Evil

 

No discussion of classic pulp would be complete without mentioning Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961), one of the leaders of the Weird Tales school, along with his contemporaries H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, and arguably the one whose legacy hasn’t lasted to the extent of either of the other two.

Though the three never met, they all maintained correspondence with each other during the pulp golden age of the 1930s, and Smith helped contribute to what would later be called the Cthulhu mythos. In fact, Smith would go so far as to create a family tree of sorts, where Hastur is the half-brother to Cthulhu and married to Shub Niggurath.

While Lovecraft insisted on the relative insignificance of humanity with his cosmic horrors best avoided lest they corrupt the mind, Smith’s stories tend to the more humorous, or at least give humanity a fighting chance. I will admit, the stories of his I enjoy the most are his Hyperborean cycle (cosmic horror, but set in an Iron Age setting), Poseidonis cycle (the last remnant of legendary Atlantis), and Zothique ( his longest cycle and one that firmly belongs within the Dying Earth subgenre of fantasy). I recognize this is at least partly due to my own predilection for fantasy, but I also feel that his fantasy has held up better over the years.

What I enjoy about these stories is the way that Smith plays with expectations and preconceived notions. The necromancers in his stories are only occasionally the enemy, and are more likely to overcome the barbarian than vice versa. Women, too, play a much more prominent role than in either Howard’s Conan cycle or Lovecraft’s… well, anything really.

There is a certain sardonic (and at times bawdy) humor that permeates some of Smith’s work as well. This, along with some of his decidedly more Gothic imagery, may have been what led to his lesser popularity compared to his fellow Weird Tale writers.

The difficulty with Smith is that he was never one to let plot or characterization get in the way of a good description, and his prose is richly veiled in purple. He was far more interested in describing the exotic nature of his settings as opposed to zeroing in on the cosmic horror as Lovecraft did or describing the pulse-pounding action that defines Howard’s work. A lot of this comes down to his early work as a poet before he turned his hand to fiction, and he was extremely prolific.  His longest poem, and arguably the best, is his “The Hashish Eater -or- the Apocalypse of Evil”, a sprawling visionary poem that, while it predated much of his weird fiction in the thirties, acts as a definite bridge between his earlier poetic efforts and the pulp fiction he would churn out during his most prolific period as a fiction writer. What this leads to is work that celebrates the senses as opposed to a dull plodding, and the way that he uses language is poetic and flowery, even when describing a corpse.

If you enjoy golden age pulp but haven’t yet had a chance to read Clark Ashton Smith, I highly recommend you rectify that situation, as he bridges the divide between  Lovecraft and Howard. For additional reading about the impact of Smith, there is an excellent series of articles over at Black Gate that delves greater into Smith’s fiction cycles and his impact on fantasy.  If you are looking to dive into his fiction, Amazon has a number of places to start, and collections of his poetry are available via Project Gutenberg.

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Pulp Appeal: The Shadow

816uepmhbql“Hahahahahahaha. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Ahahahahaha. The Shadow knows.” This is how the radio play always starts before the narrator introduces the episode. “The Shadow,” the narrator says, is “a man of mystery who strikes terror in the very souls of sharpsters, lawbreakers, and criminals.”

For people of now advancing age, The Shadow had a regular appointment with their much younger selves as their families sat in the living room on Sunday evenings and tuned in to the weekly radio serial. As a character for radio, The Shadow was given the mysterious power to cloud men’s’ minds so he could appear to be invisible, a trick he learned from Far Eastern hypnotists. The time when radio was dominant is a fascinating era of human history, in that audio productions were the shared experience for families of the day and the actual imagery was left to the listener to provide. This sort of radio play has made a comeback in recent years in the form of podcasts like the very popular Welcome to Night Vale but for about 80 years, visual media like television has dominated.

The Shadow wasn’t initially involved in any kind of supernatural phenomena, as he was initially created to be the fictional host of a radio detective serial. He was more like the Crypt-Keeper from the old EC Comics line (made famous by John Kassir’s portrayal in the 1990s HBO series Tales from the Crypt) than a major protagonist like Batman, at least at first. When people started to clamor for more Shadow, the radio production company hired a writer, Walter Gibson, to produce stories for hire featuring The Shadow as a main character. Gibson was a magician (and as a practicing amateur myself, this is something close to my own heart) who had ghostwritten books with the likes of Harry Houdini, and he turned his skills to the pulp world.

The radio play was produced for decades (1930s to 1950s) alongside a growing line of pulp novels, mostly written by Gibson under the pseudonym Maxwell Grant, and eventually expanded into comic books, failed television shows, and films, including a 1994 movie starring Alec Baldwin during his initial Hollywood heyday. None of the TV shows made it past pilots, and the films were not highlights of the industry, with the critical flop that was the Baldwin vehicle pretty much putting the final nail in The Shadow’s coffin. At some point director Sam Raimi was attached to a reboot project, but it went nowhere.

The Shadow as a character is a detective in the vein of Sherlock Holmes, a genius with extensive knowledge of obscure subject areas and scientific methods, and like Holmes, he was trained in martial arts and marksmanship. The modern analog in comic books and films derived from them is clearly Batman, but he’s hardly a novel character in the history of crime fiction. Despite the fact that The Shadow typically carries matched .45 caliber automatic pistols (a staple of the time for good reason: the M1911 Colt .45 is one of the most reliable pistols of all time), he’s not hard-boiled in the way Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe are. To further differentiate him from the more realistic elements of straight detective pulps, the plot developments rely upon mysticism and minor magic. The hypnotism and sleight-of-hand type of magic tricks The Shadow uses to intimidate criminals are fascinating, even as they are over-hyped and supernaturally effective, which is part of the reason he was important to me.

My own introduction to The Shadow was through the radio serials, which my father often talked about listening to as a child. Between “The Shadow” and “The Inner Sanctum,” he and my mother regaled me with the glories of old time radio. With the advent of the Internet and its push to mainstream audiences in the 1990s, I was able to download and listen to the old serials. While preparing for this article, I relistened to a September 1937 episode called “Deathhouse Rescue.” Even though The Shadow was acted by famed icon Orson Welles, it doesn’t hold up as well as could be hoped. Perhaps it’s more because of the way society has changed than because of the story. Our media consumption seems to require more sophistication than the old pulp serials. The voice acting from the episode is decent (it is Orson Welles, after all), but the heavy-handed music intrudes more than it assists, and the plot is rather thin.

I also sought out and read The Living Shadow, the first pulp novel of the character and something I’d never read before, but it is perhaps even more dated than the radio serial, which makes some sense as it was written about seven years before “Deathhouse Rescue” aired. The dialogue is full of racial bias (unfortunately a commonplace feature in the old pulps), with caricatures of people based on all manner of stereotypes. But I certainly wasn’t expecting the “Lawdy sah” kind of stuff that even contemporary pulp writers like Lovecraft, Howard, and Burroughs would never have dreamed of using in their own stories. Your eyes might roll as hard as mine did, especially if you picture the crows from Disney’s Dumbo speaking these bits of atrocious dialogue. I forced myself through it and managed to enjoy a fairly decent, if by-the-numbers, plot involving jewel thefts and murders among the Chinese immigrant population, all masterminded by a white man masquerading as a Chinese man. I particularly enjoyed this bit as it alludes to some magic history, specifically the magician Chung Ling Soo who was secretly a white American named William Robinson. It’s a nice subtle nod for anyone aware of the history.

The Shadow’s influence on pop culture is pretty widespread, even as the character himself fades into obscurity. Batman in particular owes a lot to The Shadow, a debt Bill Finger and Bob Kane (the co-creators of Batman) acknowledged early on. As a mysterious figure who operates at night to corral criminals and sow the seeds of justice in an unjust world, it’s clear to see where the lineage lies. The Shadow has no real compunction against killing bad guys if it is necessary, and even early Batman comics follow the trope. But nearly every shadowy vigilante figure who uses the night, darkness, and intimidation to enact justice can trace their lineage directly to The Shadow. Just consider characters like Marvel’s Daredevil, Alan Moore’s V from V for Vendetta, Sam Raimi’s Darkman, or even Disney’s Darkwing Duck (who was deliberately patterned on The Shadow, most obviously with his style of dress). Though his popularity is no longer what it was, it’s safe to say, if you’ll forgive the pun, The Shadow looms over much of modern media.

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Pulp Appeal: Flash Gordon

Image result for flash gordon

Flash Gordon has had a long and storied life. Starting as a comic strip, it’s been a movie serial, a live-action adaptation (twice), a cartoon series (three times), and most famously, the 1980 film starring Sam Jones, Melody Anderson, Ornella Muti, Max von Sydow, Timothy Dalton, BRIAN BLESSED, Topol, and a blink and you miss it appearance by Richard O’Brien (better known as Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show).

The plot is standard pulp fare. Ming the Merciless, having Earth brought his to attention by his counselor Klytus, decides to subject it to natural disasters (whether to actually test Earth or simply because he’s bored is left open). This has the unforeseen consequence of crashing the plane, in which are riding our hero Flash and his intrepid reporter/love interest Dale Arden, into the abode of mad scientist Karl Zokov. Zokov, of course, is the one that realizes the natural disasters aren’t natural in origin at all, and has a spaceship ready to go to take him to the source of the attacks.

Flash’s arrival on Mongo provides the catalyst to Ming’s overthrow, Flash’s ability to make former rivals allies and making the factions at play realize they are better united against Ming than fighting each other. Of course, Flash had to first defeat his rival Barin and prove his mercy by not finishing him off for that to happen at all.

One of the big draws, and one that I think modern writers and filmmakers can take to heart, is that it wasn’t afraid to embrace camp, high drama, and (let’s face it) some pretty ridiculous outfits. It rejects the then modern aesthetics for science-fiction, such as that presented in 2001 and or the design choices in Star Wars, instead adopting the Ray Gun Gothic aesthetics of the 1930s. War Rocket Ajax is a great example of that aesthetic, as is Zarkov’s original rocket. There are strong elements of planetary romance, despite the action taking place among several different moons around the main planet Mongo as opposed to a single world. It doesn’t let pesky things like physics get in the way of design, instead being more interested in telling the story against stunning and alien backdrops. While this might place it firmly on the side of “soft” science, it was a conscious decision to not let science get in the way of the aesthetics.

The action oriented Flash would be a closer fit to John Carter than the more intellectual heroes that became standard in the 1950s and 60s. Likewise, the only intellectual character in the movie that helps the heroes is Zarkov, while both Barin and the Hawkman Vultan are definitely on the hit things first, ask questions later side of the coin.

One of the aspects of the film I think gets downplayed is that Dale Arden, despite being the designated love interest (seriously, how little time do Flash and Arden spend together before they declare their mutual love?) rescues herself instead of waiting to be rescued. She escapes from Ming’s harem, beats up the palace guards, and nearly escapes on her own power. Yes, she ultimately needs help from the other heroes, but she takes a decidedly active role in her own rescue.

There are some off-moments of course as well. The obvious yellowface Max von Sydow dons, while true to the source material, where Ming was essentially Fu Manchu in space, comes across as insensitive at best and insulting at worst to a modern viewer. Same with the decision to sacrifice Prince Thun (the sole named black character), who played a much larger role in the original source material.

And of course, I’d be remiss in not remarking on the killer soundtrack by Queen, as it was the first rock soundtrack for a science-fiction film. “Flash! A-ah. Saviour of the universe!” The only other soundtrack that Queen would contribute so heavily too was the sword-and-sorcery set in modern New York, HIGHLANDER.

As an interesting bit of trivia, George Lucas originally wanted the rights to FLASH GORDON, but was unable to acquire them from Dino De Laurentiis, so he went ahead and created a different space opera instead. You might have heard of it.

Interested in more Flash Gordon? Check out our friends at Hollow9ine who podcasted about this on “WHAT AM I WATCHING?!”

 

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Pulp Appeal: John Carter, Warlord of Mars

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I don’t remember how I got hooked on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter stories, but it was long before the 2012 movie. The basic plot was interesting–a man “dies” on Earth and awakens on Mars, locally called Barsoom, in the distant past when the planet was still populated by various Martian races–but that wasn’t the draw for me. At the time, I wasn’t even the biggest ERB fan, having felt like Tarzan was a bit of a let-down. If I had to pin down why John Carter resonated with me, it’s because I’m a fan of stories that examine the gradual decay of once mighty civilizations, the slow fall back into barbarism. This sort of story beat is common to much of pulp fiction–from detectives in the big city to nameless horrors waiting to awaken and destroy everything–where the interplay between civilization and barbarism frequently occurs.

The John Carter stories are structured as written accounts from the point of view of the hero, a Virginian who fought on the losing side of the Civil War and now earns a living as a gold prospector in Arizona. ERB introduces each as though they were real tales that he merely found and read. In those written accounts, Carter explains he is very old, perhaps a hundred years or more, and as far as he can recall he has always appeared to be about 30 years old, but he believes himself to be ultimately mortal.

The first story, A Princess of Mars, which ERB originally published under the pseudonym Norman Bean, was initially printed as the serial “Under the Moons of Mars” by the pulp magazine All Story. In it, Carter relays his first visit to Barsoom. He meets and befriends several of the warlike giant four-armed Green Martians, from whom he wins a grudging respect based on his prowess at war, which is heightened because of the lesser gravity on Mars. He discovers a civil war between Red Martians, who are much more human in design, and fights to save the princess Dejah Thoris and unite the people under the rule of Helium, one of the Red Martians’ capital cities. Carter effectively wins the Civil War that he lost on Earth.

In later tales, it becomes clear that there are other races on Mars, including the Therns, who are white, technologically advanced, hairless slavers that have been pretending to be Barsoomian gods, but who were in turn controlled by the First Born, a race of black cultists who live at the poles and consider themselves to be the first, purest Martians. There are other races, including Yellow Martians, plant men, and semi-sentient great white apes, as well as multiple offshoot white cultures like the Lotharians, but they aren’t focused on as much.

Much consternation from modern analysis arises from the way Burroughs discussed race relations on Barsoom, and John Carter is very much the white knight who can tame the wild peoples and bring order to savage cultures. There’s even a bit of Confederacy sympathy in that Carter fought for Virginia in the Civil War. However, he is more like Malcolm Reynolds from the fantastic sci-fi show Firefly than he is a modern day alt-right supporter, in that he is fighting against perceived autocratic aggression rather than preserving outdated racial ideals. In fact, Carter despises slavery2. He’s also fairly open-minded, befriending people of all the different Barsoomian races, but for all that, he is more than bit colonial.

Edgar Rice Burroughs is best known now for creating Tarzan, a character that was popular enough in ERB’s lifetime to make him relatively famous and financially secure. There have been dozens of interpretations of Tarzan, from silent film serials to Disney cartoons, from comic books all the way up to last year’s critically panned The Legend of Tarzan starring Alexander Skarsgård. Like Tarzan, John Carter was popular in his first appearance in 1912 and has seen multiple interpretations over the years, though nowhere near as many as the man raised by apes, but his popularity dwindled until relatively recently. In the past few years Carter has undergone a resurgence in the form of two films3 4 and a soon-to-be-published roleplaying game from Modiphius Games (both the alpha and beta editions of which I’ve read and am looking forward to).

Disney’s adaptation, John Carter, was a commercial and critical failure, but that’s really more because of the piss-poor marketing and not the quality of the film itself. It definitely took liberties with the source material, but it captured the basic ideas of Burroughs’ stories. In any case, if that was your first impression and you weren’t impressed (or maybe you were, and want more!), then you definitely need to check out the actual works. Bonus: they’re almost all Public Domain in the United States. In fact, a lot of Burroughs’ popular fiction is housed on Project Gutenberg. And Project Gutenberg Australia even has a few more. If you’re a fan of pulp, and you haven’t touched on the original ERB works, you owe it to yourself to spend some time with this classic proto-pulp story.


1  Clearly inspired by the idea of canals on Mars, which was discussed by actual scientists of the late 1800s and popularized by American Percival Lowell.

2 Many alt-right types have bought into the idea that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, much as Carter believes (and was still taught in the Virginia education system when I was a kid there in the 1980s).

3 The Asylum, famous now for Sharknado and its sequels, made Princess of Mars in 2009 to draw in audiences of James Cameron’s Avatar. The stars were Antonio Sabato, Jr, and former porn-star Traci Lords. Like most Asylum films, it was shot on a very limited budget and wasn’t intended to be great.

4 Disney produced John Carter, which was directed by Pixar phenom Andrew Stanton. Its stars were Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, and Willem Dafoe. Despite a huge budget line, it was a commercial flop.

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Pulp Appeal: Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser

Originally conceived in collaboration between Fritz Leiber and Harry Otto Fischer (Leiber would long credit Fischer with the original conception of the characters), and born in the middle of the Great Depression, the seven-foot tall barbarian Fafhrd and his diminutive companion, the former wizard’s apprentice Gray Mouser, would come to codify sword-and-sorcery, leaving behind a long and colorful legacy. Unlike Robert E. Howard’s Conan, Fafhrd (despite his barbarian upbringing) and the Gray Mouser were urban characters, happy to be adapted to civilization and prowl its streets and alleys. Leiber would go on to publish six collections and one novel starring the pair.

Leiber’s stories always held a special appeal for me. They are removed from the sweeping epic fantasy of Tolkien, instead zeroing in on a couple of rogues who are (mostly) out for themselves. If they end up saving the city of Lankhmar (their home and the setting for many of their adventures) it is because it serves their best interests to do so. Fafhrd and Mouser are ultimately human and humane. They argue with each other, they fall in love, they grieve when lovers die, and they (or at least Mouser) trolls the everliving shit out of the mystical mentors, Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face. Most importantly, they love adventure for the sake of adventure, languishing at times when a suitable challenge doesn’t present itself. In the fictional world Leiber crafted for them, adventure was never further away than down a dark alley.

Unlike Conan and some of the other classic pulp characters who were often the only constant in the stories told about them, Fafhrd and Mouser always shared the same space. There never could truly be one without the other, and this gave them a chance to play off each other, to banter, and to share in each other’s victories and defeats. While certainly not the first duo to crop up in fantasy, they hold a distinct place in being one of the most iconic.

To be sure, the world of Nehwon (itself a shout out to Samuel Butler’s Erehwon) is also distinctly separate from our own. This let Leiber indulge in the more fantastic elements, such as near-invisible ghouls, otherworldly bazaars, and the daughters of sea-kings. To be sure, using the “real world” was never a true barrier to pulp writers wanting to include fantastical or mystical elements to their work, but Leiber includes such elements as a race where only their bones are visible, a race of sentient rats dwelling below the streets of Lankhmar, and a physical representation of the land of the dead.

Leiber introduced and helped codify a number of what would come to be classic sword and sorcery tropes to the world. The concept of a Thieves’ Guild and a Slayer’s Brotherhood (a Guild of Assassins), originally meant by Leiber to be tongue in cheek, would be considered part-and-parcel of sword and sorcery adventures to come. Leiber would help define what it meant to craft a couple of swashbuckling characters who fought with both brain and steel, as opposed to Howard’s Conan who overwhelmingly preferred the direct approach.

What still surprises me, is that despite their lasting appeal (numerous reprints, popping up in Wonder Woman, having a game line in Dungeons and Dragons based off their adventures, and having a direct line to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series), is that they haven’t received the same pop-culture cachet as other properties. To be sure, there have been multiple role-playing games (Dungeons and Dragons and Savage Worlds both have used Lankhmar for settings) and more than one metal album has taken inspiration from Fritz Leiber’s timeless collection, but I still find it strange that there hasn’t been an attempt to bring it to either the big or small screen. Maybe the ground Leiber first broke has been trod over by too many others.

Or, maybe it will be the next big thing Netflix or HBO tries to cash in on. One can hope.

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