Friday, June 18, 2010

Of Cimmerian awards and REH-related writings

One of these years I need to make it out to Cross Plains, Texas for Howard Days. It's an annual gathering of Howard-heads at the old Howard homestead, which has since been designated a historical site. It features guided tours, panel discussions, special guests, fellowship, and awards given out by the Robert E. Howard Foundation. And some spirits appear to be imbibed as well, which is okay by me.

Here's one report of the event on the REHupa blog , and another over on REH: Two Gun Raconteur.

At this year's Howard Days The Cimmerian won a pair of Stygian awards, given for outstanding achievement by an REH-oriented website. I was glad to play a part in the award for contributions during calendar year 2009. Although I miss writing for The Cimmerian, as our penultimate post notes, it was nice going out on top. (Al, that's a sweet sports coat by the way).

I'll also blast my own horn and note that I had two essays nominated for a Hyrkanian (Outstanding Achievement, Essay): “An Honorable Retreat: Robert E. Howard as Escapist Writer” (from The Dark Man, V4N2); and “The Unnatural City” (from The Cimmerian, v5n2). I didn't win but it was an honor to be nominated. The winners were Leo Grin for 2009 and Steve Tompkins for 2010. Having read both essays I have no complaints there. These guys were and remain two of REH's greatest champions.

For the record I have a third essay just published in the latest issue of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur. It's called “Unmasking “The Shadow Kingdom:” Kull and Howard as Outsiders.” I'm not sure if, to paraphrase H.P. Lovecraft, Howard's Kull stories represented some weird peak in REH's writing career, but there's no doubt that they feature Howard at his most philosophic and meditative. They certainly demonstrate that the best pulp/fantastic fiction can and should be treated as literature. There's a lot more going on in "The Shadow Kingdom" than meets the eye. From my essay:

Regarded by most as the first swords-and-sorcery tale ever written, ["The Shadow Kingdom'] remains one of its finest examples, for it serves as a reminder that the genre can transcend empty action. Figuratively and literally, there is something both sinister and brilliant going on beneath the skin of this tale. Bound up in the reptilian hide of a pulse-pounding work of heroic fiction, “The Shadow Kingdom” is a vehicle that Howard used to probe for the truth of the human condition.

5 comments:

David J. West said...

I will make it out one of these days.

Keep up the great work. I want to be there to congratulate you when you do win.

Brian Murphy said...

Thanks David!

Ian said...

On the subject of Robert E. Howard, I actually live in Peaster, TX, where he was born.

Brian Murphy said...

Pretty cool Ian. Does the town have any monuments to Howard anywhere? They ought to.

Ian said...

Brian, sorry it took me forever to reply. Unfortunately, there are not monuments to Howard here. His birth in this town (if you even want to call it that) isn't exactly common knowledge around here, though I have tried to spread the word a bit.