Monday, February 01, 2010

SF/F: El Borak and Other Desert Adventures by Robert E. Howard

Don’t get me wrong: I’m confident that 2010 will be filled with fantastic new books and even new voices in the twinned genres of science fiction and fantasy. Even so, I think it’s going to be tough for me to get as excited about another book as I am about Del Rey’s release this month of El Borak and Other Desert Adventures by the tragic and doomed Robert E. Howard, the prolific pulp writer-of-all-trades who, in 1936, died tragically and by his own hand when he was just 30.

That alone gives me pause. When you consider both Howard’s incredible output as well as the legacy he left, it’s very sad to think what he would have achieved had been given -- had he taken -- another 30 years. Our loss.

Howard was one of the most influential pulp authors of the 20th century. He is credited with the creation of the sword and sorcery sub-genre. In El Borak and Other Desert Adventures we are treated to a really terrific collection of Howard’s stories, highlighted by one of his best-known creations, the Texan adventurer Xavier Gordon, known as El Borak and set on adventure in the deserts of the east.

Almost as special as this resurrection of some of Howard’s most important stories are the illustrations that have been created for this volume. The art of Jim and Ruth Keegan and Tim Bradstreet are well known in SF/F and the inclusion of specially commissioned work here contributes to making this volume feel like much more than the republication of Howard’s stories: it feels like a respectful celebration of his electric, irreplaceable voice.

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Anonymous Gordon Aalborg said...

"A respectful celebration of his electric, irreplaceable voice."
I grew up on the Conan books, and Howard's other swords'n'sorcery tales.
Never *quite* as taken with his other work, but nobody could deny that Howard - like Edgar Rice Burroughs - had an astonishing, unique and unparalleled imagintion.
And, at least in my opinion, he was a far, far better *writer* than ERB or most of his other contemporaries.

Monday, February 1, 2010 at 9:53:00 AM PST  

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