edgecase
Author: StJohn Piano
Published: 2020-02-02
Datafeed Article 132
This article has been digitally signed by Edgecase Datafeed.
1701 words - 248 lines - 7 pages







From The Tower of the Elephant:

[excerpt: page 29]


His gods were simple and understandable; Crom was their chief, and he lived on a great mountain, whence he sent forth dooms and death. It was useless to call on Crom, because he was a gloomy, savage god, and he hated weaklings. But he gave a man courage at birth, and the will and might to kill his enemies, which, in the Cimmerian's mind, was all any god should be expected to do.

[end of excerpt]







From The God in the Bowl:

[excerpt: page 73]


The barbarian shifted his grip on his sword and strode into the chamber. It was hung with rich silken tapestries; silken cushions and couches lay strewn about in careless profusion; and over a heavy gilded screen a face looked at the Cimmerian.

Conan stared in wonder at the cold classic beauty of that countenance, whose like he had never seen among the sons of men. Neither weakness nor mercy nor cruelty nor kindness, nor any other human emotion was in those features. They might have been the marble mask of a god, carved by a master hand, except for the unmistakable life in them - life cold and strange, such as the Cimmerian had never known and could not understand. He thought fleetingly of the marble perfection of the body which the screen concealed - it must be perfect, he thought, since the face was so inhumanly beautiful. But he could see only the god-like face, the finely molded head which swayed curiously from side to side. The full lips opened and spoke a single word in a rich vibrant tone that was like the golden chimes that ring in the jungle-lost temples of Khitai. It was an unknown tongue, forgotten before the kingdoms of man arose, but Conan knew that it meant, 'Come!'

And the Cimmerian came, with a desperate leap and a humming slash of his sword. The beautiful head rolled from the top of the screen in a jet of dark blood and fell at his feet, and he gave back, fearing to touch it. Then his skin crawled, for the screen shook and heaved with the convulsions of something behind. Conan had seen and heard men die by the scores, and never had he heard a human being make such sounds in the death-throes. There was a thrashing, floundering noise, as if a great cable were being lashed violently about.

At last the movements ceased and Conan looked gingerly behind the screen. Then the full horror of it all rushed over the Cimmerian, and he fled, nor did he slacken his headlong flight until the spires of Numalia faded into the dawn behind him. The thought of Set was like a nightmare, and the children of Set who once ruled the earth and who now sleep in their nighted caverns far below the black pyramids. Behind that gilded screen there had been no human body - only the shimmering, headless coils of a gigantic serpent.

[end of excerpt]







From The Queen of the Black Coast:

[excerpt: pages 126-127]


"What do you believe, Conan?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom's realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer's Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content."

[end of excerpt]







From Black Colossus:

[excerpt: page 173]


On every hand rose the grim relics of another, forgotten age: huge broken pillars, thrusting up their jagged pinnacles into the sky; long wavering lines of crumbling walls; fallen cyclopean blocks of stone; shattered images, whose horrific features the corroding winds and dust-storms had half erased. From horizon to horizon no sign of life: only the sheer breathtaking sweep of the naked desert, bisected by the wandering line of a long-dry river course; in the midst of that vastness the glimmering fangs of the ruins, the columns standing up like broken masts of sunken ships - all dominated by the towering ivory dome before which Shevatas stood trembling.

[end of excerpt]


[excerpt: page 178]


Rumors drifted up through the meadowlands, into the cities of the Hyborians. The word ran along the caravans, the long camel-trains plodding through the sands, herded by lean, hawkeyed men in white kaftans. It was passed on by the hook-nosed herdsmen of the grasslands, from the dwellers in tents to the dwellers in the squat stone cities where kings with curled blue-black beards worshipped round-bellied gods with curious rites. The word passed up through the fringe of hills where gaunt tribesmen took toll of the caravans. The rumors came into the fertile uplands where stately cities rose above blue lakes and rivers: the rumors marched along the broad white roads thronged with ox-wains, with lowing herds, with rich merchants, knights in steel, archers and priests.

They were rumors from the desert that lies east of Stygia, far south of the Kothian hills. A new prophet had risen among the nomads. Men spoke of tribal war, of a gathering of vultures in the southeast, and a terrible leader who led his swiftly increasing hordes to victory.

[end of excerpt]


[excerpt: pages 194-195]


All day the columns marched, through grassy rolling meadowlands, cut by small rivers, the terrain gradually beginning to slope upward. Ahead of them lay a range of low hills, sweeping in an unbroken rampart from east to west. They camped that night on the northern slopes of those hills, and hook-nosed, fiery-eyed men of the hill tribes came in scores to squat about the fires and repeat news that had come up out of the mysterious desert. Through their tales ran the name of Natohk like a crawling serpent. At his bidding the demons of the air brought thunder and wind and fog, the fiends of the underworld shook the earth with awful roaring. He brought fire out of the air and consumed the gates of walled cities, and burnt armored men to bits of charred bone. His warriors covered the desert with their numbers, and he had five thousand Stygian troops in war-chariots under the rebel prince Kutamun.

Conan listened unperturbed. War was his trade. Life was a continual battle, or series of battles, since his birth. Death had been a constant companion. It stalked horrifically at his side; stood at his shoulder beside the gaming-tables; its bony fingers rattled the wine-cups. It loomed above him, a hooded and monstrous shadow, when he lay down to sleep. He minded its presence no more than a king minds the presence of his cupbearer. Some day its bony grasp would close; that was all. It was enough that he lived through the present.

[end of excerpt]




From the afterword by Stephen Jones:

[excerpt: page 542]


In another letter to Clark Ashton Smith, postmarked December 14, 1933, Howard gave some more background to the creation of his most memorable character: 'I'm rather of the opinion myself that widespread myths and legends are based on some fact, though the fact may be distorted out of all recognition in the telling ... I know that for months I had been absolutely barren of ideas, completely unable to work up anything sellable. Then the man Conan seemed suddenly to grow up in my mind without much labor on my part and immediately a stream of stories flowed off my pen - or rather off my type-writer - almost without effort on my part. I did not seem to be creating, but rather relating events that had occurred. Episode crowded on episode so fast that I could scarcely keep up with them. For weeks I did nothing but write of the adventures of Conan. The character took complete possession of my mind and crowded out everything else in the way of story-writing. When I deliberately tried to write something else, I couldn't do it.'

[end of excerpt]


[excerpt: page 546]


Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.

[end of excerpt]


Note: The previous excerpt is a quotation in the afterword from the story 'Beyond the Black River' by Robert E. Howard, which is not included in this volume.

[excerpt: pages 547-548]


In a letter that same month to Clark Ashton Smith, Howard continued: 'It may sound fantastic to link the term "realism" with Conan; but as a matter of fact - his supernatural adventures aside - he is the most realistic character I ever evolved. He is simply a combination of a number of men I have known, and I think that's why he seemed to step full-grown into my consciousness when I wrote the first yarn of the series. Some mechanism in my sub-consciousness took the dominant characteristics of various prizefighters, gunmen, bootleggers, oil field bullies, gamblers, and honest workmen I had come in contact with, and combining them all, produced the amalgamation I call Conan the Cimmerian.'

Between the early months of 1932 and July 1935, Robert E. Howard wrote twenty-one adventures of Conan the barbarian. These tales varied in length from around 3,500 words to the almost novel-length of 75,000 words. Of these stories, seventeen were published in Weird Tales.

As the author explained: 'Literature is a business to me - a business at which I was making an ample living when the Depression knocked the guts out of the markets. My sole desire in writing is to make a reasonable living. I may cling to many illusions, but I am not ridden by the illusion that I have anything wonderful or magical to say, or that it would amount to anything particularly if I did say it. I have no quarrel with art-for-art's-sakers. On the contrary, I admire their work. But my pet delusions tend in other directions.'

[end of excerpt]











[start of notes]



I have in my possession a book copy of The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle, by Robert E. Howard, edited with an afterword by Stephen Jones.


The book contains a collection of stories about Conan the Barbarian.


Details from the first few pages:
- Copyright © Robert E. Howard
- This edition first published in Great Britain in 2000 by Millenium
- Reprinted in 2003 by Gollancz


I transcribed some sections of text manually, but drew my starting texts primarily from the following sources:

The God in the Bowl
gutenberg.net.au/ebooks15/1501131h.html
eBook produced by Roy Glashan

The Queen of the Black Coast
gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600961h.html
eBook produced by Richard Scott and Colin Choat, and updated by Roy Glashan.

Black Colossus
gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600931h.html
eBook produced by Richard Scott and Colin Choat, and updated by Roy Glashan.

Letter from Robert E Howard to Clark Ashton Smith, dated July 23, 1935.
users.rcn.com/shogan/howard/letters/rehlet8.htm

I then compared the texts against my book copy, treating the book copy as authoritative.


[end of notes]