The Valley of the Death Goddess is possibly a reference to Issus, whom the Therns worship.
Xanesha mentions an alliance of Empress Camilla’s has barred simians of all kinds from the Shareen Arena. According to Mona, Issue #2 will introduce us to the other side of the alliance, Gorilla King, Ruthazek from Pathfinder’s own world of Golarion.
Pha appeared in the original Thun’da comics by Frank Frazetta and Gardener Fox.
“I’ve killed three minotaurs, an ogre, a woman made…I think she was part metal.”
I’m not sure who the woman made of metal could be, but it sounds like a reference.
The man who ruled by Pha’s side is none other than Thun’da.
This looks to be a collection of spectators from multiple fictional worlds. The golden robot looks some-what familiar, but I can’t place him. According to Mona, the shouting guys with helmets are meant to be Red Martians from Barsoom, but there was a coloring mistake.
I’m not sure if her scepter is a reference to anything, or if it’s an original item for this series.
Enter Red Sonja, the She-Devil with a Sword, based on the heroine first created by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonya of Rogatino in the historical adventure “The Shadow of the Vulture” in the January 1934 issue of Magic Carpet Magazine, adapted into a Hyborian Age comic book character by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith in Conan the Barbarian #23 in February 1973.
For more information on the pulp sword-and-sorcery origins of Red Sonja, check out one of my past episodes:
If you’re interested in video games, I’m willing to bet you’re familiar with mods and the mod community. Mods are fan-made modifications to games already in existence. I was recently made aware of a mod for a World War II Super Hero video game that swaps out the pre-existing super hero characters and their missions with a wide variety of pulp heroes and pulp-styled missions.
The video game in question is Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich, which was originally created by Irrational Games back in 2005 for the PC. It’s now available to download via the Steam store. This is a real-time tactical role-playing game where you control a group of heroes who time travel back in time to World War II and fight the Nazis.
I’m somewhat familiar with this franchise as the artwork always caught my attention due to its strong Jack Kirby influence, but I can’t say I’ve ever investigated it too deeply. Given the premise, it seems to be an ideal base product to insert some pulpy goodness.
With the Pulp Adventures Mod by Benton Grey, rather than the stock heroes, players control the likes of Doc Savage, The Shadow, Indiana Jones, The Green Hornet, Kato, the Rocketeer, The Spider, The Spirit, The Lone Ranger, Tonto, Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, The Phantom, Captain Midnight, Miss Fury, Dick Tracy, Jungle Jim, Kolu, Monk Mayfair, Ham Brooks, and Renny Renwick on a unique campaign of 17 world-spanning missions. Also, according to the website, “the story features several classic pulp villains and a twisting, turning plot that ties into the settings and adventures of many of the starring characters.”
In addition to the huge cast available in the campaign mode mentioned above, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and John Carter of Mars are playable in the sandbox mode at the moment.
Hello everyone and welcome to Pulp Crazy’s PulpFest 2016 Convention Report. I apologize for the lack of episodes lately, but I’ve been working on some new fiction that has taken up a good portion of my time. I hope to resume episodes on at least a monthly basis in late August. But until then, keep an eye out for some panel recordings from PulpFest 2016 to quench your pulp thirst.
PulpFest 2016 took place from July 21st to July 24th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio. This was my sixth time attending PulpFest and I attended in conjunction with FarmerCon, a convention celebrating the life and work of author Philip José Farmer. This year marked FarmerCon XI.
PulpFest actually got started a little early for me, as I arrived in Columbus on the evening of Wednesday July 20th. My night was spent in the hotel atrium hanging out with the FarmerCon crowd into the wee hours of the morning.
On Thursday, the FarmerCon crew took our annual trip to the Acorn Bookshop in one of the nearby suburbs of Columbus. As usual, they had a nice selection of adventure, fantasy, and science fiction paperbacks, hardcovers, and some graphic novels. If you’re ever in Columbus and need to kill an hour or two, this is an excellent place to do it.
I grabbed a bunch of sword & sorcery paperbacks including short story collections and a novel by Fritz Leiber, as well as collections by Poul Anderson, and John Jakes. I also picked up a copy of Flashing Swords #1 edited by Lin Carter. There was also an Atlantis anthology Carter edited, The Magic of Atlantis that caught my eye. I also purchased a few novels by Tanith Lee that looked interesting, as well as some John Jakes novels.
My biggest haul was books 4 through 8, and 12 of the Thieves’ World series, along with a few books set in the same world by Janet K. Morris. I had purchased the first three books in the Thieves’ World series last year and recently finished the first one. I thought it was great and am currently in the midst of reading the second book. I hope to review these in the same way I’m currently handling the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series by Fritz Leiber. The only downside I can really find in the first Thieves’ World book is I can’t find Death’s Harbor on the bloody map!
Due to the strength of David Drake’s Thieves’ World short story, “Goddess,” I picked up a Baen collection of Cormac Mac Art by Robert E. Howard that also includes a new story by David Drake featuring the CMA. Christopher Paul Carey gifted me a copy of Gardener Fox’s Warrior of Llarn that he picked up at a local used book store, so I made sure to buy the sequel Thief of Llarn to complete the set. Cheon of Weltanland caught my eye, not only for the Boris Vallejo cover, but the back cover copy mentions a Hyperborean witch. The author is credited as Charlotte Stone, but according to ISFDB this is actually a pen name for the husband and wife team of Dominique and Charles Nightingale.
After returning to the Hyatt Regency, it was early bird shopping time in the dealer room. Rather than going day by day through my purchases, I’ll just list them here for convenience.
Meteor House, the sponsors of FarmerCon always have a quality slate of new titles that premiere at PulpFest, and 2016 was no exception. As a matter of PulpFest 2016 marked a new record in terms of the number of titles released. I snagged a copy of each –
Dayworld: A Hole in Wednesday by Philip Jose Farmer and Danny Adams – A posthumous collaboration between Philip Jose Farmer and Danny Adams. The two previously collaborated on The City Beyond Play several years ago. This book serves as a prequel to Farmer’s Dayworld trilogy.
Blood of Ancient Opar by Christopher Paul Carey – I previously reviewed the latest installment of Philip Jose Farmer’s Ancient Opar (Khokarsa) series here. After getting an advanced review copy, I loved the feeling of getting the hardcover and softcover in my hands.
Crossovers Expanded Volumes 1 & 2 by Sean Lee Levin – A follow up to Win Scott Eckert’s original Crossovers: A Secret History of the World. Years of research have come to culmination in these two tomes of crossover chronologies. This is all new material that currently sit side-by-side on my bookshelf along with the original Crossovers.
While we’re on the subject of Philip Jose Farmer, the dealer room had a few bonus treats in regards to Farmer related artwork. I didn’t buy any of these pieces, but it was cool just to see them.
Heartwood Auctions had a few portfolios of Roy G. Krenkel black & white artwork they were selling, including two pieces related to the Ancient Opar series. The first was a rough of the frontispiece for Hadon of Ancient Opar and the other was a black and white pencil rough for the cover of Flight to Opar.
But the biggest kick was the original painting to the cover of the DAW edition of Ironcastle by J. H. Rosny, translated and retold by Philip Jose Farmer. Note how a fair portion of the painting was cropped out for the DAW paperback release. The painting was going for a cool $10,000.
The dealer room also had some paperbacks that caught my eye.
I picked up a Robert E. Howard collection titled, Black Cannan, as it contains “People of the Black Circle”, a short story that wasn’t reprinted during the Del Rey Robert E. Howard reprints. I also grabbed a copy of Conan of the Isles by L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter, as I’ve heard it features an aged King Conan. I’m not expecting much from this, but I am down to my last Robert E. Howard Conan story to read in the form of “Red Nails” and I’m curious to see what “Conan: The End” reads like.
I’m not usually one to collect books, I’m more of a reader, but when it comes to Philip Jose Farmer’s Ancient Opar series, that’s a different story. I couldn’t pass up a nice copy of the second printing of Hadon of Ancient Opar and look myself in the mirror the next morning.
For years there has been one pulp reprint that I have admired both at PulpFest and online. The Spider Vs The Empire State by Norvell Page. I finally pulled the trigger at the con this year and purchased it directly from the publisher’s table. Age of Aces is the publisher and let me tell you, this is one beautiful book. I look forward to eventually reading this landmark pulp hero trilogy. The gentleman that sold me the book tells me it isn’t like a usual Spider story, it’s more along the lines of an Operator #5 tale.
As long as I’ve been browsing Weird Tales covers, one particular issue always seems to pop up in my searches with the cover story of Golden Blood by Jack Williamson. I saw the paperback on a table for a couple bucks and it seemed like a good purchase.
Poul Anderson books are starting to catch my eye more and more. The People of the Wind seems like an interesting science fiction story dealing with the relations between a human race and an avian race occupying the same territory.
The City of the Singing Flame is a Clark Ashton Smith collection, despite having most of Smith’s fiction thanks to the Night Shade ebooks, I still can’t pass up a CAS paperback collection.
Quest of the Dark Lady caught my eye due to the cover and the plot. It looks to be a post apocalyptic sword & sorcery tale, and a stand-alone one at that. The reviews I’ve seen on Amazon of it make me think it’s a solid read.
Looking at those original Roy Krenkel illustrations and painting put me in the mood for some more RGK. When a dealer was selling some Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks for a buck a piece, I grabbed all the ones with Krenkel and Frank Frazetta covers that I could.
While looking through the boxes of Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks, Midnight Sun caught my eye. The cover was cool, but the author’s name was nowhere to be found. I opened it and to my delight discovered it was a fanzine devoted to the works of Karl Edward Wagner. The contents were absent from the spine, but for a buck it was a no-brainer.
Now if you listen to Pulp Crazy, you know I’m a fan of sword & sorcery, especially pulp era s&s. When I spotted a Fritz Leiber autographed copy of Swords against Darkness ….well I just had to own it.
Speaking of autographs, the guest of honor for PulpFest 2016 was author and editor Ted White. I regretfully left my copy of Weird HeroesVolume 5 at home, but found a cool looking paperback for him to sign, The Spawn of the Death Machine. I read the first chapter and between the cover and description it seemed like a post apocalyptic John Carter type of tale. Mr. White autographed it for me and mentioned it’s actually a sequel to an Ace Double novel, Android Avenger.
As always, the dealer room didn’t disappoint. If I was a dealer looking to movie an inventory of pulp magazines and/or paperback adventure, science fiction, and fantasy titles, I’d definitely give PulpFest a try.
Now onto the programming. I didn’t catch a whole lot of it this year, as I spent a good portion of my evenings catching up with old friends and meeting new ones out in the atrium. The panels I did attend were very enjoyable, though.
On Thursday night I caught Garyn Roberts’ panel detailing H. G. Wells’ (reprints) cover run in Amazing Stories. I didn’tknow this, but John W. Campbell put Wells reprints in Amazing Stories for 29 consecutive issues (if I’mremembering correctly) and Wells received the cover story each time.
PulpFest set aside a slate of a few hours for FarmerCon authors to read from their work in the early afternoon on Friday afternoon. Danny Adams read from Dayworld: A Hole in Wednesday, Christoper Paul Carey read from Blood of Ancient Opar and The Song of Kwasin, and Win Scott Eckert read from The Evil in Pemberely House and Being an Account of the Delay at Green River, Wyoming, of Phileas Fogg, World Traveler, or, The Masked Man Meets an English Gentleman. The authors also took questions from the audience between their readings.
This was a nice prelude to the Farmercon XI Panel later that Friday night, Collaborating with Philip Jose Farmer. On the panel were Paul Spiteri (who edited the Farmer collection Pearls from Peoria), Danny Adams (who co-wrote The City Beyond Play and Dayworld: A Hole in Wednesday with Farmer), Christopher Paul Carey (who co-wrote The Song of Kwasin with Farmer), and Win Scott Eckert (who co-wrote The Evil In Pemberely House with Farmer). It was an insightful and entertaining panel.
I caught the New Pulp Panel, moderated and hosted by author and editor Ron Fortier on Saturday morning. On the panel this year were Barbara Doran, Win Scott Eckert, Jeff Fournier, and Andy Fix. The panel had a lot of good quality writing and editing trade-craft talk this year.
The last panel I attended was Saturday night where the Guest of Honor, Ted White gave a presentation. Mr. White told some entertaining stories of his days breaking in and working in the science fiction and fantasy publishing scene.
PulpFest 2016 didn’tdisappoint. For me, it never does. I‘ll be curious to see where the convention ends up next year, as it appears the Hyatt Regency is no longer a feasible option. When I came to my first PulpFest back in 2011, it was at a Ramada (I think) Hotel/Motel on the outskirts of town. From what I could gather from the business meeting, it seems like the committee hopes to return to that sort of location, which I think is a good thing.
Well, I hope everyone enjoyed reading my PulpFest 2016 Convention Report as much as I enjoyed PulpFest itself. I have one more convention on my plate the Dum-Dum in Morris, Illinois. This is an Edgar Rice Burroughs focused convention. I’mheading there Thursday August 3rd and coming back Sunday August 7th. I’ll be sure to write up a report on that as well. Keep an eye out for my PulpFest 2016 Panel Recordings, I should have them up before I leave for the Dum-Dum.
Just wanted to give everyone an update on what I’ve been up to this week. I didn’t have time to write or record an episode as I have been working on The Swords of Robert E. Howard Forum at http://swordsofreh.proboards.com.
The Conan.com boards were a fantastic community and many of us didn’t want to see that vanish in between the time the Conan.com forum closed and the Robert E. Howard Foundation forum went up.
So I decided to create this fan forum and so far we have 66 members and are always open to more. If you’re a fan of Robert E. Howard, Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, or quality fiction in general, feel free to join up.
I (Jason Aiken) was a guest on the Lovecraft eZine videochat and podcast along with Frank Schildiner. We talked with Mike Davis, Pete Rawlik, and Rick Lai about Lovecraft and Wold Newton (Philip José Farmer in particualr) related topics. We also talked about our recent writing projects. You can watch it on YouTube or listen via the podcast.
Pulp Crazy got a chance to sit down with author Christopher Paul Carey to discuss the upcoming standalone release of The Song of Kwasin, the conclusion to Philip José Farmer’s original Khokarsa/Ancient Opar trilogy. This is the first time the novel will be available as a standalone edition; it’s the perfect time to pick this up if you’ve been wondering what happens after Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar.
The first novel of the series stars Hadon of Opar and his wayward adventures after the power-hungry King Minruth cheats him out of winning the throne of Khokarsa by sending him on a fool’s errand into the Wild Lands beyond the empire. Here Hadon runs across his giant, half-mad cousin Kwasin, who has been exiled for his crimes against a priestess of the Great Mother Goddess Kho. After succeeding in his quest, Hadon returns back to the capital with Kwasin and their companions, only to find the empire torn asunder by a civil war. We last see Kwasin in the prow of a boat, swinging his mighty ax of meteoritic iron against Minruth’s overwhelming forces while Hadon and the others escape. In the second novel of the series, a prophecy of the oracle hurls Hadon back to his home city of Opar, but we hear nothing of Kwasin except that he has somehow become king of Dythbeth, a city on the island of Khokarsa that’s at war with Minruth and his armies. The Song of Kwasin picks up right after the events of Hadon of Ancient Opar, and is the story of how Kwasin tries to clear his name and take the fight to Minruth against insurmountable odds. So The Song of Kwasin actually takes place concurrently with many of the events in Flight to Opar.
How did you come to coauthor The Song of Kwasin with Philip José Farmer?
I was serving as coeditor of Farmerphile, a periodical dedicated to publishing Philip José Farmer’s rare and previously unpublished writing, when the original outline and partial manuscript of The Song of Kwasin was found in Phil’s files in 2005. When Farmerphile’s publisher, Michael Croteau, sent me photocopies of the outline and manuscript so we could see whether we wanted to use them in the magazine, I could hardly believe what I was seeing—Kwasin’s epic tale and the entire arc of the war against King Minruth spelled out in full. I knew immediately that the story had to be written, so I wrote up a pitch and sent it to Phil, who at that time had retired from writing. Much to my surprise, he accepted it. I think the fact that we both had a mutual love of anthropology and the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard—all inspirations for the series—had a lot to do with his decision. I also believe he was excited by the idea of seeing the main arc of the trilogy finally completed. He’d been considering completing the third volume of the series as late as 1999, but he retired shortly after that and then had a number of health setbacks in the years that followed. In 2005, I was in the middle of a graduate study program in writing. Phil and his wife Bette both agreed that I should complete my studies before I began writing the novel, which I did. Though I completed The Song of Kwasin in early 2008, novel wasn’t published until 2012 due to other Farmer projects in the pipes with the publisher. But Phil, who passed in February 2009, was able to see the completed novel, which Bette read aloud to him. And for that I’m glad. I think it meant a lot to Phil to know the novel he’d long planned was at last finished.
What did Philip José Farmer think of the completed novel?
Bette Farmer told me it brought a big smile to Phil’s face to hear Kwasin’s adventures, and that they both really enjoyed it.
Did Mr. Farmer give you any direction while you were working on the novel?
Yes. Early on he told me how he wanted the novel to end. I was able to ask him some questions about alternative courses he’d left open in the outline, and he told me to disregard those and how he wanted the novel to wrap up now that it was to be positioned as the climax of a trilogy. That was all extremely helpful. Later on he was too ill to give me much input, but by then I was already writing the novel and we’d worked out where the story was headed. I’ll always be grateful to Phil for his generosity and encouragement.
The Song of Kwasin was previously available only as part of an omnibus. Could you discuss the bonus materials that will appear in the new standalone edition of The Song of Kwasin, which is due out from Meteor House in December 2015?
First up, there’s a stellar introduction by Paul Di Filippo. That’s a huge honor and treat for me because I admire his writing so much. Then I’ve written a preface to the new edition, giving a lot of background on how the book came to be written. Following the novel comes “Kwasin and the Bear God,” a 20,000-word novella based on Philip José Farmer’s outline that relates a lost adventure set between the first two chapters of The Song of Kwasin. The new edition also includes a “Guide to Khokarsa,” rare articles by Farmer, reproductions of some of his notes on the series, the original and alternate outlines to The Song of Kwasin, and previously unpublished correspondence by Farmer with Frank J. Brueckel and John Harwood, authors of “Heritage of the Flaming God,” the monumental essay that inspired the Khokarsa series.
You mentioned that The Song of Kwasin was the climax of a trilogy. Has the series been completed or is there more coming?
If you read The Song of Kwasin, you’ll understand why I say it’s the end of the main story arc of a trilogy. But there’s still a lot left to tell of the saga of Khokarsa. At one time, Phil said he planned to write twelve books in the series. Using Phil’s notes on where the story was headed, I wrote Hadon, King of Opar, which should be considered the fourth volume in the Khokarsa series. Its sequel, Blood of Ancient Opar, is slated to be published in 2016. After that, I have plans for a trilogy about Hadon’s son, Kohr. I’m also toying with the idea of someday returning to the character Lupoeth, the priestess-heroine of Exiles of Kho, my novella about the origin of the city of Opar. But we’ll see. Right now I’m committed to writing Blood of Ancient Opar and the new trilogy about Kohr. Only Kho and the golden tablets from the lost cities of Opar and Kôr know what happens after that!
The Song of Kwasin releases in December 2015 and can be preordered here.
Christopher Paul Carey is the coauthor with Philip José Farmer of The Song of Kwasin, and the author of Exiles of Kho and Hadon, King of Opar. His short fiction may be found in anthologies such as Ghost in the Cogs, Tales of the Shadowmen, The Worlds of Philip José Farmer, Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, and The Avenger: The Justice, Inc. Files. He is a senior editor at Paizo on the award-winning Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and has edited numerous collections, anthologies, and novels. He holds a master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Visit him online at http://cpcarey.com.
Pulp Crazy: Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview, Douglas. Your name is a familiar one to pulp fans, and it’s an honor to interview you on Pulp Crazy. As someone who owns a number of the Moonstone anthologies your covers adorn, I love your illustrations of pulp characters. How did you first get interested in the pulps?
Douglas Klauba: Thank you so much! I started getting into pulp art at an early age, early teens while collecting comic books, monster magazines, and paperbacks. And because I was a Steranko fan, I collected his Shadow and other paperbacks that he did covers for, like Weird Heroes. Eventually, Steranko’s Chandler was released and it made a huge impression upon me as a young artist. I was then picking up the comic book versions of The Shadow, The Avenger, Doc Savage, Conan, and John Carter of Mars. It all started to click with me that these new interpretations came from an original source, aside from old time radio… and I ended up becoming a bigger fan of pulp heroes over comic book heroes.
Pulp Crazy: Who are some of your favorite pulp artists? Do any particular pulp covers stand out in your mind?
Douglas Klauba: J. Allen St. John, Rudolph Belarski, Walter Baumhofer, Norm Saunders, Virgil Finlay, Edward Cartier, George Rozen, Rafael DeSoto, and Hubert Rogers. I don’t think I could pick a favorite cover… way too hard: maybe a Rozen cover of The Shadow or a Doc Savage. I do love many Astounding covers by Hubert Rogers.
Pulp Crazy: Has classic pulp art influenced your style? If yes, how so?
Douglas Klauba: Very much so. From figurative, colors, lighting, and composition. I also enjoy working in a black and white pulp influenced style.
Pulp Crazy: What is your favorite genre to draw? Do you find yourself more at home with the hero pulps, science fiction, fantasy, crime, or some other genre within the greater realm of the pulps?
Douglas Klauba: I really do love all that you’ve mentioned. I’ve been fortunate to have been hired by Moonstone for many of their pulp hero books. I like developing paintings with science fiction woman with plenty of retro ray guns and space ships. I’m also a huge fan of the hard boiled private eyes and detectives. I plan on continuing a personal series of paintings in that genre.
Pulp Crazy: What pulp character do you enjoy drawing the most? Is this your favorite pulp character?
Douglas Klauba: While I’m a huge fan of The Shadow, and Doc Savage, as well as The Spider – I really like illustrating crime / detective images. I think I enjoy all the characters equally. I’ve never illustrated The Shadow in color but hope to in the next couple of weeks, after I finish my current painting I’m working on of John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Tars Tarkas.
Pulp Crazy: Do you have a particular pulp series or character you enjoy reading?
Douglas Klauba: I really enjoy the John Carter books. Some days I like to read The Shadow, while other days I’m in the mood for The Spider.
Pulp Crazy: Outside of pulp characters, what other types of illustrations do you like to create?
Douglas Klauba: Anything to do with movies! I recently completed a commemorative poster for the Clive Barker film, Lord of Illusions. I’m also working on an original pulp inspired adventure graphic novel, that I hope to finish one day….
Douglas Klauba: I really owe it all to my friend, Bob Garcia. We were discussing projects one day, probably at the Windy City Pulp and Paperback Show, and he really got the ball rolling. I wanted to put some of these pulp themed images in a collection of some sort. Bob ended up presenting a calendar design that blew me away, and then he redesigned it – and it blew me away even more. He also helped me decide on which images.
Bob and I have worked on many book covers and poster projects together. I love his art direction, I trust his judgement, and we work really well together. After his successful, and beautiful The Collectors Book Of Virgil Finlay on Kickstarter, he thought that I could publish this with his guidance. I’ve been pleasantly surprised finding out that there are art fans, and pulp art fans that want to hang my work up every month. So, here we are days away of knowing if the Adventure Calendar will be fully funded or not.
Pulp Crazy: Do you have any other pulp related projects in the works that you can talk about?
Douglas Klauba: Well, as I mentioned, I’m working on a black and white pulp inspired graphic novel. I have a few commissions lined up that need to be taken care of. There are a couple of other projects that are too early to discuss, but I’d be thrilled to announce once they begin.
Pulp Crazy: Thanks again for agreeing to the interview, Douglas. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the 2016 calendar and future pulp related books featuring your artwork.
Douglas Klauba: Thank you, Jason! I can’t wait to get it into your hands and onto your wall as well!
It is 1897 and the skies are haunted by mysterious airships and unfathomable secrets.
Tasked with hunting down these strange vehicles of the air and determining their origin and intent, two U.S. government agents toil under unusual conditions to supply their shadowy superiors with information. But that information proves to be as elusive as the airships themselves.
Ride with Agents Valiantine and Cabot across the Midwest as they encounter reports of strange lights, phantom soldiers, unreliable witnesses, and the ultimate source of their airborne prey.
They are the Airship Hunters, and they cannot be waylaid from their path to uncover the greatest mystery of them all.
Airship Hunters is an upcoming novel written by Jim Beard and Duane Spurlock that’s currently available for pre-order from Meteor House. The limited edition novel will be debuting in August at Pulpfest 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. If readers pre order Airship Hunters by July 1st, their names will appear in the acknowledgments section at the front of the book.
Jim and Duane were kind enough to answer some questions I had about the book.
PC: Where did Airship Hunters come from? How long have you been interested in the mystery of 19th-century UFO’s? Can you give us a little background on the phenomena?
JIM: As a kid, an early 1970s issue of Gold Key’s UFO FLYING SAUCERS clued me into the fact that UFOs were not just a 20th century thing. The idea of a mystery in the skies before the advent of dirigibles and airplanes intrigued me, and later, when I learned more about the Great Airship Flap of the 1890s, my interest only grew. These airships appeared to witnesses across the country in 1896 and 1897, beginning in California and progressing all the way to the Great Lakes. There was very little science fiction at the time, very little with which people could frame the mystery, so it astounded them and captured their fancy, unlike today and taking for granted such things. With AIRSHIP HUNTERS, I wanted to come at it in that vein: our characters approach the mystery without all the baggage of 20th century “little green men” and silvery discs shooting across the sky.
DUANE: Jim clued me in on 19th-century UFOs. I had been a fan of The X Files TV show, and began reading Charles Fort’s books and Fortean Times magazine as a result. So I knew about a lot of inexplicable events that occurred during the 19th century. But other than having an awareness of Jules Verne’s novels about flying machines, I was in the dark about the topic until Jim approached me with his story idea and told me about the newspaper reports on UFOs from the 1890s. So, he put a new bump on my brain and sparked a new itch to write about. Mysteries like these—occurrences or artifacts that have no clear explanation—feed this yearning people have for answers. Look at all the books and television shows about age-old mysteries and conspiracies, shows like Ancient Aliens. These kinds of entertainment wouldn’t continue to exist if people didn’t crave this kind of information. So Airship Hunters should find an eager audience.
PC: Give us your Hollywood pitch for Airship Hunters. (Example: Edge of Tomorrow is Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. Game of Thrones is The Soprano’s meets Lord of the Rings, etc..)
JIM: We’ve been saying “an 1897 X-FILES” and “Jules Verne meets the X-FILES.” There’s much more to the story than that, but they’re good to begin the conversation.
PC: What were your primary influences while writing Airship Hunters? Any particular author or fictional work you guys had in mind?
JIM: My biggest influence was Duane! Seriously! Just holding up my end of it, trying to up my game to get close to his attention to detail and his love of history and environment kept me on my toes throughout the writing process. We traded off on chapters, leapfrogging if you will, and trying to top each other.
DUANE: Jim is too kind. I know a lot of pulp readers revere the dynamic, choppy prose of Lester Dent and his contemporaries. I lean toward that style, and feel that influence, when I’m writing action scenes. But I feel my primary influence while writing Airship Hunters was the Sherlock Holmes stories. Doyle was a storytelling master—Holmes’ continual popularity clearly demonstrates that. Doyle’s narrative clips along, and the characters pick away at mysteries. The heroes of Airship Hunters are essentially detectives, seeking the logical needle in the inexplicable haystack. Doyle worked in what anthologist Mike Ashley calls the Golden Age of Storytellers. It was an era filled with marvelous writers, people whose works we still read today: Robert Louis Stevenson, H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, and more. So I aimed for the sort of smooth but pell-mell narrative flow you find in Doyle and other writers of that era. So, for a contemporary pulp fan, you might say my influences resulted in an amalgam of Dent and Doyle, ending up in that sort of adventurous narrative style you might find in Adventure Magazine during Arthur Sullivant Hoffman’s editorial reign.
PC: What genre or genres would you associate Airship Hunters with?
JIM: We’ve said to each other, “It’s not a Western; it’s an EASTERN!” Beyond that, it’s a little bit Victorian thriller, science fiction, conspiracy theory, cozy mystery, buddy picture, and a smidge of steampunk.
DUANE: I wanna see the cozy mysteries Jim is reading! I agree with his description. The heart of our story, for me, is a detective tale. But there’s also an element of danger. Our airship hunters are both hunters AND hunted: think Richard Hannay in John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps. They are seeking clues, investigating strange and bizarre occurrences and reports and trying to make sense of them, when the evidence clearly escapes everyday logic. They learn to live by Sherlock Holmes’ words in The Sign of the Four: “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” So, while our heroes are busy investigating, people are also attempting to kill them. Makes for a hard day at work when you’re an Airship Hunter.
PC: I noticed how you guys alternated writing chapters. What was that process like? Were each of you in charge of developing certain characters? Did you guys share a common outline and work off that?
JIM: I suggested early on that we each create one of the two lead characters. In a way, the story of Valiantine and Cabot is the story of Beard and Spurlock; two men tasked with working together to solve a mystery all the while learning of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. In the end, I think it all worked out beautifully.
DUANE: This method of developing characters and writing a story meant Jim and I had to communicate a lot of details to one another while we worked. We plotted over the phone frequently, and bounced ideas off one another. We knew the overall arc of the plot as we began. We each developed our own mini-plots for the individual episodes we wrote, but we shared freely with each other to check and double-check that each chapter’s adventure moved the overall book’s plot forward and didn’t stray into the weeds. Think of how a TV show’s weekly episode may be essentially self-contained, but will include elements that feed into the Big Plot that ties together the show’s entire season. Also, we wanted our characters to hold the reader’s interest by demonstrating the growing relationship between the characters. We want the reader to care about that relationship. Again, I refer to Sherlock Holmes. His relationship with Dr. Watson is not just a crime-solving partnership. They are friends, their relationship was strengthened by their adventures. From the beginning, Jim and I wanted to build a similar relationship between our heroes.
PC: The cover art and front piece art by M.S Corley look fantastic! How did he become part of the project? What was it like working with him in bringing your characters to life on the cover?
JIM: Mike did the cover for CARNACKI: THE NEW ADVENTURES, a book I contributed to. I LOVE his work and suggested him to the Meteor crew. With no discernible hesitation, they approached him and that gorgeous cover is the result. For my part, he brought Valiantine to life, as well as cemented the period feel of the story.
DUANE: We were SUPER pleased that he came on board for the cover. He worked quickly and did a bang-up job. He has done some great work for a number of small presses. He should be a big name in the publishing world.
PC: Anything you’d like to say to prospective readers?
JIM: Toss any perceptions away and come along for the ride. We promise it will be weird and wonderful.
DUANE: The story is fun and mysterious. There are scenes in Airship Hunters that include some of the best work I’ve written. The book includes guns, hats, and coffee. What more could any reader ask for?
PC: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Jim and Duane.
Christopher Paul Carey and Meteor House graciously granted me the opportunity to read an early draft of Hadon, King of Opar. Hadon, King of Opar is the fourth book in the Khokarsa series which began with Hadon of Ancient Opar by Philip José Farmer back in 1974. Farmer wrote a sequel, Flight to Opar which followed in 1976. The conclusion to the original trilogy, The Song of Kwasin was published in 2012 in the Gods of Opar omnibus from Subterranean Press. The Song of Kwasin was co-authored by Philip José Farmer and Christopher Paul Carey. Carey also co-authored the novella, Kwasin and the Bear God with Philip José Farmer, which was first published in 2011, in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer Volume 2: Of Dust And Soul from Meteor House. It has since been reprinted in Tales of the Wold Newton Universe from Titan Books published in 2013.
In addition to co-authoring Kwasin and the Bear God and The Song of Kwasin with Farmer, Carey has also written Khokarsa tales on his own. “A Kick In the Side” was published in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer Volume 1: Protean Dimensions by Meteor House back in 2010. Exiles of Kho was published by Meteor House in 2012. Exiles of Kho is a novella written by Carey that acts a prequel to the Khokarsa series. The novella chronicles the discovery of the valley which will one day house the city of Opar.
Farmer passed the tenu (a Khokarsan broadsword to the uninitiated) to Carey, and he’s been continuing the chronicles of Khokarsa ever since. The new novella, Hadon, King of Opar continues Philip José Farmer’s saga of ancient Africa which draws from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard. The Khokarsa series shows how the ancient cities encountered by Tarzan and Alan Quatermain actually have a shared history. Farmer was inspired by an essay written by two Edgar Rice Burroughs fans, John Harwood and Frank Brueckel, called Heritage of the Flaming God. Using the concept of Africa once having an inland sea (actually two seas, joined by a straight), he engaged in some Tolkien-esque world building, and connected his vision of Ancient Africa to the works of Burroughs and Haggard. The final product is the Khokarsa series starring Hadon of Opar and Kwasin of Dythbeth.
Hadon is the main character in Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar. He doesn’t make an appearance until the epilogue of The Song of Kwasin, which as you can guess, focused on his cousin, Kwasin. I’m a big fan of Kwasin, but seeing Hadon take center stage once again feels very appropriate.
Hadon, King of Opar takes place 14 years after The Song of Kwasin. Hadon is no longer the young man from the first two books, he’s now forty years old and has a family. He’s also King of Opar. His wife, Lalila, is the Queen. But don’t worry, he hasn’t let himself go like all the other Khokarsan kings (Minruth and Gamori). Hadon is still a physical specimen. He’s a paragon of heroic fantasy, and an expert swordsman. The King and Queen aren’t the only familiar faces in the novella, though.
Paga, the manling and forger of the Ax of Victory plays a role in the story. Abeth, Lalila’s daughter by the fallen hero Wi has a part to play too. Abeth was only a toddler during the original books, and now she’s a young woman. Kohr, who is Hadon’s son by the deceased priestess Klyhy, is a young man now. It’s great seeing Kohr, someone who was literally conceived during the first Ancient Opar book, play a role in the newest novella. Kohr is now a Captain in the Queensguard and he wields the Ax of Victory which once belonged to his uncle (actually second cousin) Kwasin. Kebiwabes, the bard from the original books also plays a part in the new novella. Last, but certainly not least is La, the child of prophecy born on the final page of Flight to Opar. She is Hadon and Lalila’s daughter, and is now a priestess of Kho and a follower of the teachings of Lupoeth. Lupoeth is the warrior priestess featured in Exiles of Kho.
It’s great to not only see Hadon and Lalila again, but seeing their grown children taking part in the story really drives home the scope of the Khokarsa series, and Farmer’s original vision for it. A few new characters show up too. I’m certain they will quickly become fan favorites, but saying anymore would give it away. It’s best the reader discover them when Hadon does.
Carey does a great job in putting Hadon in an interesting situation from the very beginning of the story. Hadon, King of Opar is a fast paced tale where you follow Hadon’s movements while Opar is besieged by invaders. The action takes place in, around, and under the city, thanks to the subterranean tunnel system mentioned in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the original Ancient Opar novels written by Farmer. Carey and Hadon both cover a lot of ground in this novella in regards to Opar’s geography. The vast amount of research into the Opar related Edgar Rice Burroughs tales, and Farmer’s Ancient Opar stories is very evident in the text. Carey’s research, and spot on prose has allowed him to craft a great piece of action and adventure set around Opar. I don’t think there is a person on the planet more knowledgeable about the city of Opar and Khokarsa than Carey.
Carey takes great care in the mythology and history Farmer established for the series and brings elements of both into the new novella. For instance, tensions between the priests of Resu (the Sun God) and priestesses of Kho (The Mother Goddess) are still present even during Lalila and Hadon’s reign. I also enjoyed the scenes featuring Togana’no. He’s a Gokakko, one of the neanderthal people who live in shanty towns within Ancient Opar. Farmer wrote about the Gokakko in the original Ancient Opar books, and Carey developed them further in Exiles of Kho. It’s quite a contrast to see how the Gokakko are treated by Lupoeth in Exiles of Kho compared to how the people of Opar treat them in the Ancient Opar books.
When reading Hadon, King of Opar, it felt like I was reading a lost work of Philip José Farmer himself. Carey’s talent as a writer, knowledge of the works of Burroughs, Haggard, and Farmer, his education in anthropology, and interest in linguistics has allowed him to continue the Khokarsa series with the same skill and passion as Farmer. The Khokarsa series is something both authors are going to be remembered for.
If you’re a fan of Khokarsa, Hadon, King of Opar should vault to the top of your reading list. Look at that Bob Eggleton cover; who wouldn’t want that on their bookshelf alongside the rest of the Khokarsa series? Besides an amazingly well done piece of cover art, you’re also going to get a great story.
Reading Hadon, King of Opar is like catching up with some old friends you haven’t seen in a while, then going on an adventure with them. If you’re new to Khokarsa, and are working on getting caught up, I would still preorder this book immediately. Meteor House prints a limited number of their releases, so you don’t want to miss out. Head to the Meteor House website and get your order in to guarantee your place in the party. Then return to Ancient Opar and join Hadon on another adventure.