In this week’s episode I’ll be discussing Swords and Deviltry (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Book 1) by Fritz Leiber. It’s a fantastic collection of three high quality, award nominated sword and sorcery novellas. The most prominent being Ill Met in Lankhmar, which won the 1971 Hugo and 1971 Nebula awards for Best Novella. It’s a sword and sorcery classic.
In this week’s episode I’ll be discussing “The Doom that Came to Sarnath” by H. P. Lovecraft. It’s a fantasy short story that made its first pulp magazine appearance in the pages of the March-April 1935 issue of Marvel Tales of Science and Fantasy. It would later appear in the June 1938 issue of Weird Tales. It was first published in the June 1920 issue of the Scot, an amateur journal.
The story chronicles the rise and fall of the city of Sarnath, which is located on the shore of a vast still lake in the land of Mnar. The story takes place roughly from 9,081 B. C. to 8,081 B. C. in a lost age akin to Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age and Clark Ashton Smith’s Hyperborea.
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.
In this week’s episode Chuck Loridans and I talk to Frank Schildiner about his latest work, THE QUEST OF FRANKENSTEIN from Black Coat Press. We also discuss Frank’s collection of weird fiction FIRST SEAS AND OTHER TALES from Pro Se Productions. There’s also some interesting conversations about classic horror films in honor of Halloween.
In this week’s episode I discuss “The Charnel God” by Clark Ashton Smith. This short story is set in Smith’s Zothique Cycle, as well as the larger Cthulhu Mythos.
“The Charnel God” deals with Phariom, a nobleman who visits the city of Zul-Bha-Sair. This is a strange city where the citizens give their dead over to their local deity, Mordiggian, to feed upon without hesitation. Phariom’s love, Elaith falls into a death-like state after suffering a seizure while in the city. She’s pronounced dead by the local physician and the priests of the Charnel God collect her body. The story follows Phariom as he attempts to rescue her from Mordiggian’s temple.
In this weeks episode I’ll be discussing “The Ice-Demon” by Clark Ashton Smith. It first appeared in the April 1933 issue of Weird Tales. “The Ice-Demon” is a short story set in Smith’s Hyperborea Cycle.
Hyperborea is a lost continent located in the Arctic during the Pleistocene age. Much like Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age tales featuring Conan the Cimmerian, Smith’s Hyperborea is a fantasy setting.
The Ice-Demon takes place in Mhu Thulan, the icy northern region of the continent. Mhu Thulan is north of the kingdom of Iqqua, where two of the characters in The Ice-Demon are from.
Basically the story focuses on three characters, Quanga, the huntsman and two jewelers, Hoom Feethos and Eibur Tsanth both of Iqqua. It’s never said where Quanga hails from, but I would guess he was nomadic and lived off the land. He’s the main character of the story, he’s skilled in woodcraft and isn’t afraid of journeying to Mhu Thulan despite the superstitions surrounding the area. He’s also not above getting rich.
In this weeks episode I’m going to be discussing “The Peeper’ by Frank Belknap Long.
This short story first appeared in the March 1944 issue of Weird Tales. I read it in an anthology titled Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors, A Story From Each Year the Classic Horror and Fantasy magazine was published. It includes an introduction by Robert Bloch and it’s edited by Stefan R. Dziemiancowicz, Robert Weinberg, and Martin H. Greenberg.
“The Peeper” is a fantasy-horror short story that’s a little over eight pages. It appears to be set around the same time it was published in 1944. I call it a fantasy-horror story because there are elements of both genres within “The Peeper”.
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.
Author and editor, Christopher Paul Carey joins me in discussing the Restored Edition of Philip José Farmer’s Flight to Opar, now available for pre-order from Meteor House. Chris is the editor of the book and we delve into how he went about restoring the text for this edition. Chris even provides a sneak peak by citing some examples directly from the book, to give us an idea of what type of material has been restored. This is the new definitive text of Flight to Opar.
Flight to Opar – The Restored Edition is now available for pre-order from Meteor House. It’s available in both hardcover and softcover format at the link below.
In this weeks episode Pulp Crazy is continuing the celebration of Robert E. Howard’s birth month with a short story not published in Howard’s lifetime. The story is titled, “Marchers of Valhalla” and is a part of his James Allison series, which are reincarnation tales.
This story was first published in 1972 by Donald M. Grant. I had the pleasure of reading it in the newest publication from the Robert E. Howard Foundation, titled “Swords of the North”, which collects Howard’s Viking and Celtic stories, drafts and fragments.
Marchers of Valhalla was able to be completed thanks to combining multiple drafts by Howard together, into one coherent story. I have to say, I’ve read a decent amount of Robert E. Howard, including all of his Solomon Kane tales, Kull stories, his Dark Agnes tales, all but the final two Conan stories, and a fair amount of his stand alone Weird Fiction. I would rank Marchers of Valhalla as one of my favorites.