Conan the Barbarian
based on characters by Robert E. Howard
I have a deep need for shoddy fantasy, be it intentionally camp or unintentionally crap. I annoyed the daylights out of my MST3K-style comedy troupe in college because all I ever wanted to riff was incompetent eighties and nineties fantasy films with increasingly tiny budgets. (“What do you mean you don’t want to riff The Adventures of Galgameth?”) Where this comes from, I have no idea. I think it’s because I was a small child in the nineties without reliable access to network television. Because I never got any Xena, Hercules, or Beastmaster in my pop culture diet as a child, I crave it now. (Renay and I are working on that first one at the moment, which has been an absolute joy.)
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard
I’ll be completely honest—the reason I wanted to read some of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories was because of the upcoming film adaptation starring Jason Momoa. It looks like it’s going to be satisfyingly cheesy and violent, and Momoa’s Conan voice is awesome. I wish I could do that. But I thought it would be a good idea to get, well, a good idea of who Conan actually is in the original stories. After casting around for a good starting place, I found this, the first in a three book collection of the original short stories, and settled in for some swashbuckling. And violence.
I will valiantly defend to the death the amazing, life-changing work that comes out of speculative fiction—by the way, have I mentioned you should read The Sundering by Jacqueline Carey recently? But there’s still always a time for good, old-fashioned pulp fiction, which is exactly what we’ll be looking at today.