Throwback SF: Cirsova: Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense no. 1

I have fallen behind in my Cirsova reading.  With the name change and the change in focus, I decided to jump ahead from the last issue I read (issue no. 3 from volume 1) to the newest issue.

Formerly, Cirsova: Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, the new title is Cirsova: Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense.  The name change signifies both a shift and focus and an attempt to more squarely brand the magazine based on its content: as a modern day pulp magazine, something “adventure” conveys better than “fantasy and science fiction.”  Per the editor, he sees Cirsova as more of an Argosy than a Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

So how well does the issue reflect that?  The Tarzan fragment (more on that in a bit!) is an obvious aide.  Tarzan is speculative fiction, if not obviously so.  But it doesn’t fit into any of the modern SF genre categories.  In addition to the Tarzan story, I would group 3-5 of the other stories into the “adventure” category rather than one of the more usual and modern SF genres.  Not a sharp change, but not an insubstantial one either and probably just what the editor was looking for—he never intended to drop the fantasy and science fiction entirely.  There are still plenty of examples of those, including a wonderfully bizarre and grotesque Vancian tale, a novelette that would have been at home in Weird Tales, and a couple science fiction that would have fit right in during the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

The big news here, of course, is the Tarzan fragment.  The story of the fragment is as good (better, honestly) than the story in the fragment.  The fragment lay undiscovered for decades.  When it was discovered, several writers passed on completing it.  Michael Tierney (a Cirsova regular) agreed to do it.  Before he did, though, Burroughs’ grandson Danton, also the president of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., died.  When Tierney resumed discussion of the fragment with ERB, Inc., they initially did not realize that he was talking about a fragment rather than a piece of Tierney’s original work.  Eventually the confusion was rectified and, remarkably, the original of the fragment, thought lost in a fire, was discovered.  (You can read the full story here.)

The finished Tarzan fragment is also responsible for what is probably my second favorite Cirsova cover.

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Short Review Roundup – MCU Movie Edition

Growing up I was a Spider-Man and X-Men fan.  My comic book collection consists of three boxes at this point.  There are only a few scattered comics featuring the various Avengers.  I haven’t been a dedicated fan of the MCU.  I only own six MCU movies, but I’ve seen most of them and eventually I want to get to the rest of them.  I got to a few more in the last month.  I took a Thursday afternoon off to catch a Captain Marvel-Endgame doubleheader.  I watched all of Iron Man 2 not long after.

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Throwback SF: Jirel of Joiry by C.L. Moore

C.L. Moore’s collected Jirel of Joiry stories suffer from the same problem as her Northwest Smith stories.  Each is spurred by one incandescently brilliant story and one great pulp character—here, Black God’s Kiss and the titular Jirel of Joiry—and feature vividly evocative prose and imagery, but both are stymied by the remaining stories being otherwise brilliant but simply too derivative of the first to form a truly great collection.  More than fine, probably, in its original pulp magazine form, but it is very noticeable if you read the stories straight through.  Better to savor them.  The two collections give me a better appreciation of Robert E. Howard.  Moore matches or even exceeds Howard in many ways (and that is very high praise from me), but Howard wrote an incredibly diverse body of stories, even just looking at the stories featuring a particular character.

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May 2019 Month-in-Review

The end of May marked the four year blogiversary of Every Day Should Be Tuesday, and today marks the one year blogiversary of Hillbilly Highways, both of which deserve posts of their own.  May was my second-best month ever at Every Day Should Be Tuesday for views, buoyed by Game of Thrones recaps.  It was a slow month at Hillbilly Highways (unsurprising since I missed a couple Music Monday posts), but Hillbilly Highways is still running 25% ahead of where Every Day Should Be Tuesday was at this point.

I paced myself in May, only publishing seventeen posts.  I am proud of myself, though, for publishing seven reviews (admittedly, three were old reviews dusted off and polished up).  My Game of Thrones recaps were so successful I had to split them out from the rest of my posts for my “top 5”.  Views grew over the course of the season, but it is interesting to note there was a spike for episode 3 and episode 5.  Over at Hillbilly Highways, SF reviews continue to perform best, which is unsurprising considering my existing SF audience.

I read and watched and posted on a lot of fantasy in May, but I am disappointed in myself for not actively participating in Wyrd & Wonder.  I am still planning to embark on a reread of The Wheel of Time, but I feel like I need a palate cleanser after Game of Thrones.  I am thinking I will finally crack open my copy of Malice by John Gwynne.

It was a hectic month, if one amenable to reading, because I spent the beginning of it traveling (expectedly) and the end of it traveling (unexpectedly).  So instead of a baby pic you get a picture of my early morning and late evening reading view from my second trip.

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SF: Who Fears the Devil? by Manly Wade Wellman

Over at Hillbilly Highways I am revisiting my review of Manly Wade Wellman’s Who Fears the Devil? The John the Balladeer stories are excellent speculative fiction, but they are also very much stories of my people and our folklore. Now is a particularly apt time to revisit them with Haffner Press putting out a handsome two-volume collection of both the Silver John stories and the Silver John novels.

Hillbilly Highways

I went to a panel at the WorldCon in San Antonio a few years back on Texas Pulp SF.  Apart from the 800-lb. gorilla in the room, Texans were grossly underrepresented in the pulps.  The consensus was that they were writing speculative fiction, and good speculative fiction, but that it was getting published as folklore.  That struck close to home.  I sometimes say I didn’t discover speculative fiction until my mom forced The Hobbit on me, but that isn’t quite true.  Growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, I grew up with ghost stories.  Much like that Texas “folklore.”  The difference, of course, merely being one of perceptive.

You can imagine my interest then, when I discovered that an Appendix N and Weird Tales stalwart, Manly Wade Wellman, wrote an entire series of short stories very much rooted in the lore of my people.  About John.  At least that’s…

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In Lieu of a Real Post, Some Action Figures

I am back home, and I have limited internet access. I don’t have time to write a long, substantive post. But I do have a bag full of action figures from when I was a kid. I haven’t seen these in 20+ years. There are several I don’t recognize. But I am looking forward to harassing my wife by decorating the house with them.

Recognize any of the more esoteric figures? Any of these you owned?

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Throwback SF: The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane is my fifth of Del Rey’s eleven collected volumes of Robert E. Howard’s work.  I introduced myself to Howard with the three volumes of Conan stories and then read the collection of his horror stories (my introduction to Solomon Kane was in that volume) before picking up this one.  I am feeling pretty good about my reading order so far.

I have already written a fair amount about Solomon Kane stories (I wrote posts comparing “Skulls in the Stars” and “The Moon of Skulls” to other stories, and I wrote a post on “The Right Hand of Doom,” “Red Shadows,” and “Rattle of Bones”), so I will keep this brief.  The bottom line: Solomon Kane is the better character than Conan, but Conan has stronger stories.

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