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.
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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