Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Episode 09 - Howard's Horrors: The Haunter of the Ring and Pigeons From Hell (or Zuvembies Just Wanna Have Fun...)

Oh, greetings! I didn't notice you were there! I was just admiring this ring... Do you like it? I found it at auction last week. Isn't it curious? Shaped like a serpent eating its own tail, it is. Eyes with gems that glow, see? Like an unholy fire... You know, they say this ring belonged once to a wizard, long ago, the ill-fated Thoth-Amon himself! It is written in Unaussprechlichen Kulten of the dark and terrible magics Thoth-Amon wrought with this ring. They say that the ring "was found in a nighted tomb a league beneath the earth, forgotten before the first man crawled out of the slimy sea..." If you believe such things... But may as well believe in this passage dealing with voodoo and the creation of zuvembies! And you don't... do you?!
My ring... (Artist Unknown)
Our first Howardian Horror episode is stacked with two tales of terror! You should download it here! First, we tackle The Haunter of the Ring, first published in the June 1934 issue of Weird Tales (read it on WikiSource!) We follow up that discussion with one of our new favorite horror stories, Pigeons From Hell (read it on Project Gutenberg!). This latter story was published posthumously by Weird Tales in 1938. From our perspectives, we've always known Howard as a visionary in the pulps, and progenitor of the sword and sorcery genre. But, the man had a keen eye for horror as well! We hope you enjoyed these stories as much as we did!
Check out Amazon if you're looking for a discount-priced copy of Those Across the River or Twilight... Both are great! 
He heard the call of the zuvembie... Art by Robert Sanker
Happy Halloween!
Beginning theme: "Grave Blow" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Ending theme: "Conan the Barbarian Theme for Piano". Arrangement of  "Anvil of Crom" by Basil Poledouris, from the Conan the Barbarian: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Original Score: (c) 1982 Basil Poledouris; Original Album: (c) 2010 Prometheus Records. Used without permission.

Thanks for listening!

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  1. Speaking of Marvel and zombies/zuvembie, their '70s-era "Tales of the Zombie" title was pretty awesome: http://www.comics.org/series/2129/

    1. I just picked up Essential Marvel Horror Vol. 2, which has some Tales of the Zombie in it. I am looking forward to getting to them!

  2. Good episode guys! I reread the stories in anticipation of this episode.

    Some of REH's horror stories are really good. One of my favorites is 'The Worms of the Earth' but I'm not sure if that truly qualifies as a horror story (although often listed among them). That story has also a very beautiful and good comic adaptation which is available in B&W and color. I hope you someday get to cover Bran Mak Morn and/or this story and do more Howard's horror in general.

    My del Rey published "The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard" version of "Pigeons from Hell" contains the longer version of that "extra-words" part. The story is taken from the Weird Tales version and so it should be the original version. It is a nice book by the way, about 500 pages of horror by Howard with some nice (but few) illustrations.

    There is a strong case to be made that 'all' Howard's stories take place in a shared universe. This certainly is true for Kull, Conan and Bran Mak Morn stories. There are also several stories similar to 'The Haunter of the Ring' that have some references or clues which allow them to be placed in the same universe/continuity and other stories that say nothing contradicting. The biggest odd man out is Solomon Kane. One SK story is troublesome in this regard and I'm not sure if anyone has come up with universally accepted way of fitting it in the same universe.

    Reincarnation definitely was something Howard was very interested. The subject pops up in many of his stories. I think that in some of his letters he even tells about his past lives although I'm not sure if he really believed in reincarnation and was being serious . It most likely was just something that intrigued him but I'm not sure. His "James Allison" stories are about the main character living his past lives again. These stories range from the end of Hyborian Age to more recent times.

    I think that REH as a person (opposed to as a writer) takes sometimes too much heat from the treatment of women in his stories. A simple search with right words should bring a lot of articles and essays that people have written about this subject. I think there is one good series about Howard and feminism at REH: Two-Gun Raconteur which is a great site for Howard related things.

    So back to Conan next time! "The Iron Shadows in the Moon" is by far by favorite of the "lesser" Conan stories. I don't know exactly why I like it so much. Dark Horse also did an amazing adaptation of this story which is both refreshing and faithful to Howard.

    1. Reading about Howard and reincarnation made me wonder who he thought he might have been before. Do you know of any correspondence where he talks about such things?

    2. I'm only aware of this where he tells what he was. The rest of his incarnation thoughts are scattered among his letters. One Who Walked Alone has also something about Howard and his past lives but I don't remember how much into detail it goes.

    3. You mention the graphic novel adaptation of Pigeons From Hell, written by Joe Lansdale. I would suggest checking out some Lansdale if you are not familiar with him. He is also a Texan and REH fan. He is a very prolific writer of novels, short stories and comic books. He, much like Howard, has written across many genres. The way most people might know Lansdale is he wrote Bubba-Ho-Tep, The story on which the movie was based. Also in at least one edition of Mark Finn's REH Biography, Blood and Thunder, he writes the forward.

      Anyway, liking the cast. Keep up the good work.