When I returned from GenCon last year, I mentioned just how excellent the Writer’s Symposium was. I’d heard about the Writer’s Symposium, but had never attended. I found it extremely well organized, well-run, and, most importantly, it seemed a fine way for those interested in writing and publishing to pick up tips from the pros.
Here’s the official press release, freshly published last week. On that alphabetical list of names, you’ll see a lot that probably look pretty familiar, especially if you’ve frequented the Black Gate web site:
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How many of these writers or novels do you recognize? They are the 10 best-selling authors of exactly 100 years ago. I am a reasonably well-read individual, and I have to admit that I have never heard of any of these books or any of these authors except for Robert W. Chambers, who also wrote the ur-Lovecraftian collection of short stories entitled The King in Yellow. One of the things that became clear in last week’s discussion about the literary decline of the fantasy genre, (or, as I would argue, the literary decline of the SF/F genre), is that very few of those involved in the discussion appeared to fully realize just how unusual it is for literary works to survive 70 years, as the works of Robert E. Howard and J.R.R. Tolkien have, let alone 100. Nor, as should be readily apparent from the names and titles on this bestseller’s list from 1911, should one be inclined to confuse book sales with literary longevity, let alone immortality.
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Today’s is Robert E. Howard’s birthday—I’ve always felt pleased that it lies so close to mine, as January is a lonely month in which to have your birthday—and for my gesture to commemorate the Great Lord of Blood, Thunder, and Thick Mountain Accents, I’m going to take a short glance back at my first encounter with him, in the story “The Fire of Asshurbanipal.”
Okay, I lied. It’s not short . . .
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The death of Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, marks the passing of an era. Gygax changed the face of fantasy like no other since J.R.R. Tolkien or Robert E. Howard. D&D brought people together, forged lasting friendships, and introduced a whole new generation to classic fantasy — in the process firing imaginations, heavily influencing the fledgling computer and video game markets, and laying the foundation for the billion-dollar online RPG industry. Just as importantly Gygax invited — indeed, demanded — that his readers become creators themselves, and the young fans he inspired eventually became some of today’s bestselling authors, including Raymond E. Feist, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, R. A. Salvatore, Ed Greenwood, and dozens of others.
While his creation became famous the world over, Gygax never truly left his home in Lake Geneva, WI, and remained approachable and active until his death on Tuesday, March 4, 2008. To mark the passing of one of our generation’s most creative minds, Black Gate has assembled several personal reminiscences, from BG webmaster and Cimmerian editor Leo Grin, Planet Stories editor and publisher Erik Mona, and Black Gate editors Howard Andrew Jones and John O’Neill.
Finally, we invite you to drop by the Black Gate blog, where you can leave your own memories and thoughts, either about Gygax or any of his varied creations, from D&D to Greyhawk, Drow to Fantastic Journeys, Lejendary Adventure to Castles & Crusades.
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