Andrew J. Offutt, who authored many fantasy novels in the 70s and 80s, and who made a significant contribution to Sword and Sorcery as an editor with his seminal Swords Against Darkness anthology series, died yesterday.
Offutt wrote numerous novels under the name John Cleve (and other pseudonyms), including five volumes in the Crusader historical adventure line, and the long-running erotic SF adventure series Spaceways. The first science fiction novel to appear under his own name was Evil is Live Spelled Backwards in 1970.
But I first encountered him in Swords Against Darkness IV in 1979, a marvelous book which contains stories by Manly Wade Wellman, Orson Scott Card, Poul Anderson, Tanith Lee, and many others. The first Swords Against Darkness appeared in 1977 from Zebra Books, with a Robert E. Howard fragment completed by Offutt, a Simon of Gitta tale from Richard L. Tierney, and fiction from Poul Anderson, Manly Wade Wellman, David Drake, Ramsey Campbell and many others. Offutt edited a total of five volumes, with the final one appearing in 1979. Together with Lin Carter’s Flashing Swords anthologies and a handful of small press magazines like Weirdbook, Swords Against Darkness kept Sword & Sorcery alive throughout the 70s and into the early 80s.
Offutt went on to some success with collaborator Richard K. Lyons, beginning with the War of the Wizards trilogy (1978-81). He also wrote the War of the Gods on Earth trilogy (1979-83), but was mostly known for his Robert E. Howard pastiche novels featuring Conan and Cormac Mac Art, including The Undying Wizard (1976), The Mists of Doom (1977), and Conan and the Sorcerer (1978). He was a noted contributor to Thieves’ World, appearing in several volumes in the ’80s and ’90s.
Offutt had a long hiatus after his last Thieves World work appear in 1993. He returned briefly to the field in the last decade, contributing a short story co-authored with Richard K. Lyon for 2009’s Rage of the Behemoth from Rogue Blades Entertainment.
Altogether Offutt wrote and edited more than 75 books. He also contributed to the field in other ways, including two terms as president of SFWA, from 1976-78. He died yesterday at the age of 78.