Cover by Brian LeBlanc
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most people aren’t very happy with how 2020 has turned out. However, there have been some bright spots. For one, fans of quality Sword and Sorcery have plenty of new reading material, as I’ve released six titles so far this year through DMR Books.
Things kicked off in grand fashion with the reprint anthology Renegade Swords, which collected stories that were rare or overlooked in some way. The lead story is “The House of Arabu” by Robert E. Howard, a historical fantasy set in ancient Mesopotamia. It’s not especially well-known, as it features no recurring characters, but I think it’s one of Howard’s best. (I included it in my article “The Ten Greatest Sword and Sorcery Stories by Robert E. Howard.”) Other highlights include the unabridged, rarely reprinted version of “Necromancy in Naat” by my favorite author, Clark Ashton Smith, and a previously unpublished version of A. Merritt’s classic “The Woman of the Wood.”
Let me tell you about that…
[Click the images for pulp-sized versions.]
I stumbled on the Merritt story almost by accident. Doug Ellis had recently acquired the rights to Merritt’s catalog, and was showing off some of the original manuscripts. I noticed that this version began with a page and a half of exposition that never made it into any published version. As “The Woman of the Wood” is one of my favorite short stories, it was a thrill to be able to present a new version to the public for the first time.
Renegade Swords was also the first DMR Books release to feature the amazing artwork of Brian LeBlanc. He’s done three more covers for me since, and I plan on using him as often as possible. Take a look at that cover and you’ll know why.
Cover by Allen Anderson
I knew Renegade Swords would make an impact, and I had to follow it up with something suitably impressive. April saw the release of Swordsmen from the Stars, a collection of three of Poul Anderson novelettes which appeared in Planet Stories in the early ‘50s. “Witch of the Demon Seas,” “The Virgin of Valkarion,” and “Swordsman of Lost Terra” are some of my favorite Anderson tales, and could all be categorized under the banner of Sword and Planet or Heroic Science Fantasy.
Cover by Brian LeBlanc
The May release was another reprint collection, but this time by a current author, Schuyler “Sky” Hernstrom. Sky has made a name for himself in recent years, and some consider him the heir to Jack Vance. The Eye of Sounnu contains all of his stories that appeared in Cirsova Magazine between 2016 and 2019, plus two uncollected stories previously only available in digital form, and a brand-new sword and sorcery story, “The Tragedy of Thurn.”
Cover by Hannes Bok
For the July release, I dug into the vaults of Weird Tales and came up with A Million Years in the Future by Thomas P. Kelley, the self-proclaimed “King of the Canadian pulp writers.” Million Years is a science fiction adventure novel mixing the Sword and Planet, Space Opera, and Post-Apocalypse genres. It was originally serialized in Weird Tales in 1940, and has never before been published in book form.
Cover by Lauren Gornik
After quite a few pulp reprints, I switched gears to focus on new works by current writers. August marked the release of the debut collection by Welsh author Harry Piper, The Great Die Slow and Other Tales of Dark Adventure. A few of these tales previously appeared in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and Sword and Sorcery Magazine, but most were original to this collection. While the stories aren’t interconnected, they all share a Dark Age Celtic setting and contain a greater dose of horror than you usually find in Sword and Sorcery.
Cover by Brian LeBlanc
That brings us to the most recent release, one that is especially meaningful to me. It’s a collection of my own stories, entitled Necromancy in Nilztiria. For the past three years I spent my spare time composing these tales, and it’s very rewarding to be able to have them all in print. I’ve even been compared to Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, and Brian McNaughton. I admit they’ve all been influential on me to some degree, particularly Smith.
So what’s next?
There are still three months left in 2020, and that means three more DMR releases. First is the long-awaited novella The Godblade by J. Christopher Tarpey, vocalist for the heavy metal band Eternal Champion. The lyrics of many of the songs on their upcoming album Ravening Iron are about characters and events that are fully detailed in The Godblade.
In November we’ll start a run of classic reprints, beginning with Cahena, the final novel by Manly Wade Wellman, which has been out of print since 1986. In December we’ll wrap up the year with a collection of SciFi/Fantasy adventure stories by Edmond Hamilton, mostly from Weird Tales. A second Hamilton volume will appear in January.
My goal for 2021 is to release a book every month. My schedule is already filling up, but it’s too early to give many details away. I can say that there will be more than a few very interesting reprint collections, so keep checking the DMR Books website for updates.