Vintage Treasures: Lyrec by Gregory Frost

Monday, August 3rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Lyrec Gregory Frost-smallGregory Frost is the author of the popular Shadowbridge novels (Shadowbridge and Lord Tophet) and the World Fantasy Award nominee Fitcher’s Brides, among others.

But I admit the the novel I still give to friends to introduce them to Frost is his debut Lyrec, a fantasy romp about a long-lived space traveler, his talking cat Borregad, and the evil menace they’ve tracked across countless star systems, the ruthless Miradomon. Lyrec was published as a paperback original by Ace in 1984, and went through multiple reprintings. This one was on a lot of reading lists in the 80s.

Lovelorn Lyrec and wise-cracking Borregad have been companions through world after world, adventure after adventure. They seek Lyrec’s lost lady, and vengeance for the obliteration of their homeworld. But the evil Miradomon is always one step ahead, leaving a dark trail of destruction behind him.

Crossing a chain of parallel universes, our heroes must take on new identities in each new world. In his latest incarnation, Lyrec has done quite well for himself. He is young, strong, handsome, skilled in the arts of war and song. Poor Borregad blew it. He’s stuck in the body of a cat. And Miradomon?

This time, he’s a god.

Lyrec was published in February 1984 by Ace Books. It is 267 pages, priced at $2.75 in paperback. The cover is by Romas. It was released in digital format in 2011, and is currently available for $4.99.

See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.


Vintage Treasures: The Books of Outremer by Chaz Brenchley

Saturday, August 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Outremer 1 - The Devil in the Dust-small Outremer 2 - The Tower of the King's Daughter-small Outremer 3 - A Dark Way to Glory-small

Back in 2002, Ace Books tried an unusual experiment with Paul Kearney’s The Monarchies of God novels. They were originally published in the UK starting in 1995, but when Ace brought them to the US, they released the books just one month apart.

As I noted in my April article, the experiment wasn’t a success, and the books went out of print fairly quickly. At the time, however, I said that Ace never repeated the experiment, and that’s not actually true. They attempted the same thing at least one more time, with Chaz Brenchley Books of Outremer, originally published in three fat volumes in the UK in 1998-2002, and reprinted as six paperbacks in the US, one every month, between June and November 2003, with covers by John Howe and Barbara Lofthouse.

Near as I can figure out, this experiment wasn’t any more successful. The books were never reprinted, and are now long out of print.

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Vintage Treasures: The Torin Trilogy by Cherry Wilder

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Cherry Wilder The Luck of Brin's Five-small Cherry Wilder The Nearest Fire-small Cherry Wilder The Tapestry Warriors-small

Cherry Wilder had a relatively short career as fantasy writers go. Her first novel was The Luck of Brin’s Five (1977), which won the 1978 Ditmar Award for Best Australian Science Fiction Novel, and was the first novel in The Torin Trilogy. She produced two other series, The Rulers of Hylor (four novels, published between 1984 and 2004) and two novels in the Rhomary Land series (in 1986 and 1996), several short stores, and that was it. She died in 2002.

Still, she is very fondly remembered as one of the shining lights of 80s fantasy. Although The Torin Trilogy has all the trappings of fantasy — including sorcerers, far-flung kingdoms, and mystical powers — at heart it’s actually science fiction. It’s the tale of Scott Gale, a space traveler from Earth who finds himself shipwrecked on the world of Torin, where he’s accepted as a family member by Brin’s Five. Before long he finds himself embroiled in a desperate battle against the feared man who rules much of the land, Strangler Tiath Pentroy.

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Vintage Treasures: The Best of Frank Herbert

Saturday, July 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best of Frank Herbert 1952-1964-small The Best of Frank Herbert 1965-1970-small

Sidgwick & Jackson released The Best of Frank Herbert in hardcover in the UK in 1975. The book was edited by Anugs Wells, with a fairly drab cover by an unknown artist (see below). It was 302 pages.

For the paperback edition the following year, Sphere split the book into two volumes, both around 160 pages. The cover artist was uncredited in both cases, but it sure looks to me like Bruce Pennington. (Click the images above for bigger versions.)

The book was never released in the US, and the UK paperbacks have now been out of print for almost 40 years. The UK editions can be a little tricky to track down in the US, but they’re fairly common in the UK. As of this writing, half dozen copies are listed on eBay, priced at $10 and up per volume.

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Discovering Robert E. Howard: Wally Conger on “Rogues in the House”

Friday, July 24th, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

BG_RoguesComicOne of the cool things about being an active member in the Sherlock Holmes community is that I run across a broad spectrum of people with other common interests outside of the world’s first private consulting detective. Wally Conger and I have had back and forth conversations on versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles and other topics.

We may not agree on season three of Sherlock, but we do both enjoy reading Conan. So, I asked him to review “Rogues in the House,” which I knew he had just read. He was kind enough to do just that…


By the time Robert E. Howard launched into writing “Rogues in the House” in January 1933, he already had 10 Conan tales under his belt. He was very comfortable with the character.

In fact, upon publication of the story in the January 1934 issue of Weird Tales, Howard wrote to fellow writer Clark Ashton Smith:

Glad you liked ‘Rogues in the House.’ That was one of those yarns which seemed to write itself. I didn’t rewrite it even once. As I remember I only erased and changed one word in it, and then sent it in just as it was written. I had a splitting sick headache, too, when I wrote the first half, but that didn’t seem to affect my work any.

I wish to thunder I could write with equal ease all the time. Ordinarily I revise even my Conan yarns once or twice, and the other stuff I hammer out by main strength.

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Vintage Treasures: Midnight Pleasures by Robert Bloch

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Midnight Pleasures Robert Bloch-smallRobert Bloch isn’t a name that gets tossed around much these days. Even before his death in 1994, he was primarily known as the author of Psycho, and this one fact overshadowed most of his other accomplishments.

But Bloch was also the author of hundreds of short stories, and over 30 novels, virtually all of which are out of print today. He was one of the most gifted and prolific short story writers in the horror field, and his best short stories are compact treasures. He won a Hugo Award for his 1958 story “That Hell-Bound Train,” and multiple Bram Stoker awards (for the 1993 collection The Early Fears, the novelette “The Scent of Vinegar,” and his 1993 memoir Once Around the Bloch.)

He received a World Fantasy Award in 1975 for Lifetime Achievement, and a Lifetime Achievement Bram Stoker Award in 1990.

Bloch was also one of the youngest members of The Lovecraft Circle, those writers who corresponded with and often consciously emulated H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft was one of the first to encourage Bloch’s writing, and a lot of Bloch’s early work for the pulps was Cthulhu Mythos fiction (most of which was gathered in his 1981 collection Mysteries of the Worm.)

Midnight Pleasures is one of Bloch’s last fiction collections (two more appeared before his death: Fear and Trembling in 1989, and The Early Fears in 1994). It’s a fine sample of late horror fiction from one of the best short story writers the genre has seen.

It was nominated for a 1987 Bram Stoker Award for Fiction Collection (it lost out to The Essential Ellison). It contains chiefly later short work, dating from 1977-1985, published in anthologies like New Terrors 2, Shadows, Masques, Analog Yearbook, Dark Forces, Chrysalis 3, and others.

It also includes one pulp story (from the August 1939 issue of Weird Tales), and two stories that appear here for the first time: “Comeback” and “Die–Nasty.”

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The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series: The Young Magicians edited by Lin Carter

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015 | Posted by westkeith

Young MagiciansThe Young Magicians
Lin Carter, ed.
Ballantine Books
October 1969, 280p. $0.95
Cover art by Sheryl Slavitt

I apologize for having taken so long to get this post done. I’ve been on the road for over half the weekends since the end of April, mostly family trips for graduations or dive meets my son was competing in. I thought I would have a little more time when the second summer session started since I would be teaching, but that hasn’t exactly been the case. (No, I have no idea why I would have thought that.)

But I’m back, and I would like to thank John for his patience. I’m tanned; I’m rested; I’m ready. Well, I’m tanned at any rate. And I’ve got a pretty darned good anthology to tell you about.

A number of people, myself included, have said that Lin Carter’s legacy will ultimately not be his writing or his Conan pastiches, but the work he did on the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. It’s hard in this day and age of ebooks and specialty presses to remember how hard fantasy was to find on bookstore shelves in the late 1960s. The commercial fantasy boom wasn’t far off, but it hadn’t gotten there. It was possible to read just about all of the titles that were easily available at the time.

The Young Magicians was a companion volume to Dragons, Elves, and Heroes with both of them being published in October 1969. That volume contained examples of imaginary world fantasy beginning with folktales and sagas and ending with William Morris. In The Young Magicians, Carter starts with Morris and provides samples of fantasy from more contemporary writers, ending with Lin Carter himself.

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Looking at The Dukes of Hazzard as a Fantasy Story

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Dukeseps13132yuI’m not a cranky old man, but I generally consider most stuff shown on network TV after my 15th birthday to be not worth the effort to press the buttons on the remote… or worth the effort to get cable.

But I had a lot of really good experiences with TV before I turned 15. The choices were pretty limited, but the more I talk to my 10 year old, the more I realize there were oases of TV magic in my youth.

Battlestar Galactica in 1978. Buck Rogers in 1980. M.A.S.H. for my entire youth. Knight Rider. Starblazers. Battle of the Planets. Most Saturday morning cartoons. Manimal… hahaha. Just kidding. That was cancelled for good reason.

Wanting my son to have some magic oases too, I found myself unqualified to offer him anything other than what I had when I was young. And recently I was musing about our Friday nights, and what I might have been doing 30 years earlier, and I realized that for a good five years, I’d watched The Dukes of Hazzard every Friday at my grandmother’s house. I decided to try to relive some of my childhood while offering something new to my son’s.

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The Omnibus Volumes of Andre Norton, Part One

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Darkness and Dawn-small

If you’re like me, you enjoy vintage science fiction and fantasy, and tracking down old paperbacks to add to your collection. But nothing beats the convenience of having those fragile old books available in a modern reprint. Unless it’s having multiple books in a single omnibus volume, under a great new cover, for the price of a single paperback. When that happens, we like to make some noise about it here — especially when the books involved are true classics of the genre.

That’s why we end up talking about Baen so much. Last week it was the trio of Baen’s Murray Leinster omnibus volumes; before that it was their seven volumes featuring James H. Schmitz. Today, I’d like to take a look at three of the many omnibus volumes collecting some of the best work of Andre Norton, published by Baen last decade.

First up is Darkness and Dawn, which collects perhaps the first Andre Norton book I ever laid eyes on, in my elementary school library in Kentville, Nova Scotia: Daybreak—2250 A.D.

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Vintage Treasures: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Sunday, July 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

We Have Always Lived in the Castle-small We Have Always Lived in the Castle back-small

It’s been at least 25 years since I read Shirley Jackson’s classic We Have Always Lived in the Castle. But it’s the kind of book that sticks in your mind.

I won’t say much about the plot, other than that it deals with the three surviving members of the Blackwood family: Merricat, a practicing witch, her elder sister Constance, who has not left their home for six years, and their deranged Uncle Julian. All three live in a large house, far from the neighboring village. Not so very long ago there were seven members of the family — until someone put a fatal dose of arsenic in the sugar bowl one night. Constance was acquitted of the murders and returned home, where her sister Merricat protects her from the sneers and curiosity of the townspeople. Their days pass in quiet isolation… until a new danger appears, in the shape of their mysterious cousin Charles.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is one of the most famous examples of “Southern Gothic,” and one of works that made Shirley Jackson famous. It was published three years before her death. There have been over a dozen editions, but my favorite is the 1963 paperback above, with the gorgeous and spooky cover by William Teason. You can usually find copies available online for under $10.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle was published in hardcover by The Viking Press in 1962, and reprinted in paperback by Popular Library in October 1963. The paperback is 173 pages, priced at sixty cents.


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