We Need Robert E. Howard

Have you read Robert E. Howard? At all?

Well, don’t feel bad. I know plenty of people who haven’t even heard of the man or his work. Sure, everybody seems to know about Conan but that’s because of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Truth is few have bothered with one of Howard’s books (and there are quite a few of them since the man was a pulp writer). If they did they would quickly realize about what they have been missing.

Kull, an Atlantean king from the ancient Thurian Age (in Howard’s universe that’s before Conan), Solomon Kane, a late 16th century Puritan who wonders through Europe and Africa with the sole purpose of vanquishing evil. Bran Mak Morn! Bran Mak Morn for God’s sake! The last Pict King! Howard wrote a character who believe it or not ends up connected to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos!

There are so many adventures from Howard and yet none of them seem to be around anymore. Walk into any bookstore and ask for a collection of his stories. I dare you; they won’t have the slightest idea of who you are talking about. They simply won’t know the man’s name other than from “Conan”.

A few years ago, well, a while ago, “DEL REY” published a beautiful collection of Howard’s stories: The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane. The edition came with a blue cloth slipcase, full-color plates, two collector’s postcards, thick paper, I mean real thick paper–it even came with a freaking CD! You could listen to Howard’s poems while reading his stories. Simply amazing.

The stories were illustrated by Gary Gianni. That’s the award-winning comic artist by the way, for those of you who don’t know. He worked on Prince Valiant, Indiana Jones, The Shadow, George R. R. Martin “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” and on many, many more. He’s a terrific artist. One of the best, and I don’t say that lightly. If you haven’t seen Gary’s work you haven’t seen Sword and Sorcery.

The edition was fantastic and I say was because it is now out of print. If you are lucky you might find one online for two, three thousand dollars. But for the most part, they are gone and I doubt DEL REY is planning on printing another batch anytime soon. Why? Because people don’t read Robert E. Howard anymore! For some reason, for any reason!

It is a crime against fiction. It is a crime against the genre. People just don’t know about Howard because they haven’t even heard about him. Its a marketing problem that needs to be solved, that should be solved before he sinks into obscurity like it often happens with many great pulp writers.

Howard deserves better. We deserve better.

This here is a little experiment, we call it The Free Bundle Radio. My name is Javier Cabrera and among many other things, I’m a writer. I will be doing short commentaries here, accent and all, and I hope you stick around long enough for us to help you discover more of what you love.

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Short Fiction Sells, or How to Sell Your Short Story

Since I took the seat of editor-in-chief for the Free Bundle Magazine, one of the questions I find myself answering the most is where can I sell my short stories? Many writers appear not to know the immeasurable value of their short stories, and since our payment scheme is a little different than what most Speculative Fiction magazines are offering nowadays, I decided to write an essay on Medium about it.

The essay in question includes an up-to-date list of all the places where you can sell your short stories online and, as a bonus, a personal story about how I sold one of my own tales: Mr Graham Smith, The most remarkable man who ever was, how it became a free audio book, and how that single sale changed my perception on the benefit of publishing short stories online.

The article is titled: Short Fiction Sells: The Definitive Guide to Submitting Your Speculative Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Stories.


Far Beyond the Stars

When CBS launched Star Trek: Discovery worldwide, I couldn’t help but writing a very critical commentary in Medium to point out the show’s many flaws and their solutions. While some of these are now out of their scope (one of the solutions was to bring award-winning screenwriters who had previously worked on the franchise onboard, like the now-deceased Harlan Ellison,) I made sure to point out the importance of recognizing the work done not only by the cast of the show’s first season but from the previous Star Trek installments as well.


On the importance of libraries and personal archives

I have been having a sort of academic discussion with a fellow friend and writer about what constitutes into a writer’s archive. As some of you may or may not know, every professional writer keeps what it is informally known in the business as “the files”, which is nothing but a collection of unfinished stories, snippets of research promptly jotted down on napkins and, in some cases, entire chapters ashamedly (sometimes wisely done so) removed from published work that will never see the light of day.

Seventy years ago the definition of “my files’ signified, for most writers, the possession of a metallic file cabinet often found in the offices’ supply shop at a very convenient discount located either next to the home desk or at a corner.

Having just one file cabinet and it meant you were a weekend writer, a hobbyist, someone who was too afraid to quit the day job to launch yourself into the adventure of being poor. Have more than one cabinet, but less than three, and it meant that perhaps you were an academic of some sorts, a “connoisseur”, a person of several interests who was indeed on the way to somewhere.

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