Bored by REH Purism, or "Up With Pastiches!"

Faraer

Mongoose
It was quite deliberate that we don't see Cimmeria or other Cimmerians in the Conan stories. It's the land of Conan's past that inspires but deeply troubles him in a diferent way from sorcerous antiquity. Conan himself was Howard's own imagined Gaelic ancestor such that any other Cimmerian is treading on his thematic toes as well as far in his shadow. That doesn't mean the RPG should have ruled them out -- it's against d20 dogma, for one thing -- but they are problematic. But barbarian PCs are most logical, and that means Æsir-Vanir, Picts, maybe Hyperboreans, or someone from the South or East. I think you could do a substantial article on this topic.
 

terryallenuk

Mongoose
My feeling is that CPI will ensure that whatever adventures the authors create will take place in Howard's world . They [CPI] seem pretty keen to stay true to Howard from what I've read of their intentions.

Terry
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
I for one greatly enjoyed John Maddox Roberts' CONAN THE VALOROUS, wherein Conan returns to Cimmeria. Many details were filled in about his tribe and its rivals and the Cimmerian way of life... as well as giving insight into the working of a Vanir clan and Stygian manor. This novel has taken some knocks, but unjustly in my opinion. It read like a dream and was very inspirational from an RPG perspective. I recommend it, and everything John Maddox Roberts did for Conan. Even his lesser novels have mucho good stuff to recommend in them, but most are nothing short of fantastic! If only John C. Hocking had had his later Conan novels published, he might usurp John Maddox Roberts as the best of the 80s/90s pastiche writers in my mind. And yes, I love the Conan books by Robert Jordan, too, but I think Maddox Roberts captured a bit more of the character's humor.

So far, the Conan books by Leonard Carpenter that I've read were really good (THE RENEGADE, reading THE WARLORD now) and the weakest was by Steve Perry (THE FORMIDABLE), but even this was still a fun read with useful ideas to cull for a game. It was good enough for me to give Steve Perry another chance with CONAN THE FEARLESS, which I am hoping will have all kinds of wonderful detail on Corinthia, since the Conan RPG is pretty sparse on that country's info. However, I'm thinking of drawing the line at Perry's other pastiches, which seem to take place in the UnderDark with shark men and other silliness (no detaiul on the surface world to help my game?).

The only author who has disappointed me is Roland Green; I had a hard time sitting through THE GUARDIAN because it was so badly written. Not that there still wasn't material to plunder for a game, but his writing made my head swim after a time, so I had to read and reread pages to understand what was happening---whether that was due to intense boredom and confusing wording, I can't remember. Probably both.
 

Yuan-Ti

Mongoose
The new Harry Turtledove trilogy set in Cimmeria sounds downright terrible, if you read the blurb at the CPI website...

Conan of Venarium

Of course, I have never read a Harry Turtledove novel because they all sounded/looked so silly, so I cannot vouch for his writing. Just the idea of seeing a teenage Conan living in a Cimmeria conquered by Aquilonia and ruled with an iron fist -- their "heavily garrisoned forts dotting the countryside." :roll:
 
I can't stand Roland Green's books either. You can read my full opinion of Roland Green on my site if you want.

I have heard the Turtledove novel is the worst Conan novel ever written, and directly contradicts statements Howard made about the incident the novel is about.
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
VincentDarlage said:
I can't stand Roland Green's books either. You can read my full opinion of Roland Green on my site if you want.

I have heard the Turtledove novel is the worst Conan novel ever written, and directly contradicts statements Howard made about the incident the novel is about.

I mentioned the Harry Turtledove Conan of Venarium novel to my friend (and co-DM) and he groaned horribly, slapped his hand to his forehead and exclaimed in disgust, "I can't read that guy's books---I tried---but everything he writes is a piece of poop!" LOL
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Well, everyone's entitled to their own opinion, of course. Having said that, here's mine.
All of the pastiche stuff(especially DeCamp's) I've read is crap. Why?Because the author in question has no grasp of Conan or the Hyborian Age. They turn Conan into some happy-go-lucky adventurer with a smile on his face and a song in his heart as he goes off to battle the evil wizard of the week, 'cuz he's good and wizards are evil, and if he's real good, maybe Crom will come talk to him and save him from trouble.Crap. To me, saying the pastiche stuff is superior to REH's writings is like saying the corny Batman tv show from the 60's is better than the dark, menacing tone the original comics had( and have recently regained). These writers impose moralities and attitudes on Conan and his world that REH never intended. You could change the names of the characters and places and have your average generic fantasy tale-put conan's name on it, and you have a sale.
Here's the thing....if you're going to do a pastiche..keep it in the spirit that REH intended. I think this is what Busiek is trying to do with the new comic. If you like pastiches, fine. If you like them better than the REH material, the guy who created this world, then I think you just don't get it.
 

terryallenuk

Mongoose
VincentDarlage said:
I can't stand Roland Green's books either. You can read my full opinion of Roland Green on my site if you want.

I have heard the Turtledove novel is the worst Conan novel ever written, and directly contradicts statements Howard made about the incident the novel is about.

Everyone seens to think so - oh and just to say that the book was solicited by the " old " CPI , not the new one , so hopefully the new books will be more faithful.

Terry
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
lionmane said:
Well, everyone's entitled to their own opinion, of course. Having said that, here's mine.
All of the pastiche stuff(especially DeCamp's) I've read is crap. Why?Because the author in question has no grasp of Conan or the Hyborian Age. They turn Conan into some happy-go-lucky adventurer with a smile on his face and a song in his heart as he goes off to battle the evil wizard of the week, 'cuz he's good and wizards are evil, and if he's real good, maybe Crom will come talk to him and save him from trouble.Crap. To me, saying the pastiche stuff is superior to REH's writings is like saying the corny Batman tv show from the 60's is better than the dark, menacing tone the original comics had( and have recently regained). These writers impose moralities and attitudes on Conan and his world that REH never intended. You could change the names of the characters and places and have your average generic fantasy tale-put conan's name on it, and you have a sale.
Here's the thing....if you're going to do a pastiche..keep it in the spirit that REH intended. I think this is what Busiek is trying to do with the new comic. If you like pastiches, fine. If you like them better than the REH material, the guy who created this world, then I think you just don't get it.

I think you're completely wrong. The pastiches I've read do nothing of the kind and are firmly rooted in the Hyborian Age, and they treat Conan as a down to earth traveling mercenary who wants what all men want: money, women, food, booze and respect. The problem is most of his employers either minimize the danger they are putting him in or outright lie to him and then betray him at an opportune moment. That's exactly what happens in REH's stories, when Conan isn't the one directly putting himself into danger through some scheme. None of the pastiches treat Conan as a joke or anything but a strong, cunning and honorable warrior with some larcenous tendencies when times get tough. He is always a very likable and believable character who you want to read more of again and again. He is a reluctant hero, not in the "bitch and moan" annoying sort of way, but because all he wants is to live the good life, but he keeps ending up in situations where he is forced to "do the right thing", often to his financial detriment. He minds his own business as much as he can. He is not so much hero or anti-hero, so much as he is an unwitting catalyst for strange and terrible events. He is a bit of a lovable rogue and bastard in it for himself, a rogue with a heart of gold, LOL. Wherever he goes, trouble follows, but he doesn't complain. He deals with whatever the problem is in the most expedient, straightforward manner possible and then moves on, hoping his luck will improve around the next bend. And it does, for awhile, but the good times never last, much like his purse never stays full. The Conan of the pastiches IS Conan to me, just as much as REH's ever was. Yes, the pastiches make Conan out to be not quite the bastard REH would have had it, but that makes him more marketable, and I don't mind, as the change isn't that great. I've never read a pastiche that made me say, "Wait a minute, this isn't Conan!"

None of the ones I've read have him expecting Crom to save him, not even the one where Crom does save him. Conan is not treated as being a "good guy out to save the world" nor are all wizards he meets evil (just 99% of them, which is consistent with REH), though none of them are truly good, either (more like not insane enough yet to lose their humanity). By the way, I don't ever remember saying that I thought the writing on the pastiches was superior to REH. I did say some are as good as REH, and I stand by that statement. Good is subjective, remember. :wink:

I happen to like the cheesy Batman TV show a thousand times better than the Dark Knight Returns or Batman movies (barf to all of them). It's pure over the top fun. But I like the more serious Batman of the '90s cartoon, too. I rarely bothered to read DC Comics because I was always a Marvel guy, so I can't speak for the comics. I just don't think that darker always equals better. Look at the original Battlestar Galactica vs. the 2003 mini-series remake. The original was pure fun despite its imperfections, while the remake was mind-numbingly boring "darker equals better" nonsense that forgot what made the original so memorable. I like anti-heroes, bastards, villains and A-holes as much as anyone, but I don't like seeing my childhood friends "reimagined" into something unrecognizable (Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar, Lost in Space, Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, etc.).
 

Deathdealer

Mongoose
I don't like seeing my childhood friends "reimagined" into something unrecognizable
Which is exactly what has happened to those of us who grew up on the original Conan.
I'm not saying that the pastiches are necessarily awful, (but some certainly are), but they aren't Conan. A few come close, but I'd have enjoyed them better if they had not tried to pass them off as Conan stories.
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
Oron said:
I don't like seeing my childhood friends "reimagined" into something unrecognizable
Which is exactly what has happened to those of us who grew up on the original Conan.
I'm not saying that the pastiches are necessarily awful, (but some certainly are), but they aren't Conan. A few come close, but I'd have enjoyed them better if they had not tried to pass them off as Conan stories.

We're reading two different sets of books, then. I'm all for new Hyborian Age heros, but it's important to continue the Conan character, and that can only be done without Howard, so some compromises must be made.
 
Iron_Chef said:
He is a bit of a lovable rogue and bastard in it for himself, a rogue with a heart of gold... Yes, the pastiches make Conan out to be not quite the bastard REH would have had it, but that makes him more marketable, and I don't mind, as the change isn't that great... but I don't like seeing my childhood friends "reimagined" into something unrecognizable (Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar, Lost in Space, Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, etc.).

Conan? A lovable rogue with a heart of gold? That is a MAJOR change of character from the Conan who kidnapped the Devi of Vendhya so he could ransom her off for a bunch of hairy hillmen leaders, from the Conan who betrayed a handful of pirates by attempting to push them into a death trap in The Black Stranger, and so on. He was definitely reimagined and turned into something unrecognizable... and somewhat sanitized for the modern Politically Correct world.

Lovable with a heart of gold. Bah. Howard's Conan cannot be so described. He was a calculating and savage character with more blood-letting and lusty carnage left in his wake than any other pulp character of the period.

Why is it so important to continue the Conan character? There were far more elements to a good Conan story by Howard than just Conan himself. Most of these elements are gone from the pastiches. All that remains is a shadow of a character imbued with a heart of gold and made more loveable.
 

S'mon

Mongoose
I agree 100% with Vincent. Modern fantasy has hundreds of lovable rogues with hearts of gold, Advocating making Conan - an unlikable sociopath with strong tendencies towards homicidal mania - into such makes me want to puke. :evil:
 

Lord Kjeran

Mongoose
Chello!

I agree that the REH Conan is da Man! Dark and moody, he fights an overwhelming depression that REH felt in real life. The Conan of the pastisches is a far different fellow.

This is not to say that I do not like reading the later works...as a I have mentioned on another thread, the first Conan novel I read was Conan of the Isles when I was 9. Howard is the best author, though.

I have not read the highly-touted Conan and the Emerald Lotus by Hocking. I just ordered it off of Amazon and will be sure to let the boards know my reaction.

I checked out the CPI site with the description of the Turtledove novel. :roll: WTF?!!! Turtledove steals too much from real world history (and too directly). Check out this quote from the blurb (BOLD mine):

Every Cimmerian longs to drive the intruders out with fire and sword, but they must stay their hands, for the Aquilonians have promised savage reprisals. Then, intolerably, the Aquilonian commander takes a wholly dishonorable interest in the weaver's daughter - and he's not a man to wait, or even ask permission.

It's not a recipe for a peaceable outcome.


Why does this plot seem familiar? Hmmm....Braveheart, Rob Roy, Scottish history in general?

Enjoying reading the RPG right now....can't wait to get a game going..should be muy excellante fun! ;)

Later,

Tony

EDIT: Oh, and check this post on Amazon about the WORST Conan books out there. Bwa-ha-ha!

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/guides/guide-display/-/BDNL460NB1K2/ref=cm_bg_guides/102-9321636-3240165
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
VincentDarlage said:
Iron_Chef said:
He is a bit of a lovable rogue and bastard in it for himself, a rogue with a heart of gold... Yes, the pastiches make Conan out to be not quite the bastard REH would have had it, but that makes him more marketable, and I don't mind, as the change isn't that great... but I don't like seeing my childhood friends "reimagined" into something unrecognizable (Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar, Lost in Space, Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, etc.).

Conan? A lovable rogue with a heart of gold? That is a MAJOR change of character from the Conan who kidnapped the Devi of Vendhya so he could ransom her off for a bunch of hairy hillmen leaders, from the Conan who betrayed a handful of pirates by attempting to push them into a death trap in The Black Stranger, and so on. He was definitely reimagined and turned into something unrecognizable... and somewhat sanitized for the modern Politically Correct world.

Lovable with a heart of gold. Bah. Howard's Conan cannot be so described. He was a calculating and savage character with more blood-letting and lusty carnage left in his wake than any other pulp character of the period.

Why is it so important to continue the Conan character? There were far more elements to a good Conan story by Howard than just Conan himself. Most of these elements are gone from the pastiches. All that remains is a shadow of a character imbued with a heart of gold and made more loveable.

That sounds like a lovable rogue to me, but I have a somewhat broad definition, I'll admit. :wink: He ends up letting the Devi go, doesn't he? He could have murdered her instead. See? Heart of gold, LOL. Or what about in Vale of Lost Women when he goes out of his way to save that girl? Or in Jewels of Gwaluhr when he chooses to save that girl over a fortune in jewels? See? He's an old softie, hehe, a real bastard would have dropped her in favor of the necklace. He could always get another girl later, esp. when he cashed in that necklace! 9 out of 10 D&D players would have dropped her for the jewels, I'll wager. Hmm? Minor NPC I just met who will only slow me down, or priceless treasure of the ages? Tough one. :roll:

I don't know that REH's Conan is bloodier than Grant Stockbridge's The Spider. After all, which was called "the bloody pulp" of its day?

As to why it is important to continue the character, that should be painfully obvious. He is the most popular and recognizable of all REH's creations. Without him, interest dries up and profits go down. He MUST continue, otherwise CPI takes on the role of curators of a museum rather than a profitable business. That's not how successful businesses are run. Conan himself is the key to the whole property, and new adventures for him are the only way to grow the franchise.

Personally, I think new artists who paint in the style of dead masters like Renoir, Monet, etc., should be considered "official" and hung in museums next to the dead painters they try to emulate. That way, you can advertise you've got new, never before seen Monets or van Goghs! That's what I'd want if I was the heir to some famous dead guy. Milk that gravy train! :p
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I think there's a big difference between not killing someone and having a "heart of gold".
Are you sure you've ever read an REH Conan story??
As far as imitators being given the same recognition and praise as the masters they try to emulate......BULL****. If you're influenced by a certain author/artist, great. If you're just cranking out crap and dragging someone's work through the mud, you don't deserve to be "milking " someone else's "cash cow"...you should be sent to do something constructive, like dig ditches, not try and get $$$ off of someone else's reputation.
If they're such great writers, why don't they just stick to creating their own worlds and characters, and leave REH alone?
 

Yokiboy

Mongoose
Introducing first, the challenger Lionmane, weighing in with no post hisotry and mere Guest status, but with a good amount of conviction.

And in the opposite corner, Iron_Chef, weighing in at 405 posts and Stoat status. Is he really serious about imitators being as good as the masters they emulate, we'll see how that holds up.

Let's keep the fight clean, you know the rules.

Lets get ready to ruuuuuuuuumble! :lol:

TTFN,

Yokiboy
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
Yokiboy said:
And in the opposite corner, Iron_Chef, weighing in 405 posts and Stoat status. Is he really serious about imitators being as good as the masters they emulate, we'll see how that holds up.

Let me finish reading Dale Carnegie's HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE before I formulate a reply, LOL. 8)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
hey 'Lion-moan' -
i've heard your TOTALLY NEGATIVE DRIVEL a 1000 times before -
u are another 1 of the LONG UNDEAD ancient mindless auto-golem guardians of howardism - -
-
here are some facts for u -
conan was unknown to the wider world public till the wizard de camp re-packaged + launched those 12 famous lancer paperbacks in the early 1960 s.
they shook the whole world [and me later] + conan inspired many!

+ then the many new pastiches + comics, etc kept us happy + drew in more fans.
+ the conan books + tolkien were a major foundation of d+d + the 1st cult rpg s began to grow rapidly. [ etc, etc - - - ]
all this new conan production also keeps the worship of reh alive, aswell as being big business for the flawed suits at cpi.

i want more good new conan books by authors who care about reh [+ JOHN HOCKING cared more than any of us, until cpi treated him like sh#t ! ! :evil: ]
-
so when u have finally licked all the ink off the gold bound pages of your reh super-elitist collectors editions - -
why dont u get in your car + pull the trigger + go join your 'god' in his hellish purgatory - -
[oh i forgot, u are already undead aren't u !?! LOL ]

+ leave us saner minions to have a reasonable jousting of minds.
-
best wishes to all 'living' reh conan fans :wink:
[ the naked very buxom princess swept up the dead ashes + flushed em down into the dark river styx - - ]
 
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