The SFFaudio Podcast #599 – Hawks Of Outremer by Robert E. Howard; read by Connor Kaye. This is an unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 5 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Trish E. Matson, Alex, and Connor Kaye
Talked about on today’s show:
Oriental Stories, Spring 1931, Weird Tales, Boom Studios, Mark Finn, Savage Sword Of Conan #222, “freely adapted”, did Connor say Conan?, square cut black mane, lightning blue yes, iron thews, a very unConan conclusion, “sheer weight of numbers”, man against man, Cormac Fitzgeoffrey, characters get in the head, ultra-brain damaged, punch drunk, his father was bastard, half norman half celt, a very special story, really interesting, super fun, very manny, Robert E. Howard nerding-out about history, historical references, who was real and who was not, Robert de Vale, Richard Lionheart, Saladin, Mark Finn’s essay, rewriting history in the guise of fiction, the markets are too scanty, if I twist facts too much, my stories center entirely on my conceptions of my characters, writing to a point, pooping on Lovecraft, Howard’s racism, England’s fucked up, Ireland’s fucked up, France is fucked up, religious zealots on a conquering spree, A Means To Freedom, the peopling of the British Isles, anthropology, its all migration, the Normans, two generations away from Vikings, civilization and barbarism, he’s obsessed with it, the German’s the bad guy, entrenched in the blood and the soil, Lovecraft doesn’t really care about characters, we remember Robert E. Howard characters, the themes are always the same, manliness vs gentlemanliness, a character up against them, The Black Stone, Lovecraft couldn’t or didn’t do that, the Saladin movie, Kingdom Of Heaven, Bertran de Born, 1140s-1215, Dante’s Inferno, Gustave Dore, jousting, He nicknamed Richard Lionheart…”Oc-e-Non” (Which translates to “Yes-and-No”),a translation of one of his war poem/songs (by Ezra Pound):
“…We shall see battle axes and swords, a-battering colored haumes and a-hacking through shields at entering melee;
and many vassals smiting together, whence there run free the horses of the dead and wrecked.
And when each man of prowess shall be come into the fray he thinks no more of (merely)
breaking heads and arms, for a dead man is worth more than one taken alive.
I tell you that I find no such savor in eating butter and sleeping, as when I hear cried “On them!”
and from both sides hear horses neighing through their head-guards, and hear shouted “To aid!
To aid!” and see the dead with lance truncheons, the pennants still on them, piercing their sides.
Barons! put in pawn castles, and towns, and cities before anyone makes war on us.
Papiol, be glad to go speedily to “Yea and Nay”, [Richard Lionheart] and tell him there’s too much peace about.”
this is hardcore, yo, the spirit inside of Cormac, war-madness, Apocalypse Now, he’s a ghost, a skull on his shirt and his shield, the West is open, Heart Of Darkness, Cormac is the crazy one, “My most somber character”, an unsalable version of Conan, the story works perfectly without any sorcery (without any sword), spartan in the backgrounds, Joe Jusko‘s covers, an eight page sequence which is almost completely wordless, arms floppin’ off, Medieval castle in Outremer, his hand swelling up like a glove and then exploding, crush the vertebrae, not for the faint of heart, quite vivid, Conan The Salaryman, “the giant”, his catlike slept, pantherish movements, so formidable in battle, he is a fool, a lot of backstory, Robin Hood is running around, the timeline, killed about a people burned a castle, took a sword from a sea-king, a ‘magic’ sword, his true beliefs, he swears by Satan, a symbol of the craziness that is the crusades, Richard is a fool (admirable), I would have you among my men, acting in honour to obey a blood debt, historical fiction, a tiny interregnum between another crusade and another betrayal, everyone is becoming free agents, craft their own little kingdoms, all these bastard sons, what the title means, a girl at the center of the action, a death wish, he’s like The Punisher from the 1190s, a war on crime that will never end, he’s a vigilante, he goes looking for trouble, you broke him, at least one more adventure, Richard Lionheart died in 1199, Saladin’s rule, unhorsed in battle, an Arabian steed and an English warhorse, Saladin was a Kurd, break up the two teams, united in their religion, dismounted?, a french she-knight, a belly fat German, throwing battle axes and lances, that impossible grip, bending the iron bars, this unstoppable Punisher plowing through people, going everywhere trying to make trouble, makes friends with people who are getting into trouble, Howard is so different from Lovecraft, H.P. Podcraft, The Picture Of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Oscar Wilde defeats you using nonsense logic that sounds great, rhetorical flourish vs. rhetorical substance, enough words, time to move, an experiment in manhood, why his stuff is so incredibly powerful, buffin’ up at the gym, military warriors, uncles and advisors and friends, unsurpassed for what it is, walking down the street wearing a time with a notebook and thinking about the stars, the boxing ring, wrestling with what it is to be a man, King Kull is a lot more philosophical than Conan, A Man Returns, were he a total caricature, he thinks its a trick, not just a walking sword, what Europe is like, a feint, betraying fealty, friends betrayed, Queen Of The Black Coast, a big long moral lecture, cleaves the judge’s head, manly loyalty that gets you into wars, the same kind of mentality, the thin blue line, I’m not a knight I’m a lord in my own land, running around in bearskins, philosophizing in fiction about what it is to be a man, the women in the stories are there for addressing men’s duties towards women, ideals of masculinity, a love letter to Saladin, a compeletly different way of being a man, a charismatic chivalrous civilized man, Saladin and Richard, fresh fruit, eat this get better, Joppa, prisoners of war, a Kurd among Arabs, I’m gonna prove you wrong, a Mary Sue, writing about the man he wants to be, strong and chivalrous, kind to his friends and cruel to his enemies, male fantasy,
Cormac glared at him, tensing himself for a sudden leap that would carry the Kurd with him into the Dark. The Norman-Gael was a product of his age and his country; among the warring chiefs of blood-drenched Ireland, mercy was unknown and chivalry an outworn and forgotten myth. Kindness to a foe was a mark of weakness; courtesy to an enemy a form of craft, a preparation for treachery; to such teachings had Cormac grown up, in a land where a man took every advantage, gave no quarter and fought like a blood-mad devil if he expected to survive.
Now at a gesture from Saladin, those crowding the door gave back.
“Your way is open, Lord Cormac.”
The Gael glared, his eyes narrowing to slits: “What game is this?” he growled. “Shall I turn my back to your blades? Out on it!”
“All swords are in their sheaths,” answered the Kurd. “None shall harm you.”
Cormac’s lion-like head swung from side to side as he glared at the Moslems.
“You honestly mean I am to go free, after breaking the truce and slaying your jackals?”
“The truce was already broken,” answered Saladin. “I find in you no fault. You have repaid blood for blood, and kept your faith to the dead. You are rough and savage, but I would fain have men like you in mine own train. There is a fierce loyalty in you, and for this I honor you.”
Cormac sheathed his sword ungraciously. A grudging admiration for this weary-faced Moslem was born in him and it angered him. Dimly he realized at last that this attitude of fairness, justice and kindliness, even to foes, was not a crafty pose of Saladin’s, not a manner of guile, but a natural nobility of the Kurd’s nature. He saw suddenly embodied in the Sultan, the ideals of chivalry and high honor so much talked of—and so little practiced—by the Frankish knights. Blondel had been right then, and Sieur Gerard, when they argued with Cormac that high-minded chivalry was no mere romantic dream of an outworn age, but had existed, and still existed and lived in the hearts of certain men. But Cormac was born and bred in a savage land where men lived the desperate existence of the wolves whose hides covered their nakedness. He suddenly realized his own innate barbarism and was ashamed. He shrugged his lion’s shoulders.
“I have misjudged you, Moslem,” he growled. “There is fairness in you.”
“I thank you, Lord Cormac,” smiled Saladin. “Your road to the west is clear.”
And the Moslem warriors courteously salaamed as Cormac FitzGeoffrey strode from the royal presence of the slender noble who was Protector of the Califs, Lion of Islam, Sultan of Sultans.
that’s the author talking, a lion like roar, Richard the Lionheart is the other lion, wasting all these lives, Robin Of Sherwood, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, maybe their religion aint that bad, reading Howard in comics, its never Cimmeria, interacting with not nice people, he comes from the north, that wanderlust, a lack of the gigantic mirth, that being towards death thing, in search of a calling, he’s clearly looking for someone, we want him to go there, its corrupt, decadence, Bêlit is probably supposed to be Jewish, she’s a Shemite, hawk-nosed Shemites, was so passionate her love, she’s a psycho killer, corruption everywhere, this person is not corrupt, a romance of the westerners towards this history, the propaganda is that he was exceptionally good, Howard inspired by history stories, his themes are not shallow, redeeming features to the latest Marvel Conan?, Conan the Gambler, it just carries you along and you hardly notice the philosophizing, he is so skilled at writing the prose, the dialogue is used in the Boom Studios adaptation, Roy Thomas era of Conan, text boxes, virtually no text boxes, losing all the sidelights that Howard is throwing, it feels like a novel’s worth of material, two major flashbacks, he storms two castle, a really strong workout, a lot of the tension came from Howard’s writing, it ends and you almost want to cheer, Two-gun Bob, His Own Barbarism by Mark Finn, he saw suddenly embodied in the sultan, the Frankish knights, his own innate barbarism and I was ashamed, he’s literally a werewolf, semi-mythological metaphors, Smaug, The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien rewriting the Saga of the Volsungs for his own children, Thorin becomes the next dragon, a representation of turning into a dragon, a wolf-like figure, there’s too much peace around, a dead man is worth more than one taken alive, ransom, the butter and the sleeping, propagandistic: let’s do this fucking think, a hype-up, flex contests, let’s get this war on, fuck the money, it feels so fucking good, PUBG, trench warfare, become a wizard (like Evan), become a lich, ways of winning this manhood game, Connor is so lucky to be young and have Jesse giving him his wisdom, Mark Finn, Robert’s relationship with Doctor Howard, I got a $120 for that story, Blood & Thunder The Art & Life Of Robert E. Howard by Mark Finn, Connor’s narration, the voice of Cormac, really fun to narrate, The Blood Of Belshazzar, more of the same?, Magic Carpet Magazine, looking east, Orientalism, the interest in the east, Connor’s big Hippocampus Press purchase, R.H. Barlow, W.H. Pugmire, Clark Ashton Smith, The Tindalos Cycle, John Ajvide Lindqvist, The Black Diamonds by Clark Ashton Smith, a Boy’s Own Adventure by a kid who didn’t know what he was doing, ridiculously fun, an enthusiasm, Lovecraft seems to be a fanboy of Clark Ashton Smith, that prose that is a painting, the reds from Robert E. Howard, Scarlet Citadels, Red Shadows, it was a colour but I can’t describe it, four issues on Archive.org, 33 stories up on the PDF Page, The Sowers Of Thunder by Robert E. Howard, set in Otremer, an Irish crusader with a troubled past, maybe Connor’s got another project, talking about manhood, Lovecraft is more correct about the status of masculinity in the 20th century, Lovecraft knows the future is going to be libraries, academics, Lovecraft’s Roman dream, a fantasy of the working class, Wastelands by W. Scott Poole, it doesn’t matter how much you train, what it is to be a man and what it is to be masculine and what it is to be an adult, trophies, the female gaze upon the muscles, female characters who are wimps, the Indiana Jones second movie, Willie Scott’s job is to scream, The People Of The Black Circle, The Hour Of The Dragon, Zenobia, Red Sonja, Valeria from Red Nails, she’s a companion, not a plot object, the exact same plot as Iron Shadows In The Moon, the stupid squire character, Zula, Grace Jones is great, a little horse battle, Conan: The Destroyer is garbage, N’Longa, I need you, I’m yours, if Will were here, Tonto to The Lone Ranger, fifties square, Jay Silverheels, rancher’s daughter needs rescuing, range romance on the edge of civilization, Beyond The Black River, Conan fighting Indians on the frontier, John Carter, Tharks, not having magical element, sword and sorcery, didn’t need an evil wizard, Hashshashin, other than being really strong, Sharpe’s Rifles is historical fiction, that axe-throw was borderline, Harold Lamb, Adventure (magazine), it doesn’t really matter what he applies his writing to, The Tower Of The Elephant, he steals from the best, the puzzle solving, the pathos of the elephant, Almuric, and here’s some fragments, a description of a real town, how the houses loom, those sentences are still him talking, the natural storytelling, a jigsaw puzzle and a protractor, the soul of a poet.