Dark Horse comics has been releasing affordable phone book sized collections of the old Savage Sword Of Conan stories for a few years now. I’ve got a couple of them. That got me flipping through my old back issues, and in so doing noticing just how much content isn’t in the reprints. What is mostly missing is the bonus material: the pinups, maps, photo-essays, letters columns and of course all the ads. But just today I noticed that SSOC #22 has something I’d never seen in it, at least not with SFFaudio eyes, before. Check out this review, by Fred Blosser, of this vintage 1976 LP entitled Conan: The Bloodstained God/The Curse of the Monolith:
Here’s an excerpt:
The Renaissance Man of fantasy fiction.
So one might describe L. Sprague de Camp.
Novelist, essayist, world traveller, engineer, poet, collegiate fencer, popularizer of science and history. You name it, and de Camp has probably done it. To Conan fans, de Camp perhaps is most familiar as the writer who continued and expanded the saga of the mighty Cimmerian after the death of Robert E. Howard. Whatever one thinks of this work – and opinions differ – it still is difficult to deny the importance of de Camp in the genre. Recently, in association with II Vermont-based studio called Moondance Productions. Inc” de Camp took microphone in hand to essay a new role – that of oral storyteller.
The result? A new record album titled. simply. Robert E. Howard’s Conan. Featuring L. Sprague de Camp. In his liner notes, Moondance producer Alan B. Goldstein calls the LP “an historic event … the first recorded Conan story by a living author of the Conan literature.” Actually, the record contains dramatic readings of not one, but two stories. But Goldstein may well be correct about the “historic” part. At least where Conanophiles are concerned.
Side one of the LP features “The Bloodstained God,” a riproaring talc in which Conan tangles with human and demonic foes while searching for a long- lost idol of gemencrusted gold. “The Curse of the Monolith,” on side two, brings the Cimmerian up against a Hyborian Age version of the Blob while on another treasure hunt. Both yams were co-authored by deCamp- “Monolith” in collaboration with Lin Carter, “God” as a rewrite of a non-fantasy Howard swashbuckler collected in The Swords of Shahrazar (FAX, 1976) as “The Curse of the Crimson God.”
How does de Camp fare on vinyl? Very well. I think. He gives the stories a careful, unhurried reading that most listeners should find appealing. His interpretation of the various voices is also fine. I liked the surly growl that he gives Conan , and the singsong inflections for the Oriental characters.
The sound effects and music blend in nicely with the narration, indicating that a lot of technical work went into the album. “The Bloodstained God” in particular provides a field day for the special effects crew. Swords c lash, hoofbeats clop on Slone, men yell in horror as they are pitched into bottomless chasms. There’s even the creaking of a living statue climbing down from its pedestal in search of prey! These effects provide a keen sense of realism without interfering a bit with de Camp’s storytelling.
In short, if you liked Moondance’s first Conan LP (a dramatization of “The Frost Giant’s Daughter” and “The Tower of the Elephant.” reviewed in SSOC #11), you’ll find more of the same here. With of course, the added novelty of de Camp’s performance.
The LP was a limited edition printing (1500 copies made) and contained two abridged short stories with music/quasi-sound effects. I’ve never reviewed it, not being a huge fan of dramatized readings, but it is certainly interesting.
Conan: The Bloodstained God/The Curse of the Monolith
By Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter; Read by L. Sprague de Camp
1 33 1/3 RPM LP – [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Moondance Productions
On the other hand I do heartily recommend the two Conan audio dramas produced by Moondance that were, apparently, reviewed in SSOC #11 (I’ll try to find my copy of that issue).
Robert E. Howard’s Conan – The Tower Of The Elephant & The Frost Giant’s Daughter
Adapted by Roy Thomas & Alan B. Goldstein; Performed by a FULL CAST
33 1/3 RPM LP – Approx. 46 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMATIZATION]
Publisher: Moondance Productions
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Posted by Jesse Willis