Short Sorcery: C.L. Moore’s “Hellsgarde”
Apr23

Short Sorcery: C.L. Moore’s “Hellsgarde”

Short Sorcery: C.L. Moore’s “Hellsgarde” by Bill Ward C.L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry is the kind of character a writer can build a series of stories around, sharply defined in ways that make her both immediately compelling and comprehensible to an audience, but with enough nuance to not only keep a reader engaged, but to ground the character in believability. And believing in Jirel – a flame-haired Medieval Lady with a temper...

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Short Sorcery: Robert E. Howard’s “The Tower of the Elephant”
Jan29

Short Sorcery: Robert E. Howard’s “The Tower of the Elephant”

Short Sorcery: Robert E. Howard’s “The Tower of the Elephant” by Bill Ward “Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.” – Robert E. Howard, “The Tower of the Elephant” The above is one of the most famous lines Robert E. Howard ever wrote, and it occurs as a young, somewhat naive Conan is mocked by a group of city dwellers in the...

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Short Sorcery: Leigh Brackett’s “The Moon That Vanished”
Dec22

Short Sorcery: Leigh Brackett’s “The Moon That Vanished”

Short Sorcery: Leigh Brackett’s “The Moon That Vanished” by Bill Ward From the start, from the very title itself, the reader is presented with a mystery in Leigh Brackett’s “The Moon That Vanished.” For one thing the story’s setting of Venus – think the Venus of Edgar Rice Burroughs rather than that of NASA probes – has no moon. But there is much more going on than that. The protagonist, David Heath, is himself...

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Short Sorcery: Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Last Incantation”
Dec18

Short Sorcery: Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Last Incantation”

Short Sorcery: Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Last Incantation” by Bill Ward Clark Ashton Smith’s first great literary love, his calling even, was poetry. His artistic inclinations, the themes and images that fired his blood, were for the fantastical, the mythic, and the wildly imaginative.   But fever dreams of baroque lands and sinister sorcery were fast becoming passe among the literary mainstream of his time, and so...

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Short Sorcery: Poul Anderson’s “The Tale of Hauk”
Nov24

Short Sorcery: Poul Anderson’s “The Tale of Hauk”

Short Sorcery: Poul Anderson’s “The Tale of Hauk” by Bill Ward Poul Anderson, Grand Master of Science Fiction and author of over 100 books, always seems to bring a little something extra to the table when writing a tale invoking Norse mythology. Whether it be in the myth-inspired sword-and-sorcery classic The Broken Sword, or his novelized retellings of the sagas of figures like Hrolf-Kraki and Harald Hardrada, Anderson’s love for the...

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Short Sorcery: Fritz’s Leiber’s “Bazaar of the Bizarre”
Nov10

Short Sorcery: Fritz’s Leiber’s “Bazaar of the Bizarre”

Short Sorcery: Fritz Leiber’s “Bazaar of the Bizarre” by Bill Ward If I had to describe Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories in one word, that word would be ‘fun.’ Not the dismissive ‘fun’ often given as a back-handed compliment to fiction that doesn’t rise above the level of the merely entertaining, but visceral, in the bones,...

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