Thursday, April 14, 2011
For those who don't know who that is (and you may want to skip this paragraph if you do), DeCamp was a science-fiction/fantasy writer of moderate ability, who managed (sometime in the late 50's or early 60's, I believe) to become the custodian of the late Howard's Conan stories. For several years, DeCamp labored over these stories with the help of Lin Carter and Bjorn Nyberg, organized them chronologically, and filled in time gaps by either converting non-Conan stories into Conan stories, or by writing original works of the character. The product of these efforts was a 12-volume set of books (that would later be added to by DeCamp as well) published by Lancer/Ace Books. These books remained in print until the late 1980's. It should be noted at this point that DeCamp considered himself somewhat of an armchair psychologist, and I later learned that much his analysis of Howard's person were born of misinterpreted information, and possibly a sense of jealousy. DeCamp knew that Howard had been a more talented writer than he ever could be. That much is plain. And his character assassination of Howard, along with his self-serving custodianship of the Conan character, did little to ingratiate him to true Howard fans.
Be that as it may, these books were my first literary introduction to the character of Conan. Suffice it to say, they developed in me a lust for Sword & Sorcery, and a love of the Conan character. At the time, I recall not noticing the difference between the original stories by Howard, and the pastiches. They were all Conan, and they told the story of the life of an amazing character. I have since gone on to read the re-release of the original Howard works, as well as many of his non-Conan stories, and have come to appreciate his genius, and how DeCamp, though talented, never quite measured up to the Original.
The last three books in the original twelve, Conan the Avenger, Conan of Aquilonia and Conan of the Isles, were all book length works written wholly by DeCamp. And the last two book featured Conn somewhat prominently. First as a 10-year old would be warrior in Aquilonia, and later as the Prince turned King in Isles. Near the beginning of the final book, Conan abdicates his throne to his 20-something son, in favor of running off on one last hurrah. The rest of the book was fun, but it was Conn that always intrigued me.
Yeah, that's what I'm doing.