Happy Robert E. Howard Day
“I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”
Robert E. Howard was born on the 22nd of January, 1906. Today marks his 109th birthday, although he only celebrated 30 of them. See, on the morning of June 11, 1936, the day before his mother passed from tuberculosis, Howard put a .380 Colt to his head and pulled the trigger.
“I’m not going out of my way looking for devils; but I wouldn’t step out of my path to let one go by.”
Two-Gun Bob sold his first story in 1924. Do the math. Twelve years of his thirty were spent as a professional writer, successfully selling stories to Weird Tales and several other pulps. He created some of the most memorable characters in literature — Conan of Cimmeria, being his most enduring, has spawned an entire industry of reprints, pastiches, film, tv, and animated adaptations, comics, posters, role-playing games, and so much more.
“To the mistress of all true adventurers!” he whispered, choking on his own blood. “To the Lady Death!”
Without Howard, we might not even have Dungeons and Dragons, at least not as it exists today. When asked by GameSpy what influences he drew from when creating the first scenarios and monsters for D&D, Gary Gygax replied, “Mainly Robert E. Howard…”
“Poor devils, they’ll wake up in hell without knowing how they got there.”
If you were to ask who my biggest influence has been, not only as a writer, but in my worldview, I would answer, “Robert E. Howard.”
“Someday, when all your civilization and science are likewise swept away, your kind will pray for a man with a sword.”
Howard, the undisputed father of the sword and sorcery genre, was a brilliant author, writing visceral, action-packed fictions that, when he was at his best, were filled with mood and atmosphere unequaled. He wrote with brute force and indomitable fury. Robert E. Howard was a dark poet whose words were grim reminders that the world can be a cruel and inhospitable place.
“This day you become knights!” he laughed fiercely, pointing with his dripping sword towards the hillmen horses, herded nearby. “Mount and follow me to hell!”