Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Remembering Steve

Today marks a year since the passing of Howard scholar, Steve Tompkins. Several blogs have posted nice reminiscences for the sad anniversary, some of which you can read here, here and here. We never met Steve in person, but we were fortunate enough to have his words elevate several of our projects.

In 2004, Wandering Star hired us to produce a publication designed to act as an introduction to some of the literary creations of Robert E. Howard. We immediately thought of Steve, who possessed an almost surgical ability for precise, clever description. We asked him if he could sum up each of Howard's heroes in a single, short paragraph — and he delivered the goods in his usual style, describing Kull as an, “upstart usurper who lived by the sword and now rules by the axe,” and Dark Agnes as, “Silk strengthened by steel, fire sheathed in ice.” Great stuff!

Steve also wrote numerous blog posts for The Cimmerian, all of which have been archived and can be easily accessed by going here. The last of the wine turned out to be Steve's essay for this year's Del Rey release, El Borak and Other Desert Adventures.

Below is our El Borak illustration from The Illustrated World of Robert E. Howard, followed by Steve's wonderful description from the same publication. RIP, Steve.

European empires are on the march and Afghan hillmen are on the prowl across the Country of the Knife, where treachery and trustworthiness are different edges of the same blade. Of Indian fighting Southwestern stock, Francis Xavier Gordon has found in the East a wilder West, where he embroils himself in the Great Game and the Great War, pitting the legend of El Borak against the Black Tigers of Rub el Harami, the Hidden Ones of Ghulistan, conscience-less English renegades, and the ambitions of Kaiser and Czar. And in Arabia, where Lawrence has fanned the flames of an uprising against the Ottomans, a banner more ancient than Cross or Crescent encourages atavism and atrocity, and Gordon must join with old enemies to bring down a new madman.

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