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De Camp and His Rewriting of Conan


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#1 broncoboxer

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 01:44 AM

I just got a few of the Ace Conan collections (Conan of Cimmeria, Conan the Conqueror, Conan the Freebooter, Conan the Adventurer, Conan the Buccaneer, and Conan of Aquilonia) and I'm excited about delving in.

Now, I realize that DeCamp and Carter have flexed their editorial muscles on the Howard stories in these books. So my question for you Howard purists is: how badly did they screw up Howard's original work?

Is it still worth reading, or have they so altered his works that it makes you nauseous?

So far, I've only read Howard's "Rogues in the House" in its original version (at least I think it was--I downloaded it from Kazaa...), plus some of his short stories from a "Beyond the Borders" collection (no Conan stories there), so I'm no authority on his writing. However, I've been reading Conan comics (all of'em) since 1981, so I do know a bit about Conan.

Anyway, I look forward to your responses.
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#2 Ironhand

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 09:38 AM

I never considered the deCamp/Carter pastiches nauseatingly bad. You will find it interesting to compare and contrast those stories which were originally Howard stories, with those that have deCamp's and/or Carter's names pasted on, with those that are by dC/C exclusively. :ph34r:
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#3 El Borak's Li'l Brother

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 08:33 PM

I found the Howard/De Camp/Carter series Conan quite enjoyable. Yes, I'd prefer to read all Conan stories as Howard wrote them, and have read a few, but still that series of books was quite enjoyable. Simply read it for what it is.
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#4 Speelie

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 05:58 AM

Most of the history of Conan in literature is pretty well known, and a part of that history involves L. Sprague DeCamp ("LSD") succeeding Robert E. Howard ("REH") as the principle architect of getting Conan tales into print. Most readers will be aware of how LSD turned non-Conan REH stories into Conan ones (no pun intended, either here or for the rest of this piece), edited unpublished Conan stories for publication, and finally collaborated on full-on pastiches.

This makes it seem that LSD wrote plenty of Conan, but think about it. Howard wrote all of the Conan stories up to 1957. LSD RE-WROTE some to a greater or lesser extent, but did not create the plots and framework himself. Then, Bjorn Nyberg wrote the first draft of The Return of Conan (the main part of the eventual Conan the Avenger). LSD merely turned that into the published product (and I don't use "merely" loosely, I myself have ghost-written a WW2 veteran's memoirs, polishing what the veteran himself recorded).

The pastiches resumed in 1967 with the Lancer/Ace/Sphere series, which saw Lin Carter come aboard as co-author. Michael Moorcock has commented in his survey of Hweroic Fantasy that Conan of the Isles is almost certainly principally Carter's work, and I've read elsewhere that in-progress Thongor stories were converted into Conan ones. I get the feeling that Carter did most of the heavy lifting in the pastiches that continued up through Bantam's Conan the Swordsman (which saw Nyberg briefly re-emerge) and Conan the Liberator.

We finally get a Conan story wholly created by LSD in the form of Conan and the Spider God, right? No Carter is credited, but LSD does thank his wife Catherine Crooke DeCamp for her "editorial assistance." Carter reappears for the novelization of the Conan the Barbarian movie, but Robert Jordan ("James O. Rigney, Jr.") in his chronological list of Conan stories found in some Tor volumes, credits Catherine Crooke DeCamp as the true co-author of the movie novelization. This makes me suspect she was also co-author of Conan and the Spider God.

We're left with hardly any Conan based around LSD's own plots and ideas, and all of of a sudden, his role in carrying on the character post-REH changes. I'm still unsure of HOW it changes, but for me it does add a new perspective that I'm still considering. I'm curious to know what others think of the above observations!

#5 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 07:46 AM

when i compare my fave 'best quality' Conan pastiches [cps] [which were all written by wagner, roberts, hocking + jordan] to the cps by de camp + carter [dcc]..
it makes much of the dcc stories seem weak, limp + more corny.
the dcc conan is good in parts, + it is better than all the limp slop by offut + anderson.

to me dcc = mediocre /average. but i still thank them for pushing their 'mutant' version of conan FORCEFULLY + successfully into the wider world!

but was de camp an 'ego-maniac' [with all his petty text changes] or just greedy for money + more success?..or both?
but now REHs truer versions are out for us to enjoy, i dont really care about past editing scandals.

but i must admit that there are some 'old fashioned' words used by REH which i never liked. i may have been tempted to change a few words /meanings if i had been a powerful editor + the writer cannot be consulted [as with REH].
eg. the word 'girdle' is used a lot. i'd want to change it to 'belt'. [i laughed at this when i was in my teens, cos the only girdles i knew were worn by older women under their clothes! + the word 'belt' seems more manly for big warriors to wear.. ] :lol:

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#6 thedave

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 02:49 AM

when i compare my fave 'best quality' Conan pastiches [cps] [which were all written by wagner, roberts, hocking + jordan] to the cps by de camp + carter [dcc]..
it makes much of the dcc stories seem weak, limp + more corny.
the dcc conan is good in parts, + it is better than all the limp slop by offut + anderson.

to me dcc = mediocre /average. but i still thank them for pushing their 'mutant' version of conan FORCEFULLY + successfully into the wider world!

but was de camp an 'ego-maniac' [with all his petty text changes] or just greedy for money + more success?..or both?
but now REHs truer versions are out for us to enjoy, i dont really care about past editing scandals.

but i must admit that there are some 'old fashioned' words used by REH which i never liked. i may have been tempted to change a few words /meanings if i had been a powerful editor + the writer cannot be consulted [as with REH].
eg. the word 'girdle' is used a lot. i'd want to change it to 'belt'. [i laughed at this when i was in my teens, cos the only girdles i knew were worn by older women under their clothes! + the word 'belt' seems more manly for big warriors to wear.. ]  :lol:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Not to take a shot at you (seriously), but to consider DeCamp "average" strongly suggests to me that you're a younger reader. *not an insult* - fantasy was written a lot differently in DeCamp's heyday than it has been in my lifetime. It's extremely difficult to compare modern fantasy with pulp fantasy.

I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to a private party hosted by DeCamp in his suite at WorldCon in 1986, and we spoke privately for nearly 2 and a half hours about his career, mostly his Conan writing (at that time I had not read any of his other works). He, Nyborg, and Carter actually wrote a lot *more* Conan than has been commonly thought.

As to his ego - I found him to be thoughtful, polite, and wholly unassuming. He gave Carter and Nyborg most of the creative credit, and flatly stated that none of them got paid any more than a fraction of what they were promised for their work.

Just my personal experience - take it for that, no more, no less.

#7 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 03:58 AM

Not to take a shot at you (seriously), but to consider DeCamp "average" strongly suggests to me that you're a younger reader. *not an insult* - fantasy was written a lot differently in DeCamp's heyday than it has been in my lifetime. It's extremely difficult to compare modern fantasy with pulp fantasy...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

i was just comparing my fave 'best quality' Conan pastiches [cps] [which were all written by wagner, roberts, hocking + jordan] to the cps by 'de camp + carter' [dcc].

while dcc are both good writers [very good at descriptions + atmosphere, + carter is better at suspense + seems far more inventive + into s+s than decamp] their overall plots, use of conan, + impact on the reader is mostly lacking, limp, + therefore average /mediocre.
+ in their later cps [especially about king conan] they got worse + even abused /killed off some of REHs main characters in the most wimpy + pathetic manner! that is unforgivable to me!
their arrogance went too far! :angry:

most of the cps by my faves 'wagner, roberts, hocking + jordan' are inventive, SUPERB + BRILLIANT compared to most of the lack-lustre + unambitious twisted cloning attempts forced out by the dull dcc duo!

btw, i love the works of REH + CLARK ASHTON SMITH + KIPLING + HPL + PK DICK + many more, so age doesnt apply...
.. but i still have a very cheeky young mind + fine body...so i liked your assumption.. ;)
cheers. :)

#8 Strom

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 04:00 AM

Thanks for sharing the experience thedave. The fact that you were able to talk to DeCamp for so long is very insightful. I must admit my view of DeCamp has changed since I joined this site, as I have tempered my opinion with the understanding that DeCamp really advanced Conan and Howard to the masses and I am personally grateful for that dedication

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#9 korak

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 04:17 AM

Buxom writes- as just comparing my fave 'best quality' Conan pastiches [cps] [which were all written by wagner, roberts, hocking + jordan] to the cps by 'de camp + carter' [dcc].


I don't see that at all--- man, the well crafted purple prose of DCC was really immaculate compared to the fatboy novels of the Tor era. Decamp was a pretty good expert on history and military subjects and it shows in his battle campaigns in the Conan stories. Their Conan was really great fantasy in the vein of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series, classic stuff in its own right. Roberts and Jprdan, that would be funny if it wasn't so sad. :(

#10 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 05:59 AM

..Roberts and Jprdan, that would be funny if it wasn't so sad.  :(

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

so, we have a major difference of opinion here?

this is interesting.
please explain more about your views of the pastiches by ROBERTS + JORDAN?
what do u like / dislike about their conan work?
+ how do u rate them compared to my other faves WAGNER + HOCKING?
do u like offut or green or carpenter?

+ which are your fave 'decamp+carter' [dcc] stories, + why?

+ remember, i said dcc were merely average. i dont dislike most of their stuff.
their prose is fine. but good prose doth not guarantee good exciting plots, ideas, inventiveness, + faithfull/sensible character + use of Conan?
:)

#11 Speelie

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 11:14 PM

We are indeed dealing only with opionions here, and everyone has a right to theres. I'm personally with the Sorceress here, I find the DCC Conan to be almost pathetic compared to REH's, but I realize that many people DO enjoy DCC's take on the hero.

I actually CAN enjoy DCC's Conan if, as I've said elsewhere about Jordan's Conan, I pretend the stories are about some other hero. Then, the DCC stories are good silly fun. But Conan, to me, should be grim and gritty and raw, and NOT "good silly fun." Thongor and similar characters exist for silly fun, but REH was quite serious minded in his Conan writing, and when authors don't match that spirit, I end up agreeing with Don Herron's description of "Conantics" (anyone who has never read Herron's piece "Conan and Conantics" should do a web serach on the word "Conantics" to find it).

And I DO realize that in some ways it is hard to take the fictional adventures of swaggering swordsmen "seriously," but for me (again, for me, not necessarily for everyone reading this), I can buy into Howard's version of tales that would be ludicrous if anyone else wrote them (Soloman Kane for example, would be VERY difficult for anyone else to write effectively).

Oh, and for the record, I'll be 35 later this year and have been reading Conan since 1983 ;)

#12 alienmotives

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Posted 29 July 2005 - 02:00 AM

A little bit of commentary from someone who's a newbie to this board, but not to SF/F.

First and foremost, I came here because I'd heard and seen de Camp shredded for his treatment of Howard in Dark Valley Destiny. Many Howard fans were rightfully put off by the negative comments in that book, most especially those which were of a purely speculative nature.
Should anyone bother to track down a copy of the Donald M. Grant book Time and Chance, de Camp's autobiography, the origins of that book are explained, and in the explanation I could see that de Camp was effectively set up.
The summary, as accurately as I can recall:
de Camp was a fan of Howard. A friend of the family was a psychologist, and was a fan of Howard. She wanted to write a biography, but lacked the writing skill. de Camp produced a critically acclaimed (but vilified by some fans) Lovecraft biography, and the friend asked him to co-author one on Howard. de Camp passed.
A short time passed. The friend suffered a catastrophic illness. She asked again, hoping to raise funds. In light of the new circumstance, de Camp agreed. They went out and interviewed a number of the locals who remembered Howard.
The two wrote their seperate halves. The psychologist used the interviews and her training to write her part of the book, de Camp used some of the interview material, but mostly other sources. de Camp, recalling the reaction he got from the fans for the Lovecraft bio, tried to edit down some of the psychologist's work, and she refused to allow him to do so.
A week or two before the book was to be turned in, the psychologist died from her illness. Catherine moved in, editing and re-writing the woman's work, eradicating a lot of the psychobabble and especially eliminating much of the more theoretical writing about Howard's youthful experiences. They got it as polished as they could before turning it in to the publisher.
Whenever Howard is mentioned by de Camp in T&C, it's done with appreciation or praise.

And to this day de Camp gets the brunt of the blame, because it's assumed he just brought the woman in as a consultant. I live in Dallas now, and you should hear the way the Howard fans talk about him sometimes.

For the record, I do have some evidence which corroborates that story, too. Sprague and Catherine's collection was recently sold off to a local used bookstore chain, Half Price Books. I picked up the de Camp file copies of many of the later Conan paperbacks (score!) as well as their trade paperback copy of The Last Celt, the compilation of Howardiana done by Glenn Lord. It still has notes in it scribbled in some margins, some in Sprague's handwriting, some in Catherine's, indicating information they were using for DVD.

...................

That all said, I felt sorry for de Camp when writing Conan. The man was an expert writer, but part of that skill was developing his own style, and he had to work at minimizing that when he was doing Conan. Sometimes he was successful, sometimes not; there are parts of the dc/c pastiches which come off far more as a typical de Camp fantasy than anything produced by Howard. Carter, I feel, was a better mimic, as far as that went. Re-reading Lin Carter's work from that time period, he could produce imitations of Burroughs, or Edmond Hamilton, or Howard, and consistently do about a 80% job of it. Much better than you or I could do, unless you're a pro, but not quite up to the par of the original. It's the same problem August Derleth had in his efforts at mimicing Lovecraft or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Derleth produced some very good stuff, and he was a decent imitation of the original, but was unable to ever make you forget it was pastiche.

....................

Also, for as much as has been said about the quality of the Tor pastiches, I have to point out that de Camp was very careful to maintain veto power on who could produce them for fear of having it become like the Star Trek novel franchise... and those who remember the way the Conan books were being bought in the 1980s can probably appreciate that effort. I was told by one Hugo-winning author that he was personally vetoed by de Camp when he tried to get a contract to write Conan in the early 1980s. At that point, the author only had a few fantasy novels under his belt, and de Camp thought that his writing style didn't fit Conan. So, even if some lesser works eventually made it through, he did work to keep the name respectable.

....................

As far as Herron's piece, he strikes some excellent points. Unfortunately, in taking umbrage to the occasional ego flares of de Camp and Carter, he also drastically slights what skills they did posess, saying at one point that Carter couldn't write and following it up with a grouping of Howard and Agatha Christie against a grouping of de Camp and Carter, implying that de Camp's skills were on the same level of a man who, in his studied opinion, "couldn't write." In so doing Herron refutes the judgement of people like Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, H.L. Gold, Joseph W. Campbell Jr., Poul Anderson, and Frederik Pohl, among others.

No, neither de Camp nor Carter was Howard. But to denigrate their writing skills on the whole because they did not measure up to the skills of Howard in his style of sword and sorcery is silly.

Moreover, he seems to take pains to excerpt the negatives from what were typically mountains of praise heaped upon Howard. I'll be honest, I absolutely love the writings of certain authors: Robert E. Howard's fantasies, Charles L. Grant's horror and his early shorter SF, Manly Wade Wellman's fantasy work, Robert Sheckley's humor, Harlan Ellison's short work, Joe R. Lansdale's mysteries and the tales of John D. MacDonald and Donald E. Westlake all spring to mind. But all of them had flaws in some of their works at one time or another, and all of them had the occasional tale which may have worked for them and others, but not for me. I'm not willing to shoulder any of them onto a pedestal and prostrate myself before them. That's just creepy.

Edited by alienmotives, 29 July 2005 - 02:32 AM.


#13 Strom

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Posted 29 July 2005 - 03:06 AM

Great post alienmotives. Thanks for sharing some insight into DeCamps "Dark Valley Destiny". I read that book years ago, having checked it out from the library. The inaccuracies seem prevalent but your post does shed some light on why that may be.

Your comment on the quality of the Tor novels is a very interesting - and could be a topic unto itself!

I believe DeCamp could write that is without question. I also agree with your comment that Carter was a closer interpretation of Howard then DeCamp.

All in all, Decamp did alot to promote the work of REH and as a fan I am grateful for his effort.

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#14 Valin

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Posted 29 July 2005 - 04:13 PM

Just added my two coppers to this discussion. I always liked the deCamp and deCamp and Carter Conans. IMO, they were the best Conans after Howard's originals.

I haven't read any of the later Conans (after Jordan), so I can't comment on how the franshise has been in the last twenty years.
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#15 matsellah

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 02:44 AM

I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to a private party hosted by DeCamp in his suite at WorldCon in 1986, and we spoke privately for nearly 2 and a half hours about his career...


Did he talk at all about his time in the Navy during WWII?

Just curious.
"Their present king is the most renowned warrior among the western nations. He is an outlander, an adventurer who seized the crown by force during a time of civil strife, strangling King Namedides with his own hands, upon the very throne. His name is Conan, and no man can stand before him in battle." ~ Orastes, 'The Hour Of The Dragon'

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#16 Lionmane

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 06:38 AM

Perhaps LSD could write, but he couldn't write Conan worth @#%*. And he had the hubris to think he could write Conan better than REH. As I've said before, he just didn't get it.
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#17 daknight

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 02:00 AM

Perhaps LSD could write, but he couldn't write Conan worth @#%*.  And he had the hubris to think he could write Conan better than REH.  As I've said before, he just didn't get it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



I found the stories good enough when I first read them, around 10 or so, but as the years went on I saw how different they were and how some just couldn't compare to Howard's. I don't know that deCamp presumed he could write better than Howard, but he likely thought he had a handle on the character of Conan, and there's room to disagree there. The Red Nails collection which was just 3 Howard Conan stories really clinched it for me, as to how Howard was THE writer. But deCamp still owes some thanks I think for keeping things going and maintaining interest in the character. I still have a soft spot for Conan Of The Isles which I think was the best Conan deCamp did.
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#18 Ant

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 03:36 PM

Edward Waterman paints a very dark picture of de Camp... see REH Issues FAQ.

Btw, L. Sprague de Camp is usually abbreviated LSDC (or, I guess, LSdC), not LSD.

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#19 alienmotives

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 11:15 PM

Yes, he does, but in so doing he either pursposefully or blindly misinterprets basic things.

He states, and tries to establish, that de Camp continued the Conan stories out of pure greed. He uses as a basis for this that LSdC only wrote more pastiches as a way to strengthen his legal position. Legal position about what? About getting paid for work already completed.

I have a problem with laying that at the feet of greed. There are many things which go into wanting to get paid for work provided. Yes, there can be the obvious desire for money, but there is also a sense of honor at stake. Many writers who could afford to get financially shafted refuse to do so in part for ego, and in part to take a stand against unfair practices. This has occurred with Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Piers Anthony, and a number of other best-sellers, none of whom have gotten hit with the accusation of doing it out of "greed".

That, combined with his derogatory reference to LSdC as a second-string writer, shows a bias which is stunning. Again, all personal decisions aside, LSdC was chosen as the fifth winner of the Grand Master award for SF. That was not an award given lightly; at its inception the rule was that no more than six could be given out over a ten year period, and the first eight were Robert A. Heinlein, Jack Williamson, Clifford D. Simak, L. Sprague de Camp, Fritz Leiber, Andre Norton, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov. These are awards chosen not by fans, but by the members of the SFWA. The professional writers decided to honor him -before- Fritz Leiber, Andre Norton, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov. To relegate him to the second tier of writers over the judgment of his actual peers is a display of hubris which is stunning in its ignorance.

There is valid argument that the editing should not have been done. It was massive, in some cases.

On the other hand, one question which seems to be steadfastly ignored by deCamp's detractors is this: How was the editing done?

It was done to bring the stories into the post Strunk & White time period, in an effort to make the stories more streamlined to contemporary literary constructions. This is one of the primary jobs of a decent editor. It keeps stories from feeling like they were written at some time in the past. It is very reasonable that de Camp, with his relatively limited experience at editing but extensive experience at collaboration cleaved to this aspect of editing.
On the other hand, another job of a decent editor is to leave **** alone when it works. In that, I think de Camp with his sensitivity toward literature and his tendency toward collaborations failed utterly. But his detractors go immediately toward the worst possible explanation, that he wanted to put his own stamp on someone else's work, without taking into account the obvious answer staring them in the face. In that, they follow the same path as the conspiracy theorist who insists that aliens are behind flouridation of water.

LSdC, along with Barry Malzberg, is one of SF's legendary collaborators. Ignoring the Conan works, he produced the Harold Shea adventures, the novel Land of Unreason and the Gavigan's Bar series with Fletcher Pratt. He wrote the novel Genus Homo with P. Schyler Miller, and then later wrote novels with his wife Catherine. I cannot see any reason why one would assume he would collaborate differently just because he viewed it as a posthumous collaboration.

Shift, then, to the methodology used by collaborators. It varies greatly. In some instances, one writer stops at a given point and the other writer picks up, then back and forth for the remainder of the work. In some, one writer develops the idea and the first few chapters, and the other writer continues until the end. In some cases, the first writer does the first draft, the collaborator comes in and tightens it and adds to it, then the first writer comes back and checks to see what's happened, and re-edit if they feel appropriate. Perhaps the best documented of these collaborations is between King and Straub on The Talisman. Both admit now that they cannot point to any passages in the book and say for certain which is theirs and which is the other's, because they passed it back and forth for rewriting so often. Professionals do that. They rewrite the work of other professionals during a collaboration, in an attempt to make the story better. If you disagree with that, I'm not about to argue... Karl Edward Wagner, for instance, was a firm believer that the stories should have been kept as they were for their pacing and energy.

Moreover, he slams people who praise de Camp for keeping Conan in the public consciousness, suggesting that the merit of the stories would have done so.

BULL.

Lovecraft is known today primarily due to the efforts of August Derleth, who was similarly pilloried for introducing elements to the Lovecraftian mythos which were never displayed by Lovecraft. Primary among them, the good vs. evil aspects. If literary merit were the measure, it is nearly inarguable that Clark Ashton Smith would have been the more famous one. As it is, Smith's work is known today primarily because of people hunting out the works of other members of the "Lovecraft Circle".

Without de Camp, Howard would have been consigned to literary obscurity. Period. If you don't believe me, I'll ask you to rattle off your favorite story by:
Paul Ernst
Mark Clifton
Ray Cummings
Dr. David H. Keller
A. Merritt

If you're deep into the pulp and post-pulp era, you've heard of these people. If you're truly hardcore you've read some of their work. But most people today haven't read them, and the same holds true for many others. The simple fact is that having someone continue to put out your work... whether inappropriately edited or not... keeps the work alive. It's exactly the same principle as when a lousy television show or movie, keeping barely any plot points with the written work on which it is based, generates huge interest in the book. Without regeneration of interest, the stories will die. With enough recycling, the interest will eventually be self-sustaining, as fan fiction, literary asides, and pastiches keep the stories alive; without that, though, the work, however good, falls into the rabbit hole.

That is what would have happened with Conan; the proof lies in the fact that interest in the character was low enough in the fifties... less than twenty years after the last known original story had seen print... that de Camp was unable to find someone better suited to barbarian temperment to continue the series. Today, there are great authors who leap at the chance to write a Conan book (however good or bad the end result might be.) Then, they couldn't find one. Is anyone so foolish as to believe that after another fifty years of obscurity, there would be a leap to publish the books? Or that anyone would hear about them, if it did happen?

Tell you what. Haffner Press did a reissue of the works of Leigh Brackett not all too long ago. Let me see a show of hands of the people who bought it, and a second show of hands of the people who at least heard of it. Count those people up, and then tell me how horrible it is that posthumous collaborations were done of Howard's work. Then, unless you have a Haffner Press book on your shelf, I'll call you a number of insulting names and we'll move on, because odds are damned good you'd have never even heard the name Robert E. Howard if LSdC hadn't pushed him. If you do, I'll cede the point. I'm betting I'd win.

#20 alienmotives

alienmotives

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 11:55 PM

[/quote]
(I've said this in another thread, but I think it's worth repeating.)
Here is something LSdC wrote about his work on Conan --
"In February, 1952, I rewrote 'The Black Stranger.' Not being sure that I could sell the story without drastic improvement, I edited it with a heavy hand."
Also, he cut some things to try and "speed up the narrative."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

[/quote]

I think you just hit on one of the things that so bothers many of de Camp's detractors. While he is on record in multiple areas praising Howard, he also felt some of the writing was flawed, and that he was capable of "improving" it. That rubs the hardcore fans raw, for valid reason. But just because he had a writer's ego doesn't mean he was some sort of villian. He loved Howard's stories and wanted to promote them, whether or not he was a perceptive editor.

(And it's worth noting that Karl Wagner was an excellent and prolific editor, unlike de Camp, who outside of his Conan work only produced a few small collections of S&S material.)