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Steve Tompkins: Major REH/Fantasy Scholar


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#1 Rusty Burke

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 09:49 PM

It is my distressing duty to report that Steven Tompkins, one of the most erudite of Howard scholars and critics, a really brilliant and insightful guy and a wonderful friend, passed away of a heart attack on March 23. He had recently been hospitalized for a severe case of food poisoning that developed into anemia, but the heart attack was completely unexpected. It has taken a while for his brothers to find contact information for Steve's friends, which is why we are late in learning this.

I am absolutely stunned by this -- I've lost a really wonderful friend, on top of the enormous loss to Howard scholarship. I guess this weekend I'll have to pull out and read a bunch of Steve's extraordinary essays and introductions, and drink to his shade. He deserves to be at the table with REH, Karl Wagner, and the other writers he so admired.

We should think about putting together a book of Steve's work.

Rusty

#2 terryallenuk

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:07 PM

It is my distressing duty to report that Steven Tompkins, one of the most erudite of Howard scholars and critics, a really brilliant and insightful guy and a wonderful friend, passed away of a heart attack on March 23. He had recently been hospitalized for a severe case of food poisoning that developed into anemia, but the heart attack was completely unexpected. It has taken a while for his brothers to find contact information for Steve's friends, which is why we are late in learning this.

I am absolutely stunned by this -- I've lost a really wonderful friend, on top of the enormous loss to Howard scholarship. I guess this weekend I'll have to pull out and read a bunch of Steve's extraordinary essays and introductions, and drink to his shade. He deserves to be at the table with REH, Karl Wagner, and the other writers he so admired.

We should think about putting together a book of Steve's work.

Rusty


Just read this , and Morgan's post on Innercircle , and I'm just sat here stunned . Nothing more I can say except my condolences to you and others who knew him.

Terry

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#3 ?sir

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:10 PM

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My condoleances.

Edited by ?sir, 03 April 2009 - 10:11 PM.


#4 Axerules

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:22 PM

Bad news. :(
Condoleances to his friends and family.
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#5 Patrice Louinet

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 11:04 PM

I wish I had the words. I simply don't have them.

Patrice

#6 Brian

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 12:17 AM

This is Brian Murphy, one of Steve's fellow writers over at The Cimmerian. I heard the news today and wanted to express my condolences to Steve's family. Steve was brilliant, a unique writer, extremely well-read, and from what few e-mail conversations I had with him, a great guy to boot.

Rest well Steve, you'll be missed.

#7 Taranaich

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 01:11 AM

I never had the pleasure of meeting Steve, and I always hoped someday I might: so many questions about what he thought about Howard, his stories, Tolkien, fantasy and American fiction, and all manner of things that seem fickle and frivolous in the magnitude of his friend's and family's awful loss. I am truly sorry for all who knew him better than I.

I couldn't tell you how much Steve's essays made me appreciate Howard, and given me insights I would never have considered. I have only read a fraction of his output, but each essay I have read was a gem. His "The Shortest Distance Between Two Towers" should be essential reading for Howard and Tolkien fans, and fantasy fans in general. A book of his work would be a wonderful tribute for one of the great Howard scholars.

Robert E. Howard, 1906 - 2006

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#8 amster

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 01:35 AM

I really enjoyed his essays on The Cimmerian, especially when he drew parallels btween Karl Edward Wagner and Sergio Leone. And Night Falls On Whoheim, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, told in the style of REH, was friggin' brilliant.

But for those of you out there that lost a friend, my deepest condolences.
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--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--

#9 crossplain pilgrim

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 01:47 AM

Having been referred to Mr. Tomkins's essays on a number of occasions, I can deeply appreciate his passing is a sad loss to the REH community. My deepest condolences to his family.
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the waves their white crests showed
When Solomon Kane went forth again,
and no man knew his road.

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#10 deuce

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 03:30 AM

Absolutely horrible news. I missed meeting Mr. Tompkins by a few yards (and a few eternities) at the World Fantasy Convention in Austin (2006). I'll always regret that. We exchanged emails for a few weeks before his death. I can't say we were "friends". I can say that, like most whose work I've admired, he was someone whom I felt I would become friends with if given the opportunity. That's never gonna happen, now. His essays speak for themselves, and will continue to speak to those who care about fantasy literature long after all of us are gone. Just my humble opinion.

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#11 docpod

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 03:45 AM

I am at home downing one Guinness after another so I might be able to get some sleep. I talked to Steve on the phone every one or two weeks for the past 13 or 14 years. We traveled together to Cross Plains in 1998 and again to Pulp Con a few times. I had had a bad premonition last week and kept calling his apartment to see if he was O.K.

Morgan
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#12 Brian

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 03:46 AM

For those interested, I took the liberty of writing a post about Steve over at The Cimmerian: http://www.thecimmerian.com/?p=3729

Edited by Brian, 04 April 2009 - 03:48 AM.


#13 deuce

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 04:02 AM

An excellent essay, Brian. That's gonna be a hard act to follow by Wednesday.

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#14 emerald

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 05:49 AM

Absolutely dreadful news.
Tompkins wrote the best essays on heroic fantasy I've ever read. His rich, allusive style demandied to be read slowly and savored for its depth and sly humor.
I can't stand the thought that his voice is stilled.
I didn't know the man at all and I feel wounded.
My heart goes out to those close to him.

John Hocking

#15 timeless

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 06:29 AM

A load-bearing pillar of the temple has just been removed.

I offer sincere condolences to his family and friends and associates. A tilt of the mead horn, aye, but a sad one, a dirge.
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Is but a dream within a dream. - Edgar Allen Poe

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#16 Scott Oden

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 07:18 AM

I just saw this! Like everyone else, I am a great fan of Steve's work. I wish I'd had the chance to meet him. My deepest condolences to Steve's friends and family.

Scott

#17 Taranaich

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 02:47 PM

A wonderful post, Brian. I, too, am unsure of what will become of The Cimmerian site now that its valiant leader is gone. I hope dearly that it continues to be a shield-wall for heroic fantasy, as a tribute to Steve's wonderful work.

Robert E. Howard, 1906 - 2006

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#18 Black Indy

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 03:28 PM

Like everyone else here, I am gobsmacked at the news of Steve Tompkins passing.

I got to know Steve through his years in REHupa, and was just amazed at the depth of his knowledge. I will never know another person who was so well-read as Steve, nor one who could write so eloquently using his unsurpassed knowledge. This is paralyzingly sad news.

I had the chance to hang with Steve at one PulpCon. He and Doc Pod and I got to share bourbon and conversation. Steve's intellect was somewhere out there in the stratosphere, making the rest us mere mortals in his presence. But he was a genuinely polite and lovely man. I saw him again at WFC in 2006, and it was great to sit and talk. Steve would always politely ask interesting questions, because he was genuinely interested in a person's answers. Hope I didn't disappoint him.

Steve took great delight in tormenting me - in the way friends do - about my hatred for Howard's THE BLACK STRANGER. He had a way of politley shoving in the knife to cut me to the core with his arguments about what a masterpiece TBS is, and while he never convinced me, I took great delight in the recognition he afforded me from his lofty perch! It's one of those good-natured back and forths that friends who respect each other often do, smiling and laughing all the way.

It's so sad that those times have ended. I'll greatly miss my friend Steve. A couple fingers of good booze coming your way, wherever you are, amigo.

Black Indy

#19 Strom

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 04:06 PM

I've been away and to see this news....very sad & shocking....my heartfelt and deepest condolences to Steve's family and friends.

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#20 Crom

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 04:39 PM

A sad loss indeed. Steve's essays were intelligent and thought provoking. My condolences go out to his family and friends.

Very good article, Brian. Like others, I hope this doesn't affect The Cimmerian site, and it continues to provide excellent coverage of all aspects of heroic fantasy.