Archives: Lin Carter

Lin Carter, Appendix N Supplemental

Rereading DMG’s Appendix N, I noted that the Lin Carter entry specified a single series. Now, I’ve read quite a bit of his stuff. I had plenty of fodder for my post on Mr. Carter. But I’d neglected the very work that got him enshrined in Appendix N. I was chagrined.

So, after a quick visit to Thriftbooks online, I ordered the first two of the World’s End series. I’ve read the first, Warrior of World’s End, and have plunged into the second, The Enchantress of World’s End. Will I purchase the rest? Read on and see.

The Year’s Best Fantasy 1975. The Question Mark is Presumed.

I picked up a collection of what composed the pinnacle of fantasy short stories in 1975, the unapologetically titled The Year’s Best Fantasy. A bold claim. True or not, these pieces are, at any rate, what the editor of the anthology considered the best. The editor? Lin Carter, whose objectivity and disinterested, selfless focus on the fulfillment of his task we’ll come to appreciate in this post.

I’d like to start by sincerely noting a classy act of Carter’s right out of the gate. The book is dedicated to Hans Stefan Santesson, who had recently passed on to whatever mead hall sword-and-sorcery editors ascend to. I covered one of his books, The Mighty Swordsmen, in a previous post.

Golden Cities, Far. The Roots of Swords-and-Sorcery

I think a brief reminder is all that is needed here: Lin Carter was a gifted and prolific editor. One of the volumes he put together for The Adult Fantasy series was a book titled Golden Cities, Far. The introduction is one of his better efforts, and seems to have been exhaustively researched. In fact, the book benefits from Carter’s notes, commentary, and humor throughout. This is the second of his collections of old myths, legends, and tales that are the roots from which the tree of heroic fantasy sprang (following Dragons, Elves, and Heroes, which I suppose I ought to track down at some point.)

Flashing Swords! #5: Demons and Daggers. A Transitional Anthology.

Lin Carter is back with another volume and more alliteration. Flashing Swords! #5: Demons and Daggers. The cover is drab and uninspiring, a tepid fantasy scene with a dull background, far from the evocative Sword-and-Sorcery covers of the previous volumes. The intro is equally unpromising. Carter writes that he is doing “something a little different” and is soliciting “stories for #5 from writers who have not yet become members of [SAGA].”  The names of the contributors — with the notable exception of Roger Zelazny do not inspire confidence in those hoping for the raw fire of S&S. No slight is intended to the others, all fine fantasists in their own right. But, I don’t read the FS anthologies for the larger, inclusive category of Fantasy. Well, I’ll keep a more-or-less open mind. Come with me.

Flashing Swords #3. Pack Your Bags.

I have a number of well-worn anthologies on my shelves. It has been said that shorter fiction is the proper length for Swords-and-Sorcery. Maybe so. At least in an anthology the reader has access to multiple imagined worlds in a single volume instead of the single world of a novel. I thought I’d investigate this somewhat, revisiting these collections. And what better volume to start with than Flashing Swords #3?

Lin Carter

Here is another entry in my irregular series on Appendix N. Today I’m considering Lin Carter.
Those of us who enjoy fantasy of a bygone era, pulp or otherwise, owe a debt to Lin Carter. Many consider his great contribution to the field to be his collating and editing of past masters, either in anthologies (e.g. “Flashing Swords”) or in reprints from the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. I doubt I would have encountered James Branch Cabell so early had it not been for Lin Carter championing the great writer.
As a writer himself – well, a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. Right? I certainly am not going to cast the first stone, despite sitting through more than one Thongor of Lemuria story. I haven’t got around to any of the Callisto books. I’m not in any particular hurry to do so.
But what I think of when the name Lin Carter flashes across my mental radar is “Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings.” I picked up a copy of the paperback at a yard sale when I was a kid. A pristine copy. I must have read it through cover to cover three or four times. It is still in pristine condition – I was a fastidious custodian of my paperbacks back then, less so now. But what a great book. I’ve since heard rumblings about the accuracy of his scholarship, but at the time that book opened up new literary vistas for me. I’ll be forever grateful to Mr. Carter for it.
That’s all for today. Still dealing with the aftermath of water damage, so back to manual labor.

L. Sprague de Camp, Appendix N.

I come to praise L. Sprague de Camp; let others bury him in undeserved, virulent dudgeon.

The man’s fingerprints are all over science fiction and fantasy from the Golden Age of science fiction up until the end of the Twentieth Century. He more than earned his place in Appendix N. He was prolific, fighting in the Isaac Asimov weight category (though, let’s face it, Asimov remains undefeated for sheer volume of publication.) De Camp’s writing was urbane, learned, witty, and full of clever innuendo. I, for one, love it.