Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weird Tales Books

The Mighty Swordsmen edited by Hans Stefan Santesson

Lancer Books was at the forefront of the 1960s boom in heroic fantasy, largely because of its line of Conan paperbacks with cover art by Frank Frazetta. The Mighty Swordsman was the second of a pair of anthologies featuring well known heroes of their genre. Both books were edited by Hans Stefan Santesson (1914-1975), Paris-born in the same month that World War I began and editor of Fantastic Universe Science Fiction from 1956 to 1960. Both books also featured cover art by James Steranko, late of Marvel Comics. (Steranko's break with Marvel came in part from a dispute over Steranko's tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, "The Lurking Fear at Shadow House." Incidentally, in the 1950s, the multi-talented Steranko was a member of a rock band called The Lancers.) There are six stories in The Mighty Swordsmen, but only five heroes: Thongor, Mazda, Dilvish, Elric, and Conan. Conan is the protagonist of stories by his creator, Robert E. Howard, and a latecomer, Bjorn Nyberg. Only one story, Howard's "Beyond the Black River," was originally printed in Weird Tales. Oddly, Santesson dedicated the book "to Harold G. Crawford and other friends at Bergen Pines County Hospital, Paramus, New Jersey."

The Mighty Swordsmen edited by Hans Stefan Santesson
(Lancer Books, 1970, 256 pages)
"Introduction"by Han Stefan Santesson
"Keeper of the Emerald Flame" by Lin Carter (Original to this book)
"The Bells of Shoredan" by Roger Zelazny (Fantastic Stories, Mar. 1966)
"Break the Doors of Hell" by John Brunner (1966)
"The People of the Summit" by Bjorn Nyberg (Original to this book)
"The Flame Bringers" by Michael Moorcock (1962)
"Beyond the Black River" by Robert E. Howard (Weird Tales, two-part serial, May-June 1935)

The Mighty Swordsmen, edited by Hans Stefan Santesson (1970), with dazzling wraparound cover art by James Steranko.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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