Category Archives: Pastiches

My Thoughts on New Robert E. Howard Pastiches

I had an interesting experience the past couple of days. As you know, I am a huge fan of Robert E. Howard. I think he’s the best fantasy writer we’ve seen yet. And as showed with its Discovering Robert E. Howard series, he wrote well in several genres.

From what little I know (like I ever let THAT stop me), I don’t think that Cabinet is going to take ‘The Tor Approach’ and crank out a lot of mediocre pastiches (some were good, like Conan the Rogue by John Maddox Roberts and John Hocking’s The Emerald Lotus, but many were not). And I certainly don’t expect nearly a dozen Age of Conan spin offs (I hope not).

And if they get a good line editor (I’ve got a vote for that one) and quality authors, I think REH fans will be pleased to see new stories featuring Steve Harrison, or Sailor Steve Costigan, or El Borak, or Solmon Kane or whoever (I love Conan, but REH wrote about a lot more than just the mightily-thewed Cimmerian).

Harry Turtledove’s Conan of Venarium came out in 2002. It’s been fifteen years since an REH pastiche. And even that one came five years after the prior Conan novel.

Cabinet could easily have gone another fifteen years without any new books about REH’s characters, so I’m excited. And I’m pleased it’s not just Conan. I would like to add some new REH books alongside my original text Del Rey editions.

Here’s how I choose to look at it: The rights holders focused on getting unabridged REH texts out there. So, we got the Del Rey series (which is what made me an REH fan) and some excellent books from the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press. We were weaned off of the de Camp edits. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt heading into the world of new REH pastiches.

Hopefully the Q&A will yield some more details on what we can expect. I do know that the first book will be out in 2018.  May it be the first of many.




And Even More of Otto Penzlers SH Library! (The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes)

penzler_robertsSo, over at today, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes looks at a fifth book in Otto Penzler’s Sherlock Holmes library. This one is from S.C. Roberts, an accomplished bookman who had a life-long impact on Cambridge.

This is a nifty little collection of essays written by Roberts and a nice addition to a Sherlockian bookshelf. I’ve long been fond of his pastiche, “The Strange Case of the Megatherium Thefts.”

I had previously written a post on Vincent Starrett’s two entries in the series, followed by a post on the two books from James Edward Holroyd.



All the Holmes You Need – The MX Book of New SH Stories

MXSeries_4I have been very fortunate to be included in the ‘four books and growing’ anthology series from MX Books (I’m in Volumes III and IV).

Volume IV was just released in hardback, paperback and ebook formats a few weeks ago and the first three volumes came out as a trilogy in 2015.

The deadline for Volume V, which will be all Christmas tales, is rapidly approaching and I expect that book to be out by the end of the year. And Volume VI is already being put together!

Today over at, I talk about this very cool series, which has already exceeded eighty stories. That’s a LOT of Holmes reading for you.  Head on over and learn about the MX Anthologies. And please feel free to leave a comment.

You probably already know, but I write ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ every Monday morning over at  I roam afield occasionally, but the subjects are primarily Holmes and mystery related. Type my name in the Search box and see what comes up. I began the column in March of 2014 and have written quite a few ‘extra’  posts. Hopefully you’ll see something you like.

THE Holmes Anthology is Out!

MX_3I have mentioned (oh, maybe, more than once…) here and over at Black Gate, that there was a new anthology of Holmes stories coming up. And that I had a story in Volume Three.

Well, on October 1, The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, in three parts, hit the cyber-shelves. And whatever bookstores are still in business. Two days in, the books are currently holding down the number 1, 2 and 5 spots among Holmes books at

And it’s not just “an” anthology. It’s the biggest collection of new Holmes stories ever put together (by my Solar Pons buddy, David Marcum). There are over sixty contributors from around the world.

Back in August, I posted a round up of the authors’ own thoughts on the stories they wrote. Some neat background there.

You may have seen the BBC miniseries Arthur and George, which aired here in the US last month. It was adapted from Julian Barnes’ fictionalized account of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fight to secure justice for the wrongfully convicted George Edalji (that’s a mouthful of a sentence. My story is easier to read than that). For a more factual look at the affair, check out my post over at, where else, Black Gate.

BTW, if you’re reading this, you probably  know that every Monday morning, my The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes column is posted at While it’s primarily focused on Holmes and other mystery-related subjects, they let me wander off topic and I tackle other interest areas, which may include role playing games, Humphrey Bogart and who knows what!


Anywhoo. My entry (did I mention it’s in Volume Three?), is “The Adventure of the Parson’s Son.” I took the Edalji case, moved it forward a few years from the time of Doyle’s involvement to when the crimes actually occurred, and dropped Sherlock Holmes plumb in the middle of things.

I’m not going to pretend I’ve got one of the best stories in this collection. Some of my favorite Holmes authors are in here, and I’m waaay better at writing Holmes nonfiction than fiction. But I still enjoyed writing it and taking a real-life Doyle event and centering it on Holmes.

Philip K. Jones, who is the leading Holmes pastiche reviewer around, said of volume one, “This first volume, on its own, is the finest anthology of Sherlockian fiction I have ever read. All of the stories were interesting and readable and several were outstanding.”

Checking in at about 1,200 pages, If you’re looking for a collection of Holmes stories, this one will give you months of good reading. And if you can’t get the whole shebang at once, I suggest going with Volume Three first! Did I mention…yeah, I think I did.

It’s Elementary – If you recognize the name of one of Holmes’ contemporaries in the story (and one of my Sherlockian buddies from Michigan certainly will), I tried to work in an actual appearance, but it just wasn’t panning out. But you may well see a Holmes pastiche from me pairing up the two!

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes – Frank Thomas’ Holmes Books

Thomas_SwordToday, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes looked at one of the very first pastiche authors I read, Frank Thomas. I also discuss Mark Frost’s The 6 Messiahs; sequel to The List of 7.

Here’s a sample:

In the nineteen fifties, thousands of American boys thrilled to the television adventures of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Frankie Thomas, Jr, offspring of acting parents, had been in the business for two decades when he starred in the adaptation of a popular comic strip.

It was a hit, spawning comics, books, a radio show, toys, et al. As with all shows, it ran its course and came to an end. Thomas went on to become one of America’s foremost bridge experts. That’s the card game, not the things that span waterways. His Sherlock Holmes, Bridge Detective, was a popular book on the subject (as was its sequel).

When I started branching out beyond Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories, I think that Thomas was the very first Holmes pastiche writer that I read.

Keep in mind that around 1980, pastiches were relatively uncommon. You bought Holmes books at actual bookstores: no Amazon. Indie-press Holmes stories were rather rare and hard to find. There wasn’t a self-publishing industry to speak of. So, avid Holmes fans gobbled up paperbacks by L.B. Greenwood, Richard Boyer and Frank Thomas. Yep: same guy.

In 1979, Sherlock Holmes and the Golden Bird came out, followed the next year by Sherlock Holmes and the Sacred Sword.

Click on over for the rest.