The Onion AV Club has been running an interesting feature on its blog where one of the editors, Keith Phipps, reviews in turn each one of the 75 “vintage” (= damn old) paperbacks he bought in a big box from some thrift store. I myself am so vintage (= damn old) that I remember seeing some of these editions on the shelf when they were shiny and new, but I mostly passed them by for matter that was more obviously rewarding (e.g. Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids). It’s been interesting to watch Phipps sift through the dreck for an occasional glimmer of gold. It’s not quite the must-read feature that Nathan Rubin’s My Year of Flops has become, but it’s getting there.
There have been several genre titles so far: Wells’ The Food of the Gods, Delany’s Ballad of Beta-2 etc. This week he tackles The Mighty Swordsmen, a Lancer paperback anthology of heroic fantasy, edited by Hans Stefan Santesson.
Phipps is not especially knowledgeable about fantasy (he cops to not having read any Zelazny or Moorcock except for the stories in this volume), but he gives a not-unsympathetic reading to the REH story included (“Beyond the Black River”), and an unsympathetic reading to a Bjorn Nyberg knockoff, which sounds about right.
Apparently the book includes no Leiber, no C.L. Moore, and no Vance, so Phipps not unreasonably but wrongly concludes “I left The Mighty Swordsmen with more or less the same impression of its sub-genre as I had going in: There’s Howard and then there’s everyone else.”
On deck for future weeks: an Ed McBain “87th Precinct” mystery, Brian Aldiss’ Hothouse and a Lin Carter opus I’ve never heard of called The Valley Where Time Stood Still (a Lost World pastiche, I suspect).