Monday, December 1, 2008
First published in 1969, Giant of World's End kicks off a series of books describing the adventures of Ganelon Silvermane, an artificially created hero awakened prematurely to save the far future world of Gondwane -- Earth after all the continents have again positioned themselves into a super-mass -- from a variety of threats. These books clearly belong to the "Dying Earth" sub-genre and the influence of Vance is quite clear, which perhaps explains their appeal to Gary Gygax. Though published first, Giant of World's End takes place last in the series and there are some incongruities between its depiction of Ganelon and Gondwane and those of the later books. Still, it's an interesting read and another example of a type of fantasy that was once commonplace and now a curiosity.
I feel compelled, as an aside, to speak briefly about Lin Carter, who frequently catches a lot of flak because of his involvement in posthumous "collaborations" with pulp authors, most notably Robert E. Howard. For these, I do think he deserves criticism and fairly harsh criticism at that. Like August Derleth before him, these efforts of Carter are almost universally amateurish and of limited literary merit. Along with L. Sprague De Camp, Carter did much violence to the Conan saga and many readers of a certain age have a distorted view of the Cimmerian's adventures -- and REH's writing -- because of his work. At the same time, Carter was the driving force behind much of the pulp revival of the late 60s and early 70s, when he promoted numerous formerly-forgotten writers to the general public once more. He was the first editor of Ballantine Books' "Adult Fantsy" series and it was this series that brought authors like Lord Dunsany, Clark Ashton Smith, William Morris, James Branch Cabell, and many others to view again. In a sense, he was a spiritual godfather of Dungeons & Dragons, because Carter's editorial work enabled many to read fantasy tales they otherwise wouldn't have, many of which were very influential on Gary Gygax. Consequently, for all his faults, I still retain a fondness for Lin Carter that I don't for De Camp.