Discussion:
Thinking about: LIN CARTER
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Stiletto Blade
2003-12-30 02:43:38 UTC
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Not counting the Conan bastardizations, I have 32 Lin Carter novels sitting
on one of my bookshelves. I've owned them for many years. I've read 8. And
that was a long time ago. I keep walking past them and glancing up, feeling
tempted. I don't think I could stand the Thongor series again but I have
vague memories of enjoying the Callisto novels. And I've never dipped into
the World's End, Zanthodon or Green Star series, so maybe they'd be worth a
try? (What is it about DAW Books that always makes them so inviting?)
But I've got this massive negative impression of Carter in my head; a big
STOP sign with 'fan fiction' written across it. Now okay, fair enough, I
know the Thongor stuff is pretty risible but is EVERYTHING this guy wrote
dreadful? Has he got any fans out there? Sure, I know it's all derivative
but, you know, that's not a crime. I wonder whether Carter's editorial
interference with the Conan material and his 're-visioning' of the Cthulhu
mythos has simply soured attitudes towards him? Are people so angry that his
work is being shunned?
A few days ago I started reading an Otis Adelbert Kline. I got about four
chapters in before I couldn't stand it any more. Really, it was awful. But
Kline doesn't seem to provoke the same amount of venom as Carter even though
his style and subject matter seems to be very similar (well, judging from
those four chapters anyway). So what's the story here?

== Stiletto Blade ==
www.stilettoblade.com
www.sextonblake.co.uk
JJM1954
2003-12-30 03:53:53 UTC
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Post by Stiletto Blade
Now okay, fair enough, I
dreadful?
A terribly derivative writer who could work his way up to merely good,
sometimes. I remember liking TOWER AT THE END OF TIME -- a standalone, not a
series.

No doubt, though, that we as readers owe a debt of gratitude to him as an
editor, primarily for his Ballantine Adult fantasy series, that, for example,
introduced me to Clark Ashton Smith, Lord Dunsany, and many others.

Secondarily, there was also the Year's Best Fantasy Series he did for DAW, in
which he always managed to sneak in a story or two of his own among some
genuinely worthwhile tales.
Dr Hermes
2003-12-30 04:51:28 UTC
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What can we say about Lin Carter`s fiction?

How about, NO!!

Honestly, I have never enjoyed anything by that man. The Thongor
stories were so hokey I thought he was pulling our legs. The one Zarkon
book I finished, THE NEMESIS OF EVIL, was passable but not more than
that. I didn`t have the heart to finish another Zarkon book, THE VOLCANO
OGRE, despite looking for the pulp references, because it was just
getting me depressed.

And for years, every anthology he edited had a chapter from some
monumental 12,000 page epic he never finished. Khyrium or something.
Those chapters were impenetrable, like the huge jumbles of letters you
get of spam in your e-mail. There was no opening on the page to let your
mind in.

True, Lin Carter did edit and collect many great paperback
anthologies for Ballantine Books back in the 1970s. He made a lot of
classic fantasy readily available again, most of it out of print for
decades.
I had heard that he did not pay proper royalties to the authors or their
estates, but that may have been Ian Ballantine`s policy and not
something Carter had a voice in.

Carter also wrote two books about the works of H.P. Lovecraft and
J.R.R, Tolkien, both of which were readable and good introductions to
those authors (although some of his interpretations seemed off kilter).
I would have liked to have seen him do a few more essays on neglected
writers.

But as a writer of adventure or fantasy, Carter had nothing
original to say. He was essentially writing pastiches of authors he
loved, fan fiction that got published. It`s unusual for me to really
maul an author like this, but there it is. You call `em like you see
`em.

http://community.webtv.net/drhermes/ForbiddenKnowledge
Catts4
2003-12-30 11:25:30 UTC
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Not that I'm adverse to piling on, but the more I think about Lin Carter, the
worse it gets.

As a young SF fan with limited $, Carter disappointed every time a well-crafted
back-cover tricked me into buying one of his books.

Looking at CALLISTO and the ZARKON books, its hard to se them as anything but
published fan fiction

Dave
a***@nospam.mac.com
2004-01-01 02:44:32 UTC
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I had met Carter at many LunaCons and other conventions, and he was a
pleasant, bearded fellow. He autographed a copy of his Tolkien guide for
me. He and I arm-twisted Roy Thomas of Marvel about doing a Doc Savage
comic book, something that eventually happened.

I think he lived in New York City somewhere. He always arrived by subway
at the conventions.

Not sure when he died or how old he was. Anybody know?
Terry McCombs
2004-01-01 04:36:05 UTC
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"Not sure when he died or how old he was. Anybody know?"

1930 - 1988, relatively young when he died really.

Terry
JJM1954
2004-01-01 07:23:32 UTC
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Post by a***@nospam.mac.com
Not sure when he died or how old he was. Anybody know?
He unfortunately passed away from cancer of the jaw or mouth, spending his
last months in a veteran's hospital.
John Pelan
2003-12-30 14:31:33 UTC
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On Tue, 30 Dec 2003 02:43:38 -0000, "Stiletto Blade"
Post by Stiletto Blade
Not counting the Conan bastardizations, I have 32 Lin Carter novels sitting
on one of my bookshelves. I've owned them for many years. I've read 8. And
that was a long time ago. I keep walking past them and glancing up, feeling
tempted. I don't think I could stand the Thongor series again but I have
vague memories of enjoying the Callisto novels. And I've never dipped into
the World's End, Zanthodon or Green Star series, so maybe they'd be worth a
try? (What is it about DAW Books that always makes them so inviting?)
But I've got this massive negative impression of Carter in my head; a big
STOP sign with 'fan fiction' written across it. Now okay, fair enough, I
dreadful? Has he got any fans out there? Sure, I know it's all derivative
but, you know, that's not a crime. I wonder whether Carter's editorial
interference with the Conan material and his 're-visioning' of the Cthulhu
mythos has simply soured attitudes towards him? Are people so angry that his
work is being shunned?
A few days ago I started reading an Otis Adelbert Kline. I got about four
chapters in before I couldn't stand it any more. Really, it was awful. But
Kline doesn't seem to provoke the same amount of venom as Carter even though
his style and subject matter seems to be very similar (well, judging from
those four chapters anyway). So what's the story here?
== Stiletto Blade ==
www.stilettoblade.com
www.sextonblake.co.uk
THE MAN WHO LOVED MARS - Excellent
BEYOND THE GATES OF DREAM (short story collection) - Quite good
THE GREEN STAR SERIES (decent Burroughs pastiche)

Other than that...

Cheers,

John
Andreas Decker
2003-12-30 15:10:58 UTC
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Lin Carter,

you hate or ...

in the last 2 years I bought some of his stuff again, novels I had read in
my youth when fantasy was still unchartered territorry for me.*g I had
mostly read negative stuff about him since. I had bought Chaosiums Xothic
legend, his Mythos stuff, which was plain bad and boring. Give me Lumley
anytime who can write badly but at least he has published memorable Mythos
tales. The Carter stuff I had forgotten the next day.

So I bought some Thongors, and this was truly bad. I wouldnŽt classify it as
fan-fiction though, because compared to the tons of drek out in the net this
is still a professionally told tale, but as far as Heroic Fantasy goes, this
is on par with, say, Gardner FoxŽ Kothar stories.

The same goes for the Callisto novels. There wasnŽt a new idea in sight, and
those fake introductions - I guess you had to be 14 and not to be an
experienced reader to like such stuff. It didnŽt even qualify as parody,
which of course it wasnŽt in the first place.

On the other hand, the first 2 Green Star books were much better written and
more atmospheric. It is still Burroughs written again, and I grant it that
today it seems rather pointless to ape Burroughs plots, but here there was
something - at least for me.

So maybe Carter wasnŽt a very good writer, on the other hand he did much for
the Genre. He pointed into the direction, and I would have missed much
classics if he didnŽt re-introduce them in his editor-work.
Post by Stiletto Blade
Not counting the Conan bastardizations, I have 32 Lin Carter novels sitting
on one of my bookshelves. I've owned them for many years. I've read 8. And
that was a long time ago. I keep walking past them and glancing up, feeling
tempted. I don't think I could stand the Thongor series again but I have
vague memories of enjoying the Callisto novels. And I've never dipped into
the World's End, Zanthodon or Green Star series, so maybe they'd be worth a
try? (What is it about DAW Books that always makes them so inviting?)
But I've got this massive negative impression of Carter in my head; a big
STOP sign with 'fan fiction' written across it. Now okay, fair enough, I
dreadful? Has he got any fans out there? Sure, I know it's all derivative
but, you know, that's not a crime. I wonder whether Carter's editorial
interference with the Conan material and his 're-visioning' of the Cthulhu
mythos has simply soured attitudes towards him? Are people so angry that his
work is being shunned?
A few days ago I started reading an Otis Adelbert Kline. I got about four
chapters in before I couldn't stand it any more. Really, it was awful. But
Kline doesn't seem to provoke the same amount of venom as Carter even though
his style and subject matter seems to be very similar (well, judging from
those four chapters anyway). So what's the story here?
== Stiletto Blade ==
www.stilettoblade.com
www.sextonblake.co.uk
Stiletto Blade
2003-12-31 21:37:28 UTC
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Hmm. My memories, such as they are, kind of agree with the general 'awful
fan fiction' line that's been the general response here. But all the talk of
pastiche slides off like water on a ducks back. I LIKE pastiches. After all,
once you've read everything Burroughs wrote, pastiches are all you've got
left. Same with Mr Holmes and that Cimmerian bloke.
But, unavoidably, pastiches are never as good as the original. With Lin
Carter, the objection seems to be that the pastiching is simply too far
below what's acceptable. Brian Lumley is okay Carter isn't. Well, I really
enjoyed Lumley's Wampire series but I HATED his Cthulhu mythos stuff. So I
guess it just comes down to personal taste.
This thread has made me all the more determined to pick up one of those
Carters. But I kinda know I'm going to hate it. Hell. You live and learn.

== Stiletto Blade ==
www.stilettoblade.com
www.sextonblake.co.uk
Pulpster
2003-12-31 22:44:54 UTC
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Much of Carter's fiction is painful to read these days...some original books
like "The Man Who Loved Mars" aren't as bad as his derivative stuff. His
completions of REH's "King Kull" stories are serviceable if not inspired.
What most folks have forgotten or fail to recognize is Lin Carter's enormous
impact on the acceptance of fantasy in the 70s. He edited Ballantine's
Adult Fantasy series which reintroduced dozens of early fantasy classics to
the general public and he produced a comprehensive overview of the field up
to that time (1973) with his "Imaginary Worlds." He may not have been the
best writer working but there was no one more enthusiastic about the
genre...
Post by Stiletto Blade
Hmm. My memories, such as they are, kind of agree with the general 'awful
fan fiction' line that's been the general response here. But all the talk of
pastiche slides off like water on a ducks back. I LIKE pastiches. After all,
once you've read everything Burroughs wrote, pastiches are all you've got
left. Same with Mr Holmes and that Cimmerian bloke.
But, unavoidably, pastiches are never as good as the original. With Lin
Carter, the objection seems to be that the pastiching is simply too far
below what's acceptable. Brian Lumley is okay Carter isn't. Well, I really
enjoyed Lumley's Wampire series but I HATED his Cthulhu mythos stuff. So I
guess it just comes down to personal taste.
This thread has made me all the more determined to pick up one of those
Carters. But I kinda know I'm going to hate it. Hell. You live and learn.
== Stiletto Blade ==
www.stilettoblade.com
www.sextonblake.co.uk
Rick Brooks
2004-01-01 03:52:22 UTC
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Post by Pulpster
Much of Carter's fiction is painful to read these days...some original books
like "The Man Who Loved Mars" aren't as bad as his derivative stuff. His
completions of REH's "King Kull" stories are serviceable if not inspired.
What most folks have forgotten or fail to recognize is Lin Carter's enormous
impact on the acceptance of fantasy in the 70s. He edited Ballantine's
Adult Fantasy series which reintroduced dozens of early fantasy classics to
the general public and he produced a comprehensive overview of the field up
to that time (1973) with his "Imaginary Worlds." He may not have been the
best writer working but there was no one more enthusiastic about the
genre...
Lin Carter could tell a story. Which puts him ahead of most modern
writers.

I remember one WorldCon (Conventions of sf/fantasy fans started over
30 years before PulpCons.) where Lin Carter appeared in costume as a
wizard. I sent him copies of the photos I took. Got a short, but
enthusiastic reply.

There was little original in most of his fantasy and sf. But wasn't
that typical of most pulp fiction?

I always rated him as readible but not exceptional. But then I've
given high ratings to people like Doc Smith, Clark Ashton Smith,
Robert E. Howard who could tell stories, even if their prose left
something to be desired.

Rick Brooks
John Betancourt
2004-01-10 03:39:03 UTC
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Post by Rick Brooks
I remember one WorldCon (Conventions of sf/fantasy fans started over
30 years before PulpCons.) where Lin Carter appeared in costume as a
wizard. I sent him copies of the photos I took. Got a short, but
enthusiastic reply.
Hi Rick --

I have Lin's papers, and there is at least one photo which shows him
in a wizard costume. Next time I see it, I'll drop you a note to
verify that it's the one you took, if you don't mind, so it can be
properly attributed.

-- John
Wildside Press: http://www.wildsidepress.com

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Wlmcs
2004-01-01 14:59:34 UTC
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Lin Carter was at his best when writing original stories like Tower at the Edge
of Time and Kellory the Warlock. He was at his worst when writing derivative
works, such as the Zarkon series (Doc Savage), Thongor (Conan), Green Star and
Callisto (Barsoom); let alone when he "rewrote" Robert E. Howard. His greatest
contribution, I think, was in reviving interest in adult fantasy fiction, such
as that of Lord Dunsany and others I would not have heard of if not for
Carter.

***@aol.com
c***@gmail.com
2013-10-20 01:54:39 UTC
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I started reading fantasy, horror, and SF in 1973 and Lin Carter was certainly a major player in those days. I became a lifetime fan of Burroughs, Howard, Lovecraft, Tolkien, decamp, F. Pratt, Moorcock, F. Leiber, K.E. Wagner, Merritt, Dunsany, C.A. Smith, Asimov, Bracket, Hamilton, Kuttner, C.L. Moore, Bloch, F. Brown, Van Vogt, Bester, Sturgeon, P. Anderson, Goulart, Vance, Dick, and Heinlein as well as Doc Savage, the Shadow, and the Avenger. I list those to give an idea on how my taste runs. I include Lin Carter as an author I will always enjoy. Just as I enjoy several different genres, his passions also went many ways. He wasn't writing with any set game plan seeking fame and fortune but wrote what he enjoyed. Read his many letters to Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories and you can see his interests were deeper and farther.ranging than the average fan. I have not read all his books but have read many. As most fantasy fans will state, his Ballantine Adult Fantasy books are superb and led me to many greats such as Hodgson, CA Smith, Dunsany, and F. Pratt, a debt I will always owe. His Flashing Swords anthologies were also enjoyable and were my first exposure to Moorcock and P. Anderson, another debt. His Jandar of Callisto books (8) and Green Star books (5) are my favorite ER Burroughs homages ever. His Mars books (4 plus short story) were also enjoyable (very much in Brackett, CL Moore vein). His books about Lovecraft and Tolkien were pretty good as memory serves and were trailblazers for the multitude of books on these two gents that followed. As memory serves, I do remember enjoying Tower At The Edge Of Time, Time War, Beyond The Gates Of Dream, and Kellory The Warlock also. I have read all the Thongor books but only remember not being disappointed. I read so much then, a book a day quite often, that it does get jumbled up. I can remember not loving Jakes Break or Fox's Kothar at the time so I know I was applying some standards (and frankly Howard's Conan, Leiber's Fafhrd & Gray Mouser, and Wagner's Kane really left most fantasy writings in the dust). As memory serves though the Thongors I enjoyed most were to be found in the anthologies The Mighty Swordsmen and The Mighty Barbarians as well as the short stories that were appearing in Fantastic. Pick up Young Thongor to find these.
As some have said in the past, looking at many of the current fantasy writers and their reworkings of the Lord Of THe Rings, Lin Carter comes out looking much better.
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