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  • Jack McDevitt

Blog #36

Edgar Rice Burroughs was among the first authors I ever read. Only one Tarzan book, I think. But I loved John Carter, and I got thoroughly hooked later by Carson Napier. In the forties, the notion that Venus was covered with a vast jungle seemed perfectly reasonable. I can still recall how disappointed I was when we got the truth.

At about the same time Conan the Barbarian showed up in my life. I don’t recall which book, but I had it with me on a train from Philadelphia to Wildwood, NJ, going on vacation with my family. Needless to say, when we arrived my parents had a hard time getting me to put the book down long enough to get off the train.

A few years later, I was in Atlantic City with friends. They invited me to go fishing with them. I’m not big on sitting in a boat holding a pole and waiting for something to happen. To be honest, I sympathize with the fish. So I took some reading material along. Don’t remember what it was, but it contained a copy of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Tomb.” It was the first seriously scary piece of fiction I’d encountered.

Needless to say, Burroughs, Howard, and Lovecraft became mainstays in my early years. I still enjoy them. Each, in his own way, is unique.

Mark Wheatley has put together a volume of their work titled Songs of Giants: The Poetry of Pulp. They’ve written some poetry, and Mark selected some of it, work that I’d somehow never noticed, and put it front and center in the book, with some dazzling illustrations that could have come right out of the classic pulps. He’s a talented artist, and illustrates brilliantly the heart of their lyrics. The result is a must-have book for anyone who’s been a fan of these guys.

I wasn’t aware that the book was in the pipeline until I was invited to do an introduction. It was an opportunity to pay back three writers who’d meant a lot to me when I was growing up, and have stayed on into my later years. I can’t help thinking how much I’d have enjoyed sharing a drink with any of them.

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