Monday, June 30, 2008

Weekend Report

Not a terribly eventful weekend. Had lunch with Brian on Friday and got caught up on events in his life. Saturday I was around most of the day, reading and drawing. I don't own a scanner, which is why none of my artwork has shown up on this blog. Maybe I'll get one at some point so I can put up some stuff.
I read the last of Manly Wade Wellman's Kardios stories, so I'm officially out of those. A pity there weren't more. Just about finished with the stories in the Wellman collection Lonely Vigils as well. That's the trouble with discovering an author after he has passed away. When you're out of stuff, you're out. Then again there are authors still living whose work I've given up on, so there ya go.
Sunday I met mom and dad for breakfast, then stopped by Borders and browsed. They've been redecorating and rearranging stuff at Borders in Kennesaw and not for the better in my opinion. It's harder to find things than it used to be and the store almost seems set up like a maze with shelves and displays placed at odd angles. Perhaps it's meant to steer shoppers through areas they'd normally miss, but with me it has the opposite effect, in that I just get annoyed and leave. It used to have a lot more logic to it.
After that I went to Movie Stop and picked up the titles I discussed in the previous post. Didn't get around to watching any of them but I'm sure I will on the upcoming long weekend. I'll be off Thursday and Friday for the 4th of July.
Didn't play Lord of the Rings online much this weekend. Still enjoying the game but just wasn't in the mood for some reason. Think I'm still a little blah now that my vacation is over and so far nothing interesting on the horizon. Life's like that sometimes.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Hill of Haunted Houses

While I was reading the Cambridge Guide to Gothic Literature, several of the essays made reference to the 2001 Nichole Kidman film The Others as 'the' Gothic film of recent years. Not having seen it, I made a mental note to pick up a used copy next time I was at Movie Stop. I did that this morning, but as I was looking around in the horror section I also spotted a copy of one of my absolute favorite scary movies, 1963's The Haunting with Julie Harris. Based on Shirley Jackson's novel, The Haunting of Hillhouse, this is one of the best scary movies of all time, even though you never actually see any ghosts, monsters, or whatever. But boy it has some creepy moments.
Anyway, I also noticed a copy of the 1973 film The Legend of Hellhouse. This one was based on a novel by Richard Matheson who also wrote the recently re-filmed vampire story I Am Legend. Not in a class with The Haunting, but still pretty creepy. So I ended up with a nice little stack of haunted house movies.
Oh, and I bought the new Rambo movie. has nothing to do with haunted houses but they had it cheap and I wanted to see it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Prince Valiant Page


I first came across Gary Gianni's artwork in a Shadow mini series that he drew for Darkhorse Comics. His style at the time reminded me a little of another Shadow artist, Mike Kaluta. Later I spotted Gianni's work on other comic titles for various publishers, but he didn't really catch my attention until he started doing illustrations for Wandering Star's Robert E. Howard projects. His work on The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane book really impressed me, making me think of old time illustrators like Joseph Clement Coll, Franklin Booth, and N.C. Wyeth.
When I saw Gianni's work on Wandering Star's second Conan volume, he became one of my favorite illustrators of one of my favorite characters. I've mentioned in an earlier post how pleased I was when I learned that Gianni had taken over the illustrating of Hal Foster's Prince Valiant Sunday comic page. He brought a real sense of adventure to the strip and now with the help of writer Mark Schultz, Gianni has begun to return the strip to its fantasy roots, introducing monsters, mages, and demons. Wonderful stuff and I hoped that it would be collected at some point.
This week Flesk Publications released a large hardcover volume called The Prince Valiant Page. Not a collection of the strips, but rather a book about how Gianni came to take over the legendary comic and how he approaches the feature. (There is a collection of strips due out in October.) It's chock full of artwork, photos, and behind the scenes information and features a nice running commentary by Gianni about his working methods. Illustrators and art fans alike will enjoy the beautiful pencil drawings and the studies, roughs, and thumbnails. There's a whole chapter on how Gianni uses photo reference that I found very interesting. Unlike some artists, he doesn't trace the photos so much as use them for guides to his finished drawings. He also uses a lot of photos from old movies as reference, though you'd probably never catch them, so different is the finished image from the inspiration.
You also get to see just how bad the printing is in most newspapers. The original art has a lot more detail than what shows up in the printed product. I'm hoping that the upcoming collection of the strips is shot from the originals or at least high quality stats.
Anyway, if you're a fan of Gianni's, or if you just appreciate good illustration, then you want this book. Highly recommended. In the meantime check out his webpage at:

http://www.garygianni.com/

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Strange Morning

Normally I'm at my desk at my job by 6:00 am. But today I'm attending a CPR class at the request of my employers because I'm "Always calm under pressure." The class doesn't start until 8:30 and they told me just to go straight to the class which is maybe 15 minutes away, so here I am at home, off from work, but not off from responsibility. I'm not much for sleeping late, but I managed to doze until almost 6:00. Then I got up and made myself an omelet and some sausage. I'm lingering over a second cup of coffee just now and writing this post. In a few minutes I'll go jump in the shower and get ready to go.
But it's kind of strange to be here at this time of morning on a Wednesday without actually having the whole day off. Can't really start any projects or do any of the things I do when I'm off, so I'm just bumping around the internet. Been many years since I had a CPR class. Back when I was teaching karate I took several first aid classes including CPR. I understand that the techniques have changed somewhat. Should be interesting.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Restless

As always, traveling makes me restless. A week now since I returned from Santa Fe and I'm still having trouble settling back down to my routine. As I noted below, I spent the weekend pretty quietly, reading and studying and getting back to my normal existence, but the lure of far places beckons and I wish I was jumping on a plane to head out again. If I suddenly had a lot of money, I'd probably take a year or so and do nothing but travel. Seeing new places is one of the most interesting things I know of and I don't get to do it nearly as much as I'd like. I need to make a list of places I'd like to visit and re-visit and make a more serious effort at planning some trips. My passport is freshly renewed for another ten years. I get a decent amount of vacation time at my job. Mostly a matter of planning my time and finances. But for today I'm stuck, gazing at far horizons, and wishing I was someplace else.

All Things Dark and Dangerous

It was kind of a spooky weekend. Inspired, I think, by my reading of the Cambridge Companion to Gothic Literature, I was in the mood for some creepy stories. Luckily I had plenty around. I finished off the collection of the Gothic short fiction of Elizabeth Gaskell, then switched to some Cthulhu mythos stories by Henry Kuttner, Fritz Lieber, Ramsey Campbell, and Brian Lumley. Still not satiated I moved on to the second Carcosa collection of Manly Wade Wellman shorts, Lonely Vigils. First story I read in that one had a very interesting idea. A woman who is used to getting her own way "borrows" a book from an occultist though he has warned her the book is dangerous. Turns out it's a grimoire and by reading it she summons a demonic familiar. The creature turns out to be a lot harder to get rid of than it was to summon. The 'Lonely Vigil' that she and the occultist must keep as they wait for the creature in the dead of night is effectively creepy. Again I'm impressed with Wellman's writing.
Since sword and sorcery is never far from my thoughts I began thinking again about the origins of the genre and how Robert E. Howard basically created the whole thing by mixing the horror tale with the historical adventure. That set me to thinking about the argument about what qualifies as the first published sword & sorcery story. Most aficionados of the genre agree that it's either Red Shadows, starring Howard's puritan adventurer Solomon Kane, of the King Kull tale The Shadow Kingdom. Not sure why there's so much dissent on this. The Kane story was published first and it definitely contains swords and sorcery. The Kull story is perhaps more in line with what people think of when they think of sword & sorcery since it takes place in pre-history and features a 'barbarian' as the protagonist, but since Kane is generally considered a S&S hero, and his story came first, it seems pretty cut and dried to me. I did a re-read of Red Shadows and it is true that the sorcery content is pretty scant, mostly being the re-animation of a corpse, however it still qualifies. I need to re-read the longer Shadow Kingdom and see how it holds up. Been many years since I read that one.
Maybe I'll write a Gothic story soon. I used to write a horror story every Halloween, but have gotten out of the habit. Might be fun to try again.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Reading Report

So what have I been reading? While on vacation I read the third of Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas books, Brother Odd. I didn't like it quite as much as the first two, but I think that was mostly plot related and the fact that the book takes place in a snow bound monastery. I missed the supporting cast from the earlier books. At least the ghost of Elvis was still around. I'll definitely read the fourth book, but I'll probably wait a while.
Also read the first three stories in the Manly Wade Wellman collection John the Balladeer. These are my favorites of Wellman's work so far, even as fond as I am of his sword & sorcery hero Kardios. The stories about John take place in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina back in the 1950s and there's not much difference in the mountains of North Carolina and the mountains of Georgia. I know those woods and those paths and those kinds of people. I grew up in a very rural area. I know it's hard to believe, sophisticated and literate bon vivant and man about town that I am, but my background was pure country. My grandparents picked cotton and ran a sawmill. I lived on a dirt road until I was in my teens. (We didn't move, They just paved the road.) The John the Balladeer tales, steeped in folk songs and southern mountain lore, strike a particular cord of familiarity with me. John travels about the mountains, armed only with his guitar with the silver strings, fighting witches and monsters and all manner of supernatural menaces. Not like anything else I've ever read. Great stuff.
While I was in Santa Fe I picked up the Cambridge Companion to Gothic Literature and I've almost finished that. I was a little worried when I read the introduction and the editor kept referring to the genre in Freudian terms. I'm not big on Freud. But it turned out that all the contributors had their own takes on the Gothic novels of the 1700s/1800s, so I've really enjoyed the book. I learned quite a bit about Horace Walpole, author of what is considered the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, and how the genre evolved from his work.
And speaking of Gothic, I re-read Karl Edward Wagner's Kane story, Reflections for the Winter of My Soul, which certainly shows Wagner's Gothic roots. Kane is pitted against a werewolf in an old castle surrounded by a blizzard. Must be my week for snowbound heroes. Also read The Old Nurse's Tale, a Gothic story by Elizabeth Gaskell, who was a contemporary and friend of Charles Dickens. Dickens, who relished a good ghost story, published Gaskell's work in his magazine Household Words. Gaskell's novels Cranford and North and South were also serialized in the magazine.
Not sure what's up next. I picked up Robert B. Parker's Resolution, which is the sequel to one of my favorites of his books, Appaloosa. Always a little nervous when I start a follow up to a much loved novel. Still have more stories by Gaskell and Wellman in various collections, and I've been meaning to read Stephen King's Eyes of the Dragon. I'm sure I'll find other stuff as well. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Friends in Far Places


Sorry the blog has been quiet the last few days but I've been out of town, traveling to far Santa Fe to visit my pal Laura. It was my first trip out west (unless you count California) and I had a lot of fun and many adventures. New Mexico is pretty much what someone raised on Western movies would expect from the west, full of mesas and cactus and wide open spaces, but Santa Fe itself is a little harder to pin down. It's sort of a small town with a big city spin, alternately cosmopolitan and rustic.
My first observation on seeing the town itself was that Santa Fe kind of looked like a city in a science fiction movie because all the houses seemed to share a similar design. You know how when they show the planet Vulcan or something it looks like the same guy designed all the houses? Like that. Everything seems to have been coated with adobe. Laura tells me that this is because the city fathers only allow three styles of architecture. Most folks seem to choose the one that look like Pueblo Indian dwellings, with square walls covered in adobe of various shades. There is function here, as well as form of course, because the adobe serves as excellent insulation against the dry heat. But Santa Fe has taken it to extremes. Even the bank drive-through and many of the overpasses are covered with tan adobe and decorated with the blues and pinks that you see on the homes.
And speaking of dry heat, that was the next thing I had to get used to. Coming from Georgia, where the level of humidity is so high that the water vapor in the air almost seems visible, it took me a while to get used to New Mexico where perspiration vanishes as quickly as it appears and a puddle of spilled water dries almost instantly.
I can see where the artists who have made Santa Fe their home get there inspirations. The thin air and the bright sun give the area a particular quality of light that I haven't seen anywhere else. Were I a painter, I could see working in Santa Fe. The shadows are as sharp and dark as the sky is blue and clear. And the sunlight is brilliant. Laura had warned me to bring a hat and sunscreen, and I did. I did forget the sunscreen at one point and my neck ended up sunburned in an amazingly short period of time. Bright and hot out there, folks.
I got my first look at real western scenery on the second day of my visit when Laura and her husband David drove me up to Ghost Ranch. This is a 21,000 acre retreat and education center owned by the Presbyterian Church and was once the home of artist Georgia O'Keeffe. The drive up is spectacular as the road winds its way through red rock canyons and past mesas and massive cliffs striated with bands of white, brown, and ochre rock layers. Laura, who was trained as a geologist, patiently answered my many questions about the rock formations.
When we reached the Ghost Ranch office and museum complex there was an added bonus in that one wing of the museum had some Triassic dinosaur fossils, and we know how I love dinosaurs.
Later that day we drove up past Los Alamos into the Jemez Mountains to see Valles Caldera, which is an absolutely HUGE valley covered in pale grass. It's a collapsed volcanic crater that covers 89,000 acres and because of the volcanic nature of the soil, trees won't grow there, so you have this vast empty expanse. It was a privately owned ranch until the year 2000 when it became a national park. For years cattle had been grazed there and that's still the case, though there's a sort of lottery set up to decide who gets to use the land. Quite a few Western movies were filmed in the area including Shoot Out with Gregory Peck and such recent films as The Missing and Last Stand at Saber River. One of the sets, and old ranch house, is still there. We saw some elk grazing in the valley but couldn't get close enough to them for a good look.
The rest of the trip was taken up with wandering around Santa Fe, eating a lot of really good Mexican food, and just hanging out with Laura and David. Though I've known Laura since 2001 through the internet, this was our first face to face meeting. She's just as much fun in person as she is online. We spent a lot of time just talking and hanging out with her two dogs. I also got to meet her horse, which made for a very 'western' experience as we walked him out among the cactus and scrub pines to graze. All I needed was a Stetson instead of my ball cap. I visited several used bookstores and I have to note that Santa Fe is not the SF/Fantasy capital of the world. Several of the stores didn't even have science fiction sections. I did come away with the Cambridge companion to Gothic Literature, which was pretty cool.
All and all it was a great trip. I learned a lot and I saw many new sights. Laura and David were great hosts and made me feel like I was part of the family rather than just some guy Laura knew from the internet. The nice thing is, now when I'm talking to Laura online or we're playing Lord of the Rings, I'll know what she's talking about when she mentions the dogs or her office or her house. I'll be able to imagine that stark sunlight and those blue skies and the faces of my friends.

Monday, June 09, 2008

An Early Father's Day

In 1945, when my dad was 6 years old, he sent away to the Ovaltine company for a Captain Midnight Secret Squadron Decoder Badge. It never came. This became something of a family legend. My dad as a small boy, going to the mail box every day, waiting for the badge that never arrived.
Yesterday, 63 years later, dad got his badge. It took me a lot of looking to find one still in very good shape, but I finally found one that was solid and shiny. The center wheel that controls the code still spins smoothly. The pinback seemed to be the biggest problem. Most of the ones I looked at had the pin broken from the back. But this one was in great shape. You'd never believe the thing was over six decades old.
Because of various scheduling conflicts, we ended up celebrating father's day a week early, so I was able to give dad his badge yesterday morning at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Marietta.
Dad was stunned. I've seldom seen him that taken aback. He just kept turning the badge over in his fingers, looking at the details and marveling at the condition. 63 years is a long time to wait for something. I had considered mailing it to him , doctoring up a padded mailer as if the badge had just been lost in the mail for all this time and had finally found its way to him. But then I thought, what if this one gets lost in the mail too?
And besides, I wouldn't have gotten to see his face when he opened the package. He knew what it was instantly. A dream from long ago. I think that's the best present I ever got him. Maybe that I ever got anyone.

Short and to the Point

The short story seems almost a lost art these days. Anthologies of short stories don't tend to sell as well as novels. They may be a little more popular in the literary section of the bookstore, but they aren't well represented on the genre shelves. Fiction magazines, once the mainstay of publishing, have almost gone the way of all flesh, leaving just a few straggling dinosaur digests, holdovers from a different age. But I love short stories.
There's just something about being able to sit down and read an entire story in less than an hour and there's also a lot to be said for the form itself. Short story ideas are totally different from novel ideas. They have to be concise and forceful, and they have to get a lot of information into a small space without making it look crowded. I often laugh at my writer friends who say their short stories keep turning into novels. I think that's kind of like saying your Mini Cooper turned into a Semi. Doesn't work that way. You just didn't have a short story idea to begin with.
I have gone on record as saying that I think the short story is the natural form for sword & sorcery. The intensity that good examples of the genre demand can't really be sustained for 300 pages. I've seen a very few S&S novels that almost work, and none of them completely. Robert E. Howard only wrote on novel about Conan and that one was really a bunch of short episodes, mostly cannibalized from earlier stories, welded together. Karl Edward Wagner probably comes closest with a couple of his Kane novels.
Over the weekend I read a bunch of short stories, mostly by Manly Wade Wellman from the Carcosa collection, Worse Things Waiting. Wellman is a writer I have only recently begun to appreciate and I certainly was impressed and amazed with the scope of the ideas and approaches he brings to short horror fiction. Not just ghosts and vampires and the usual tropes, but many original, strange, and disturbing ideas. Amazing stuff.
I also read another of his Kardios sword & sorcery tales, which are nothing like those written by any other S&S author, but yet still fit firmly into the genre. Someone seriously needs to put together a collection of these. It's funny, but I seem to be in a real discovery period, reading some of the older authors, many of whom I've had a passing knowledge but never read seriously. It's not nostalgia, since I didn't read these guys when I was a kid, but writers like Wellman, Henry Kuttner, C.L. Moore, and Clark Ashton Smith seem to have more to offer than a lot of the more recent fantasy and horror writers. Perhaps it's just that they come from the Weird Tales school of fiction, but I think a lot of it has to do with the craft of the old fashion short story. Beginning, middle, and end, just like the English teachers used to tell us. Strong characters. Strong plots. Real stories.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

My Visit to Rivendell


If you hang out in Middle Earth long enough, you eventually have to visit Rivendell. It's sort of like the Aspen of Middle Earth. It's where all the celebrities hang out. I finally got there yesterday and I took some snaps to share with the rest of you.


Of course my trip started off in the rain. Never fails. And let me tell you, the roads up in those mountains are no great shakes.

Never, and I mean, NEVER ask an Orc for directions.

However, I managed to find the valley just before dawn. I didn't take any pics of the approach because it was too dark to see much. Here I am looking at Elrond's House. Not really as Homely as I was led to believe.

This is the approach to the last Homely House. I actually fell in the river and had to ride downstream until I cold get out, so this is my second trip to this bridge.

Here's Aragorn asking if I had any trouble finding the place. Duh, Isildur-boy. I fell in the river. (I got his autograph for you, Beth.)

Here I am in Elrond's library. He and the Big G were pretty busy so I went to admire the collection.

Elrond has a nice collection of Sword & Sorcery. Note the Gnome Conan's and the Arkham House Fritz Lieber volumes. Unfortunately he's a big fan of Harold Robbins too. Who'd a thunk it?

Me and Frodo out for an after dinner stroll. Frodo is very real. Not at all impressed with his own celebrity, unlike some elves I could mention.

Bilbo has just told me my fly is unzipped. What a kidder!

Me hitting on a hot elf chick. She said she didn't approve of barbarians.

Next morning I had to get back to adventuring. Here's a nice shot of the valley I took as I left.

And thus ends my visit to Rivendell. I got T-shirts for everyone.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Keeper

Just to show you how things happen by happy accident sometimes, I just finished the novel The Keep by F. Paul Wilson, which I absolutely loved, but I only found it because of my interest in obscure sword & sorcery stories. Here's what happened.
Couple of weeks ago, I was wandering through Marietta Book Nook and I picked up an old sword & sorcery anthology called Heroic Fantasy. This one came out in 1979 and was edited by local boys Gerald W. Page and the late Hank Reinhardt. My primary interest in the book was the one Kardios story by Manly Wade Wellman that I needed to complete the series. See the post below for more on Kardios.
Anyway, I was reading through a bunch of the other stories in the book late Saturday evening and I read one called Demonsong by F. Paul Wilson. It was a well done story featuring a stalwart hero named Glaeken fighting an evil sorcerer named Rasalom. Well plotted and skillfully written, I enjoyed it a lot. So of course I immediately went to the internet to see if there were any more stories about Wilson's sword & sorcery hero. First hit I got was from one of the Robert E. Howard forums noting that the 'hero' of Wilson's novel The Keep had first appeared in the short story Demonsong.
The Keep? Hadn't there been a movie in the early 1980s with that title? Seemed like I had seen bits of it on television a couple of times. After a bit more web surfing I learned three things. There had been a movie and it was based on Wilson's novel. There were other novels in the series. Wilson was the creator of Repairman Jack. I was vaguely familiar with RJ, having seen a display of the series at Borders, but I had the impression they were espionage books of some sort. Nope. As it turns out, Jack is sort of a supernatural Travis McGee, handling problems and repairing situations beyond the average person. And he first appears in 'The Tomb' the second novel in the series begun by 'The Keep'.
Now I learned all this at almost 11:00 on Saturday night, so it was a bit too late to head for the bookstore. Sunday morning though I was at Borders when they opened and headed straight for the horror section where I picked up The Keep and The Tomb.
The Keep is another one of those 'something different' books I mentioned a few posts earlier. I had a vague notion of the plot from seeing parts of the movie. During World War Two a group of German soldiers is sent to occupy an old castle in the Transylvanian Alps in order to guard a mountain pass against a possible incursion by the Russian army. One of the soldiers, looking for hidden treasure in the Keep, unleashes a terrible supernatural force. Violence and chaos ensues.
Now of course I wondered what all this had to do with Glaeken, a Conan stand in from a single sword & sorcery story. Without giving away too much, it turns out that the supernatural entity within the keep is called Molasar, which is Rasalom spelled backwards...
The Keep is the first in what would become known as The Adversary series, so even though the book seems to have a definite ending, things apparently aren't settled. The conflict between Rasalom and Glaeken spills over into the present day, though since I've only read the one book, I don't know exactly how things play out, but it seems that the rest of the series is set in contemporary times. There is a very nice bit of dialogue right at the end of The Keep that would make any Conan fan proud, however.
Sword & sorcery fan that I am, I wondered if Wilson would ever go back and write a story set in the same time period as Demonsong. On his website he says if he has time he'd definitely like to go back and write another S&S style story with Glaeken. So fingers crossed. In the meantime, I've got plenty of Repairman Jack and Adversary books to read.

P.S. Wilson says the film version of The Keep sucks and you should stay well away from it. Of course now I'm curious...

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Department of Lost Barbarians: Kardios

Manly Wade Wellman is probably best know for his horror fiction and for his series about John the Balladeer, a wandering minstrel who travels the Appalachians fighting supernatural menaces. A lesser known character of Wellman's is Kardios, also a minstrel, and in fact sort of a sword & sorcery version of John the Balladeer, since he wanders the world of pre-history, fighting supernatural menaces.
Kardios is also apparently the last survivor of the sinking of Atlantis and was indirectly responsible for that sinking. You'll have to read the first Kardios story, 'The Straggler From Atlantis' to find out how.
According to Wellman, he wrote the first Kardios story back in the 1930s and submitted it to Weird Tales, but it was rejected by WT editor Farnsworth Wright, because Wright felt he was already well supplied with that sort of story by a fellow named Robert E. Howard. Luckily, when Andrew J. Offutt contacted Wellman about writing something for his 1977 sword & sorcery anthology Swords Against Darkness, Wellman dusted off Kardios and put him to work. He would appear in four of the five Swords volumes and make one final appearance in the 1979 DAW anthology Heroic Fantasy.
Kardios isn't technically a barbarian. He's a learned man, a poet, and a minstrel. He carries a lute as well as a sword. But he's also a man of action, ready to face off against evil spirits, extra-terrestrial monsters and sorcerers. However, his adventures are certainly sword & sorcery, so he fits in here at the DoLB.
Manly Wade Wellman was a thoroughly professional writer and one whom I've only recently begun to appreciate. The Kardios stories are cleanly written, tightly plotted, and very satisfying to read. I'm currently reading the Carcosa Press collection of Wellman's horror fiction Worse Things Waiting, which covers a wide range of the writer's career so I can see that he was always a talented writer. Prolific too.
Wellman had a second heroic fantasy series, this one about Hok, a sort of caveman version of Hercules. These are also extremely entertaining and deserve to be collected. In fact if someone took the five Kardios stories and the five Hok stories, they would make a very nifty book. There is a Lulu version of Hok and I think Paizo, the publisher of many other older S&S series is looking at a possible Wellman collection. I'd certainly buy a copy just to have all the stories in one place.