Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is that CONAN? "Queen of the Black Coast" in Avon Fantasy Reader

Came across a few odds and ends while rummaging for old mystery digests, including two issues of Avon Fantasy Reader. This one, from 1948, contains the first ever reprinting of “Queen of the Black Coast,” originally from Weird Tales May 1934. Near as I can tell, this unedited version (untouched by L. Sprague de Camp) did not see print again for another 30 years. This version is now widely available.

This unknown artist did an OK job on the monster, and the ghost of Bêlit attracts the eye, but who’s that wimpy dude down at the bottom? Looks more like Conan O’Brien than Conan of Cimmeria.

Here’s how Howard tells it:
The headlong rush of the winged one had not wavered. It towered over the prostrate Cimmerian like a black shadow, arms thrown wide - a glimmer of white flashed between it and its victim.

In one mad instant she was there - a tense white shape, vibrant with love fierce as a she-panther’s. The dazed Cimmerian saw between him and the onrushing death, her lithe figure, shimmering like ivory beneath the moon; he saw the blaze of her dark eyes, the thick cluster of her burnished hair; her bosom heaved, her red lips were parted, she cried out sharp and ringing as the ring of steel as she thrust at the winged monster’s breast.

“Bêlit!” screamed Conan. She flashed a quick glance toward him, and in her dark eyes he saw her love flaming, a naked elemental thing of raw fire and molten lava. Then she was gone . . .

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