As part of my author guest blog series I am proud to present another guest blog spot. I am very excited andthe author of The Voidal Trilogy and many other great sword and sorcery tales
Would you like to be a part of my author guest blog series? Please contact me! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Now without further adieu here is Adrian’s awesome guest blog.
And don’t forget to check out his books:
So go get your copies!
DARK GENESIS: Adrian Cole’s Sword and Sorcery
Just before Christmas, 1976, I was immersed in several art books by the fabulous French artist Philippe Druillet, in between reading, for the first time, many of the wonderfully bizarre fantasy yarns of Clark Ashton Smith. The art books were in French, which I don’t speak (apart from a few words and phrases) and to amuse myself I decided to get a couple of big, fat French-English dictionaries and translate Druillet’s Yragael. I had already figured out that it was some kind of cross between Moorcock’s Elric and Lovecraft’s alien worlds. My translation was laboured and a shade off target in places, but I got the gist of it. At the time I worked in a library and my boss was married to a French lady and spoke fluent French. So I asked him to look through my effort and see if I had got it close enough. He raised an eyebrow or two at the content, but said I had the gist of it.
What also happened at this time was the flaring of the creative spark and the formation of a very dark character of my own, the Voidal. I set to work writing a yarn about him, set in a world – or rather an “omniverse” – which was as weird and grotesque as I could make it, fuelled by my intake of Druillet and CAS. I didn’t need drugs to get me going. The language I used was ridiculously over-the-top and I veered well off the basic and well-trodden sword and sorcery paths of Brak, Kothar and the many beefy barbarians who were banging heads at the time. The initial result of my foray into the Voidal’s lunatic existence was a 10,000 word story I first called Well Met in Hell. I managed to have it published by the small UK press, Spectre Press, as THE COMING OF THE VOIDAL, and it was released at the UK Fantasycon in 1977, illustrated by my friend and colleague Jim Pitts (who is still illustrating my work to this day).
After that I wrote a handful of Voidal yarns, all of which appeared in the various magazines and small presses of the time (such as FANTASY CROSSROADS and the original WEIRDBOOK) and most of which have long since slipped away into the mists of time. Each Voidal yarn saw him take another few steps along his darkened path, battling the Dark Gods and the many curses they had encumbered him with, not the least of which was his own murky past, identity and whereabouts of his soul. He was soon joined on his fantastic quest by Elfloq, a scurrilous, scheming familiar, and although the Voidal generally attempted to free himself of the conniving creature (as one would a buzzing fly) Elfloq stuck to his “master” with the grimmest determination.
Early on in the writing of the yarns, I had worked out an overall storyline, with a distinct climax for the saga, ending in a denouement that would reveal all the secrets. I reckoned it would take three books, combining all the yarns with new material, to achieve this. I did get to write this saga up into the said three volumes and I even had a publisher for it, Starblaze in the US. It got to the point where they sent me contracts and a draft cover for volume 1, which was a stunning piece of work. However, the Voidal curse struck and the company went under. Undaunted, the Voidal sought – and found – a new publisher, Tower Books, a smaller paperback outfit. Again, I signed contracts for all three volumes, only for the company to go under.
By that time I had broken into the “heroic fantasy” market, to use a convenient tag, with my Omaran quartet, starting with A PLACE AMONG THE FALLEN. (Interestingly one reviewer said of the saga “…the mighty swipe of sword and sorcery…” while Morgan Holmes, celebrated devotee of sword and sorcery reported that it “…reads like Weird Tales written by Tolkien…”) Anyway, it took me away from the Voidal and had me pursuing other fantasy novels for several years. In fact, the Voidal may have slipped away into his own peculiar kind of darkness indefinitely, had it not been for an approach made to me by Wildside Books in the States. They were keen to publish something of mine and it occurred to me that the Voidal books might just fit the bill. They did, so I dusted the manuscripts off (literally, as I only had the typewritten versions).
Getting them into electronic form gave me an opportunity to do a complete overhaul. I framed the whole saga with introductions and epilogues written by an imprisoned god/demi-god (?) Salecco, revised all the yarns, (notably most of the verbal diarrhoea) added new material, and did a thorough upgrade of the grand finale. The result was that book one, OBLIVION HAND, had no new stories, but revised ones, book two, THE LONG REACH OF NIGHT, was a mixture of old and brand new stories, and book three, SWORD OF SHADOWS, had as much brand new material as reprinted, and it reads more like a novel than a collection. Volume one came out fairly quickly, but it was a long time before the others saw the light of day – for a while I thought the curse of the Voidal had struck again. However, Wildside put them out there, so after 25 years, the Voidal is available in all his dubious glory.
For fans of the genre who like Jack Vance’s Dying Earth, or Moorcock’s Eternal Champion, or Zelazny’s Dilvish the Damned, the Voidal will possibly appeal. Much as I love Conan and many of his musclebound contemporaries, my predilection for the former characters (I almost forgot Leiber’s Fafrhd and the Grey Mouser) has done more to shape the Voidal and Elfloq. Elfloq has, over time, proved as popular as his elusive master, and a number of new tales have sprung up. The newest of these, An Unfamiliar Familiar, will be published soon by Celaeno Press (US) in an anthology that centres on Lord Dunsany’s tales of Simrana. Elfloq is necessarily irrepressible, so it would be no surprise to me if he started showing up in other misadventures before long. Much of his life has been spent ducking and diving between his adventures with his master that there’s ample scope for new yarns.
Another character I wrote about at this time was Robert E Howard’s King Kull. Stephen Jones and David Sutton were about to launch the first issue of their fantasy magazine, FANTASY TALES, and asked me to write a new story for it. The result was a novella, Treason in Zagadar. However, at that time we couldn’t get clearance from the Howard estate to use it. It did, however, appear in a later anthology from Stephen Jones and David Sutton, THE GIANT BOOK OF FANTASY AND THE SUPERNATURAL (UK) in 1996, and deals with new exploits of Kull and Brule the Spear Slayer.
On another tack, some years ago, Robert Price, well known anthologist and fantasy scholar, decided it was time to revive the old pulp magazine, STRANGE TALES, which had been an (all-too-brief) companion of WEIRD TALES. He was familiar with my work and invited me to write a brand new Elak of Atlantis story for the magazine, as Henry Kuttner’s creation was now in the public domain. I’d enjoyed the original stories and, after a re-read, decided that it would be fun to revive the lusty lad and his drinking companion, Lycon. The result was a novella, Blood of the Moon God, and it duly appeared in STRANGE TALES. There were plans for more, but…yes, you’re ahead of me, the magazine folded.
I’d assumed at that point I probably wouldn’t be doing any more Elak stories (and probably had said goodbye to writing S and S generally) but things worked out surprisingly differently. Jon Harvey at Spectre Press (who’d published the first Voidal yarn, see above) revived his press, part of which was a new magazine, WORLDS OF THE UNKNOWN. The second Elak story, Witch Queen of Doom Island, appeared in its first issue.
Bob Price had been pursuing a new S and S anthology and for a long time it looked as if his efforts had fallen on stony ground until recently he snared a contract for THE MIGHTY WARRIORS. (Keen S and S collectors will remember two very fine Lancer Books anthologies of yore, THE MIGHTY BARBARIANS and THE MIGHTY SWORDSMEN, edited by hand Stefan Santesson.) Bob’s idea was to bring out a new volume, highlighting as many of the newer heroes as he could get hold of, including Thongor, Elak and Imaro, to name but three. Would I do an Elak story for him? Of course. Thus Revenge of the Sorcerer was born. Look for it sometime next year in THE MIGHTY WARRIORS from Ulthar Books (US).
When the recent SKELOS magazine burst on to the scene, I got busy with the S and S once more, and had a stand-alone story, Slayers at the Gate (Druids, Romans and Cthulhu) published in issue 2, and will be having a third new Elak story, Spawn of the Sea God, published in the forthcoming issue 4. I discussed the possibility of putting the 4 Elak tales and some new material (a lengthy novella entitled Sky Warriors of Atlantis) together for a collection with SKELOS editor, Jeffrey Shanks, and we plan on releasing the book under the Skelos Press imprint sometime in the future. I’m pleased to say we have the blessing of Henry Kuttner’s agent.
And as I write this there are now plans for another new Elak adventure, so any thoughts I may have had of moving away from the genre altogether have…well, moved away!
One other S and S character of mine who has enjoyed a couple of outings is Mordruin, another doom-haunted warrior who slips in and out of and between worlds. His advent was in a British magazine, BEYOND (issue 1) which appeared some years ago, in a story called The Shadow Navigator. This was slightly revised and reprinted in the recent HYBOREAN GAZETTE, no 1. A second Mordruin story, A Ship of Monstrous Fortune, appeared in an issue of Bob Price’s revived STRANGE TALES. Will there be more? Well, I have an idea for a novella fomenting, and it will almost certainly involve a cross-over with the Voidal and Elfloq in what would be the first of a new cycle of stories.
FOOTNOTE: my first published novels, a trilogy under the heading THE DREAM LORDS, has sometimes been referred to and catalogued as S and S, but I’ve always thought of the books as “sword and planet”. When I wrote them (at a youthful 18-24 years) I hadn’t read any Robert Howard or Leigh Brackett (although the covers of the books, released by Zebra, US, in the 1970s, labelled them as “in the tradition” of REH!) although they were more ERB and DUNE influenced. Recently I’ve written some brand new Dream Lord stories (for the Hugo Award nominated CIRSOVA magazine) with more to come, so I daresay there are other influences in there, including Brackett, whose stuff I do now enjoy.
List of my Sword and Sorcery fiction:
Oblivion Hand Wildside Press (US) 2001 Amazon
The Long Reach of Night “ 2011 Amazon
The Sword of Shadows “ 2011 Amazon
Elfloq tales not in the trilogy:
The Glass Castle Fantasy Annual 4
Cosmos Press (UK) 2000 O/P
Demon’s Eye View STRANGE PLEASURES
Wildside Press (US) 2001 O/P
An Unfamiliar Familiar (forthcoming)
THE SIMRANA CYCLE, Celaeno Press (US)
Elak of Atlantis:
Blood of the Moon God Strange Tales #10 (US) 2003 Amazon
Witch Queen of Doom Island Worlds of the Unknown #1 (UK) 2014 O/P
Revenge of the Sorcerer (forthcoming) Skelos # 4 (US)
Spawn of the Sea God (forthcoming) THE MIGHTY WARRIORS
Ulthar Press (US)
All four of these yarns will be reprinted with more new material in ELAK, KING OF ATLANTIS, a collection from Skelos Press, probably in late 2018 or early 2019
The Shadow Navigator Beyond # 1 (UK) 1995 O/P
Reprinted The Hyborian Gazette #1 (UK) 2015 O/P
A Ship of Monstrous Fortune Strange Tales #8 (US) 2003 Amazon
Treason In Zagadar THE GIANT BOOK OF FANTASY & THE SUPERNATURAL (UK) 1996 O/P
Slayers at the Gate Skelos 2 (US) 2016 Amazon
The Summoning of a Genie in Error (forthcoming)
THE SIMRANA CYCLE, Celaeno Press (US)
Two of my novels have more than a passing nod to Sword and Sorcery. NIGHT OF THE HEROES (Wildside Press, US, 2011)
concerns a bunch of pulp heroes, superheroes and general misfits, one of whom is a Conan clone, Cradoc, from a barbaric (S and S) world.
The other novel is STORM OVER ATLANTIS (Wildside Press, US, 2001)
which is set in the primitive Atlantean world and has a strong S and S flavour. Both books are currently out of print. (ebooks available)
I’ve also made one foray into the world of editing, and this was the collection, YOUNG THONGOR (Wildside, US, 2012) which collects for the first time all the Thongor short stories and novellas of Lin Carter, together with some new material by Robert M Price. There’s an introduction by me and each story is prefaced by a link I’ve written.
Author – Science Fiction & Fantasy. Adrian Christopher Synnot Cole was born in Devonport, Plymouth (UK) on 22nd July 1949, son of Frederick and Ruth Cole. He can trace his father’s line back to 1642 in the South West.
His father spent most of his working life in the Army (R.E.M.E.) and was stationed in Malaya for 3 years in the early 1950s. On returning to the UK, Adrian lived in various areas of the country – Yorkshire, Dorset, Cornwall, Birmingham – before returning to his Devonian roots and setting up home in Bideford, North Devon in 1976. He married Judith Rose Nixon and has subsequently had 2 children, Samuel and Katia.
Adrian worked as a librarian and a local government officer before taking up a post as Business Manager at Bideford College, a large secondary school, where he worked for some 20 years before his retirement in 2011.
Apart from a lifelong passionate interest in all things related to fantasy, horror and science fiction, collecting books, comics and magazines, Adrian’s main interests are swimming at the nearby beach (Westward Ho! Is one of the finest surfing bays in the country) cycling along local rural routes and watching movies. Many of his stories utilise the Devon and South Western landscape.
He is a devout fan of his home town football (soccer) club, Plymouth Argyle and often takes a bus ride down to the city, 60 miles away across the beautiful spine of the county, to watch them play – and occasionally win! Adrian is one of the few people in the universe who doesn’t drive – he is quite happy with coaches, trains and planes.
He wrote his first “novel” at the tender age of 10 – a pastiche of BLACK BEAUTY, which he stopped reading in order to write (and illustrate) his own version. Sadly this gem is long lost, but the drive to write more remained very much alive and Adrian worked on his first serious attempt at getting published when he was 19. This was a fantasy “epic” inspired by LOTR, DUNE and various ERB works – entitled The Barbarians, it eventually saw print as THE DREAM LORDS trilogy.
Since then he has gone on to write many novels, the latest of which, THE SHADOW ACADEMY from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, Canada ( 2014) is the 25th he has had published. He has also written numerous short stories, his latest collection being NICK NIGHTMARE INVESTIGATES from Alchemy Press (2014). He has also performed some of his more light-hearted material at Conventions.
His work has varied through science fiction, fantasy, sword & sorcery and horror and he has had short stories reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror.
( Taken recently and is of me (left) and Jim Pitts, who has done many illos for my work over the years )