Hello to Siberian Alex!

What is the coolest thing that could ever happen to a person? Yes, that’s right! Finding out that a heavy-metal band in Siberia has written a song based on one of your short stories!

This has actually happened! Purely by chance, I came across a link on the Web that led me to an excellent heavy-metal band named Blacksword. Blacksword is Alex Avdeev (guitar), Serge Konev (singer), Ivan “the Viking” (bass and acoustic guitar), Artyom Omelenchuk (guitar), and Vyacheslav Aparin (drums). Alex in particular is a big fan of dark fantasy and sword-and-sorcery fiction, one result being that the Blacksword track “Sword Arm” is based on my novelette Engor’s Sword Arm, which Morgan Holmes published back in the mid 1990s.

Man, this makes me happy!

Go read the interview with Alex. He discusses the influence of American heavy metal on Blacksword, the state of metal in the world today, life in Siberia (cold), and the release of their upcoming CD (soon!), The Sword Accurst, which will be available from Echoes of Crom Records.

Echoes of Crom is the label begun by Howie Bentley, the mastermind behind the band Briton Rites, who is himself a big fan of dark fantasy and s&s, particularly Michael Moorcock, Clark Ashton Smith, and, I proudly note, The Sorcerer’s Shadow.

Folks, go to Blacksword’s site, listen to the tracks available there (including “Sword Arm”), and order their CD. This is the real stuff.

Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett

December 1, 2009

Among my most congenial memories are those of the mid 1970s, when I knew Ed and Leigh Hamilton during the last few years they were alive. Edmond Hamilton was one of our earliest science fiction writers; his first story was published in 1926, and he was among that small coterie of writers for the magazine Weird Tales who, in the 1920s and 1930s, laid the foundations for the science fiction and fantasy adventure fiction so commonplace today. Leigh Brackett began her career writing hard-boiled detective fiction, worked off and on in Hollywood with Howard Hawks on some of his best movies (such as The Big Sleep), and was one of the first women to write science fiction. She completed the first draft of the script for The Empire Strikes Back just before her death.

Mr. Hamilton was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and raised in Kinsman, just north of where I was raised in Liberty Township in Trumbull County. I didn’t realize how nearby they were, however, until Leigh was profiled in the Youngstown Vindicator in January 1974. I still have the article, of course, written by Emily Webster: “Two Share Joy of Writing: Hamiltons Like Quiet Life in Kinsman.”

The profile of them was done to coincide with the release of Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, for which Miss Brackett wrote the screenplay. My mother urged me to write to them; surely, she thought, because I was an aspiring writer, I would want to contact them. But I procrastinated until that fall, hem-hawing around (as the phrase goes in Trumbull County) because I felt intimidated. I was quite the small fry compared to the likes of Leigh Brackett, the “writer of science fiction, mystery and western stories, aside from her work in the movies,” as Emily Webster put it—as well as said writer’s world-famous husband. Continue reading