Sunday, 4 July 2010

A Horrible Thought: A "Conan" Novelization?

Damnit, Mikey, how could you raise such a hideous spectre?

I just had an interesting thought! Will there be a novelisation of the new movie? And if so, who do we think should write it?
My number one suggestion: Christa Faust. Anyone who can turn a joke movie like Snakes on a Plane into a rivetting read is bound to do a good job with whatever material is handed to her. Her Gabriel Hunt adventure "Beyond the Frozen Fire" shows she has a great feel for pulp adventure. 
Another thought: How about Michael Moorcock? He's done novelisations before (The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle) and has recently turned out a Dr. Who book. Or would this be the final straw on his camel's back for Howard fans?
And finally, what do we think about Ramsey Campbell? Having done the business for Solomon Kane, would he be looking for another gig? 

I'm sure you can guess what I think of the very idea of a "Conan" movie novelization.

Still, let's entertain the idea.  If they get someone who really knows Conan - really knows him - and who can shock the world by making the film somehow fit in with Howard's creation, then that might be kind of cool.  It won't happen, though.  An alternative is one where someone just doesn't care, and tries to make the film as trashy and silly as they can.  Better to be hilarious than to be dull.

That said, there are some people who must, under no circumstances, come anywhere near a "Conan" movie novelization: Michael Moorcock is one of them.  Now, I like Moorcock's work, but the guy doesn't know Conan, he doesn't know Howard, and any resulting work by him will be... well, I won't like it.  Luckily, I think he has sufficient clout to turn it down, which I dearly hope he does.  Sadly, that just means it might go to someone like Arvid Nelson, Joe R. Lansdale, or... or...

Sweet Merciful Mitra, no!

There's another possibility: instead of doing a novelization, we might end up with re-releases of the original Conan stories, this time with the film's paraphernalia plastered all over the cover.  This is more agreeable, since anything that gets more Howard out there is good.  Paradox would be idiots not to do this, plus it'd have the welcome side effect of doing Howardists' work for us.  "Why do we have such a problem with "Conan"?  Read this."  So much easier.

I can only pity the poor people who somehow enjoy the film being disappointed when they learn that Khalar Zym, Tamara, Corin, Islene, Marique, Ukafa, Artus and every single character apart from Conan doesn't appear, Conan's people weren't actually wiped out, his parents are never killed, he never goes to Khor Khala, and that everything that happens in the film amounts to Sweet Fanny Adams in the original stories.


  1. How about Roy Thomas? Some of the Conan comic stories are pretty good.

  2. Awful, bloody awful. I actually read the Turtledove-Conan of Venarium and it was about the worst pastiche ever (except maybe the Steve Perry's which I couldn't even bring myself to crack open)

    IF an interesting enough author did write the novelization I might want to look at it just because-but it aint gonna happen.

    I tell ya if I was offered the job-I would take it and slip in the correct references whenever possible-but it aint gonna happen.

  3. Roy Thomas is busy on "Conan: The Road of Kings" for Dark Horse. I think it's a much better use of his time and talents.

    Aye, David: "Conan of Venarium" is essential reading for would-be pasticheurs, as it's the preeminent example of how NOT to write a Conan story. Hmm, I wonder what the ten worst Conan pastiches could be...

  4. well the top 5.. would all be Steve Perry.. Those books are atrocious.. I've hit more stumbling blocks in my reviews of all pastiches because of his books than Is natural.. It's taken months to get through just four of them.. and they all follow exactly the same pattern..

    His recent Indiana Jones book wasn't bad though.. so it's either he's improved dramatically as a writer in the last 20 years or he just doesn't hate Dr. Jones...

  5. Man, even reading your overviews is horrendous. "Conan the Necrophiliac" is about as much as I could stand.

  6. well It's all made worthwhile now that I know some one is actually reading it!

    It really has been some of the worst reading experiences of my life on those, and I just have a hard time imagining that the new Novelization will be quite as bad.. Even with Robert Jordan's time-line for the Conan stories.. especially considering that Jordan was his editor at Tor... Perry couldn't even be bothered to have Conan wind up in Arenjun!... So that rather fills me with dread that he intended to write more stories to fill that gap..

    In my experience the problem with novelizations is this, that the novelization is usually adapted from an Early version of the script.. meaning that it will likely still have stuff like Khaler Singh in it..

    most people who are authors already and re then given the opportunity to write a novelization.. like R.A. Salvatore on Episode II: Attack of the Clones.. and Terry Brooks, on HOOK (he seemed to have a fairly positive experience with Phantom Menace) seem to really loathe the experience due to just how much studio interference there tends to be.. The Notable exception would be Alan Dean Foster who has turned some Dud movies into pretty good books.

    Some novelizations give valuable insight to the movie, for instance the Red Dawn novel really fleshes out that it's really World War III.. and not just a bunch of highschoolers menaced by Nicaraguan communists. The Novelization(s) for ID4 (the Novelisation proper, and two books 1 focusing on Dr. Oaken and the other on an Isreali, Saudi and British Pilots in the Iraqi Desert and a rather rare BBC audio play) really help to make that film feel truely world wide.

    So who knows.. I think that Del Rey should just do what they've been holding off on doing.. Re-issue those Trade paperbacks in mass Market format with covers evocative of the movie. It would allow them to sell them individually and in a boxed set and reach a much wider audience than the 17$ TPB's do.

    That and I would really like to have un-edited Conan in MMPB format to take with me when i travel. The old KEW ones from Berkley are too fragile to do that with..

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  8. Above and beyond the call of duty, Lagomorph! While I admit a morbid curiosity in some of the very worst pastiches, it's good to know exactly what's going on with them. Your attempts to tie it in with established Hyborian elements as written by Howard is foolhardy and can result in nothing but a headache - exactly the sort of thing I tend to do. A man after my own heart.

    Hmm, Alan Dean Foster for a Conan novelization. I can think of worse. Wonder what Ruth Keegan would think: she had a little nerd-out one Howard Days when she learned he was passing by!

    I agree that a mass market format for the Del Reys would be an excellent idea. The Del Reys are essential, but people don't want to get them all dog-eared and grubby on their travels. Plus, as you say, it'd get much better exposure, reach more people - everything we want.

    I could cope with Momo on the cover, as long as it's REH's Conan on the inside, perhaps with an explanatory foreword regarding how the film isn't an actual adaptation. Even if they're diplomatic and call it "loosely based on REH" it'd be better than nothing.

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  10. Hey Al -

    "Better to be hilarious than to be dull" is my new motto.

    PS Ramsey Campbell actually did the SOLOMON KANE novelization? That's kinda kooky.

  11. what about Moorcok don't know Howard and Conan? tell me I don't know that... readers mention the two together when they talk about sword and sorcery...
    by the way where are the reviews of the pastiches of Lagomorph rex...?

  12. Art, so glad I made a funny. :)

    Syon, I haven't read any of Campbell's Kane work, sad to say. Othnar at the REH forums didn't seem enamoured.

    Francisco, by "Moorcock not knowing Conan/REH" I meant more that Moorcock's interpretation of Conan and REH is very different and contradictory to a lot of things. It's like the case with Bassett: his handle on Conan/Howard is very eccentric, to say the least.

    Lagomorph's reviews are over at his own blog: