Saturday, January 21, 2023


Fans of science-fiction, fantasy and sword and sorcery will be familiar with Lin Carter's Thongor of Lemuria. Carter has received what I think is a bad rap over the years among so-called critics of this genre, calling him nothing more than a pastiche writer and even a hack. Perhaps it was his fannish enthusiasm and emulation of his favorite authors (Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, et al.) that led to this. Frankly, I like reading his novels and stories because they are damn entertaining.

Born Linwood Vrooman Carter on 9 June 1930 in St. Petersburg, Florida, Carter was a prolific writer during his long career. He was immersed in fan culture (one photo shows him dressed up in an early cosplay costume as a wizard), formed writer's clubs, published his own small-press magazine, and sponsored the Gandalf Award for Fantasy. His greatest achievement is perhaps his editing of the seminal Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.

He was a devotee of H.P. Lovecraft ("Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos", J.R.R. Tolkien ("Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings") and Edgar Rice Burroughs, who was an inspiration for his Green Star series. He also wrote the Ballantine book, "Imaginary Worlds: The Art of Fantasy", among many others.

Along with L. Sprague de Camp, Carter edited a number of Robert E. Howard's Conan re-issues in paperback and together they re-wrote and completed some of Howard's unfinished story fragments. Carter wrote some of his own Conan stories to fill in the gaps of the famous barbarian's "career".

Mr. Carter passed away on 7 February 1988 in Montclair, New Jersey at the age of 57.

Carter's first published novel was "The Wizard of Lemuria" (Ace #F*326, 1965) a tale of sword and sorcery introducing his character, Thongor of Valkarth. A mingling of Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thongor gained some success and returned in a series of novels and short stories.

Posted below is what can be considered Thongor's "origin story", from FANTASTIC SCIENCE-FICTION AND FANTASY STORIES (September, 1974). I hope you find it as enjoyable as I did.


Rip Jagger said...

I was a hug fan of both Fantastic and Amazing during this time period. I traded off many of my sci-fi digests, but those I kept. Where they are in my collections I'd be hard pressed to say.

Lin Carter is much maligned, and we owe him so much. The Ballantine Adult Fantasy series was the best of its kind and I only wish I'd gathered up them all. I was introduced to many writers through the work of Carter. His adoration for the creations of ERB and REH as well as Lovecraft might have led him to create too-close pastiches but many are still great fun to read. He died much too young.

John said...

The Ballantine Adult Fantasy series is a hallmark of its kind and Carter was the curator of classic fantasy and S&S. We were lucky to have him for it as I'm sure he was the driving force behind it.