Part II - An American Gunslinger in Asia

Francis Xavier Gordon was born in Texas, somewhere near the Mexican border, during 1877. His ancestry was a combination of Highland Scot and Black Irish (4). Most of his early life was spent in El Paso, Texas. He grew up to be a muscular man of medium height. His hair was black. His blazing black eyes reminded men of a wild animal. His lean face was always kept smooth-shaven.

By 1893, Gordon was a gunslinger in the American West even though he was only sixteen years old. For the next two years, he traveled throughout the West. He fought the Yaqui Indians of Mexico. He journeyed through the Bad Lands of the Dakota.

El Borak by Guillaume Sorel
Yaqui Indians of Mexico who have never been conquered [photo #7 from Scrapbook #1], no date [ca. 1910-1915]

Sometime in 1in 1895, Gordon embarked on the career of a sailor. Exactly what prompted this decision is unknown. But the most likely explanation was that he was branded an outlaw in the United States. Gordon sailed the Seven Seas for the next four years. He witnessed the fighting techniques of the Moro tribes of the southern Philippines. In Indochina, Gordon committed deeds that enraged the French colonial administrators. As a result, Gordon found it extremely dangerous ever to set foot in French territory.

While sailing in the South Seas, the intrepid American earned the nickname of “Wolf” Gordon. One wonders if this sobriquet resulted Gordon reminded his fellow seamen of Wolf Larsen whose 1893 death 1In The Sea Wolf (chap, 14), Johansen the Swede noted that he last wrote to his mother ten years ago. The year of Johansen’s letter was given as 1883. The novel must be set in 1893. is described is recorded in Jack London’s The Sea Wolf (1904). A more famous alias awaited Gordon in the ports of the Arab world.

Gordon demonstrated to a group of Arabs his ability to draw a gun fast from the holster and shoot accurately. The Arabs dubbed him El Borak (“the Swift”). Gordon would use this alias when even traveling in parts of Asia where Arabic is not the native tongue.

On of the Arab ports visited by Gordon was Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. Since the French Controlled this territory, it is likely that Gordon did not advertise his presence to the local authorities. While there, Gordon witnessed a scandalous episode involving an English lieutenant and a married woman. This knowledge would prove useful to Gordon years later in southern Africa.

Gordon also passed through ports under the jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire.

These territories included Palestine, Armenia, and certain areas inhabited by Greeks (probably Crete and Macedonia). As a result of witnessing atrocities committed in these territories by Turkish officials, Gordon gained a bitter hatred of the Ottoman Empire. It is even possible that Gordon participated in some manner in the 1897 revolt on Crete.

Not all the ports frequented by Gordon during his years as a sailor were in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. A few were either in America or Western Europe. In these ports, he frequented museums where he saw the tracks of dinosaurs preserved in rock slabs. He remembered having seen similar fossilized tracks in the Dakotas,

Abandoning his life as a sailor, Gordon landed in India sometime during 1899. In the following year, he met two Indians who played important roles in his life, They were Lal Singh, a Sikh from Lahore, and Yasmeena, a woman of mysterious antecedents.

Prior to meeting Gordon, Lal Singh had a series of adventures where he found himself dealings with various kinds of thieves. In an unrecorded exploit of 1896, the Sikh bested a Rao of Rajputana in a dispute over smuggled jewelry. During 1898, Lal Singh prevented the theft of a ring that his uncle, a goldsmith in Meerut, had fashioned for a rajah (see “The Tale of the Rajah’s Ring”).This episode brought Lal Singh into contact with Marendra Mukerji, a skilled swindler. Although they were friendly adversaries in their first meeting, Lal Singh and Marendra soon became partners in a scheme to defraud Parsee merchants in Bombay (see “The Further Adventures of Lal Singh”). While Marendra was engaged in a fraud in Delhi, Lal Singh battled a gang of Thugs (Thags), the fanatical cultists who committed robbery and murder, in Benares (see “Lal Singh, Oriental Gentleman”).

When he met Gordon in 1900, Lal Singh had ended his partnership with Marendra Mukerji. Lal Singh befriended Gordon in an unrecorded adventure involving “the wolves of Jagai.” Whether Jagai was a person or a place remains a mystery. It is conceivable that “Jagai” is meant to be Jagat (also called Jigat, Dwarka, Dvarka and Dvaravatal), a seaport in western India. Because their bond of friendship was forged in this exploit, Gordon would occasionally send messages to Lal Singh with these words as a form of introduction: “El Borak bids you remember the wolves of Jagai.”

El Borak had his first meeting with Yasmeena in Delhi. Her father had been a priest of Erlik Khan, a Mongolian demon-god, in Yolgan, a hidden city in the Afghan mountains. Yolgan had apparently been erected by Mongolian centuries ago.

Yasmeena’s mother was an Indian woman who belonged to the cult of Thuggee 2Howard does not specifically identify Yasmeena’s mother as a Thug. “The Daughter of Erlik Khan” stated the Yasmeena’s father left the Erlik cult to romance an Indian woman. In “The House of Om,” a synopsis for an unwritten non-series short story, Howard identified Thuggee as an offshoot of Erlik worship. It is logical to assume that the priest of Erlik came into contact with Yasmeena’s mother because she was a Thug. “The House of Om” can be found in Shudder Stories #2 (Cryptic Publications, December 1984) and The “New” Howard Reader #1(June 1998).. In her early life, Yasmeena cared more for earthly pleasures than for the diabolical religions of her parents. She was attracted to Gordon, but fearful of his fierce nature. Gordon was involved with Yasmeena for a brief duration. She subsequently drifted into the arms of other men.

In Benares (also known as Varanasi and Banaras), Gordon stumbled upon a group of very ancient books that were in the possession of some Brahmins. The books contained an account of the wanderings of Carthaginian traders in western and central Africa. The Carthaginians discovered Valooze, a lost civilization populated by Caucasians. The strange kingdom was teeming with gold. Some of the traders returned to Carthage where they recorded their experiences in Valooze. When Carthage was destroyed in the Punic Wars, the traders’ records passed through various hands before making their way to India.

Gordon became obsessed with discovering Valooze. He determined the approximate location of the fabled land in the Belgian Congo. El Borak ruled out the immediate launching of an expedition due to the realization that he would have to travel across British territory to reach his goal in the Congo.

The Boer War had erupted in 1899. Considering that the British were occupied with conquering the states carved out of Africa by Dutch settlers, any expedition of armed men would have come under immediate scrutiny. Gordon and his men would have run the risk of being mistaken as pro-Boer gunrunners. The prospect of approaching Valooze from the French Congo was ruled out because Gordon did not want to run the risk of being arrested for his earlier action in Indochina. Gordon probably considered traversing German East Africa (modern-day Tanzania), but dismissed the route for reasons unknown.

Rumors of another American adventurer, Kirby O’Donnell, drew Gordon to Afghanistan. O’Donnell had gained fame for a series of unrecorded adventures in the Middle East during the 1890’s. O’Donnell was christened El Shirkuh (“the Mountain Lion”) by the Arabs. After spending considerable time in Kurdistan, a territory of the Ottoman Empire near the Persian border, O’Donnell was able to pretend to be a native. Having accumulated many enemies, O’Donnell found it expedient o pose as a Kurd named Ali. In 1897, O’Donnell in his Ali guise slew Ivan Kurovitch, a Russian colonel, during a skirmish in Afghanistan. For this deed, the false Kurd took the title of “el Ghazi” (“the Slayer of the Infidel”).

As Ali el Gazi in 1898, O’Donnell became embroiled in a search for an ancient golden idol, the Blood-Stained God, in Afghanistan (see “The Curse of the Crimson God”). During this exploit, O’Donnell rescued Yar Muhammad, a Waziri tribesman, from being tortured. Yar Muhammad later repaid the favor by saving O’Donnell’s life in the temple of the Blood-Stained God.

A year later, O’Donnell would save Yar Muhammad’s life twice. On one occasion, the Irish-American stopped an Afridi blade from penetrating Yar Muhammad’s breast. Yar Muhammad later found himself incarcerated in a British jail in Peshawar, the Indian town near the Afghan border. Yar Muhammad would have been hanged if O’Donnell had not rescued him.

Francis X. Gordon thought it might be mutually profitable if he threw in his lot with O’Donnell. Gordon went to Peshawar in 1900 in the hopes of getting a lead on O’Donnell’s whereabouts. Hearing a report that O’Donnell had been led into a fatal ambush by a treacherous guide named Yar Akbar, Gordon concluded his fellow American had perished. In actuality, O’Donnell had survived. Under the delusion that El Shirkuh was no more, El Borak decided to pursue an independent course of action in Afghanistan.

The Afridi inhabitants of Kadar, an Afghan village near the Indian border, would draw Gordon into his first adventure north of the Khyber Pass. Tribesmen from Kadar crossed into India and abducted a British Colonel’s daughter, Marion Sommerland.

Among the abductors were Yar Ali Khan, Khoda Khan and Yar Hyder. Taking their hostage back to Kadar in order to extort a ransom, the kidnappers soon discovered that their captive was lecherously desired by both the village chieftain, Khumail Khan, and the head mullah (See “The Coming of El Borak”).

Arriving in Kadar, Gordon rescued Marion Sommerland. Due to El Borak’s actions, Khumail Khan was replaced as chief by a villager named Kulam Khan. Before departing with Marion, Gordon gained Kulam’s promise to cease the villagers’ raid into India, Gordon also gained the friendship of Yar Ali Khan, Khoda Khan and Yar Hyder. Yar Ali Khan decided to accompany Gordon when the American left Kadar.

Gaining Yar Ali Khan’s loyalty was an amazing accomplishment, Yar Ali Khan had previously exhibited a total distrust of outsiders. In “The Song of Yar Ali Khan,” the Afghan made this boast:

All men are the foes of Yar Ali Excepting Yar Ali’s clan.

 Yar Ali Khan was a fierce fighter. He once brazenly attempted to kill Zumal Khan, a bandit chieftain guarded by scores of followers. Yar Ali single-handedly invaded Zumal’s stronghold (see an untitled fragment).

For the next two years, Gordon and Yar Ali Khan wandered across Asia. In an Indian jungle, Yar Ali experienced fear when he sensed a python’s presence in a cavern. The Afridi witnessed Gordon’s mastery over wolves in the Himalayas. Yar Ali would later claim that he and Gordon slew a monstrous dragon in a cavern during this period. However, the veracity of Yar Ali’s tale was doubted by Khoda Khan. With the conclusion of the Boer War in May 1902, Gordon seized the opportunity to revive his Valooze project. Returning to Kadar with Yar Ali, Gordon persuaded Khoda Khan and other Afridis to join the expedition (see “Khoda Khan’s Tale”). Khoda Khan stated that El Borak was “little more than a youth.” The American’s age was actually twenty-five.

Gordon also recruited Lal Singh and other residents of countries near Afghanistan to join his private army. All together, El Borak had gathered twenty Asian followers. A schooner took the expedition from India to Portuguese-controlled Mozambique.

Crossing into British territory, Gordon blackmailed an English officer to permit the expedition to pass unmolested. This was the same lieutenant whose scandalous behavior had been witnessed by Gordon years earlier in Tunis. As Gordon approached his goal, he recruited many African natives to join his band.

Reaching the ruins of Valooze, Gordon found temples whose different styles of architecture gave the impression that a different race had built each of them. The older temple was dedicated to snake gods, and the other enshrined an elephant deity. Gordon’s plans to explore these temples were hampered by the arrival of a rival expedition commanded by an Arab, Hassan ibn Zaroud.

The existence of the snake temple offers some clue to the identities of the races that inhabited Valooze. A name very similar to Valooze is Valusia. In his tales of Kull of Atlantis, Robert E. Howard wrote of Valusia, an ancient kingdom terrorized by a race of serpent-men. Upon becoming monarch of Valusia, Kull expelled the serpent-men from his kingdom. Perhaps Valooze was an outpost of Valusia from which the serpent- men were driven out. The humans who settled in the land afterwards must have been the devotee of the elephant god, According to “The Tower of the Elephant” from Howard’s Conan series, Valusia was visited by aliens from the planet Yag. These aliens looked like winged humanoids with elephant heads. Human were known to worship these beings a gods. The human inhabitants could have been followers of a visitor from Yag.

It is not known how Hassan ibn Zaroud knew about Valooze, but the serpent-men of Valusia were known to at least one other Arab. In the eighth century, Abdul Alhazred wrote about the serpent-men in Al Azif, a book of sorcery later translated into Greek as the Necronomicon. Although occasionally cited in Howard’s stories, the Necronomicon played a more important role in the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Perhaps Hassan had found an original Arabic copy of Alhazred’s treatise. Inside the manuscript, he could have found references to the location of Valooze.

Gordon failed to retrieve the gold of Valooze. When El Borak and his comrades returned to Afghanistan in 1903, they soon learned that Russia was seeking to entangle the country in a series of intrigues. Tsarist Russia hoped to use Afghanistan as a road through which its armies could conquer India. One of the stratagems directed towards this goal involved the possession of the treasure of Shahrazar, a Turkoman city inside the fringes of the Russian Empire’s border with Afghanistan. Even though the Russians had nominally conquered the Turkomans, they had failed to subdue Shahrazar. In the role of Ali el Ghazi, Kirby O’Donnell foiled the Russian plot (see “The Treasures of Tartary” and “Swords of Shahrazar.”) He also avenged himself upon the deceitful Yar Akbar, and became reunited with the loyal Yar Muhammad. Under his Kurdish alias, O’Donnell apparently settled in Shahrazar.

While El Shirkuh smashed a Russian scheme in Shahrazar, El Borak fought a Russian ally in the hills of Afghanistan. An ambitious chieftain, Afdal Khan, was seeking to overthrow Habibullah Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan. Afdal murdered another chieftain who was a close friend of El Borak. A bloody feud developed between Afdal and Gordon. Armed with Russian rifles, Afdal’s forces attack El Borak and his Afridi allies. In the end, Gordon emerged triumphant (see “Hawk of the Hills”),

Due to Gordon’s quarrel with Afdal Khan, Habibullah Khan had requested the British authorities in India to mediate a peace between the two sides. Unaware of Afdal’s treason, the Amir was solely concerned that the fighting was disrupting an important trade route with Persia (Iran). The British dispatched Geoffrey Willoughby to act as mediator. Willoughby’s view of Gordon had initially been unsympathetic, but it altered when Afdal’s treachery was exposed.

A persistent falsehood about El Borak in the 1900’s was that he was anti-British.

Gordon’s contempt for pompous officialdom sparked these rumors. In reality, Gordon gained the friendship of numerous important British officials like Willoughby. While the men who really ran India did not always approve of Gordon’s methods, they recognized him as an important force for stability inside Afghanistan.

Gordon was surprised to receive a secret communication from Yasmeena in 1904. She had married a prince of Kashmir, but her husband was a brutal wife-beater. Fleeing her spouse, she successfully sought protection from the British. Remembering that her father had been a priest of Erlik Khan in Yolgan, Yasmeena wished to travel to that city in order to study mysticism. .She asked Gordon to escort her to the secret citadel in Afghanistan.

Gordon consented on one condition. El Borak had heard stories of secret Thuggee temples in Delhi. Gordon wished to visit them in order to consult ancient manuscripts. If Yasmeena could gain Gordon’s admittance to the temples through her Thuggee contacts, the American would escort her to Yolgan.

Yasmeena concurred by introducing El Borak to Juggnara Nath, a Thug of Delhi who was devoted to her. Swearing on Kali, the goddess of the Thugs, and on her consort, Śivá the Destroyer, Juggnara promised to arrange Gordon’s access to the temples after he returned from Yolgan. Disguised as a Kirghiz from Issik-kul, Gordon brought Yasmeena to Yolgan. Because Yasmeena had a star-shaped birthmark between her breasts , the inhabitants viewed her as the earthly incarnation of Erlik Khan’s daughter. Yasmeena found herself revered as a goddess.

Śivá the god of destruction and transformation
The Goddess Kali

Upon returning to Delhi, Gordon contacted Juggnara Nath. Fulfilling his part of the bargain, Juggnara disguised Gordon and Yar Ali Khan as Thugs. The trio then visited the Thuggee temples. In one temple, Gordon found an ancient manuscript. With the assistance of the temple’s priest, Gordon translated the book. It told of an Indian treasure buried in the hills of Arabia. Unfortunately, the map revealing the location of the city was torn from the book. The priest mentioned that a Frenchman had stolen the missing page.

Suddenly, Gordon and Yar Ali heard an English cry for help, In another part of the temple, an American named Steve Clarney was about to be sacrificed to Kali. Gordon and Yar Ali rushed to Clarney’s rescue. Due to a promise to Yasmeena to maintain Gordon’s safety at all costs, Juggnara joined the fight against his co-religionists. As a result, Juggnara would become an outcast among the Thugs. Saving Clarney, Gordon and his allies escaped the Thuggee temple.

Clarney proved a valuable addition to El Borak’s crew of adventurers. Prior to his arrival in India, Clarney had fought slave traders in Somaliland. Together with Gordon and Yar Ali, Clarney followed the trail of the Frenchman to Afghanistan. They discovered that the Frenchman had been killed by local bandits. The robbers preserved the map because they believed that it had magical powers. The map was then stolen from the Afghans by Turkomans. Gordon and his allies pursued the quest for the map into Russian-occupied Turkestan.

At this point, Gordon’s path diverted from that of his two comrades. El Borak heard reports of an enigmatic Hungarian, Gustav Hunyadi, in Turkestan. While Gordon investigated Hunyadi’s activities, Clarney and Yar Ali continued the original mission of searching for the map.

In the beginning, Hunyadi had been employed by the Russians to organize Central Asian tribes for a planned invasion of Afghanistan and India. The Russian strategy was derailed when the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) erupted. Locked in a wear with Japan over Manchuria and soon to be engulfed by internal unrest (the Revolution of 1905), Tsarist Russia had no resources for an invasion of southwest Asia, Hunyadi saw the opportunity for personal power 3Hunyadi’s ambitions closely resembled those of the historical Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, a Baltic German adventurer who sought to take over Mongolia in 1920-21. Some sources claim that the Baron was part Hungarian.. He would organize the Central Asian tribes into his own private army. Independent of Russia, he would carve his own empire first in Turkestan, and then extend it into Afghanistan and India.

Returning to India in 1905, Gordon alerted the British authorities to the danger posed by Hunyadi. Unfortunately, El Borak’s warnings were scoffed at. The British officials thought it ludicrous that a lone Hungarian mercenary would hope to succeed where Russia had failed for decades.

In order to prove his allegations, Gordon went back to Turkestan in the guise of a wandering Afghan. He stole several letters that Hunyadi had dispatched to Central Asian chieftains. Learning of the theft, Hunyadi pursued El Borak to a remote valley populated by the descendants of Greek soldiers from the era of Alexander the Great. There Gordon slew Hunyadi in a sword fight (see “The Lost Valley of Iskander”).

Back in India, Gordon surrendered his evidence to the British. Even though Hunyadi was dead, Gordon’ action assured that no lieutenant of the Hungarian would revive the scheme of a Central Asian Empire. After rambling around India for a brief time, El Borak was hired by two Englishmen in Peshawar to guide them into Afghanistan.

The Englishmen pretended that they were seeking a comrade that had been captured by brigands. In reality, the Englishmen had intercepted a letter that Yasmeena had sent Gordon from Yolgan. Professing to be disgusted with her life in Yolgan, Yasmeena requested Gordon’s aid in arranging her return to Delhi. Yasmeena had found herself in conflict with Yogok, the high priest of Erlik Khan, over the question of human sacrifice. The denizens of Yolgan would never permit her departure because she was viewed as semi-divine.

The Englishmen plotted to abduct Yasmeena and sell her back to her husband, the prince of Kashmir. The prince was offering a large reward for Yasmeena. It was his intention to beat Yasmeena to death with a slipper. Discovering his employers’ true motives, Gordon rescued Yasmeena from Yolgan (see “The Daughter of Erlik Khan”).

Yasmeena presumably returned to a life of carnal delight in Delhi, but there are dark rumors which circulated among certain Asian cults. According to these accounts, Yasmeena lied to Gordon about her reasons for leaving Yolgan. She supposedly relished the diabolical rites of the Erlik cult. Her conflict with Yogok over human sacrifices concerned the choice of victims rather then the ritual itself. The high priest had been selecting victims who supported Yasmeena’s authority over his own.

The Erlik cults of Mongolia were more advanced in their pursuit of demonic wisdom then their counterparts in Afghanistan 4As told in “The House of Om,” the Erlik devotees of Mongolia were expert plastic surgeons. Their horrible use of this art is also demonstrated in Howard’s “Black Hound Of Death” (Weird Tales, November 1936), reprinted in Trails in Darkness (Baen, 1996).. Yasmeena purportedly established secret contacts with the Mongolian cultists. Like the people of Yolgan, these Erlik worshippers were willing to adore Yasmeena as a goddess. Hoping that the Mongolian cultists would prove more formidable minions than the dwellers of Yolgan, Yasmeena sought to travel to Mongolia. Because the people of Yolgan would never permit her defection to a rival congregation, Yasmeena tricked Gordon into helping her escape. She returned briefly to India only for the purpose of arranging her journey to Mongolia.

In Afghanistan during 1906, Gordon received disturbing news from Kurdistan. In search of the treasure map, Clarney and Yar Ali had traveled all over Turkestan and Persia. Crossing into the Ottoman Empire, the courageous pair was captured by Kurdish bandits. Upon ascertaining that the captives were friends of the famous El Borak, the Kurdish raiders sent a ransom demand to Gordon in Afghanistan. Instead of paying the extortion, Gordon gathered a host of Afridis including Khoda Khan and Yar Hyder. A few non-Afghans such as Lal Singh and Juggnara Nath joined El Borak’s band. El Borak and his formidable posse took the long journey from Afghanistan to Kurdistan.

Nor only did El Borak and his followers liberate Clarney and Yar Ali, but they also looted the Kurdish countryside. While Gordon remained in Kurdistan to direct his bandits, Clarney and Yar Ali departed for Baghdad to follow a clue to the whereabouts of the treasure map. The trail of the map drove them further east to the Persian city of Shiraz where they uncovered evidence that the map was now in Oman.

While in Shiraz, they also heard the legend of a lost city in the Arabian sands. The Arabs called this place Beled-el-Djinn (“City of Devils”) while the Turks whispered of it as Kara-Shehr (“the Black City”). A fabulous gem, the Fire of Asshurbanipal, was said to be located in the lost city. The idea struck Clarney that this legendary city might be the one mentioned in the missing map. Possessing vague information about Kara-Shehr’s location, Clarney and Yar Ali crossed the Arabian desert hoping that they would stumble upon the lost city before reaching Oman. Miraculously, they found Kara-Shehr.

However, Clarney and Yar Ali were shocked to discover that the gem was guarded by a demon allied to Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth and other pre-human gods mention in the Necronomicon (see “The Fire of Asshurbanipal”).

Not wishing to challenge the jewel’s horrific guardian, Clarney and Yar Ali left Kara-Shehr for Oman. They uncovered information that the map was in the possession of El Bahr, one of the most influential men in Oman. Yar Ali went back to Kurdistan to inform Gordon while Clarney remained behind to keep an eye on El Bahr.

When Gordon received the information from Yar Ali, the American adventurer terminated all operations in Kurdistan. The bulk of El Borak’s followers returned to Afghanistan under the command of Khoda Khan and Yar Hyder. Together with a small group consisting of Lal Singh, Juggnara Nath and a few other non-Afghans, Gordon went to Oman with Yar Ali Khan.

With Gordon’s arrival in Oman, Clarney opted to abandon his participation in the quest for the treasure map. His terrifying experience in Kara-Shehr convinced Clarney that the buried treasures of Arabia were better left undisturbed by mortal man. Clarney even suspected that the treasure map would point to Kara-Shehr. Gordon did not share this view because the passages that he had read from the Thugs’ book indicated that the treasure was located in general area far from Kara-Shehr. It was now 1907, and the British government was attracting settlers to the African colony of Rhodesia by easing land purchases there. After a friendly parting with Gordon and his remaining crew, Clarney left Oman to try his luck in Rhodesia.

Gordon learned that El Bahr’s rival for influence in Oman was Mustapha el Hamid. This was the same man who had met El Borak during his days as a sailor. Aligning himself with Mustapha, Gordon incurred El Bahr’s animosity. Discovering that Gordon sought an object in his collection of rare manuscripts, El Bahr personally moved his library to the British-occupied port of Aden on the Red Sea. El Bahr intended to lure Gordon out of Oman where Mustapha el Hamid was able to protect the American soldier of fortune.

El Borak followed his enemy to Aden. Although Gordon had lost the services of Steve Clarney, he was about to gain the loyal friendship of another American named Steve.

Part I Part III

About the author

Pulp historian Rick Lai is happily married and lives in Long Island, New York. He has two adult children.

Rick has won the REH Foundation award 2019 (“The Hyrkanian for outstanding achievement, essay print”) for his “Poseidon and the Gods of the Robert E. Howard Universe”.

He has also won the Munsey Award (2022 at Pulpfest 50) for his essays. He is the author of several books on pulp history and pulp heroes like The Shadow, Doc Savage.

As an author of short stories, essays and articles Rick has been involved in the pulp and fantasy community for more than 4 decades.

The works of Rick Lai – Facebook group.


Rick Lai
Pulp historian and Author

This article was written by Rick Lai. This entry was posted on Used with permission.

Posted February 19th, 2023. Layout, small corrections (typos), images and links added by Ståle Gismervik.

Thanks to Ralph Grasso for providing me the article and getting til approval of Rick Lai.

Teaser image by Ken Kelly. Also used artwork by Guillaume Sorel.