The magazine editor didn’t allow his contributors to engage with those who commented, so I’ll never really know what the point of the post was since I couldn’t ask the reader for clarification or even encourage a dialogue. Given the fact that the barb was pretty vague, I’ve always assumed it came from someone who disagreed with my personal assessment of what SciFi and Fantasy are, a sentiment that has plagued much of fandom for years. For example, I’ve ‘crossed swords’ with folks who insist Star Trek isn’t Science Fiction, nor is The Twilight Zone televised Fantasy. They’ll tell you Star Wars is a Western and Battlestar Galactica is watered-down mythology. These peers have any number of reasons for reaching the conclusions they have, and their logic is certainly no less nor any stronger than my own.
Still, I took that original comment as a call-to-action: I was willing to ‘bone up’ on my knowledge of the past to further enlighten those who followed me on my trail to promote All Things SciFi (& Fantasy) in hopes that we’d eventually find common ground somewhere in middle. We didn’t have to agree maybe we never would … but we could still come together in our pursuit of knowing all that is knowable about our beloved genres. I purchased myself a used copy of the 1995 updated edition of The Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction (by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, St. Martin’s Griffin Publishers) with the intent that from time-to-time I’d pull it out, read up on an entry, and feature it in this space.
So without further ado …
Frank Belknap Long was born on April 27, 1901 and passed away on January 3, 1994; and between those years this U.S.-based author managed to write twenty-nine novels, 150 short stories, and scores of other works both fiction and non-fiction. In his work, he was a contemporary of authors like Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, C.M. Eddy Jr., and – his most well-documented friendship – H.P. Lovecraft. In fact, during his youth Long met Lovecraft, and the man served as a mentor to him, often commenting on his work, tastes, and life in general. Those who have examined Lovecraft’s life and body of work are apt to point out that it was during his friendship with Long that the legendary writer crafted some of his most impressive work; and I would suspect that this ‘spiritual communion’ likely extended to influencing the quality of Long’s own writing.
As to those works? Wikipedia.org recognizes that Long penned tales across many genres including Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and more; but perhaps he’s best remembered for his work The Hounds Of Tindalos which is considered part and parcel of the greater Cthulhu Mythos. Another work he’s remembered for? Well, that would be the biography of none other than his lifelong friend, H.P. Lovecraft.
But Long didn’t only craft stories of prose and poetry. In the 1940’s, he expanded his repertoire to include comic books, penning tales for Adventures Into The Unknown, Superman, Green Lantern, and Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel. He spent much of the 1950’s editing genre magazines. The 1970’s saw the author turning his eye toward gothic romance, and he turned out several of them with the assistance of Lyda Belknap Long, his wife.
Naturally, it’s difficult to reduce the summary of an author’s life to a few paragraphs, especially one as prolific and influential as Long. I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t point out that his works also garnered him some impressive award citations, including the Edna St Vincent Millay Poetry Award, the First Fandom Hall Of Fame Award (1977), the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement (1978), and the Bram Stoker Award for Life Achievement (1987). These are impressive credentials, indeed.
As I often point out, though he’s no longer with us is no reason to ignore the footprints he left behind. Certainly his works are deserving of greater study, especially for those of us who aspire to continue keeping genre entertainment near and dear to the center of our lives. I’ll include some links below so that interested readers can keep that flame alive.
SFE The Science Fiction Encyclopedia Online Entry
Amazon's Frank Belknap Long Page
YouTube.Com: The Space-Eaters episode of Monsters (adapted from Long's short story)
As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper!