Monday, February 7, 2011

In Remembrance of Lin Carter

On this day, in the year 1988, Linwood Vrooman Carter, creator of tales of science fiction, fantasy and sword & sorcery, died after a battle with cancer.

Some revile Lin Carter. It is said that his fiction was little better than amateur fan fiction. Critics panned him as an imitator. Indeed, he stated himself several times that he was an imitator of the authors he loved; most notably, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Lord Dunsany and H.P. Lovecraft.

As an author, Carter never did write a great masterpiece. Instead, he wrote in quantity over quality. It is not for his writing that I remember him. I relish him as an editor. As an editor, he rescued many forgotten classics when he took the reigns of the Ballentine Adult Fantasy Series. Including precursors to the series proper and a couple of "post" additions to the series, Carter pushed nearly 80 volumes in the series to publication. This number included six anthologies and three studies of the fantasy genre. He brought many classics to the public eye, including E.R. Eddison, Mervyn Peak, Fletcher Pratt, Lord Dunsany, William Morris, James Branch Cabell, George MacDonald, Hannes Bok, Evangeline Walton and George Meredith, amongst others. As editor of the Ballentine series, he also helped launch the career of Katherine Kurtz.

He was a founding member of SAGA (the Swordsmen and Sorcerer's Guild of America) where his editorship, and contributions, to the series Flashing Swords! helped bring attention to sword and sorcery writers such as Michael Moorcock, Poul Anderson, Fritz Lieber, John Jakes, Andre Norton and Jack Vance. His partnership with L. Sprague de Camp on Conan pastiche helped fuel the fire that would rescue the works of Robert E. Howard from obscurity.

He was prone to self-promotion, opinionated and unoriginal; however, he gave more to the fan community then he ever took. That alone is worth remembering him for.


  1. Both The Worlds End series and The Man Who Loved Mars were excellent works by Mr. Carter.

  2. Thank you Blair. I plan on reading The Worlds End Series soon, I will have to hunt down a copy of The Man Who Loved Mars.