Flipping through the December 2004 issue of SCI-FI: The Official Magazine of the Sci-Fi Channel, I was interested to see a “special fantasy section” featured prominently. Knowing that Howard would be mentioned and ruefully remembering the last time the folks at SCI-FI commented on Howard (John Clute’s now-infamous appraisal in his review of the Gollancz Conan Chronicles), I skimmed through to see if their treatment of Howard had improved any in the ensuing two years. Alas, it has not. Read what I found, along with my somewhat oversensitive but nonetheless appropriate response, halfway down this page of the letters section of the SCI-FI Weekly website.
While the quip which spurred me into action was, in and of itself, not worth complaining about overmuch, it does highlight the continued pattern of Howard’s shoddy treatment at the hands of genre journalists, treatment that would never be tolerated if directed at SCI-FI ‘s sacred cows. We would never see, for instance, a joke about Isaac Asimov’s death by AIDS, or about James Doohan’s Alzheimer’s. Of course we wouldn’t, that would be tasteless and offensive. So we should expect the same basic level of decency whenever Robert E. Howard and his suicide are mentioned in such publications.