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Carter, Lin

Entry updated 23 October 2023. Tagged: Author, Editor, Fan.

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Working name of US author and editor Linwood Vrooman Carter (1930-1988), most of whose work of any significance was done in the field of Heroic Fantasy, an area of concentration he went some way to define in his critical study of relevant texts and techniques, Imaginary Worlds (1973). Most of his criticism was closely linked to his strong interest in fantasy; specific studies include Tolkien: A Look Behind "The Lord of the Rings" (1969), an early take on that author, and Lovecraft: A Look Behind the "Cthulhu Mythos" (1972) (see Cthulhu Mythos). Much of his own heroic fantasy derives, sometimes too mechanically, from the precepts about its writing which he aired in this book. As an editor, he was most creatively active about 1969-1972, when as consultant for Ballantine Books he conceived their adult Fantasy list and presented many titles under that aegis, bringing to the contemporary paperback market writers such as James Branch Cabell (1879-1958), Lord Dunsany, Hope Mirrlees (1887-1978) and Clark Ashton Smith. With Cabell and Mirrlees, he merely reprinted significant titles (Mirrlees had fallen off the map as far as many historians of the fantastic were concerned, but was very much alive); in the cases of H P Lovecraft (by no means forgotten, of course), Dunsany and Smith he reassembled material under his own titles (for details see their entries); he also published some anthologies of shorter work, beginning with Dragons, Elves and Heroes (anth 1969); and competently edited three anthology series: the Flashing Swords sequence of Heroic Fantasy tales beginning with Flashing Swords #1 (anth, 1973); the Year's Best Fantasy sequence beginning with The Year's Best Fantasy Stories (anth, 1975); and the Weird Tales sequence beginning with Weird Tales #1 (anth, 1980). Additionally he instigated the Hugo-like Gandalf Award to honour authors of fantasy; this was presented from 1974 to 1981.

Carter began publishing sf with "Masters of the Metropolis" for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in April 1957 with Randall Garrett; with L Sprague de Camp he adapted and expanded many stories, especially Conan infills, beginning with Conan (1967), which Robert E Howard had left unpublished or unrealized, and created others [see Checklist below, and for further details see L Sprague de Camp; Robert E Howard]. As an author in his own right, he tended to concentrate on pastiches of the kind of heroic fantasy to which he was devoted as critic, anthologist, and revivifier. His first novel, The Wizard of Lemuria (1965; rev vt Thongor and the Wizard of Lemuria 1969), begins a long and (as it turned out) typical series of fantasies about the exploits of Thongor in various venues, continuing with Thongor of Lemuria (1966; rev vt Thongor and the Dragon City 1970) and ending with Thongor Fights the Pirates of Tarakus (1970). Like succeeding series [see Checklist below], the Thongor tales represent a swift though cumulatively exiguous fantasizing of routine pulp protocols. Though these fantasies were often set (like Edgar Rice Burroughs's) on various florid worlds, and could be thought of as Planetary Romances, they were not in any committed sense sf in tone. The Callisto sequence, set on the eponymous satellite of Jupiter and beginning with Jandar of Callisto (1972), is an explicit homage to Burroughs.

Carter's output of sf proper is relatively scant, and almost invariably pastiches earlier authors, including Leigh Brackett. The History of the Great Imperium sequence – The Star Magicians (1966 dos), The Man Without a Planet (1966 dos), Tower of the Medusa (1969), Star Rogue (1970) and Outworlder (1971) – adheres moderately closely to sf protocols and to the "feel" of sf; and the Mars series of pastiches of Leigh Brackett's tales set on MarsThe Man Who Loved Mars (1973), The Valley where Time Stood Still (1974), The City Outside the World (1977) and Down to a Sunless Sea (1984) – has moments of poignance where sf and Science Fantasy grant perspectives by overlapping. The Zarkon sequence, beginning with Lord of the Unknown, in The Nemesis of Evil: A Case from the Files of Omega (1975; vt The Nemesis of Evil 1978) and ending with Horror Wears Blue (1987), replicates the Pulp-magazine feel of Doc Savage and his cohort. Overproduction blurred Carter's image (though illness – he was a chain smoker – slowed him down considerably in later years), giving weight to the feeling that he sometimes paid inadequate attention to the quality of his products or to assuring their individuality. His work as an editor has eclipsed his own writings in importance. [JC]

see also: Atlantis; DAW Books; Sword and Sorcery.

Linwood Vrooman Carter

born St Petersburg, Florida: 9 June 1930

died Montclair, New Jersey: 7 February 1988


series (sf)

History of the Great Imperium

  • The Star Magicians (New York: Ace Books, 1966) [dos: History of the Great Imperium: pb/Jack Gaughan]
  • The Man Without a Planet (New York: Ace Books, 1966) [dos: History of the Great Imperium: pb/Michael]
  • Tower of the Medusa (New York: Ace Books, 1969) [dos: History of the Great Imperium: pb/Jeff Jones]
  • Star Rogue (New York: Lancer Books, 1970) [History of the Great Imperium: pb/]
  • Outworlder (New York: Lancer Books, 1970) [History of the Great Imperium: pb/Behan]



Prince Zarkon

series (fantasy)


Chronicles of Kylix

Gondwane Epic


The Green Star Rises


Eric Carstairs

Terra Magica


individual titles

collections and stories



works as editor


Flashing Swords

The Year's Best Fantasy

Weird Tales

  • Weird Tales #1 (New York: Zebra Books, 1980) [anth: Weird Tales: pb/Thomas Barber]
  • Weird Tales #2 (New York: Zebra Books, 1980) [anth: Weird Tales: pb/Thomas Barber]
  • Weird Tales #3 (New York: Zebra Books, 1981) [anth: Weird Tales: pb/Thomas Barber]
  • Weird Tales #4 (New York: Zebra Books, 1983) [anth: Weird Tales: pb/Thomas Barber]

individual titles

about the author


previous versions of this entry

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