Last February, in one of his posts, Damon brought up the names of two explorers—Tom Slick and Colonel Percy Fawcett, and in that same entry he mentioned that Howard loved to include giant spiders in his stories. 

The colonel, in his book Exploration Fawcett, has a story about a ‘giant’ spider that could very easily have come from one of Howard’s yarns.  In his South American travels Fawcett had to sometimes stay in posadas—inns—and he remarks on how filthy they were.  “They were dreadful places, incredibly dirty, cruelly cold, and devoid of any vestige of sanitation,” and he then spins a chilling tale of what happened in one of these inns, which was located “where the outermost fringes of the forest reach up into the mountains.”  He states that he’d heard stories of travelers checking in to stay the night only to be found dead in the morning, one after another, “their bodies black from the action of some horrible poison.”  The authorities are called and they discover “in the thatched roof of the room a huge apazauca spider—a sort of black tarantula so large that a plate would scarcely cover it.  This monster lowered itself down at night on the sleeper beneath, and its bite meant death.”  

At another time in his travels the colonel was getting into his bed and he felt something big, hairy and repulsive run along his arm and he hurriedly tried to shake this creature off—it was similar to the killer in the inn—and it evidently took some doing before the thing finally dropped free and then scuttled away into the darkness.  Luckily Fawcett was somehow not bitten. 

I’m not a fan of spiders; hate them so much it can turn into a personal battle between them and my shoe, and being a “city-boy” about the biggest one I’ve ever seen was a barn spider, and trust me, that was big enough.  I’d hate to try and stomp on one of those spiders mentioned by Fawcett though—those bastards sound like they’d be big enough to take my shoe off and stomp me.

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 8th, 2011 at 12:39 pm and is filed under Howard's Fiction. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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3 Comments(+Add)

1   Richard    
May 9th, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Brian-I found out about this too by Damon. It’s a terrific story about Percy Fawcett, his son, and his son’s best friend disappearing in the jungles of the Amazon. Those spiders, insects, etc. were terrible but the most hideous creature to me is the thing that swims under the water that attacks the body. The book is a page turner by David Grann and one of my favorites of all time, other than Bob’s. David Grann’s other book Sherlock Holmes and other stories is terrific, too. Thank you. v/r Richard

2   Brian Leno    
May 9th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Hey Richard, I will be buying David Grann’s other book very soon. I’ve been reading about Fawcett and explorers like George Mallory and Robert Falcon Scott since I was in Junior High School and it is some of the best reading I’ve ever done. Howard’s heroes in the flesh. Thanks for the comment. Brian

3   Richard    
May 12th, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Brian:) I subscribe to National Geographic amd there was a recent story on Hiram Bingham and the search for Machu Picchu so I bought the book Cradle of Gold by Chistopher Heaney. It’s a page turner as Grann’s book. Hiram is a real-life Indiana Jones. There are some good pictures, too.

In Grann’s other book that’s a page turner all stories are true except the first one. My favorite story is the one about the search for the giant squid.

Thanks again for the article. v/r Richard

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