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Essay Example: The DiPietro Debacles

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You may recall earlier this year prolific POD author Francis DiPietro published a Robert E. Howard biography called Robert E. Howard: The Supreme Moment. I don’t know how it is selling, but Howard scholars were all over him for his poorly written and executed biography, largely lifted from the work of other researchers and authors. Last Friday (August 15th) he brought forth two additional attempts to “crash” into Howard fandom.

First he re-worked Howard’s “Erlik Khan” stories (a wildly diverse collection, to say the least) into a “novel” and posted it on Lulu.com. Here is the blurb for the book:

Robert E. Howard: The Devils of Erlik Khan
“The evil that is Erlik Khan stretches beyond the black gulfs of death. Come to battle it are the indomitable heroes Steve Harrison, the iron-fisted detective, Wild Bill Clanton, the fearless lusty sailor, and Francis Xavier Gordon, known far and wide as El Borak, the Swift. Thrill to their exploits in this novel-length tale, 99% written by the legendary Robert E. Howard. A new adventure is formed when 8 stories are united under the theme of the ruthless villain Erlik Khan. Contains “The Tomb’s Secret,” “Names in the Black Book,” “The Fearsome Touch of Death,” “Black Talons,” “Fangs of Gold,” “The Purple Heart of Erlik,” “Graveyard Rats” and “The Daughter of Erlik Khan.” Author of over 20 novels, Francis DiPietro has been involved with Robert E. Howard-related publishing since the mid 1990s. His studies of this important author, creator of Conan and Sword & Sorcery Fiction, span over 25 years. He is the author of the 2008 biography Robert E. Howard: The Supreme Moment. (I love the way DiPietro inflates his non-existent Howard credentials.  That in itself  is a hanging offense, in my opinion.)

After being forced to hastily pull the book due to copyright issues, DiPietro throws-up (literally) another book:

Robert E. Howard: The Battles of Sailor Steve Costigan
Sailor Steve Costigan. A tougher fighting man is not to be found in all the seven seas. Together with his trusty bulldog Mike, Costigan battles some of the meanest fighters in distant, tumultuous ports. He lives by his own code of honor, and sails aboard the rough merchant ship Sea Girl. He fights for the thrill of primal conquest and the money such bloodlust earns. Join him for 12 great adventures within! Contains the REH originals “Fist and Fang,” “Night of Battle,” “Circus Fists,” “Alleys of Peril,” “Blow the Chinks Down!,” “Dark Shanghai,” “The Sign of the Snake,” “General Ironfist,” “Sailor’s Grudge,” “Sluggers on the Beach,” “The Slugger’s Game” and “Winner Take All.” Author of over 20 novels, Francis DiPietro has been involved with REH-related publishing since the mid 1990s. He is the author of the 2008 biography Robert E. Howard: The Supreme Moment.

Soon it became apparent to DiPietro that another pesky problem had popped up since Steve Costigan is trademarked by Paradox Entertainment. Needless to say, that book soon disappeared from Lulu.com as well.

The moral to this story: stick to what you know, which in DiPietro’s case, is not much.