I just found out this afternoon that Robert Holdstock died today after losing a battle with an E. coli infection. He had come down with the infection I believe on November 18 and was in grave condition when I first heard last week.
Holdstock is going to be remembered mostly for his novel Mythago Wood (1984). I had first read the original novella in the September 1981 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The idea blew me away with woods holding the history of the land, the deeper into the wood, the farther back in time. Mythago Wood may be the most important fantasy book of the 1980s. Holdstock could be on the difficult side to read. I have to admit that I always did not get the ideas. Steve Tompkins was a ceaseless cheerleader for Holdstock. Back in the 1990s, Steve would fly to London for a few days, buy new U.K. books and bring them back. Seems like he was always picking up David Gemmell and Robert Holdstock.
Holdstock under pseudonyms wrote some out and out sword and sorcery.
He wrote three novels in the “Berserker” series as “Chris Carlsen.” They were violent and also thought provoking. The main character went backwards in time with each incarnation. Very intriguing.
The Raven series could have been something that made Lin Carter look good. Robert Holdstock and Angus Wells wrote the series. Both Wells and Holdstock wrote the first novel. Holdstock then wrote the second and fourth while Wells wrote the third and fifth books solo. There is a moodiness present in them and level of writing that lifts the series above book creation hackery.
Holdstock could be dismissive of sword and sorcery fiction. Which is worse, someone who can write it well but does not particularly care for it or someone enthusiastic but overrates himself and his production (i.e. Lin Carter)?
I had intended to return to both Raven and the Berserker series in the next few months. May Robert Holdstock go that Mythago of his own making.