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‘His Human Mind’
The Lost Valley by Robert E. Howard
This story may very likely have been inspired by John Carter of Mars, about a tough western hombre being pursued by enemies into a rocky refuge which contains a portal to another world. In this case, tough as nails John Reynolds, a man who never quits a feud, found himself face-to-face with the truth about humanity and man’s place in the Cosmos:
“…that before he died, he was to know all that which had been denied to the sons of men…that he might take the knowledge into eternity with him, and discuss these matters with those who had gone before him.”
“He had closed one door forever, but what other nightmare shapes might lurk in hidden places and the dark pits of the earth, gloating over the souls of men…his knowledge was a taint which would never let him stand clean before men again…”
In this darkly stirring yarn, the last in the book Marchers of Valhalla, which was almost entirely made up of unsold stories, Howard, in the person of feuding gunfighter John Reynolds combines H.P. Lovecraft’s trademark view of the truth as too much for the fragile human ego to withstand with his own vision of the doomed hero fighting dynamically against ghastly odds, with an ending that predicted his own.
A Well of Heroes
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