H'ard Starts: The Early Waldrop

H'ard Starts: The Early Waldrop

Illustration By Doug Potter
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Dust jacket illustration by Doug Potter.

Edited by George R. R. Martin and Bradley Denton.

An important note:

In order to properly celebrate the writer we all know as “Mr. National Treasure,” the editors, book designer, and publisher have produced H’ard Starts as a true labor of love—and all proceeds from the sale of the book (minus shipping and credit card/PayPal fees) will go directly to the author, the one and only Howard Waldrop. So join us in our adventure in the Wayback Machine, and grab your own copy of H’ard Starts: The Early Waldrop.  Supplies are limited, so act now, or regret it forever.

About the Book:

World Fantasy Life Achievement Award winner Howard Waldrop’s career highlights include classic stories like “Night of the Cooters,” “Mary Margaret Road-Grader,” “Heirs of the Perisphere,” the Nebula-winning “The Ugly Chickens,” and dozens of other fantastic tales that have delighted readers for over fifty years.

But where did he come from?  Did Howard Waldrop spring forth fully formed, as if from the forehead of Zeus, with his first professional story in 1972?  Or were his origins more arcane, and perhaps messier?

H’ard Starts: The Early Waldrop answers these questions with over 100,000 words that reveal the genesis of an author now considered a National Treasure—including six fanzine stories and five professional stories that have never appeared in any other collection.


Here you’ll find long-lost Waldroppian gems such as:

  • Sword-and-sorcery adventures from 1960s fanzines, plus a hardboiled alien-fighter story first published (in an edition of twenty-five copies) by a nineteen-year-old Waldrop himself…
  • Howard’s two personal essays from Crawdaddy!, his first professional sale to Analog , and previously uncollected stories of deep-space quests and time-travel tragedies...
  • Shocking reports from 1970s conventions and communes, describing twisted costume contests, magic-chili-fueled escapades, Howard’s first in-person meeting with pen-pal George R. R. Martin, and the bizarre screenplays of M.M. Moamrath…
  • And, finally, a sketch submitted to The Red Skelton Show (but rejected by CBS), two one-act plays, and a never-before-seen novelette, “Davy Crockett Shoots the Moon.”

Each of these four sections is introduced by part of a new 20,000-word interview in which Howard  reveals every secret (well, most of them) about how his career began, and spills the beans about the writers, editors, fans, and other real-or-imagined characters who were there at the start.

In short: If you’ve ever wondered how a legendary, one-of-a-kind author like Howard Waldrop emerged from the primordial soup—

H’ard Starts: The Early Waldrop is the prequel you’ve been waiting for.

Limited: 750 numbered hardcover copies, signed by Howard Waldrop, George R. R. Martin, and Bradley Denton


From Locus:

“But if the fiction offers only hints of the mas­terful career to come, the book as a whole builds a compelling portrait of the artist as a young fan with a keen desire to become a player and an already waggish sense of humor (one of the pieces, which previously appeared in a con pro­gram book, reimagines classic movies as though they were part of the Cthulhu mythos, mostly by randomly inserting apostrophes into character names). There isn’t a lot of fannish namedropping, although Waldrop’s account of finally meeting George R. R. Martin after they had been pen pals since high school is both funny and touching. Most of the other figures from the Texas fandom of a half-century ago never gained broader fame, and those who did, like the very talented Tom Reamy, are unfortunately not widely read these days (although Subterranean recently announced an edition of his collected stories). Harlan Ellison also plays a role in a few funny anecdotes, but then he always does. Waldrop’s vivid accounts of every­thing from running an overworked registration desk to late-night parties will no doubt resonate with anyone who has worked a con, however, and in the end H’ard Starts serves as a generous resource loaded with insights into one of the field’s most distinctive and enduring voices.”



Table of Contents:

The Four-Color Fanboy 

  • Interview, Part One
  • “A Lovely Witch”
  • “Well of Chaos”
  • “The Soul Catcher”
  • “Apprenticeship”
  • “The Adventure of the Countess’s Jewels”
  • “Vale Proditor!”


The Filthy Pro

  • Interview, Part Two
  • “Lunchbox”
  • “Onions, Charles Ives, and the Rock Novel”
  • “Love Comes for the YB-49”
  • “Mono No Aware”
  • “Billy Big-Eyes”
  • “Unsleeping Beauty and the Beast”
  • “My Sweet Lady Jo”


Con Man

  • Interview, Part Three
  • “The Droog in the Green Flannel Blanket”
  • “The Great AmeriCon Novel”
  • “Cthu’lablanca and Other Lost Screenplays”
  • “Chili from Yuggoth”


The Lost Waldrop

  • Interview, Part Four
  • “The Pizza” (and CBS rejection letter)
  • “Youth” (a play in one act)
  • “The Long Goodnight” (a play in one act)
  • “Davy Crockett Shoots the Moon”
Howard Waldrop
Doug Potter
360 pages