Conan stories were influential, but I hadn't read any. I'd always been curious: how could a stupid barbarian interest folks so? (Yes, yes, Conan's actually a smart barbarian; but the cliche I'm used to is stupid barbarians. Anyhow.) I bought an el-cheapo Kindle story collection. Thus I found out: These stories had some world-building behind them; but it's close enough to the real world such that you can feel smug for figuring out "Oh these 'Stygians' are basically Egyptians." I'm still not sure why these pulpy stories (more than others) influenced so many things I grew up with, but at least now I've read some of them.