Cover art by Alan Hunter
Interior art by divers hands, lifted from the 1873 National Encyclopedia
This will be the first issue produced with my new Pentium computer using a laser printer - faster and sharper, but the font selection from this old typesetter is more limited than what I had for the dot-matrix.
Cthulhu Music from Philip Marsh (Box 85, Lehigh Acres FL 33970-0085) - $10 postpaid, check or MO. I first saw this mentioned in Ken Faig's EOD zine. A standard 60-minute cassette of pleasantly weird music. The second side has some popular tunes adapted to Mythos themes. Marsh also offers a zine, a Mythos novel, and a monograph about the psycholinguistics of the R'lyehian language.
Missee Lee by Arthur Ransome, Macmillan, New York 1942,
321pp, 25 illus. in line by the author.
An old library binding (but with the original cover art) of one of the Swallows & Amazons books. This one has to do with pirates in the South China Seas.
The Scribe's Family by Don Jacobson, Hypatia Press (Box
512), Balboa (CA) 1997, 328pp, maps, appendices, $22.
A review-copy sticker on the front end-page says that publication is September 1998, so this is hot off the press. A curious sort of novel that covers 5 millenia, 10 eras, and 10 civilizations. A beautifully made book, but the writing seems clumsy to me and I was not drawn to read much of it.
George A. Vanderburgh (email@example.com) at the Battered Silicon Dispatch Box (Box 204, 420 Owen Sound Street, Shelburne Ontario L0N 1S0, Canada) sends a catalog of his numerous Sherlock Holmes and August Derleth books - some of which are also available as hypertext files.
Lee & Grayce Nash at Aslan Books send a fancy catalog as colporteurs of books by C. S. Lewis, his friends, and Americans of kindred spirit from 191 Dogwood Drive, Dundee Oregon 97115 (Lnash@georgefox.edu).
The Final War by Dr David H. Keller, Perri Press, Portland
(Oregon) 1949, 21pp, 10 b&w plates by divers hands.
I have only a xerox of this booklet, kindly provided by Ben Indick from his autographed copy. The ten illos were the interiors to IGOTS 18, from the postcards. Ben notes that the text was done by mimeograph. In the foreword, Dr. Keller claims that writing a text to fit existing illustrations is a new idea - he should have known better. Lord Dunsany wrote The Book of Wonder to fit existing Sidney Sime artwork. But Keller may be the only one ever to write a tale to fit ten pieces of artwork by ten different artists!
Dr. Keller's story, very loosely based in the Cthulhu mythos, is about as good as could be written to such disparate illustrations - here Cthulhu lives on Saturn, and tries several strategies to conquer the Earth.
Apparently the fame of IGOTS has spread far and wide - the "one
and only matchmaker" Orly, who caters to "upscale, professional,
single" men and women through her V.I.P. Upscale Matchmaking
International World Headquarters in Beverly Hills, sends a
copy of her `actual size' ad that she wants me to run in my
It's a 1/3-page vertical column - I'd be tempted to run it if I had any idea what to charge her!
Disputations on Art, Anarchy and Assholism by Stewart Home
and `Friends', Sabotage Editions, London 1997, 60pp, wraps, 3.75.
The price is in pounds. Dale Spiers sent me this peculiar contribution to English literature without saying whether he considers me an artist, an anarchist, or... But never mind, all contributions gratefully accepted - especially since the local sources seem to be running dry.
The only art (in the graphic sense) in this booklet is the uncredited cover illo, a reprint of a mysterious medieval scene showing the sun, moon and stars rushing across the sky in a band, while below a man wearing a crown sits on his throne, surrounded by ten men with clubs who seem intent on bashing his brains out. There is a numeral `8' in the upper lefthand corner - perhaps this is just a fragment of some ancient political cartoon. The content of the book is even more mysterious. It seems to be a sort of colloquium between Stewart Home, an art critic, and a number of people who disagree with him. They are all quite rude, but since I never heard of any of the artists mentioned and no examples are presented, it is impossible for the uninformed reader such as myself to know what the fuss is about.
Dale Speirs also incloses with this a xerox of a page from an Oct'96 Linn's Stamp News, with an article about the conviction of Nigerian Charles Nnabuife for mail fraud - as far as I can make out, he and similar shady operators swindle US firms out of $250 million per year with letters similar to the one I received as Purple Mouth Press. Robert Whitaker Sirignano, who works for the USPS, writes that the Nigerian scam letters arrive at his station in mass mailing bundles of 50-100 a day!
Everybody's Political What's What? by George Bernard Shaw,
Dodd,Mead, New York 1944, 380pp, index.
I found this in a flea market for 50 cents and could not resist adding it to the pile - the first chapter is Is Human Nature Incurably Depraved? Shaw seems to come down on the Yes side of this question, and in fact proves his devotion to it in later chapters by approving capital punishment and even recommending the restoration of the Inquisition.
The Woman and the Whale by Delmar Molarsky, Little,Brown,
Boston 1959, 248pp, illustrated by William Barss.
I bought this because I like the artwork. It seems to take place on an island called Minomita, said to be in the Meditarranean 125 kilometers south of Mallorca and 250 kilometers west of the Spanish port of Alicante. Since Alicante is on the east coast of Spain, and the island of Mallorca east of that, the location given for Minomita is impossible. If the direction from Alicante is reversed so as to reach a spot in the ocean south of Mallorca, there are no islands there at all according to my atlas. Minomita is supposedly inhabited by the survivors of the wreck of a sailing ship there in the late 1700s. Aha - it is a class warfare story, set in a mythical island because Franco was still dictator of Spain at the time. Not a lost race novel, however, as the fish caught there are sent to Spain and the oppresive governor's children get Valencian oranges, while the rest of the children on the island suffer from scurvy for lack of fresh fruit.
Woman Alive by Susan Ertz, Appleton-Century, New York
1936, 219pp, 6 b&w plates by Bip Pares, $2.
This book still has the maroon, black, and silver d/w of the `4th large printing' proclaimed on the front, and a full-page review by Charles Hanson Towne on the back of the d/w. The binding is hideous - white rectangles and triangles are cut into the maroon cloth and edged with black to form the barely legible letters of the title and the author's name.
Vinc Clarke sent xeroxes of some of the rather abstract art-deco plates, reminding me that I have had the book for a long time and never read it. It was serialized before book publication as One Woman Alive, and is a novel based the idea of a war where all but one woman are wiped out by germ warfare - the concept of a gender-specific plague was more of a fantasy in 1936 than it would be now. The narrator sees the story through the powers of a mentalist who can let him look 50 years into his future - April 15, 1985.
Ertz' England of 1985 is a paradise. All of the pollution of the Industrial Revolution has been controlled, and the streets of London are paved in green rubber. People get about by subway and airplane, and the government officials come and go by helicopter. Stella Morrow, the one woman who survives, had been previously treated by a mad doctor with a red dye and a mysterious ray which rendered her immune to all disease.
Stella is made Queen of England, marries the hero, and saves the human race from extinction - most of the conversation on the way is a vehicle for social commentary. None of the characters come to life for me, though the style of the narrative is easy to read.
Hilltop Press - a catalogue from Steve Sneyd (4 Nowell
Place, Almondbury, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire HD5 8PB,
England) with two very good pages on sources of sf verse. There
is a California address for US orders - A. Marsden at NSFA,
31192 Paseo Amapola, San Juan Capistrano CA 92675-2227 - and a
website, www.syspace.co.uk/bbr/nsfa-cat.html. Nice artwork
on the covers shown!
Later Steve sent his excellent booklet on poetry in the UK fanzines 1930-50, Laying Siege to Tomorrow, also available from the California address for $6.
Ghu only knows if it will do any good to know this by the time this issue appears, but Pomander Books (211 West 92nd St., Box 30, New York NY 10025) in October offered Edward Gorey Christmas cards at $15 the box of 12 (with envelopes) plus $3 shipping (the $3 would cover shipping 2 boxes). There are 6 different designs, 4 in b&w and 2 in color - but only one design per box. As a service to the readers (and because I am a Gorey nut myself), I got all six and will re-arrange the cards to make six sets, each set with two of each design, and provide four of these sets to whoever wants one at the same price, $15 plus $3 shipping.
Ray Lafferty's copy of #18 came back (after 2 months!) marked Unable to Forward / Return to Sender. Anybody know what's going on here?
PDW Books (3721 Minnehaha Ave. S) in Minneapolis sends a catalog with a lot of material by HPL and associated writers - PDW@visi.com.
Bad Ronald by John Holbrook Vance, Ballantine, New York
1973, 217pp, wraps, $1.25.
This is the name Jack Vance uses for his mainstream novels. I got this from a store called Grave Matters by way of bibliofind.com and will send it on to Tom Cockcroft now that I have read it.
This mass-market pb has badly done photo covers. It is the grotesque tale of a serial killer who might have been a fan - his hobby is an obsessively detailed description of a fantasy world called Atranta, where the characters have names much like those found in Vance's own fantasy novels. And Ronald's interior dialog is written in that very distinctive style that is a Vance trademark. Whether Ronald Wilby is bad depends on your point of view - he appears to have no conscience or empathy. It is hard to tell from the story whether this is a congenital deficiency or the result of his upbringing.
Interesting to speculate whether Ronald represents Vance's opinion of obsessive fans or is a glimpse of a dark corner of his own psyche - perhaps both.
Ghor Kin-slayer by Robert E. Howard / Karl Edward Wagner /
Joseph Payne Brennan / Richard L. Tierney / Michael Moorcock /
Charles R. Sanders / andrew j. offutt / Manly Wade Wellman /
Darrell Schweitzer / A. E. Van Vogt / Brian Lumley / Frank
Belknap Long / Adrian Cole / Ramsey Campbell / H. Warner Munn /
Marion Zimmer Bradley / Richard A. Lupoff, Necronomicon Press,
West Warwick (RI) 1997, 176pp, wraps, $8.95.
Each of the 17 authors contributed a chapter, in the order listed - and they did a pretty good job sticking to the Howard style, the book reads quite smoothly. A note by the publishers gives a history of the text - the first chapter was found in Howard's papers, and Jonathan Bacon lined up the rest of the writers and published the first 12 chapters in his fanzine Fantasy Crossroads between 1977 and 1979. Then he stopped publishing (no details are given) and apparently dropped out of sight. But he had send a complete manuscript to Glenn Lord, so the entire saga finally appeared.
This is a gruesome, bloody tale, set in the world Howard created for Conan and Kull. The hero, raised by wolves, consorts with demons and gods and slays someone (always with good reason) at every turn, including his father, his mother, and his three brothers - I kept thinking how much Horrible Hank Reinhardt would like this story. He finally becomes a werewolf voluntarily in order to save his girlfriend and the world and restore the balance between Order and Chaos.
Avallaunius 17 is the latest issue of the journal of the Arthur Machen Society - like 16, it is in the form of a small hardcover book, bound in gold-stamped maroon cloth - Ray Russell has been doing them this way since he took over as editor. The Society now has an excellent website run by Dr. Adrian Eckersley - www.machensoc.demon.co.uk. Also in the same envelope was the Society Newsletter, The Silurist.
Diane Fox sent a wonderful package of five books from Down Under:
Cobwebwalking by Sara Banerji, Victor Gollancz, London
This is the author's first novel, a short fantasy reminiscent of De La Mare's Memoirs of a Midget - a considerably greater fantasy element here than I remember from that book, however. I read this right through and enjoyed it very much.
Stampede of the Lower Gods by Deborah Edwards, Art Gallery
of New South Wales, Sydney 1989, 70pp, heavily illustrated in
color and b&w, notes, catalog, wraps.
This is a look at an exhibit of a 100 or so paintings, drawings and sculptures called Classical Mythology in Australian Art 1890s-1930s, and so of course includes a great deal of Norman Lindsay artwork. There were many other artists working in the same field there, however. The title and cover art is from a high relief sculpture by Rayner Hoff, a wonderful complex tangle of demons and monsters. And there is a painting by Mervyn Napier Waller, somewhat in the style of Maxfield Parrish, of the Bartilidians - this is described by the curator as "highly mysterious", perhaps because she didn't know (any more than I do) where Bartilidia is.
The Jumping Jeweler of Lavender Bay by Hugh Atkinson,
Viking/Penguin 1992, 209pp, illustrated by Bruce Goold,
I like the b&w cover art better than the color interiors. I haven't read this yet, but the title is great! It seems to be based on a 1972 film which in turn was based on a 1962 short story by the same author.
The Burlesque of Frankenstein by George Isaacs, Graham
Stone, Sydney 1989, 30pp.
This curious little book, nicely bound in green cloth boards with a gold-stamped maroon spine, is a facsimile reprint from 1865 of a play that was meant for production in Adelaide in 1963 but never actually given - I do not understand the author's explanation. The play itself, however, is delightfully loony. By p.7 the Monster is singing "My ma's not apparent..." (all the puns are in italics). In the end Frankenstein casts the Monster into Hell to a chorus from the remaining cast -
Down, down, below, and say I sent you thither. Eliz. Vanish - Alph. Skedaddle - Alf. Vamos - Car. Mizzle - Joe Slither.
Wish by Peter Goldsworthy, Angus & Robertson 1995,
300pp, wraps, 17.95.
The protagonist teaches an ape sign language and then has an affair with, uh, her... I don't know enough to tell which sign language system this is. There is a glossary in the back and the sign labeled rude is certainly well known the world over - in college in the late 50s we referred to it for some reason as `the bird'.
Fantasy & Science Fiction is a digest-size prozine that started in 1949 as The Magazine of Fantasy and then became The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Recently they changed the title again by dropping "The Magazine of". Back in the 60s they offered a Lifetime Subscription for $50, and I have never regreted getting one. I have a complete run of this zine. They have had several editors - Anthony Boucher, Avram Davidson, Robert Mills, Ed Ferman (also the publisher), Kristine Rusch - and now Gordon Van Gelder has taken it on. It never seemed to me that the quality of the stories varied a great deal with the editor, and it's hard to say how long it takes for one editor to change things much from the last, but I must say that the last few issues have been excellent. The December 1997 issue seemed particularly good. Long may it wave!
Remember the Unity School of Christianity that published an odd
sf novel by Gardner Hunting, The Vicarion, in 1926? I see
from the d/w of what must be the 2nd edition that it got a good
review in the Saturday Review of Literature and another
from The Bookman ("...as good as Don Quijote and not
nearly so long..."). Well, they are still around - but
unfortunately they have fallen to publishing psychobabble, of
which they have sent me the following anthological lump -
New Thought for a New Millenium, ed. Michael A. Maday, Unity Books (1901 NW Blue Parkway), Unity Village (MO) 1998, 215pp, wraps, $19.95.
This is subtitled Twelve Powers for the 21st Century, and sure enough, they found 12 people to provide matching babbling. I never heard of any of them. Fancy typesetting, but the Notes to Chapters 4-9 are missing. And what is The Peshitta? They quote from it, but don't explain it. Not that any of this verbiage is likely to be of any use! Of the making of many books there is no end...
A Journey To The Earth's Interior by Marshall B. Gardner,
Aurora (IL) 1920, 456pp, illus. sketches and photos,
A peculiar item found at the local thrift shop - no reprint publisher or date or price is given, and yet it is obvious from the paper and binding that this is not the 1920 edition but a much more recent production. The previous owner wrote her name and a date (1988) on the fly.
In spite of the title, this is neither a fantasy novel nor a travelogue, but a long, turgid argument that the Earth is hollow and that the inside, lit by a central sun, can be reached through openings at the poles. The first illustration is a photograph of the author, who looks quite mad.
The text seems to have been reset (rather than reprinted by facsimile). On p.153, there is a heading referring to Hubivorous Bears, while the following text refers only to herbivorous bears - an indication, perhaps, that the original text was scanned into a computer for typesetting and not all the OCR errors corrected.
Mr. Gardner does at least realize that there is a problem in his argument because of the gravitational field of the Earth - if it is hollow, the remaining substance would have to be much denser to get the same surface field strength. But his remarks show that he doesn't really grasp the difference between weight and mass. He does realize that the orbital balance between the Earth and the Moon depends on their relative mass, and so concludes that the Moon must be hollow as well!. I don't think he addresses the structural problem - an Earth with the interior void 5800 miles in diameter shown in his Working Model (Patent 1096102, 1914) could not come into existence because the materials are not stiff enough to support the load. Dr. Asimov wrote in one of his columns that the Earth is more like a liquid than a solid in the relation between the gravitational loads and the stiffness of the material.
The Place Called Dagon by Herbert Gorman, George H. Doran
Co., NY 1927, 315pp.
Years ago another collector learned that I had a copy of this novel and used to nag me to sell it to him. Even then I couldn't remember where I got it, and I always told him I hadn't read it yet. I was reminded of it recently by references to an Ed Gorman and finally got it down off the shelf and read it.
While similar to several Lovecraft tales in subject and locale, this book is not nearly as well written - Gorman is overly verbose, and insists on repeating rather poor poetic images. He aspires to Poe but winds up with pulp - the beginning of the novel looks like eldritch tragedy, but in the end it is only a pulp romance. Gorman does manage a couple of pretty good villains, but his hero is a feckless wimp, and the love interest a mere cardboard cutout of a character with "...eyes like wet violets, a soaked blue so deep as to be astonishing" - a sodden phrase repeated word-for-word at least a half-dozen times before the thing is over with. And it is never made clear why a place should be called Dagon - my recollection is that Dagon was the name of a Phoenician fish god.
Apparently someone liked Gorman - this is only one of a half-dozen or so novels he published, and he also produced books about Hawthorne, Joyce, and Longfellow. Looking at bibliofind.com on the Net, I see that while his scholarly tomes and historical novels are available at quite moderate prices, there is no mention of this book at all, even though much worse old skiffy novels have been reprinted.
One effect of the widespread use of computers is that errors propagate further and faster - I just got a letter to "Beroaldus Cosmopolita, c/o I.T.Goes On The Shelf" inviting that mysterious person to be in the next edition of Strathmore's Who's Who, as they believe his "...accomplishments, as a highly respected professional in your field, merit very earnest and intense consideration for inclusion".
Roger Dobson writes of a fund to put a plaque commemorating writer M. R. James in the church at Great Livermere - James grew up in the rectory there. Donations in $US can be sent to The Ghost Story Society (POBox 1360, Ashcroft, BC V0K 1A0, Canada).
The Cats of Seroster by Robert Westall, Greenwillow Books,
New York 1984, 306pp, $12.50.
Those of you who were paying attention may remember from IGOTS 16 the mention of a 1966 fantasy called The Star of Les Baux by Jean Severin (translated from the French), based on the historical 14th-century kingdom of Les Baux (a part of modern Provence). Well, here is another fantasy set in the same medieval kingdom - it opens with the gruesome murder of the Duke of Les Baux by his bouteiller (a household servant, note resemblance of the word to butler), who was carving the roast but had joined a conspiracy to carve the Duke instead.
But this is a rather odd version of medieval Europe - telepathic golden cats (about twice the size of a normal felis domesticus) with an ancient Egyptian theology believe themselves the true masters of the world. The protagonists are the Duke's only son, the leader of the cats, and a human genius trying to avoid being burnt as a wizard. Pretty well written too.
Friends of Arthur Machen (c/o R B Russell, 5 Birch Terrace, Hangingbirch Lane, Horam, East Sussex, TN21 0PA) is a new society born of the dissention among members of the existing Arthur Machen Society (see under Rita Tait, below in the WAHFs). But note that the recent issues of the Society publications have been done (and beautifully) by Ray Russell... I am not about to involve myself in an incomprehensible squabble among people I never met. The dues of the new society are 15 pounds a year or $35 for people in the US.
Americana Esoterica, divers hands, Macy-Masius, n.p. 1927,
299pp, illus. Rockwell Kent.
Beautifully bound in maroon cloth and not looking at all as though it were 70 years old - said to be `privately printed' and limited to 3000 copies, but this copy is missing the copy number. There is an introduction by Carl Van Doren entitled "Republic into Empire". The first poem is by George Sterling, but of the rest I recognize only the name Djuna Barnes. A story by a John Cournos is set in Pentonville, which is a London suburb where Arthur Machen and A. E. Waite would go looking for books.
The Unicorn of Kilimajaro by Robert Vavra, Morrow, New
York 1988, 216pp, illustrated with color photos and sketches,
A large book, about 10x11. The best photos of the unicorn were taken in the Liota Hills and along the Nguruman Escarpment. Includes an interview with Ernest Hemingway, who told the author that there was a unicorn on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Excellent pencil sketch of a fight between a lion and a unicorn.
The God Game by Gerald Suster, New English Library /
Hodder & Stoughton, 1997, 373pp, 5.99.
A British mass-market pb based on Arthur Machen's The Three Imposters and less confusing (though not, of course, as well written). But I did enjoy it, thanks to Mike Don's Dreamberry Wine.
Birth of an Age by James BeauSeigneur, Selective House
(Box 10095, Gaithersburg MD), Rockville (MD), 1997, 241pp,
The is the second volume of the "Christ Clone Trilogy" (the first, In His Image, was mentioned in a previous IGOTS). A review copy of a nicely made trade pb. Has a map showing the path of an asteroid over the Western Hemisphere. Alas, I have never gotten through the first volume of this opus... There is now a website: www.selectivehouse.com.
Rhythms of Vision by Lawrence Blair, Schocken, New York
1976, 234pp, notes, bibliography, index, illustrated.
I found this in a Goodwill in Atlanta where my sister volunteers at the book sorting and I go with her when I am in town. It would have gone in the category they call "Eastern and New Age Religion" - they let the volunteers have the occasional book cheap after they inspect it. I think this one was worth about what I paid for it, though at first glance it seemed a cut above the usual psychobabble.
Moonchild by Aleister Crowley, Weiser, York Beach (ME)
1994, 335pp, $11.95.
But I got this trade pb for a dollar or two at the local thrift. I had a copy of the old hardcover once, but sold it with the rest of my Crowley collection some years ago. Perhaps I will read it again sometime. Later found another copy of this edition, in case anyone else wants one.
The Kryptonite Kid by Joseph Torchia, Holt Rinehart
Winston, New York 1979, 184pp, $7.95.
A novel in the form of a correspondence with Superman. I have not yet read it.
The Realm of Prester John by Robert Silverberg, Ohio Univ.
Press, Athens (OH) 1996, maps, contemporary illos, bibliography,
The price of this trade pb does not appear, but I got it from amazon.com for about the same price as Ed Meskys paid for the copy we found in Gloucester when he was here in December. It was originally published by Doubleday in 1972. I read it over the Christmas holidays and enjoyed it very much. Silverberg traces the Prester John legend from 12th to 15th century Europe, with a long section on early European contact with Ethiopia, whose emperor was called Prester John - much to his confusion. I would like to read Silverberg's other book on the period, Bruce of the Blue Nile. The Ethiopians of the 15th century exacted tribute from Egypt with a threat that they could divert the Nile into the Red Sea, thus ruining the agricultural use of the Nile delta!
The Wooings of Jezebel Pettyfer by Haldane Macfall, Knopf,
London 1926, 369pp.
Odd that the place of publication is given as London, when a notice on the back of the title page says that the book was printed in the US. I looked this book up because a recent catalog from Mythos Books (David Wynn, 218 Hickory Meadow Lane, Poplar Bluff MO 63901-2160, who has the good taste to stock some of my books) lists The House of the Sorcerer by Macfall (or is it MacFall? In all-caps I can't tell) as the US 1st edition (Badger, Boston 1900) and says it was `suppressed' and then reprinted under the new title - 26 years later.
Curious as to why it should have been suppressed (banned in Boston?), I tried to read the reprint, which I had gotten somewhere long ago, perhaps because of the odd title, perhaps because it has a chapter called In the House of the Sorcerer. It is set in Barbados - perhaps contemporary to the original 1900 publication, as there seems to be no technology more advanced than a sewing-machine - with very flowery prose and all the dialog in thick dialect. But after I managed to wade through that, the plot began to remind me of the recent comment about the TV sitcom Seinfeld, that it was "about nothing". The Jezebel of the reprint title is the girlfriend of the hero, Jehu Sennacherib Dyle, nicknamed Masheen. Typical of the antics of Masheen is the way he loses his first job, as a butler to a puisne judge - he digs up the body of an old black dog that had been a family pet, in order to render its fat for supposed magical properties, and is caught at the rendering by the mistress of the house.
I gave up on this farrago and tried an adjacent Haldane Macfall title, The Three Students (Knopf, NY 1926) - the prose is just as flowery, but, as it is set in ancient Persia, the attempt at dialect is much less distracting. This is a fantasy where Omar Khayyam, celebrating graduation from something like what we would call college, becomes involved in a pact with the devil.
Hard to tell where historical fiction leaves off and fantasy begins. There is no question that there is a fantasy element - when the spell works better than expected and a demon does appear, Omar attacks it with his sword - and the blade melts. The pact links the fortunes of Omar, his girlfriend Leela (called Saki), his friend Aboo Ali, and the villain of the piece, Hassan Sabbah, a fellow student who, in the course of the tale, becomes the Old Man of the Mountains, chief of the hasheesh-driven fanatic Assassins. This all takes place during the period when the entire area now called the Middle East was ruled by the Seljuk Turks. Sure enough, according to Webster's Biographical Dictionary, Omar Khayyam (d.1123), who was a an astronomer as well as a poet, reformed the calendar in 1079 for Sultan Malik Khan, the last and greatest of the Seljuk dynasty, an event mentioned in the novel.
An excellent tale, once you get used to the language. The character of Omar is very much as shown in the Rubiayat, which is often quoted from (though of course in the Fitzgerald translation). An interesting sidelight is that the Turks, to appease the fanatical Moslem clerics of the period, attempted to suppress the old Persian religion Zoroastrianism by turning all of their temple into taverns - alcohol, though anathema to the Moslems was not forbidden. So (in this novel anyway), the Zoroastrian underground worships in the taverns after hours! Omar - as any reader of the Rubiayat might expect - is not conventionally religious at all, and high enough in the favor of the Sultans not to have to pay too much lip service to the Moslem clerics. The novel covers the lifetimes of the four main characters, ending with the death of Hassan at the hands of Saki's granddaughter - she strangles him with her hair. I see that Hassan is also in the Biographical Dictionary, and it has him as dying only a year after Omar.
The Lovecraft Tarot by David Wynn, illustrated by D. L.
Hutchinson, Mythos Books, Poplar Bluff (MO) 1997, 77 cards plus
a 10-page booklet, boxed, limited to 100 copies, $29.95.
The Mythos Books catalog (see address above) attempts to cover all things Lovecraftian, and now Wynn has created this item. The cards are monochrome green on slick card, about 4x5.5 inches, and the booklet gives instructions for actual use. Wynn claims that three printers turned him down and one of them actually fainted on seeing the artwork. I didn't find it quite that effective, but Hutchinson is an excellent weird artist.
The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert W. Service, Louise
Lieber 1968, 32pp, illustrated by Louise Lieber.
The edition of the famous poem was hand-lettered (with some errors), probably by the artist, for her father, who then had it printed and bound in enough copies to use as Christmas gifts, as a Christmas card about it is inclosed. My sister found it at a Goodwill in Atlanta where she volunteers at the book-sort - I have gone with her a few times. The artwork is not at all bad.
The Gas We Pass The Story of Farts by Shinta Cho
(translated into English by Amanda Mayer Stinchecum),
Kane/Miller, Brooklyn, New York, & LaJolla 1994, 30pp, illus in
My sister gave me this book, which was originally published in Japan in 1978. It is in the format of a book for young children, both as to the binding and the style of the artwork. The name of the translator seems a bit suspect... The minimal text is mostly in words of one syllable, and includes statistical data as to the volume of the average fart - about half a cup per fart or half a quart per day, and brief lists of which foods produce the worst odors.
Sir Valdemar The Ganger A Tale of the Days of King Haco
by Josephine Fotheringhame, Sampson Low / Young Australia
Office, Sydney 1905, 188pp, illus in line or wash by D. H. Souter.
The binding says Sampson Low (a well-known London publisher) but the title page carries the other publisher. The book was printed in Edinburgh, which was very common in British books at the time. The green binding is illustrated and stamped in gold, black, and tan.
But who was King Haco? Apparently he was "King of the Isles", meaning those off the coast of Scotland, in some unspecified remote past - there are witches and a wizard and assorted Norsemen and Picts. The artwork is well-designed but crude in the details.
Elsie Venner A Romance of Destiny by Oliver Wendell
Holmes, Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1884 (rep. from 1861), 596pp.
This novel is by the elder Oliver Wendell Holmes - his son of the same name served on the Supreme Court. I came across a reference to it recently indicating that it is a fantasy, but whether I will ever get through the verbiage fashionable at the time is another matter. It is well-written, though with some attempts at New England dialect.
Passing Strange True Tales of New England Haunting and
Horrors ed. by Joseph A. Citro, Chapters, Shelburne (VT) 1996,
320pp, bibliography, index, illustrated by David Diaz, $19.95.
An attractive collection of lesser known tales - the editor mentions the possible influence of the region on the works of Hawthorne, H. P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King. The first tale is very strange indeed, the haunting of a mid-1800s parsonage by something that was able to assemble and position life-size dummies in an hour or so without being detected.
Three Children's Novels by Cristopher Pearse Cranch, Univ.
of Georgia Press, Athens (GA) and London 1993, xxxix/153pp,
illus in b&w by the author.
A nicely-made book, but the price only decipherable if one had a bar-code reader to apply to the back of the d/w. The first two of these novels, The Last of the Huggermuggers and its sequel Kobboltozo were in print through the latter half of the 19th century, but the third, The Legend of Dr.Theophilus, remained in manuscript until resurrected for this book. Huggermuggers were giants - about 6 times ordinary human scale, and there is also a witch. The third novel seems more of a satire, set in a town that is in a perpetual fog, both physically and mentally.
Black Wine by Candas Jane Dorsey, Tor, New York 1997,
I found this fantasy well-written and interesting in parts, but the overall plot seems to wander aimlessly and I never finished it. Nicely typeset, and with a beautiful d/w.
Snail by Richard Miller, Holt Rinehart Winston, New York
1984, 294pp, $16.95.
A time-travel fantasy based on the legend of the Wandering Jew. Kilgore Trout is also a character, with acknowledgement to Kurt Vonnegut.
The Skiffy Calendar for 1998 appeared late in January from Dick and Leah Smith of Stet fame (rhes and firstname.lastname@example.org) - great job with art by Alan Hunter and Terry Jeeves. Except that they left DeepSouthCon off - what do them Dam'Yankees know... Today is January 27, and the calendar commemorates the birth of Lewis Carroll (1832) and the Apollo 1 fire in 1967.
Red Menace Comics sends a review copy of their comic Kansas Thunder #1 ($2.95) - the five stories do seem to be mostly sf or fantasy, and generally interesting. The art does not excite me, but I know almost nothing about the field. Address 222 Route 9W Suite 1255, Haverstraw NY 10927.
The Shell of Sense by Olivia Howard Dunbar (ed. by Jessica
Amanda Salmonson), Richard Fawcett (61 Teecomwas Dr), Uncasville
CT 1997, 130pp, illus in b&w by Wendy Wees, d/w, limited to 400
A well-made cloth-bound book but with neither price nor ISBN given. I only noted one typesetting glitch, which is exceeding rare these days. I got it from Jessica (Violet Books, Box 20610, Seattle WA 98102) and it is signed by her and the illustrator and the designer, but I forget what it cost. The author (1873-1953) published these four tales and an essay on ghost stories in magazines before WWI and only one was ever anthologized.
Of the four stories, I much prefer the first, The Long Chamber, which might almost have been written by Tanith Lee. The other three are a bit more Victorian.
Fairyland by Paul J. McAuley, Avon, New York 1995, 420pp,
A generally well-written novel set in one of the ghastly cyberpunk futures that none of the characters seem to have much hope of living in with any joy or comfort. The `fairies' are android slaves, made to do the dirty work of society, that have been given a sort of consciousness and liberated by a scientific genius. Neither her motivation nor that of any of the other characters is ever very clear. The plot wanders pretty badly, though the scenery is interesting if horrifying. The resolution is not particularly satisfying. The unifying character - hard to call him a hero - is a fat man named Alex Sharkey who has a talent for nano-genetics. The most annoying thing is a sequence on p.227 where a ninja named Katrina knocks an attacker off the top of the cab she is driving by throwing the switch that connects the battery to the bodywork. Just how this is supposed to have the spectacular effect of a blue flash which causes the attacker to roll off into the road unhurt? Which side of the battery is connected to the bodywork? How is the circuit completed? Bah...
Closed All Night by Paul Morand, Guy Chapman, London 1925,
Translated, it says, from the French Ferme' La Nuit, by G.B.C., C.B.P. and H.M. - I don't see that they had anything to be ashamed of. Perhaps the initials meant something to readers of the time. There are four stories, of which I have read the first two - The Night at Portofino-Kulm seems to be about a demented Irish writer named J. P. O'Patah and his unlikely adventures in New York; while the second is about a German baron named Egon von Strachwitz who advertised he was going to jump from the Eiffel Tower but didn't.
There is no trace of the translation from French that I can see, but unless something was lost in translation it made little sense in the original. The book is not in very good shape, but then I didn't pay much for it... I was attracted to it by the device on the front cover, a nude sitting on an enormous (in her scale) skull. I see from the Webster's Biographical Dictionary of 1963 that Morand was a French diplomat and writer born in 1888 (and apparently still living in 1963) noted for his stories of post-war (WWI) cosmopolitan Europe.
The Trial of Elizabeth Cree by Peter Ackroyd, Doubleday
This is a fascinating historical novel, but I don't know where the history leaves off and the fiction begins. It concerns a serial killer in the Limehouse district of London in the 1880s, and one of the main characters is the music-hall clown Dan Leno. I know he is historical, because I have a book about him - he seemed to have had an excess of chin like the contemporary clown Jay Leno, but in this novel at any rate it is said that Leno was just a stage name.
There is more than one murderer here, and all quite mad. The tabloids of the time called the killer a golem, apparently without the writers or their readers having any real idea of the original legend. But the story provides a wonderful look into the lost age that ours grew out of - George Gissing is a character in it, and Bernard Shaw, and Karl Marx.
Canape' Vert by Pierre & Philippe Thoby-Marcelin,
translated by Edward Larocque Tinker, Farrar
& Rinehart, New York 1944, 225pp, illus by translator, $2.50.
I found the introduction, with its excellent account of Haitian history and society, more interesting than the novel itself. According to the Thoby-Marcelin brothers, the Haitian revolution - the first to outlaw slavery (30 years before England and 50 years before the US) - was caused by the greed of the planters. Finding that the aborigine Caribs were too easily worked to death, they began to import African slaves - at the suggestion of a priest, Padre Bartolome de la Casas. The Congo people of the Gold Coast were docile, but in their need for more slaves they began to import slaves from the warrior tribes of the African interior. These are the people who, under Toussaint L'Overtoure and Henri Christophe, threw off the yoke of slavery - or of the 18th century form of it anyway. In our century - but after the publication of this book - they fell under the dictatorship of people like the Duvaliers.
The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, Baen Books, New York
n.d., 181pp, BCed.
I ordered this book-club edition over the Net because I wanted to read (or reread - it seemed vaguely familiar) the story before seeing the German (but English-language) video version that I have gotten for the DeepSouthCon in Birmingham in June. The copyright is 1960 by Street & Smith, so it must be a reprint from Astounding - yes, it was 3-part serial in July-September of that year.
Red Ike by J. M. Denwood and S. Fowler Wright, Hutchinson,
London n.d., 288pp, 2 shillings.
A sort of old British BCed, No.20 in the Book Lover's Library, that I bought long ago just because S. Fowler Wright (1874-1965) was one of the authors - he had an Arkham House book and some other SF published in the 1920s-50s. Neither Reginald not Tuck mentions this book, which is fantasy to the extent that several of the major characters see ghosts, and the Gypsy women seem to have clairvoyant powers. Neither Wright's Foreword, in which he modestly claims to have served mostly as an editor for the inexperienced Mr. Denwood, nor the Preface by Hugh Walpole, reveal anything whatsoever about the date of original publication or who J. M. Denwood might have been. Even in this cheap edition, however, the publisher went to the trouble of inserting facsimile signatures for Wright and Walpole.
I found it an interesting novel for the picture of the society of the Cumberland Fells area in the late 1890s. The plot appears to be padded a bit, and the writing is not on a level with Arthur Machen or John Buchan, but I found it much more readable than Stevenson's New Arabian Nights.
Books wanted by Tom Cockcroft:
Beyond Midnight ed. by Kirby McCauley, Berkeley 1976
Lovers and Other Monsters ed. by Marvin Kaye, SFBC 1992
Shapes of the Supernatural ed. by Manley & Lewis, Garden City 1969
Friendly Aliens ed. by Colombo, Hounslow Press 1981
Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural ed. by Marvin Kaye
Masterpieces of Terror and the Unknown ed. by Marvin Kaye
Windigo ed. by Colombo, Prairie Books 1982
Science Fiction Review Monthly (Searles), #1,2,3
We also heard from (CC denoting a Christmas Card):
Harry Andrushak (maybe), a scrawled postcard from Redwood National Park.
David & Su Bates(CC), who note that the postcard art used as interiors in #18 also illustrated The Final War by David H. Keller. Keller wrote a scene in the story for each illo, and there was an edition with the art pages left blank so that the postcards could be pasted in - see above.
Sheryl Birkhead(CC), who is interested in the George Barr Christmas cards - I got boxes in two designs 20 years ago, but I have forgotten where.
Dainis Bisenieks, who says he once owned a Rolmonica, and that there was no indication of polarity on the rolls! He asks if the Bad Ronald by Vance that Cockcroft wants was ever a pb - see review above. Dainis does find things - says he has found three copies of the rare Atomsk by Carmichael Smith (aka Cordwainer Smith, actually Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger). Dainis also mentions the old pulp story The Space Willies by Eric Frank Russell and asks if these Willies have the usual slang meaning of the word (to have the Willies, meaning to be nervous or fearful) - I always assumed that, but if I ever read the story I have forgotten it. One of my reference books traces the Willies to the ballet Gisele, where the heroine goes mad and is possessed by a spirit called "the Willis" - maybe Walt knows about this...
Bill Bridget, who liked the old postcard art, and asks where #18 was printed to avoid the OfficeMax censors - I used SirSpeedy again. Bill also sends very fancy color zinelets and e-mails!
Rick Brooks, who remembers the Nargothrond where he wrote about Whistling Dan Barry, and sends a pretty good short story set in Newport News.
Nick Certo, who sends a catalog #83 with a Bok cover - he still has copies of his Drawings and Sketches by Bok at $19.95.
Tony Chester, who sent the annual fanzine Concatenation, very well written and printed on coated paper. They now have a website -
Vinc Clarke, who says that the confusion about British bank notes may be between what the government issued and what banks issued - banks did issue 1 and 5-pound notes in the early 1800s. And see comments above about Woman Alive.
Tom Cockcroft, who sends a copy of an old ad for the Hannes Bok Utopia Publications artfolio by Charles McNutt (later Charles Beaumont) - the only art in the ad is the small mask from the cover, about which my Index seems to be confused. Did Bok do this art or not?
John Leroy Coffin, who didn't like my comments on his paper about the Coming of Jesus. It is not practical to reprint it here, so anyone that wants it should send John a SASE for a copy and judge for himself - address 1959 W. Division, Springfield MO 65802.
Margaret Cubberly, who says that the art in IGOTS 18 and 19 is revolting sexist filth, and complains that I used the words `buggered up' in describing what librarians do to books. She incloses some samples of what she considers appropriate art - mostly dim Victorian kitsch. I think she is joking...
Chester Cuthbert, who found a play made from John Taine's novel Green Fire by Glenn Hughes in 1932 - and says he thought it was better than the book!
Hank Davis(CC), a Yankee who used to be in SFPA.
Roger Dobson, one of the few who liked the cover on #18. Roger also mentions a chapter on Arthur Machen in I Follow But Myself, the 1968 autobiography of Frank Baker - anybody have a copy of this? I find that I have one Baker novel, a fantasy called Teresa that I have not yet read.
Howard DeVore, who offers a copy of the Pirate Ghosts of the American Coasts that Tom Cockcroft wanted.
Mike Don, whose Dreamberry Wine (no number I can find, received in November) has a letter from Steve Jeffrey giving the key (credited to Andrew Whitmore via a Bruce Gillespie zine) to the coded message on the endpapers of Alan Garner's 1973 novel Red Shift. I had great fun writing a Basic program and decoding the message!
Ken Faig, who sends Three Poems of the Supernatural by Ray Hchkavik Zorn that he published for the EOD - all these years I have known Ray, I never knew he had such a spectacular middle name! Ken also notes that Duane Rimel of the old Lovecraft Circle died on September 30, 1996, at the age of 81. Ken also sent xeroxes of Jack Hall's column on Max Beerbohm's Enoch Soames, and an excellent explication by an astronomer named Krupp of the origin of the use of the Hyades in fantasy.
Don Fitch, who sends not only some of the elusive spondulix that W.C.Fields used to talk about, but also a diskette of fanzine indexing and a curious NAPAzine called MimeoSlop (in 3-color mimeo) with a photo of a Brooks typewriter. Don says that Bruce Pelz has a fanzine index in dBase that far dwarfs what I have been working with from Pickersgill and Temple University - 22,000 pages as compared to about 400. If the storage is proportional, it must take up 25 megs. Perhaps he will put it on CDrom someday - Don says he still has "hundreds of boxes" to enter. The mind boggles...
Al Fitzpatrick(CC), visiting Intercourse PA so that his wife could attend a course on making Teddy Bears. The mind boggles at the hazards involved in saying anything about this...
George Flynn, who says that ameba is a legitimate alternative spelling to amoeba; and that I was wrong to refer to glanders as an `antique equine malady' - apparently horses still get it under that name.
Brad Foster, who says he is getting back to his art, and may even do the illustrated Ballad of Eskimo Nell that we discussed many years ago - before PC became fashionable...
Diane Fox(CC), who sends good reviews of two odd books - a health book from the Middle Ages, and a book on culinary Bad Taste.
Thomas Gary, who liked the old postcard art - but he sees a werewolf in the picture of the one-eyed woman! Later I received IGOTS 14, 17, and 18 back from Tom - he had handcolored all the artwork! Beautiful job too, but no way I can share it as I could not afford color printing and even my scanner is just greyscale. In a later letter, Tom says that Roneo is still in business, with interchangeable drums for multicolor printing!
Alexis Gilliland, who says he had a brief visit with Dave Hulvey (that I mentioned in #18) around 1991 and Hulvey had become quite mundane. Alexis also remembers that in the late 70s Hulvey had to talk the fanartist Dave Osterman into getting medical treatment for a spider bite near his eye instead of waiting for Divine intervention in the matter. I really liked Osterman's artwork, something like a cross between Mervyn Peake and Mahlon Blaine.
Jim Goldfrank (CC), who sends a Northern Ireland fanzine called Gotterdammerung. Jim also notes a COA to 1443 Kingstream Drive, Herndon VA 20170-2526.
D. Gary Grady, who sent a little pamphlet listing antiquarian booksellers in North Carolina.
John Guidry, who notes that if I had gone to the Texas worldcon I could have met Lionel Fanthorpe! John also sent a wonderful article from the New Orleans Times Picayune about local fan Justin Winston.
John Haines, who sends his Handshake, the newsletter of the Eight Hand Gang of British sf poets.
Thomas Hall, who liked the old fanzine material but says he may have to hide the art from his 8-year-old...
Mark Harris, who wants to know where the next IGOTS is...
Moises Hasson(CC) in Chile - I recommended him to the Machen Society recently as possibly knowing if there had been a translation of Machen into Spanish.
This will quite likely be the last issue of It Goes On The Shelf published from this address. I have retired from the only job I ever had (as an aeronautical engineer with NASA), and will be moving to the Atlanta area.
I have some 10,000 books, 60 or 70 feet of fanzines, 125
typewriters, 600 LPs and assorted other stuff to get moved to
Atlanta when I have gotten a place there. This will take a
number of trips and the next issue of this very irregular
fanzine may be delayed a bit, but I have no idea of ceasing
Perhaps when I have gotten settled in the new place I will try having a website for It Goes On The Shelf and the Purple Mouth Press. I have converted the file for IGOTS 18 from FancyFont to HTML and it works in the Netscape Composer preview. But the illustrations take up too much memory - I am told that there is software to optimize graphics storage for illos to be put in a website, but I don't have it or know what to get. I don't plan to abandon the paper version, but it would be interesting to try a website, which could also offer for sale the books I have published and the duplicates I have accumulated.