David Ashton at the Aylesford Press (158 Moreton Rd, Upton, Wirral, Cheshire L49 4NZ, England) returned a check I had sent for issues of the Aylesford Review that he didn't actually have, but kindly inclosed a free one he did have from 1967 on the mysterious E. H. Visiak, author of Medusa and The Haunted Island. These are books I have had for years because someone recommended them back in the 60s. I finally got around to reading Medusa last year when Bud Webster in Richmond asked me to copy it for Dave Kurzman. Perhaps I will read The Haunted Island this year....
Mike Diana (Box 5254 Largo FL 34649-5254), who was arrested, convicted of `obscenity', and forbidden to draw by Pinellas County Florida, now has legal bills in excess of $40,000. I have seen Mike's art, and it is vile - but this is a matter of taste, not properly a matter for the law. In Taboo Science Fiction #2, Richard Geis gives the address for a publisher who has reprinted the art (The Mike Hunt Mint, Box 226, Belsenville IL 60106).
Alan Hunter sends copies of the beautiful art he did for Stephen Baxter's Anti-Ice when it was still just a short story in New Moon called Before Sebastopol. And his son Chris sends two fantasy cards from his phonecard collection, colorful sea-serpents by Roger Dean. I collect too much stuff already, so I am willing to trade these for more phone cards to send Chris.
The Beloved Adventurer by Emmet Campbell Hall, Lubin Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia, 1914, 155pp, illus photos.
This western with British noblemen as the heroes was produced, it says, as `a series of Fifteen Photoplays' - they must have been pretty short. Most of the 17 photos are publicity portraits, while 4 seem to be scenes from the melodrama. The frontispiece photo of Arthur V. Johnson looks like the model for Jay Ward's Dudley Doright at his most heroic!
The Book of Mystic Wisdom by Philpop the Weary, no publisher, no place, no date, 61pp, illus, wraps.
Perhaps this was part of some Dungeons & Dragons type game. The maroon cover has the title and some text around the edge in the same runes that Tolkien used on The Hobbit, which differ from those called Angerthas given in the appendix to Lord of the Rings; but none of the matter in the book mentions Tolkien's world. Some of the spells mention a place called Britannia, apparently not of this earth as there are twin moons (Trammel and Felucca) and creatures such as the Albino Ghoul Spider...
Adrift on an Ice-Pan by Wilfred T. Grenfell, Houghton Mifflin, 1909, 69pp, illus photos.
Unbelievably sentimental Victorian description of exploration in the polar region, with an Appendix in the `Newfoundland vernacular' -
Us'ad a good strong boat an' four oars, an' took a hot kettle o' tea an' food for a week, for us thought u'd'ave t'go far an' p'rhaps lose th' boat an' 'ave t' walk ashore un th' ice.
New Dominions ed. by Mike Allen, Allen & Allen (Box 13511), Roanoke (VA 24034), 1995, 76pp, illus. by Ted Guerin, wraps, $4.95.
Bud Webster sent me this anthology of `Fantasy Stories by Virginia Writers' as it is subtitled, and autographed his contribution, a funny tale called The Slithery Dee (with credit to Shel Silverstein for the title). The title of the anthology is a pun on `The Old Dominion', a name for Virginia from Colonial times.
R. H. W. Dillard and Nelson Bond contributed poems - I can't see much in the Dillard stuff, which he says is left over from his novel The First Man on the Sun (LSU, 1983), but Bond's The Ballad of Blaster Bill is great.
The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll, Gavin O'Keefe, Victoria, 1995, 41pp, illus by Gavin O'Keefe, wraps.
Gavin autographed this copy of one of my favorite poems. It is subtitled An Agony in Eight Fits and was first published in 1876 - if you haven't read it you must be illiterate or a member of the TV generation. Excellent artwork - I don't think I've ever seen bad art for this poem. Other editions I have are illustrated by Henry Holiday and Mervyn Peake.
Trillions by Nicholas Fisk, Pantheon, New York, 1971, 158pp, illus.
The illustration is not credited, and there is only the one, used over and over. An unusual juvenile about an invasion from outer space by something like sentient crystals. It seems to be anti-military satire, but somehow doesn't quite work for me.
The Invisible Government by David Wise & Thomas B. Ross, no publisher, no place, 1964, 374pp, index.
I think the mysterious lack of bibliographic identification on this book is because it is a Taiwanese pirate edition, not because of the subject matter - the paper is very thin and ivory-hued, which is typical of those books. A critical look at the CIA, starting with the Bay of Pigs debacle - a whole chapter is devoted to the secret pensions sent Birmingham widows of secretly recruited pilots. The title seems familiar - yes, I see that I have the Random House edition of the same book. This book explains where the 100 million (per day! ) of the black budget goes - and for all I can make out, an utter waste of the public funds and a serious contribution to the national debt.
The Vicar of Morbing Vyle by Richard Harland, Karl Evan Publishing, Australia, 1993, 305pp, wraps.
No price is given. The book is the size of a mass-market pb, but on much better paper. Nor does it say where in Australia it was done, except that the printing is attributed to the University of Wollongong Printery. Gavin O'Keefe, who had reviewed it for Peake Studies as being somehow a bit like the Gormenghast books, kindly sent me this copy.
A very bizarre novel, but not hard to read. It is told in the first person by a fairly normal Australian grad student visiting England who falls in with some extremely odd cultists, a very twisted splinter of the Church of England. There is some resemblance to Peake in the eccentricity of the characters, but this book, though billed as fantasy/horror, is pretty much black comedy, whereas Peake liked his characters and took them seriously without satiric intent.
I enjoyed this book, although it seemed to me a little overdone in places. The author is credited with the cover art, not at all bad for the purpose - the front cover looks a little like Peake, but the back cover looks more like Gahan Wilson. One earlier Harland title is mentioned, Testimony - I wonder what that's about? Be interesting to see if there is ever a US edition of The Vicar of Morbing Vyle.
Tom Cockcroft (84 Pharazyn, Lower Hutt, NZ) is looking for the following sf goodies -
My computerized list of about 400 duplicate titles may be obtained for an SASE. It includes some Machen titles, the old ones sent by Tom Cockcroft -
Typewriting Behavior by Dvorak, Merrick, Dealey, & Ford, American Book Co., 1936, 521pp, photos & diagrams, appendix, index.
August Dvorak invented the Dvorak Keyboard for more efficient typing. This near-mint copy came from Randy Cassingham at Freelance Communications (Box 91970, Pasadena CA 91109-1970 or email@example.com), who is selling what he says are the last remaining copies at $30 (+ $2 p&h, for which he throws in a copy of his own $10 pb on the Dvorak Keyboard).
This heavy old tome is all on coated paper and bound in gold-stamped dark blue cloth. The binding is so tight that you would probably get a repetitive motion injury if you read it all at once... Not to mention a headache. The authors cover the history, psychology, sociology, and physiology of typewriting in great detail - if you read this before you ever learned to type, you would probably hesitate to attempt it. The writing itself is quite colloquial and a bit condescending, with extensive footnotes and notices on each chapter as to how significant it will be to the Student Typist, the Psychology Student, and the Typing Instructor. The book is dedicated to Frank Bunker Gilbreth, the famous efficiency expert; and uses his ideas on time and motion studies - there is even a conversation between Gilbreth and a Typing Coach! Alas for the typewriter collector, no machines are shown - they don't seem to ever even mention a brand name.
The Dvorak Keyboard by R. C. Cassingham, Freelance Communications, Arcata (CA), 1986, 94pp, photo, diagrams, index, $12.95.
But see previous entry for actual price. The main point here is why and how you should convert to a Dvorak keyboard on your computer. There is also a chapter on special keyboards for the one-handed typist. A list of hardware and software sources is given, but of course it is ten years out of date.
Would I attempt to convert after 40 years with the conventional QWERTY keyboard? No - but then (because I taught myself in the 60s to compose directly on mimeo stencil for fanzine production) I only have to type fast enough to keep up with composition. For anyone starting out on computer and never likely to use a typewriter, I would certainly recommend the improved keyboard.
The Four-Masted Cat-Boat: and Other Truthful Tales by Charles Battell Loomis, The Century Company, np, 1899, 241pp, illus in line by Florence Scovel Shinn.
Seems to be in a library binding. As anyone with nautical expertise might guess from the title, these are not `truthful tales' at all! I am not much impressed with the art, which in any case is printed far too small, but the tales are very funny. There are 40 of them, and each is an entirely different idiocy - the last one, The Proper Care of Flies, is one of the best. One might expect How 'rasmus Paid the Mortgage, A Dialect Story to be racist, but it is not - the old Virginia darky 'rasmus speaks an Irish/Yiddish/French dialect and though a demented villain is the only one in the story with any sense.
A Double Shadow by Frederick Turner, Berkley Medallion 1978, 217pp, wraps, $1.75.
An excellent science fantasy novel, a bit like Vance, a bit like Cordwainer Smith, perhaps most like Samuel Delany, who is quoted in a brief cover blurb - but who was Frederick Turner? The usual references don't even seem to know if the name is real or a pseudonym. The cover of the pb says `now in paperback' - obviously true, and implying that there had been a previous hardcover. But no other edition is credited. The story is set in a decadent society of the far future on a terraformed Mars. Poverty and death have long since been conquered, and the only remaining human problem is boredom, held at bay with a `Vision' based on synthetic deities and status wars. Along with the exotic locales and characters, the author gives us a heavy dose of philosophical commentary, as this from p.100 -
The events which follow must, it now becomes obvious, take their import and meaning purely from the intrinsic and self-validating interest with which they vest themselves. They are not relatively significant, in a universe in which all possibilities are a fact. They attain dignity only through a curious clause that must be appended to the assertion that every judgement is relative. This is the clause that states that that judgement itself is relative. An absolute value can be legitimately accorded to a thing or an event, because the very law of thought that would discredit that value applies also to itself. The assertion that everything is arbitrary, is also arbitrary. The necessary is a pocket of neutrality formed by the self-contradiction of the accidental, since the assertion that everything is accidental is also accidental. In this pocket we shall discover the dignity, the necessity and the value of our story.I also like the haiku-style poetry and the translations from German Romantic poets.
American Cybercast (whoever they may be) send a curt and mysterious message from http://www.eon4.com: The CIA, NASA, the Pentagon and the FBI all deny the existence of Project EON-4 - I bet they do... The only other thing in the envelope is a rolodex card in two sizes for a Kay Dangaard in Marina del Rey CA. I guess some of you young net-surfers know what this is about... A movie promotion?
The Blanket of the Dark by John Buchan, Hillman Periodicals, New York nd, 128pp, wraps, $0.25.
Chester Cuthbert says this cheap pb, which seems to run about 60,000 words, may be abridged from the original hardcover. An excellent alternate history fantasy in which a grandson of Buckingham tries to recover from Henry VIII the throne of England lost to the Tudor dynasty. Full of authentic-sounding jargon of the time and some actual sorcery (though the sorcery is not essential to the plot).
The Gap in the Curtain by John Buchan, Thomas Nelson, London, 1934, 299pp.
About the size of a modern mass-market pb, but bound in dark gold-stamped leather with a ribbon to hold your place... I suppose this must be Buchan's only science fiction, at least of novel length. It gives the very detailed effect on five men of the British upper class of having seen, by means of a procedure that is described as a combination of drugs and training based on higher mathematics, an article in the London Times one year in the future. Each sees an article in his own field, and two see their own obituaries. Very cleverly worked out, but the inherent paradox is not resolved.
The Moon Endureth by John Buchan, Thomas Nelson, London, 1931 (reprinted from 1912), 346pp.
A matching volume to the one above, this is a collection of ten stories, eight from Blackwood's Magazine and two from a previous collection, Grey Weather. There are also ten pieces of excellent verse interspersed, which only marginally relate to the fiction. Perhaps half of the stories are sf or whimsical fantasy and the rest historical, and all are excellent. The title is not that of any of them, but is from Psalm 72 `...the righteous shall flourish; and abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth', which I know I have seen quoted in Buchan's writing, but I can't find it in this book.
The Island of Sheep by John Buchan, Wordsworth Classics, Ware (Hertfordshire), 1995, 197pp, wraps.
No price that I can find, though something is probably encoded in the barcode on the back cover. I think I got this from Hamilton's remainder list. Chester Cuthbert says his wife read it some time ago but had forgotten what it was about. The publisher notes that it is complete and unabridged, and printed in Denmark on `pure wood pulp'!
This is the final Richard Hannay adventure, and better than others I have tried to read -- moves well and the characters and descriptions are good. Alas, Buchan apparently got tired of the rather silly plot before he finished it, as the climactic battle between Our Heroes and Them Dirty Bums is spoiled by a triple-whammy deus ex machina - a) the bad guys have been infiltrated by a Master of Disguise; b) one of the heroes goes berserk, walks unarmed into the group of armed villains, picks the chief villain up and carries him a goodly distance to a cliff and throws him in the sea; c) the two children in the tale, out running about by themselves, just happen to meet up with 100 hunters killing whales on the beach with spears and lead them to the rescue. Foo...
I have now read all of the Buchan books that Chester listed as fantasy. I could not stand any of the characters in The Courts of the Morning -- in any case the only fantasy element is that it takes place in an imaginary South American country, Olifa. The Dancing Floor is an expansion of the story Basilissa from the collection The Watcher by the Threshold, and (to my taste) adds little to it. Tom Cockcroft sent a biography of Buchan (Lord Tweedsmuir and Governor-General of Canada), and the selection of his writing The Clearing House (mostly non-fiction and poetry) by Lady Tweedsmuir; and later two more biographies and a whimsical adventure story, Huntingtower.
While on vacation in Atlanta in May I had time to read two very long books I had found at a local thrift store -
Fragebogen (The Questionnaire) by Ernst von Salomon, translated by Constantine FitzGibbon, Doubleday, New York 1955, 525pp.
During the occupation of Germany after WWII, the Allied forces concocted a `denazification' questionnaire of 131 items that all Germans suspected of Nazi sympathies were required to fill out. Von Salomon, who had been jailed by the Weimar government, the Nazis, and the Allies, and had worked in the film industry throughout the war, answered his Fragebogen in exhaustive detail, and then sold the resulting autobiography. It is a fascinating glimpse at the German society of the first half of this century, and at the whole question of collective guilt.
The Missing Will & A Dubious Codicil by Michael Wharton, The Hogarth Press, London 1992, 216/261pp, wraps, 9.99.
Like Von Salomon in Germany, Wharton in England saw his society as going to hell in a hurry, and over about the same period. He was one of the last of the fin de siecle decadents at Oxford, and then worked for the BBC and had a rabidly conservative newspaper column for many years. He was much less stable mentally than Von Salomon, and not as clear a writer, but he too brings to life his sense of a disintegrating world.
Man and the Movies edited by W R Robinson, Pelican, Baltimore 1969, 371pp, photos, index, $2.25.
I bought this anthology for the entry by Fred Chappell, Twenty-Six Propositions About Skin Flicks.
OKBOMB! by Jim Keith, IllumiNet Press (Box 2808), Lilburn GA 1996, 237pp, photos, diagrams, index, wraps, $14.95.
A conspiracy-buff look at the Oklahoma City bombing of April 1995. Obviously written in a hurry to capitalize on this notorious crime, but contains a number of interesting points:
The Black Flame by Stanley Weinbaum, Tachyon Press, San Francisco, 1995, xxvi/202pp.
The price is not given. This is a `restored edition', containing some 18,000 words not in the 1939 edition. Forry Ackerman bought the original manuscript at the 1939 worldcon, but it was later stolen and never recovered. This restoration was done from a carbon copy found in a trunk in the possession of Weinbaum's grandson.
This is not a long novel even with the restored text - less than 60,000 words, I think. I have never read it, famous as it is - perhaps before I close out this issue.
The Making of a Moron by Niall Brennan, Sheed & Ward, New York, 1953, 189pp, d/w & binding illo by Edward Gorey.
Brennan was an Australian who became interested in the use of morons (he does not define `moron' other than in an example of `girls with mental ages of 6 to 10') as factory workers - and then in the use of people of normal intelligence in jobs that can be done by a moron. He investigated this by taking a series of such jobs. A well written anecdotal account of the subject - unfortunately, this copy lacks the Gorey d/w.
Wrath of the Ice Sorcerer by Andrew Bill, Enchantica, Stoke-on-Trent, 1988, 85pp, illus in color and line by the author and John Woodward.
No price is given except that an inclosed flyer offers a 15-pound (sterling) membership in a club for collectors of the elaborate figurines that go with this story - or rather, the story was no doubt written to promote sales of the figurines. The figurines look better in the photos than the color art, even that is better than say the Hildebrandt's stuff, though not up to the level of Tim Kirk or Steve Fabian.
Olden Tales edited by Bradford M. Day, DayStar Press (206 Water Street), Hillsville (VA), 1996, 337pp, illus in line, wraps, $12.
This 8.5x11 softcover anthology is entirely of material now in the public domain because of its age. Some of it is facsimile and some retyped. I invented the `DayStar Press' imprint when I typeset the title page and Brad left it on there!
A great variety of material in both the text and the pictures - a few of the stories have been in many anthologies, but much of the material was new to me. The price does not include $2.50 for p&h - this is not charged on orders over $20, so you might want to send for Day's complete list, or look back at the review in earlier issues of IGOTS.
Son of Darkness by Evangeline Walton, Hutchinson, London, 1957, 287pp, 7s 6d.
I had quite forgotten that I had this, nor do I know where I got it... It seems to have been Lin Carter's copy, Ms Walton must have sent it to him after Ballantine reprinted The Virgin and the Swine as The Island of the Mighty. The inscription is in a very unsteady hand and reads --
For Lynne CarterPerhaps she means that the publisher forced her to cut some of the text. I read it over the weekend and enjoyed it very much. It is set in the period around 1000 A.D.in Norway and England and is the imagined life story of Black Thrym, a historical figure of whom we know (as much as anything from 1000 years ago can be known) only that he killed St. Alphege (Elfeah) to end his suffering after he was attacked by a mob of Viking mercenaries in Canterbury.
with best wishes from
this somewhat abbreviated book's
Evangeline Walton Ensley
This book was also published as The Cross and the Sword by Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1956 - a larger book, but as far as I can tell the same text.
Railbike - Cycling on Abandoned Railroads by Bob Mellin, Balboa (11 Library Place), San Anselmo (CA 94960), 134pp, photos and diagrams, wraps, $16.95 (+$3 p&h).
Railbiking is a 100-year-old sport that I had never heard of - these people modify bicycles in various ways to take advantage of extensive lengths of abandoned railroad track - both rails are used so that the bike can't fall over or slip off the track. The cover shows a man riding one of these rigs across a 20-foot (at least) section of completely unsupported rail! Includes some data on identification of old track. This book was sent as a review copy.
Canadian Bacon, I see from a page in Dale Speirs' Opuntia 28.1A, is a satiric protest against Desert Storm in the form of a comedy film made by Roger Moore starring the late John Candy - the gimmick is a US invasion of Canada. Probably hasn't played your local AMC... I wonder if the video is available? Aha - I see that Movies Unlimited has it, at $90, and dates it 1995. It also stars Alan Alda and Rip Torn. I rented it from BlockBuster and enjoyed it - very broad farce, with echoes of Dr Strangelove.
Perceptions tries to sell me a sub as being an `alternative news magazine'. A bit pricey at $3-5 an issue, and I get too many magazines already -- but one of their come-ons is intriguing. They claim there was an 1810 13th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1818 and published as part of the Constitution through 1867. Then it was apparently forgotten and supplanted by a different 13th Amendment! This 13th Amendment of 1818 provided the following --
If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive, or retain any title of nobility or honor, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince, or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.That last bit sounds ungrammatical, but you get the idea - anybody know what happened here? If this were in force, Louis Farrakhan certainly would not be able to accept money from Libya.
The Cave Beneath the Sea: Paleolithic Images at Cosquer by Jean Clottes & Jean Courtin, 108 color illos, $60.
I think it was Frank Denton in Slanapa asked about this - I don't have it (and not likely to at that price), but it is a fascinating tale. The cave paintings at Cosquer were done 20,000 years ago. They remained undiscovered until 1991 because the 490-foot entrance passage to the cave went 120 feet below sea level at the end of the last ice age. This brief description is from the ad in a catalog called Common Reading.
The Slave Ship by Mary Johnston, Little Brown, Boston, 1924, 330pp.
A great historical novel, something in the style of John Buchan, that I found (in very good condition, though the d/w is gone) at a local thrift store. The hero is a Scots survivor of the Battle of Culloden (1746) who is transported to Virginia as a bond-servant, then escapes and finally becomes captain of a ship in the slave trade, bringing Africans to Jamaica and Virginia. Very rich in detail, and gives an excellent idea of how this vile business was thought of at the time.
fnord - Someone asked for the origin of this word, and I guessed that it was the Illuminatus! trilogy by Shea and Wilson. But Ken Lake says it was borrowed from an earlier story, perhaps in Astounding c.1960. Anybody know for sure?
Fanzines - Do you have fanzines you don't want or have no way to keep? Greg Pickersgill wants them - address 3 Bethany Row, Narberth Rd, Haverford West, Pembs. SA61 2XG, UK. And if you don't want to send them to England, send them here - when I get over 11 lbs I can send them by M-bag at a lower rate.
Speaking of fanzines, John Berry and Ken Cheslin send Vol.5 (and, they say, last) of The Bleary Eyes, reprints of the tales from the '50s by divers hands (Wally Weber, Terry Jeeves, Greg Benford, Berry himself) of the Goon Detective Agency, illustrated by the late great Arthur Thomson. No hint of a price, but the Guineapig Press is a creature of Ken Cheslin, 10 Coney Green, Stourbridge, West Midlands DY8 1LA.
Hannes Bok Drawings and Sketches ed. by Nicholas Certo, Mugster Press (Box 322), Circleville (NY 10919), 1996, 68pp, wraps, $19.95 (plus $3.50 p&h).
There are 300 of this edition, plus 40 of a hardcover with a color plate. More than 2/3 of the 74 illustrations here are from previously unpublished work, and there is an excellent introduction by Ben Indick. A wonderful contribution to the Bok legend! Some of these illos are very odd, including a beautiful matched pair of dancers, one a man and the other a frog-like alien. And there is a sequence of plates obviously meant to illustrate a specific story, probably not sf or fantasy, set on a farm in rolling hills, but the link to the source material has not been recovered as yet.
The Little Tigress by Wallace Smith, Brewer, Warren & Putnam, NY 1932, 209pp, 15 plates by the author, $2.50.
It is stated on the d/w that this is a reprint, and the copyright date is 1923. Wallace Smith is most famous as the artist who illustrated Ben Hecht's Fantazius Mallare. This is an account of his adventures with the Mexican revolutionaries of Pancho Villa. I don't find any dates in this very personal account, but Villa was active mostly in the years 1910-1915, though he lived to be assassinated in 1923.
The artwork sometimes shows the grotesque style of that in the Hecht book - the subject matter is certainly gruesome enough. The test is very episodic, and the title refers to the tragic heroine of the first episode.
That Lawsuit Against the Bible by Henry Rimmer, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1945, 88pp.
This is an odd account of a 1939 civil suit in the courts of the state of New York arising from an offer of $1000 by the Reverend Henry Rimmer to anyone who could `prove' that the Bible contains a `scientific error'. The issue was whether a William Floyd had proven that the account in Exodus ch.16,v.13 and Numbers ch.11,v.31-33 about the Hebrews of the Exodus being fed on quail was scientifically impossible as to the quantity of quail and the logistics of the collection and consumption of them.
One researcher, an ex-colonel of the Quarter-Master Corp., did some engineering estimates (based on the rather sparse data) leading to the conclusion that the 2.5 million Hebrews in the exodus would have had to consume over 12 million quail -- but this was based on the unlikely assumptions that 2.5 million people could move at 28 miles a day and that the quail were packed solid two cubits deep. Rimmer said that the rate of travel was more like 3 miles a day, and that the quail were flying 2 cubits off the ground. I would like to know where the 2.5 million figure came from, and whether quail are found in the Sinai desert -- but doesn't a judge have the authority to throw out frivolous lawsuits?
The Star of Les Baux by Jean Severin (translated from the French by Emma Cohn & Louise Spain), Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York 1966, 160pp, $4.95.
A curious and well-written science-fantasy, possibly based on local legends of Provence - or made up from whole cloth. I cannot find the place name Les Baux in my atlas. Apparently aimed at the `young adult' market, but I enjoyed it. Severin may be a pseudonym, as the French copyright for L'etoile des Baux is credited to a Robert Laffont.
The princes of the medieval kingdom of Les Baux claimed descent from Balthazar, one of the Magi. Their 14th-century ruler, Raymond of Turenne, turned out to be a villain, and the dynasty ended with his niece Alix. The castle was demolished by Louis XIII in 1632 during the religious wars. But the catacombs of the Val d'Infer (Valley of Hell) were left to set this story in, with its teenage romance involving a reincarnation of Alix, and aliens from outer space, intelligent animals, and an apparently indestructible Rolls Royce. It would make a great movie.
Who's Pulling Your Strings? by John Cleverly, Author's Partner in Publishing Ltd (Suite 551-800, 15355 24th Ave), White Rock (British Columbia, Canada V4A 2H9), 1995, 365pp, wraps, $16.95.
But it would have had only about half that many pages if they hadn't printed the whole thing in double line spacing! This book, subtitled Behavior In The Misinformation Age and bearing on the cover an image of a puppet (with strings attached only to its brain) brandishing a gory dirk, could have been of some use if it had been edited properly. As it is, I doubt anyone will ever wade through the awkward verbiage and careless writing, somewhat below the level of the daily newspaper. I gave up at the point where a quotation was attributed to Voltaire and Francois Marie Arouet - who are, in fact, the same person (`Voltaire' is a pen-name). The name of the publisher leads one to suspect that this may be a vanity press effort.
Forever Man by George Michael Greider, Pennycorner Press, Gilman CT, 1995, 336pp, $21.95.
Like the tome mentioned above, this is a review copy -- a novel about a computer programmer who stumbles on a secret older than time. Alas, though better written than the Cleverly book and in fairly decent typography (for these latter days), it is still a pain to read -- though it improves after the hero reaches Brittany. But one is over halfway through the book before he finally meets up with the immortals - that is the great secret, a small group of secret immortals. Page 206 includes in the text a Jumble puzzle such as appears in the daily paper - I had some problem with it because I unscrambled the second set of letters as HATED instead of DEATH. But I could not plow through any more of the turgid prose, and glanced at the end to find that the hero had survived and would appear in another volume about the secret immortals, to be called Vera's Chronicles.
Under the Andes by Rex Stout, Penzler, New York 1986, 286pp, wraps, $3.50.
I had heard of this book, said to be Rex Stout's only fantasy, but had not had a copy until recently. This is the first edition as a book - the tale first appeared in the February 1914 issue of All-Story, one of the Munsey pulps, as a `scientific romance'.
I think I read some of Stout's better-known Nero Wolfe stories as a child, but was not greatly impressed with them - I preferred Ellery Queen, or even Perry Mason. This thriller certainly has little science to speak of, but as fiction it moves along pretty well. The Lamar brothers are rich playboys in pursuit of the same exotic dancer, and wind up taking her on a visit to Peru. They fall into a cave in the Andes - and things get silly soon enough. They are captured (and escape and are recaptured, umpteen times) by chimpanzee-like troglodytes who turn out to be descendants of the Incas (rather like the Hebrews who became purple dwarves in Ella Scrymsour's A Perfect World). These creatures are deaf-mutes (the narrator notes that they must be `as even the women were silent'!) but can see in the dark. Their technology is limited to oil lamps and salted fish, but they get furs from somewhere. They communicate using the Inca system of knots in colored cords, called the quipo - whether there was any such thing or Stout made it up, I have no idea. Other denizens of the cave world are varieties of fish, something called a water-pig, and a sort of enormous land-octopus with glowing hypnotic eyes. But the point that really challenges the suspension of disbelief is that the action continues even outside the range of the Incas' oil lamps, as our heroes seem to acquire the Incas' ability to see in the dark.
Minor Heresies by John J. Espey, Knopf, New York 1945, 202pp.
I must ask Mae Strelkov (who was born in China) if she would like to read this rambling, discursive memoir by a man who was born in Shanghai in 1912, the son of Presbyterian missionaries, and grew up in a compound in the South Gate area of that city. It is all incident, with no continuity or conclusion, or much philosophy, but interesting in its way. Parts of it appeared previously in The New Yorker. A note at the back says that the typography and binding were designed by the famous W. A. Dwiggins, and the type set by linotype. Nothing special - and yet how superior to most of today's computer typesetting in appearance and readability!
Arthur Machen by Mark Valentine, Seren, Glamorgan (Wales), 147pp, illus photos, bibliography, 12.95.
The price is in sterling, and the full address is Wyndham Street, Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan, Wales CF31 1EF. I am not a great reader of biographies - I shudder to think how many I have bought with the best of intentions that lie here still unread - but this is really excellent, full of pertinent quotes and a deep knowledge of Machen's era. It is strange to think that Machen was born at the time of our Civil War, and lived until just after the end of World War II. His only literary connection with war was his creation of the strange legend of the Bowmen of Mons in World War I (`The Great War' they called it at the time, not knowing that a greater was on the way), in which medieval bowmen and knights appeared in the clouds to lead the British forces to victory. So if you have marveled at Arthur Machen's tales and wanted to know something about the background and culture that produced them, this is an excellent source - it will not explain the mystery but enhance it.
Time Burial by Howard Wandrei, ed. by D. H. Olson, Fedogan & Bremer, Minneapolis, 1995, 319pp, illus by the author plus photos, $29.
I had a copy of this collection from a con or dealer, and when Tom Cockcroft asked me to get him one, I wrote directly to the publisher's address given in the book. They never answered, but I got another copy through Mark Stevens at the SF & Mystery Bookshop in Atlanta.
These are very odd stories, but not - to my taste - all that good. The ideas are original, but the characters and dialog are awkward. The art is peculiar, to say the least - the color front and spine of the d/w is spectacular, almost like a rare color Sime or something by Hieronymous Bosch, and the back of the d/w is a b&w fantasy (signed `Olmier' - no explanation provided) reminiscent of Wallace Smith; but the interior art seems quite undistinguished to me, though the batik design is probably better in color.
The contents of this book are not exactly the same as those planned for the book of the same title announced by Arkham House in 1972 but never published, but a second volume, to be called The Eerie Mr Murphy, is planned. Apparently all the stories originally intended for Time Burial will appear except for one that has been lost. The introduction to this volume runs some 48 pages, and contains more about Wandrei's rather unhappy life than I really needed to know.
The Candlemass Road by George MacDonald Fraser, Harvill, London, 1993, 181pp, map, glossary, 12.99.
The price is in sterling, but not what I paid for it, as it was in the Daedalus catalog. The back of the title page has the peculiar British legal formula The Author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work (which I first noticed a few years ago in a Tanith Lee book) - I wish I knew what the devil that is supposed to mean!
I never could read the Flashman stuff, and have not read the intimidatingly massive The Steel Bonnets except for the Monition of Cursing in the appendix. This is a much more managable book, a short, highly detailed novel about an imagined incident on the Scots border in the 1590s, with an 18-page `Historical Postcript'. I enjoyed it very much.
La Inteligencia de las Flores by Maurice Maeterlinck, Zig-Zag, Iquique Chile, nd, 104pp, wraps.
This book, whose title translates skiffily from the Spanish as the intelligence of the flowers was send by Margaret Boothroyd. Of course Maeterlinck did not write it in Spanish - he was a Belgian Count. No translator is credited, however. I can read this with some difficulty - the author does seem to claim that flowers are intelligent. There is an essay on perfume at the end of the book.
En la brecha por muchas tierras, translated by Eduardo Palaci, Argentina, nd, 79pp, wraps.
Also from Mrs. Boothroyd, this is a Salvation Army book originally titled Fighting in Many Lands. The Salvation Army in Argentina may have been more militant than the British original - both the emblem (which bears crossed swords over a Cross covered by an `S') and he flag on the cover bear the motto Sangre y Fuego, which means `Blood and Fire'. The contents seem mostly historical - there is an account by Colonel Gerrit J. Govaars of open-air meetings and parades in London at the turn of the century where the devotees were showered with `cats, rats, and dead dogs' - or perhaps, as in Spanish the adjective appears last, it is meant to modify all the varieties of animal listed.
Boy In Summer by Kenneth W. Faig Jr, Moshassuck Press, 1996, 8pp, wraps, 1/100.
A pamphlet to commemorate the centennial of the August 20, 1896 visit of H P Lovecraft to Foster RI in the Moosup Valley where some of his ancestors came from. It has him disappearing after breakfast and not coming back until dark -- at the age of 6 (he was born in 1890), he was exploring a cave with kitchen matches!
Huntingtower by John Buchan, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1945 (an umpteenth reprint from 1922), 318pp, endpaper map.
One of three novels about the adventures of Dickson McCunn, the others being Castle Gay and The House of the Four Winds. This one, sent by Tom Cockcroft, is apparently the most famous - but if the others are as much fun as this I would like to have them! McCunn is a retired Glasgow grocer who gets involved in a demented plot involving Bolsheviks and the Russian Crown jewels, with mad Scots crones, evil tinkers, and Boy Scout superkids stirred in for good measure.
John Buchan by His Wife and Friends, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1947, 304pp, 8 plates, index.
Another Buchan book kindly sent by Tom Cockcroft. Notes that Witch Wood was one of his favorites of his own books, and that he reread them occasionally. I enjoy reading my own blather, which seems odd, as I could hardly find anything new in it! A facsimile of a page of manuscript from his 1928 biography Montrose (the Earl of Montrose (1612-1650) was a major figure in the wars between England and Scotland) makes me wonder if Buchan's works weren't mostly the imagination of some nameless typist - I can hardly make out a word of it!
John Buchan by Janet Adam Smith, Rupert Hart-Davis, London, 1965, 524pp, 27 photos, bibliography, notes, index, 63s.
The price is in shillings. Tom got this as a discard from the Lower Hutt library. One of the photos shows Buchan in costume as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and another shows him talking to President Roosevelt in 1936. It's a good thing I'm not a Buchan completist - he seems to have published nearly 70 books between 1894 and 1941.
The Lady of Elche by Katherine Del Valle, Vantage, New York, 1958, 120pp, illus 6 plates by Carlos S. de Tejada.
I found this in a little shop in Grafton, whose proprietor, when I told her I was interested mostly in books, said she tried to deal only in `upscale items'... The book was not priced and at first she asked a dollar for it, but then -- although I had not objected -- reduced it to 50 cents. I think Vantage was mostly a `vanity press' - that is, the author paid to have the books printed - but this is an excellent collection of Spanish legends and tales, well retold in English. The two b&w plates, showing Satan caught by the rising sun on the ancient aqueduct at Segovia (which, according to the legend, he had built), and another of El Cid riding through the heavens are quite spectacular.
Freshwater by Virginia Woolf, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, 1985, 86pp, illus by Edward Gorey, wraps, $4.95.
I bought this play from a remainder list for my Gorey collection, but it is fun to read in its own right -- rather like a Monty Python skit. It was written for home theatricals given in Vanessa Bell's London studio apartment in 1935.
Takeover by Arthur Niehoff, The Hominid Press (Box 1481), Bonsall (CA 92003), 1996, 224pp, index, wraps, $13.95.
This is anthropology in the form of slangy conversation with a computer, subtitled How Euroman Changed the World. The author is a retired professor in the subject. I find the format tedious and silly myself - not content with anthropomorphizing the imaginary computer as `Mary', the narrator sometimes calls her Mar! Nicely printed, except that for some reason the colophon is typed, and on a bad typewriter at that.
On Becoming Human by Arthur Niehoff, as above, 1994, 417pp, illus, index, wraps, $12.95.
Here the anthropology is in the form of fictionalized vignettes, with one piece of bad artwork per chapter. The fiction is pretty bad too. I am hardly competent to judge the anthropology, but I was puzzled to see a segment where a near-illiterate loom-tender in the early days of steam power refers to anti-machine activists as Nomers rather than the more usual Luddites.
Both of these books were sent to me as review copies. I am puzzled also by a claim that `Large print accomodates visually impaired and remedial readers' - the print is not any larger than usual that I can see, though the vertical spacing is 5 lines/inch rather than 6. The typography even has ligatures, but often leaves too little space between words.
Some Working Definitions : Pulps & Digests by Susannah Bates, AURA Monograph Series Number 1, Blue Star (355 Kennedy Drive), Putnam (CT 06260), 8pp, stapled, $1.95.
The price includes postage. This useful material on the nomenclature of magazine collecting originally ran through PEAPS, the Pulp Era Amateur Press Society.
Round Robin Serials by Susannah Bates, as above but Number 2 in the series.
Lists details on five such stories written by 4 to 17 different authors, each taking a chapter in turn, and published in prozines. All but one are sf - the standout is a mystery published in Liberty in 1935 with the plot supplied by Franklin Roosevelt!
Flights from the Iron Moon, by Steve Sneyd, The Hilltop Press (4 Nowell Place), Almondbury (Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England), 1995, 132pp, saddle-stapled wraps, $6.
This study of sf poetry in British fanzines and `small magazines' in the period 1980-89 has a beautiful cover by Harry Turner, and is available on computer disk in a number of formats.
As one whose taste in poetry stalled somewhere around the turn of the century, I am hardly qualified to review this... It is well-written, and extensively illustrated with examples.
A note of interest to connoisseurs of bad Australian sf - Space Train, which was discussed in IGOTS 15, was reprinted from the same plates (at 80 cents as compared to the original 65 cents) as:
The Claw by Terence Haile, Bill Ewington Books, Sydney, nd, 160pp, wraps.There is a more tasteful cover than on the earlier edition.
We also heard from --
Donn Albright, a voice from the past - he still keeps in touch with Nils Hardin, who used to do the massive zine Xenophile. Donn, who is just about my age, says he has been collecting Bradbury since he was 13 and is almost ready to publish an 800-page bibliography.
Wendy Betts (124 Palo Verde Terrace, Santa Cruz CA 95060), who is looking for a copy of Magic in the Alley by Mary Calhoun.
Sheryl Birkhead, who starts in about the FAAN Awards as if I knew what she was talking about. Apparently you have to get Ansible.
Dainis Bisenieks, who mentions a Carroll & Graf pb edition of Hodgson's The House on the Borderland (1983, rep. 1996) and asks how they can claim copyright on a book from 1908 whose author died in 1918 - well, they can claim anything, I suppose. Dainis also complains that my review of Musrum doesn't do it justice... I did recently find the duplicate of this that I thought I had.
Margaret Hodgson Boothroyd, who sends her book of poems On The Desert Air (Adelphi Press, London, 1993), with photos from northern Chile, where she lived about the same time I was growing up in Concepcion, in central Chile. Margaret also sent a photo of a two-wheeled cart that went about the streets there dispensing asses milk fresh from the ass - the mare's foal rode in the cart. She also says that she sent my remarks about Strong's Concordance to The New Christian Herald - ay caramba!
Sam Bruce, who is translating the 1908 Le Prisonnier de la Planete Mars by Gustave Le Rouge, and is also interested in William Hope Hodgson.
Jack Chalker, who says that he can be reached better at his home address (629 Jasontown Road, Westminster MD 21158-3529) than at the POBox given in the Mirage Press books. Either way I have not succeeded in acquiring the promised updates to his massive history The Science-Fantasy Publishers.
Vince Clarke, who agrees with almost everyone who has read it that Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman by Arthur N. Scarm that I sent him is a dreadful book, but says he will send me a copy of The Exploits of Engelbrecht by Maurice Richardson anyway!
Tom Cockcroft, who notes that the illustration in IGOTS 15 that some thought might be by Hannes Bok is credited in the magazine to Dolgov - I was mistaken it thinking that it falls in the text of the story Blind Flight, which does have Bok illos. It falls in the next story in the issue. Tom also incloses a xerox of a `4th dimension' story from a 1928 Amazing Stories, showing that the concept long predated Campbell.
Margaret Cubberly, who (like myself) collects Angela Carter and Edward Gorey. She also asked me to come talk to her book club - I told her I was flattered, but that I have no talent for that sort of performance! In fact the choice between that and a root canal would be a toss-up...
Chester Cuthbert, who sends reviews of his reading and clippings on subjects of interest - the Canadian equivalent of the O.J.Simpson must be the still ongoing scandal about the behavior of their paratroops in Somalia and the subsequent coverup.
Roger Dobson, who says I should mention an effort to form a society for the appreciation of Montague Summers - I think I heard since that this has fallen through.
Mike Don, who sent a pb I spotted in his Dreamberry Wine.
Cathy Doyle, who says she has seen the `it' from the Steve Stiles cover here... She and Kip have bought a nifty house here in Newport News.
Ken Faig, who says `aw shucks' to my mention of his Tales of the Lovecraft Collectors and mentions that he is working on a novel by HPL's uncle F C Clark - time machine? spirit medium?
George Flynn, who says that I already have Elliot Shorter's address - apparently I had sent him the Green Hills booklet but had failed to put his address in the file. George also says that the co-artist of the Printer's Devil cover is Cortney Skinner - the credit on the book is wrong.
Les Fox, who really didn't like our review of his silly Elvis book - tsk tsk, such language. He may imagine me making the well-known digital gesture that represents the world's smallest phonograph playing Hearts and Flowers.
Don Franson, who sends a membership application for the National Fantasy Fan Federation ($18/year to William Center, 1920 Division St, Murphysboro IL 62966-2320).
Meade Frierson, who gets IGOTS through SFPA, and sends a 15-page list of sf radio productions from the BBC which he and Jim Widner are indexing. I see that I sent him extensive commentary on plots and first publications. Anyone interested in the subject might write Meade at Box 130969, Birmingham AL 35213.
Alexis Gilliland, who says he wrote the GSA spec for the liquid linoleum shown on p.19 lastish - he calls it `metal cross-linked', which I do not understand.
Jim Goldfrank, who says the IGOTS 15 cover reminded him of his old Steve Stiles print showing a dragon carrying off a smoker, with the message `Smokers will be eaten' - I never saw that one!
Dave Hall, who sends a review of a new movie called The Whole Wide World, based on the memoir of a Texas English teacher's relationship with Robert E Howard - it's a bad review, but Dave says most are in that paper. It opened the Seattle International Film Festival.
Thomas Hall, who says that the critter on the cover of IGOTS 15 is a shoggoth. He is still looking for copies of Arthur Machen's Hieroglyphics and An Anatomy of Tobacco.
Mark Harris, who apologizes to all his readers for having had to fold ReDiscoveries so he could pursue a career as a prep-school English teacher... I would give his address here but it will have changed by the time this gets out.
Moises Hasson, who is indexing the Spanish sf magazines and trying to trace the translations back to the original English titles! John Howard, who claims, in connection with my mention of massive Bible concordances, that there is an old saying about Strong's for the strong, Young's for the young, and Cruden's for .... I suspect he just made it up, though one could get some exercise handling Strong's. I have never seen Young's, but the only thing that seems crude about Cruden's is the microscopic print. John is also one of the people who knew that the Christopher Anvil story Franz Zrilich was looking for is Not in the Literature (Analog, 3-63); and says interested fans should write him as Administrator of the ghost story apa `The Everlasting Club'. John also says that `Chico Kidd', who wrote The Printer's Devil is a woman named A. F. Kidd of Ruislip in Middlesex. Alan Hunter, who liked the Bok index and sends some additional data on British publications. Alan also sent two more reviews of the Green Hills of Earth booklet from British zines.
Ben Indick, who hints that Nick Certo's new Bok book is almost ready to go - perhaps it will be in this issue. Ben also sent me his EODzine Ibid with an account of a visit to Bok's apartment in 1946!
Terry Jeeves, who liked the Winters illos, and sends #133 of his legendary fanzine Erg
Ken Lake, who explains that those British stamps with a `1st' under the head of the Queen are for First Class and the ones with `2nd' are for Second Class - but he had to use one of each for the airmail! What a strange system. But then the `1st' stamp was strange too - a cartoon man running mental floss through his head by way of the ears! Ken also describes his horrific experience in North Charleston of being attacked with a knife for wearing a Confederate Battle Flag pin - by a black wearing a Mickey Mouse cap. Ken also sent a very flattering review of Quest for the Green Hills of Earth that he sent through Pieces of Eight apa.
Bob Lichtman, who writes that the `Bok' illo from IGOTS 15 is by Dolgov, and appears in Walter Kubilius' The Day Has Come, not Millard Gordon's Blind Flight. Bob is also looking for a long-lost book -- a juvenile called The Queerful Widget by Willis Brooks Hawkins (Boni & Liveright, 1920).
Ed Meskys, who accuses me of having published in the late 70s a `classic reprint chapbook' that involved `a ship sailing among icebergs' and wants to know the title of it - not mine, does anyone know what book he means?
Mark Neher, who sends a color photoprint of his artwork but no message - I could not afford to print color.
Dale Nelson, who sent a copy of his notes on Arthur Machen's Novel of the Black Seal that he is using in a college literature course.
Ed O'Brien, who after reading Quest for the Green Hills of Earth, sent a page-length original poem about it! Alas, I sent him a copy of IGOTS 15 and he took it to be a catalog; and apparently found it offensive and sent a postcard asking to be removed from the mailing list... Chacun a son gout -- said the farmer as he kissed the wrong end of the cow. He will have to put up with recieving this issue, on the old faned rule that you always send fans a zine they are mentioned in.
Pag-Hat the Rat Girl, who sends a lurid postcard with only the ominous message Dead on it.
Lloyd Penney, who says that The Iron Man & The Tin Woman by Stephen Leacock mentioned in IGOTS 15 was part of his required reading in high school in Orillia, Ontario!
Hector Raul Pessina, a fan that I corresponded with 30 years ago, who sent from Buenos Aires some Argentine phone cards for Chris Hunter.
Tony Pizzini (2504-A Hilliard Rd, Richmond VA 23228), who wants the Lorber books and an old pb Ghouls in My Grave by Jean Ray (Berkley Medallion F1071). I don't want to sell either - I can't find the Lorber books and he could just as well get them from the address I gave - but maybe you have the old pb.
Roger Reus, who says that IGOTS 15 prompted him to write three letters and order $45 worth of my books - what a fine fellow!
Jessica Amanda Salmonson, who sold me several books from her excellent catalog (Violet Books, Box 20610, Seattle WA 98102), and found a copy of John Silence for Herman Stowell King.
Stewart Sayah, who sent me a large collection of copies of rare Hannes Bok art.
Steve Sneyd, who kindly sends copies of British fan reviews of my Green Hills of Earth booklet - it seems to have been reviewed a lot more there than here. And sent some of the elusive spondulix, actual long green, for my duplicate copy of Charles Williams' Taliesin Through Logres / Region of the Summer Stars. And sent me his book on sf poetry in UK fanzines, Flights from the Iron Moon, with its beautiful Harry Turner cover.
Taral, who writes that the little fillo I ran of his art in #15 drew at least one enquiry. He has sent me art for the cover on #17.
Mark Valentine, whose book on Arthur Machen should be mentioned above. Mark tells of two students who were exploring Laurie Lee's village and asked Lee himself where they might find `the grave of Laurie Lee' - Lee said this gave him a curious sense, both of mortality and immortality. I have read most of Laurie Lee's books, wonderful stuff - one can only complain that he has not been prolific enough. Mark also sends me occasionally the bizarre Doppelganger Broadsheet, a British fanzine that looks as though it might have been published 100 years ago.
Henry Welch, who asked for more details on Can It Be Done?, the source of the art in IGOTS 15. I sent the following - There are 102 ideas, one to a page, of which 9 seem to me to be merely silly, 47 have been done, 9 are physically impossible, 21 are impractical or non cost effective, and 11 are obsolete problems. That leaves 5 that I don't know whether they have been done and found not worth the bother or that might yet be done.
Tony Wilson at Molton Books in Wales, who says that the term `Stedman triples' is still current in campanology - I had asked if the Stedman who appears in Chico Kidd's The Printer's Devil was based on a real person.
Peter Winnington, who notes that this year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan. Dainis Bisenieks noted that it would have been eligible for the 1946 retro-Hugo, but it wasn't nominated. If you are interested in Peake, you can get Peake Studies at about 3/$25 from G. Peter Winnington, Les 3 Chasseurs, 1413 ORZENS, Switzerland.
I'm finishing up the typing of this issue on Labor Day, Sept. 2 - I wasn't at the WorldCon, and wouldn't have enjoyed it much with Hurricane Edouard bearing down on this area. As it turned out, the storm passed 200 miles out to sea, and brought us nothing but high tides and cool breezes - but we didn't know that on Friday!