It Goes On The Shelf
No.30 November 2008
Published at The Sign of the Purple Mouth by Ned Brooks
4817 Dean Lane, Lilburn GA 30047-4720
Website -
"And departing, leave behind us
Toothprints in the hands of time."

Cover by Brad Foster (copyright reverts to him)
Back cover by F. G. Cooper (1911, public domain)
Art by Terry Jeeves, Sheryl Birkhead (copyrights revert to them)

John and Diana Fox kindly sent these two books from Down Under - they arrived just after IGOTS 29 went in the mail.

A Child's Book of True Crime, by Chloe Hooper, Knopf 2002, 238pp, portrait.
This curious title is bound in black with an ornate cover design in red and gold and a picture of a dingo and some kangaroos. I had imagined that it was an anthology, but in fact it's a novel, with a frontispiece b&w photo of the author. I didn't know that the old New York publisher Knopf had gone global. The publishing data says this is from "Random House Australia", but it's "Knopf" on the spine.

Nor is it meant for children - the cute animal prologue would fit a juvenile, but the opening of the first chapter is quite erotic. A curious tale that jumps back and forth between an old crime story and a current illicit love affair, while haunted by the history of a prison where children were abused in New Zealand.

Flies of a Summer by Peter Kocan, Angus & Robertson 1988, 125pp, d/w
The dust jacket is odd - it was left untrimmed and the top and bottom edges folded over to fit the book. I have seen this on large "coffee table" books, but not on standard-size novels.

This account of a far-future dark age ruled by aliens called Margai and Gorgai is told entirely in the first person, something that I find a little annoying - I will have to see if I can get used to it. I did finish it - a rather gloomy future!

The Last of Uptake by Simon Harcourt-Smith, Solstice 1967, 80pp, illustrated by Rex Whistler, d/w 35s
I ran across this quite by accident when a friend sent a URL of a website on graphic art that included some of Rex Whistler's illos for this book, and a page of the text. I was more impressed by the text, and found that this 1967 reprint is readily available. The original edition was from Batsford in 1944.

A deliberately ridiculous story, said to be based on legends in the author's family - written to cheer his wife, who had been badly injured in the WWII bombing of England. The artist died in the Normandy invasion of 1944. "Uptake" is the unlikely name of an unlikely mansion inhabited by the eccentric remnants of an aristocratic family. I enjoyed reading it, but 80 pages is about the right length - most of it is a description of the house and its extensive gardens, grottoes, follies, etc. The Rex Whistler art is pretty good, but lacks - to my taste - the spark that Ronald Searle would have brought to the same scenes.

Dew Drops - American Tract Society 1874, 128pp
A local antique store dealer insisted on giving me this for researching a Cruickshank book for him. It's about 1.5x2.5 inch and a quarter-inch thick, bound in blue with the title stamped in gold. The date is an estimate - there is no printed date, but the previous owner, "Geo. V. Adams", wrote his name and the date "Dec. 25th, 1874" on the front fly. The contents consist of a Bible verse for each day of the year - including one for Feb.29 in a Leap Year. Some of the quotations are familiar enough, but others are rather mysterious, as they are taken out of context from the more obscure books - "And were by nature children of wrath, as were others. Eph 2:3".

The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia, Prime Books 2007, 303pp, wraps $12.95
In spite of the author's name and the locale of the story, she lives in New Jersey and no translator is credited. I see that this is a review copy courtesy of Sean Wallace, with three pages of press release. Alas, I have yet to read much of it - it's a fantasy set in the Moscow of the 1990s. It opens rather depressingly with the main character deliberately burning her finger with a match. Then her pregnant elder sister gives birth in the bathroom - and vanishes out the 8th-story window, leaving the infant behind. After that it gets confusing, and I gave up on it - my tolerance for obscurantist dithering is not what it once was.

Fantastic Collectibles Magazine Catalog 149 (Ray Bowman, Box 167, Carmel IN 46082) is a ponderous production with a color cover showing the proverbial lady in a brass bra being protected from giant praying mantis by a hero armed with a hunting knife - good luck! There is no credit for the art, but a small cut on the inside back cover indicates that the cover was adapted from that of the Fall 1950 Fantastic Story Quarterly. The catalog - some 80+ pages - offers mostly SF mass-market pbs. Bowman also ran a survey in a previous issue, and reports here that his clientele is 92% male, average age 54. Bunch of kids - I was 70 this year.... Previous issues have actually had fiction - this one is a "magazine" to the extent of having a 3-page lettercolumn about the survey. None of the names are familiar except that of Martin Kottmeyer - Richard Dengrove has mentioned him.

The Bleeding Horse and Other Ghost Stories by Brian J. Showers, Mercier 2008, 155pp, illustrated by Duane Spurlock.
This small hardcover in a striking d/w is #82/125 signed by the author and artists - and carries no price. The press is at - and that site no doubt has the latest on the price and availability.

These stories, all set in the ancient Dublin suburb of Rathmines, were mentioned on the Caermaen website devoted to the work of Arthur Machen, as being something in the line of his odd stories that lie somewhere in a murky borderland between fantasy and journalism. Showers goes a great deal further with documentation than Machen did ever did - there's a two-and-half-page bibliography, and diary excerpts from 1881.

The stories are well-written and spooky in an atmospheric way - not horror (at least to my taste) as the reader is too far removed to feel much emotional involvement. The effect on a devout Catholic or believer in the occult might be entirely different! The interior illustration is mostly of buildings and streets, while the Scott Hampton dustjacket art rather reminds me of the work of Jeff Jones.

Along with this book, the author sent a pamphlet - Ghostly Rathmines - A Visitor's Guide. This is mostly maps and photos - I would have found it useful when I was in Dublin in 1979! With this is a CD-R where Brian reads the story Oil on Canvas with music by Jeremy Holmstadt. This was rather a shock, as I was expecting an Irish brogue - Brian Showers has the typical midwestern accent, because he is in fact a US citizen resident in Ireland.

Latin Manuscripts by Harold W. Johnston, Scott Foresman 1897, 135pp.
This rather decrepit tome has an odd double title page. Johnston was Professor of Latin at the University of Indiana, and this is one of his series of books - "An Elementary Introduction to the Use of Critical Editions for High School and College Classes". But it doesn't seem very elementary to me. I had Latin in high-school, but just the garden-variety courses in grammar and translation. Here there are large fold-outs of facsimiles from actual Latin manuscripts - in lamentably low contrast. Quite likely the best they could do in 1897. There is a table comparing the "half-uncials" and "minuscule" letters from different sources - Lombard, Visigothic, Merovingian.... I'm glad I never had to take whatever course this book was used in!

The BudK Catalog for Father's Day 2008, 48pp - I have no idea how I got on this mailing list.... This outfit from down in Moultrie GA offers fantasy weapons from fantasies some of which I never heard of, everything but actual fire-arms. "Lord of the Rings" swords, triangular Masonic pocket watches, staffs of "unbreakable white wax wood", the "Nodachi" sword of the blind warrior, sword canes, the Uruk-Hai scimitar (fully licensed, $89.99), a Dragon Bowie necklace that conceals a dagger, "Wildlife" straight razors, "Exotath, the sword of the Dark Elf Agnemmel" (forged by Firaneth!), throwing hatchets, a "chain whip", an SS officer's dagger, a 27-inch "secret agent sword", a blowgun and chain mail on adjacent pages, a "Mithodrin" sword ($96.99), a crystal skull necklace, the sword of King Solomon, a "self-cocking" crossbow, and an "exact replica" of the sword of King Leonidas of Sparta (made of half-inch thick steel - they don't say what it weighs!).

The Neddiad by Daniel Pinkwater, Houghton Mifflin 2007, 307pp, illustrated by Calef Brown, $16.00
As a "Ned" myself (thanks to an old family joke) and Pinkwater fan I had to have this - and George Wells sent me one too. My sister likes Pinkwater, so an extra copy was welcome. An excellent fantasy too, based in Indian legend and nostalgia for the trains and cars and movies of the mid-20th century. The hero, Neddie Wentworthstein, saves the world from something like one of Lovecraft's Elder Gods, but without worrying much about it. The artwork is crude but pleasant enough as chapter-heading cuts.

The Occupations of Muriel Thompson by Leona Theis, JackPine Press 2008, 36pp saddle-bound.
This is No.1 of 75 copies of a beautifully made tribute to Muriel Thompson by her daughters - I was sent a copy because Muriel was a professional typist and mimeographer, and they wanted to include actual stencil material enhanced with the actual dayglo pink corflu sold by Bohn RexRotary in the tiny 1-oz conical bottles. No price is given, but there is a website -

Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd, Vintage Books 2007, 282pp, wraps, £7.99
A reprint from 1994. I have a number of Ackroyd's novels, which are complex and atmospheric. I wouldn't attempt to explain this one, which involves the Elizabeth Cree murder case, but I did enjoy it. "Dan Leno" (1861-1904) was the stage name of an 1880s British music-hall comedian - I ran a caricature of him in a early IGOTS, taken from his autobiography.

Wormwood 7 (Autumn 2006), ed. Mark Valentine, Tartarus Press, 92pp, wraps, £8.99
Ray Russell ( sent me this copy of an excellent literary magazine in the field of the "fantastic, supernatural and decadent". I remain confused by the term decadent, which seems to imply that something is decaying - but what?

Excellent articles on Chesterton and Beckford's Vathek; and an unpublished fragment by Sarban titled Agorit, set in Morocco where the author was British Consul in 1947-48. Douglas Anderson contributes an excellent column on recent releases in the field.

By a curious synchronicity, as I was reading this I received the July 14, 2008 issue of New Yorker, which has an even longer piece by Adam Gopnik, emphasizing Chesterton's anti-semitism.

Samuel Sewall's Diary ed. by Mark van Doren, Macy-Masius 1927, 272pp.
This is an abridgement of the 1882 3-volume edition. Samuel Sewall (1652-1730) was a magistrate in colonial Boston, and this book contains entries from 1675 through 1729 - presumably the editor retained the most interesting ones. A pretty book, which is why I noticed it in the thrift store, bound in dark blue cloth decorated in red and gold. The entries seem to retain the spelling of the day, and there are words I never saw before. Most of it is clear enough from context, though the first entry (Sewall would have been 22-23) is rather mysterious:
"April 4, 1675, Sab. day. I holp preach for my Master in the afternoon. Being afraid to look on the glass, ignorantly and unwillingly I stood two hours and a half."
I know that "Sab." is "Sabbath", and "holp" is an archaic past tense of "help" - my father remembered his father using "holp" that way. But what "glass" was he afraid to look at, and why?

Sewall agonizes a great deal over his religion, and is apparently considered an upright pillar of the community - and yet he casually mentions the hanging of Quakers, and serves as one of the magistrates at the Salem witch trials, noting with no sign of disapproval the pressing to death of Giles Corey for refusing to plead to a charge of witchcraft. Several years later he seems to repent publically for his part in the atrocity - but it isn't clear whether he has come to believe that hanging "witches" is wrong, or that the people hanged were not guilty.

In 1693 he lists his 11 children by his first wife - six of whom died in infancy. I think he had four more after that. He mentions a comet, several eclipses of the moon, and one eclipse of the sun - December 6, 1713. I thought I had a large book of solar eclipse dates, but I can't find it. Google finds it however - December 17 by the Gregorian calendar. England and its colonies did not switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian until 1752.

Toasts, editor anon, publisher anon, no date, 62pp, illustrated by "Dwig" (Clare Victor Dwiggins)
Walter Wentz gave me this book, a collection of toasts - it's bound in leather and cut in the shape of a beer stein. I'll drink to that - but not beer, I never acquired the taste for beer.

Moonchild and Others, ed. Walter J. Wentz, 2007, 36pp, illustrated by Nicola Cuti, wraps, $6.
Walter sent me #17 of 50 copies - it's professionally printed on good paper with slick color covers and consists of a page by the editor and a selection of reprints of Cuti's artwork, especially the comic character Moonchild, who is unquestionably cute in a Betty Boopish sort of way. The inside back cover is an index to the known appearances of Moonchild, 1966-1979. Address: Walter J. Wentz, 1817 17th Avenue, Forest Grove OR 97116.

What Can Be Saved from the Wreckage? by Michael Swanwick, Temporary Culture 2007, 56pp, wraps
Henry Wessells - who I knew mostly for his Avram Davidson website - kindly sent me this book, one of 200 made. No price is given, but the press is easily found online. The subtitle is James Branch Cabell in the Twenty-First Century, and there is a preface by Barry Humphries.

I have a number of Cabell books - mostly for the artwork, but I have read some of the short novels such as The Witch-Woman. And I have seen Cabell's typewriter, an Oliver, in a reconstruction of his office in Richmond. I'm not sure this qualifies me to comment.... The Barry Humphries preface is excellent - he had read Jurgen as a teenager, which is more than I ever managed. Swanwick speaks of Cabell (1879-1958) as "forgotten", but of course I never noticed that - as a haunter of bookstores, I could hardly turn around without seeing some of Cabell's many books. He was mentioned in fanzines in the 60s as well, and Lin Carter added two of his books to the Ballantine "Adult Fantasy" line.

Swanwick says that Cabell wrecked his own career - which had taken off when the Comstock gang brought legal action against Jurgen as "obscene" - by rewriting his books for publication in matched sets, and says that too many of them are just unreadable. What can be saved from the wreckage? Well, Jurgen anyway. He never seems to mention The Witch-Woman (though it's in the Bibliography), but most of the rest are well covered. A great deal more about Cabell and his books than I ever knew, and well-written too. I have shelved it with the Cabell books.

KRAX 44, ed. Andy Robson, 64pp, wraps, illus. divers hands, wraps, £3.50
Plus a 16-page "KRAX Reviews" - all very nicely printed, but devoid of pagination or a colophon (not even the editor's name appears, or a date). The editorial address is given: 63 Dixon Lane, Leeds LS12 4RR, United Kingdom A 3-copy sub to US addresses is offered at $20 - but you have to send cash.

Aside from the reviews and two pages by Andy about Gaia Holmes, this is all verse and artwork and photos. There are several excellent drawings by Alan Hunter. In the reviews he complains that the entries in IGOTS lack "relevance" - quite likely.... Now if he had complained about their revelance....

The Baum Plan for Financial Independence by John Kessel, Small Beer Press 2008, 318pp, $24.00 A short-story collection rather than a self-help book as the title seems to indicate. If I had never heard of Kessel and saw this in a thrift store without the dust jacket, I probably wouldn't even pick it up to look at. The dust-jacket, while not very skiffy, does hint that the book is more than some con man's psychobabble. The boards are covered in actual cloth rather than the paper usually seen now.

Excellent stories over a wide range of science fiction - two that I had read in F&SF and one previously unpublished. I am puzzled as to why The Juniper Tree seemed familiar. It's reprinted from a 2000 issue of Science Fiction Age, but I don't recall ever seeing that.

Magic, Mysticism, and Hasidism by Gedalyah Nigal (trans. by Edward Levin), Jason Aronson Inc. 1994, 290pp, notes, index.
A thrift-store find in mint condition. There is no price on the dust-wrapper, but a Net search indicates that it goes for about $50. A very readable anecdotal account with extensive notes. But although the Baal Shem Tov and many curious magical powers are mentioned, the Golem does not appear in the index nor can I find any mention of that legend.

Fractured Fairy Tales by A. J. Jacobs, Bantam 1997, 181pp, $19.95
These 25 tales are from one of the standard features of Jay Ward's old Rocky and Bullwinkle TV show. Jay Ward appears in the dust-jacket blurb, but is not overtly blamed for the cartoon art decorations. I liked the show and watched the reruns for years, but would not have paid twenty bucks for this book - it was a thrift-store find. I think the material worked much better as cartoons! There is no hint in the book of the date of the original shows. But A. J. Jacobs' date of birth is given as 1968 - and the "Fractured Fairy Tales" segments first appeared in 1959, narrated by Edward Everett Horton....

Whosoever Shall Offend by F. Marion Crawford, Macmillan 1904, 388pp, illustrated by Horace T. Carpenter
Early science fiction - though I doubt the term was in use yet at the time. But on p.38 Professor Kalmon displays a vial of his "sleeping death", a water-soluble undetectable poison - and gives the formula for it:
Perhaps a more chemically astute reader can tell if that means anything at all! All I can tell is that it seems to be a hydrocarbon. The Professor recommends its use in war, and says he has made enough to kill all 33 million Italians of the time.

An Almost Anonymous Informal Note appeared on a mailing permit from Clearwater FL, with the POBox address of the fanzine (?) Wild Surmise. The only long article in the 4 pages is signed "Booty", and gives a brief summary of a curious theory in the science of genetics which Wild Surmise covered in more detail over the last few years. There is now an even fuller explication, with data, at The gist of it seems to be that, as the percentage of inherited genes shared by a mating couple drops, so does their interfertility - that is, you would produce more children with your 3rd cousin (everything else being equal) than with your 10th cousin, and either would produce more than if you were to mate with someone of a different race so that you shared no ancestors other than the "Eve" found by tracing mitochondrial DNA - as if I (all anglo as far as I know) were to mate with an Australian aborigine. Thus globalization and immigration lead increasingly to reduced rates of reproduction. Booty and the writers of the website seem to feel this is a bad thing - but it seems to me that the Earth is well on its way to being overpopulated, and a drop in fertility not much of a concern.

Galaxy Press ( sends a grandiose color catalog on heavy coated paper revealing their plans to reprint the immortal works of L. Ron Hubbard through the year 2015 - some 80 books, and a matching set of 80 2-hour audio-books. The books are to have b&w interior art. They don't say by who, or who did the color covers in the catalog. I only recognize one image - the cover for "The Crossroads", scheduled for May 2010, is certainly by Edd Cartier. And indeed Cartier did illustrate a Hubbard story by that title, in the Feb'41 issue of Unknown - but not in color, it's an interior line drawing. That Unknown does not even have a color cover. Each paperback book or or audio-book is priced at $9.95, the first (a pirate novel) to appear in September 2008.

Why Things Burn by Daphne Gottlieb, Soft Skull Press 2001, 126pp, wraps, $12.
Acquired used, I forget where, probably for the odd color cover attributed to Kim Stringfellow. The poem "Legion of Doom" about cartoon superheroes is fairly coherent. It's messily inscribed all over the title page.

Fantastic Universe Vol.8#1, July 1957, 128pp, $0.35
Richard Dengrove sent me this, I didn't have any of them except for three in the Hannes Bok collection. It was edited by Hans Stefan Santesson, and has stories by August Derleth, Manly Wade Wellman, Robert Sheckley, and Harlan Ellison (as "C. Bird"). I read it as an experiment - not exactly a Golden Age, alas.... Derleth's Seal of the Damned is the usual overworked Lovecraftian spookery. Wellman's Fiddler on Titan is space pirates and jello aliens that the hero charms with his fiddle - but he lacks the charm of Silver John. Sheckley has an utterly pointless but blessedly short story about a "wishing machine" that needs better calibration. And "C. Bird" gets the very weak Finlay cover for his Song of Death, a tale of a spaceman trying to capture an alien Lorelei - "Shambleau" it ain't. I have read speculation that the "C. Bird" stories were an attempt to mock Cordwainer Smith, who by 1957 had published Scanners Live in Vain and The Game of Rat and Dragon - but there is no evidence of that here, the C. Bird story is just a silly predictable joke.

The Sensuous Dirty Old Man by "Dr. "A" [Isaac Asimov], Walker 1971, 2nd prtg, illustrated by divers hands, also photos, signed, VG in d/w, $3.95 [and George will sell it for $300]
And not just signed by the author - George Wells took it to several conventions and before he caught up with the Good Doctor, several other people signed it on the front fly and pre-title - 55 of them, if I counted right, including George Takei from Star Trek, Bob Vardeman, Harry G Purvis, Bruce Pelz, Charlie Brown, Jack Harness, Bill Burns, Buck Coulson, Ron Bounds.... Some of the signatures are illegible. Finally, at InfinityCon in 1973, Isaac Asimov signed it on the title page.

The graphics all appear to be appropriate public-domain material lifted from here and there - mostly pictures or photos of famous DOM. The text is sparse - but choice!

Nonce by Michael Brandon, Coward-McCann 1944, 181pp [Only $10!]
This was also among the books that George Wells wants me to sell for him - see the duplicate books list on my website, George's books are marked with a "[for GHW]". I may keep it myself, as a bizarre example. It was reprinted the same year by Avon as a mass-market pb with a lurid cover. I suspect the author's name is a pseudonym, he doesn't seem to have published anything else. And yet it seems unlikely that this was his first effort - peculiar as it is, the prose is excellent pulp-style prose and flows very well. There are only four principal characters, and they are all in a frantic operatic passion all the time - and all dead at the end. The plot involves a sort of Indiana-Jones character who retires to the boonies and meets a real voodoo priestess - that is, she wields real supernatural power. He quotes from a French translation of a book on voodoo written in Portuguese by a Dr. Raimundo Nina-Rodrigues - and you could get a copy of that book on the Net. The "Nonce" of the title is not Shakespeare's "nonce", but the name of the voodoo priestess, who does not enter the plot until p.67. Most of the action takes place along the Atlantic coast of Georgia, and the descriptions of swamp scenery and wildlife are very detailed. One odd note is the hero's description of how he would hibernate in his swamp cabin in the winter - even in the early 1900s, before global warming, I don't think that area would have had much of a winter.

Worldcat finds a Michael Brandon story in the 1956 anthology "Saturday Evening Post Stories", but the online fictionmags index to that magazine finds nothing by him.

Misfit in Middle-earth by Dee Beetem, AgentWithStyle 2008, 172pp, illus. by Erika Frensley, spiral-bound.
This is a PoD book by a member of Slanapa, an apa I have been in for nearly 40 years - a hereditary member, as her mother, the late lamented Doris Beetem, was one of the founding members.

An attempt - something along the lines of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - to imagine actually being transported to Tolkien's Middle Earth at the end of the Third Age. The protagonist finds herself at the court of King Theoden of Rohan. She can magically understand the language - I don't think Twain considered that problem but just had the people at the court of King Arthur speak standard pseudo-medieval English, which they would not have, assuming the usual 8th-century date for Arthur (if there was such a person).

Quite well-written in the light fantasy style of a Harold Shea story. There is apparently a great deal of such derivative fantasy through this publisher, but I think this one example will be enough for my Tolkien collection.

The Beginning Was the End by Oscar Kiss Maerth - Praeger 1974, 236pp, trans. by Judith Hayward, photos, ills.anon, d/w $7.95
The subtitle tells it all - How man came into being through cannibalism - intelligence can be eaten. Well, not quite all - Maerth also says that each of the human "races" developed from a different breed of ape and includes 16 photo pairs to demonstrate resemblances. The resemblance is not at all convincing to me - and some of the animals pictured are (what little I know about zoology) monkeys, not apes. Oh - and a side affect of this cannibalism was the loss of the power of extrasensory perception that our ancestors had.... How does Maerth know these astounding facts? They came to him as revelations, and he wrote the book in a Chinese Buddhist monastery before rejoining his wife and three children in Switzerland. I suspect he giggles a lot....

Postmortem #4, Spring 2007, the Centipede and Millipede Presses
An illustrated catalog of their offerings - Jerad Walters is easily reached through the website:
What's most startling about this catalog are the prices of the books offered... A few reprints are in the $50 range (or $12 for the trade pb), but most others are $225-1,000. I'm curious who the clientele are - I don't know anyone with that sort of money. Are CEOs, lawyers, drug dealers, politicians etc that likely to be interested in Lovecraft and reprints of Frankenstein?

The Corpse Grinders II directed by Ted V. Mikels, Alpha Home Entertainment 2007, 103 minutes, DVD.
The cover blurb refers to this as a "long awaited sequel" - those with too good a memory may be condemned to remember a 1970s schlock horror film called The Corpse Grinders. I remember only the title and the gimmick - to enhance the corporate bottom line, a cat-food maker decides to use cadavers as a meat source, and as a result the cats get a taste for human flesh and turn on their owners.

In this sequel, the nephews of the original owners re-establish the defunct business on the same basis - but in hopes of keeping the audience awake, the plot is enhanced with cat-people aliens from outer space. Val Lewton must be spinning in his grave. The front of the box offers "cannibal cat people from outer space" - but the cat-people were not cannibals at all, and at the end of the film still didn't know that the 400 cases of Lotus Cat Food the government gave them were made from human cadavers. In any case, to be a cannibal you have to dine on your own species.... The blurb on the back of the box opens with the "giant flesh-mangling meat grinder" - but in fact the artifact is not as big as an ordinary refrigerator. I have a mimeo that's almost that big.... I remember the machine from the original Corpse Grinders as being much larger. The cat-people costumes and space-ships are ludicrous. Altogether, not recommended unless you are a real bad-movie fan - it falls somewhere between Plan 9 from Outer Space and Barn of the Blood Llama. This was inflicted on me by my old friend George Wells - thanks, George!

History of the Commanist League by Elwood Farquhar, Point-of-Fact Press 1961, 216pp, photos, index
Few people now remember the Commanists I suppose. The League was formed in opposition to the McCarthy-era anti-communist witch-hunts, which in ultimate rabidity found a McCarthyite proposing that the common comma be banished from American English. Members of the League all had a red comma tattooed on the back of their left hand: See
The example is rather blurred and faded with the age of the member.

I was looking at the relationship between the Fibonacci Series and the Pythagorean numbers.

The Fibonacci Series is:

F(i) = F(i-2) + F(i-1), for F(1) = F(2) = 1
thus producing the well-known series:
1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144....
And the Pythagorean numbers are integers such that:
A2 + B2 = C2
so that for example A=3, B=4, C=5; or A=5, B=12, C=13 where A and B are the legs of a Pythagorean triangle, and C is the hypotenuse. Charles Raine (as reported in David Wells' Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers) noticed that for any four adjacent members of the Fibonacci Series, F(i), F(i+1), F(i+2), F(i+3) (for any i), it was always true that if:
A = F(i) x F(i+3) and B = 2 x F(i+1) x F(i+2)
then A and B are always Pythagorean leg numbers such that
A2 + B2 = C2
and C will also be an integer.

This is true for all Fibonacci-type series, whatever integers F(1) and F(2) may be. But only with the Fibonacci Series itself (as far as I know!), where F(1)=F(2)=1, do we find this curious pattern:

Pythagorean Hypotenuses alternate in the Fibonacci Series and the other members are differences of squares of consecutive Fibonacci numbers:
F(1) = 1
F(2) = 1
F(3) = 2 = 12 + 12
F(4) = 3 = 22 - 12
F(5) = 5 = 12 + 22
F(6) = 8 = 32 - 12
F(7) = 13 = 22 + 32
F(8) = 21 = 52 - 22
F(9) = 34 = 32 + 52
F(10) = 55 = 82 - 32
F(11) = 89 = 52 + 82
F(12) = 144 = 132 - 52
F(13) = 233 = 82 + 132
F(14) = 377 = 212 - 82

Note that the Fibonacci numbers recur in each column! The odd-index Fibonacci numbers are all Pythagorean hypotenuses:

C2 = A2 + B2
such that C is an integer but these do not include all such values of C. Rather, this is a subset of the hypotenuses of Pythagorean triangles for which the ratio of the legs, A/B, approaches as an asymptote the value A/B = 2. This last, that the ratio of the legs A/B approaches 2 asymptoticly seem to be true of any series formed using the Fibonacci algorithm.

To further madden those bored with or ignorant of the delights of mathematics and geometry - I had often wondered if the Pythagorean triangle: A2 + B2 = C2 where A, B, and C are all integers, had an analogue in three dimensions, a Pythagorean "corner". That is, are there three triangles (see figure):

a2 + b2 = e2
a2 + c2 = d2
b2 + c2 = f2
such that sides a, b, c, d, e, and f are all integers. No doubt someone worked this out even before there were computers to make it easy, but I have never seen an example. There are in fact such sets of numbers. The smallest such set seems to be:
Legs a=44, b=117 => Hypotenuse e=125
Legs a=44, c=240 => Hypotenuse d=244
Legs b=117, c=240 => Hypotenuse f=267
Another such:
Legs a=396, b=2160 => Hypotenuse e=2196
Legs a=1053, c=396 => Hypotenuse d=1125
Legs b=2160, c=1053 => Hypotenuse f=2403
also has an integer area of the triangle e-d-f, A=1232759. The other three triangles in these sets, a-b-e, a-c-d, and b-c-f, always have an area that is an integer, obviously. Not that it matters....

Not That It Matters by A. A. Milne, Dutton 1925, 233pp
A very worn copy that "Maudie" gave to "Begie" for Christmas that year. Milne of course is most remembered as the author of the "Winnie the Pooh" books. These are essays that he wrote for The Star, The Outlook, and The Sphere. The title pretty much says it all - they are very light-weight reading! I was struck by "My Library", where he recounts how he moved to a new house, and to clear the library floor, put the books on the shelves any which way! I couldn't stand that - when I moved here in 1998 I left the book boxes stacked in the garage until I got the shelving up, and then unpacked them and sorted the books into proper order on the shelves (it took a year or so!). Even worse, Milne admits that his books were never in any order, and complains that it isn't possible - if he put all the poetry together, Beattie would be next to Byron, and the sizes are very disparate, 4 inches to 11 inches. That is a problem - I remember being in a large private library in Australia where it had been solved by shelving the books by size and giving each a shelf number that was referenced in a card catalog - I did that with my collection of VHS cassettes. I see that Milne too had half a dozen Rubaiyats - mine are mostly shelved by the illustrator.

The Collected Poems by Mervyn Peake, ed. R. W. Maslen, Fyfield Books / Carcanet 2008, 259pp, illustrated by the author, notes, index, wraps, £12.95
Or $23.34 at Amazon. The cover is the color painting for "The Glassblowers", and the pages are decorated with small line art cuts and some larger b&w pieces as well.

The author of the Gormenghast trilogy died 40 years ago this year. I enjoyed those books, and collected his other illustrated books as well, so I had to have this. Maslen has done a great job - there's a contents listing for the artwork as well as for the poems, and the artwork is dated! The Notes attempt to keep up with the revisions of the poems, which are given in chronological order and go back to 1929; and there are indexes by both title and first line.

Are these good poems? I am the last one to claim any critical authority in such matters. They seem good to me, in the way that poetry should be good - dark, wild, and musical.

Shasta - a Halloween promotional brochure from Shasta/Phoenix announces the resurgence of the old imprint with the Hannes Bok logo of a demon (or alien?) reading a book. The first book is a collection of Frank R. Paul artwork from the pulps. There is of course a website -

Inconsequential Tales by Ramsey Campbell, Hippocampus Press 2008, 249pp, illustrated by Jason Eckhardt, wraps, $15
A review copy from Derrick Hussey, with an insert giving a publication date of December 1, 2008. The color cover is the first color work by Eckhardt I had noticed, though I had been impressed with his line drawings, especially the wonderful 1982 pictures of R'lyeh and Kadath in the Cold Waste.

I had not read any Ramsey Campbell recently - I remember not getting far with his novels. These stories seem to have been collected from his entire career, as far back as 1966 - in fact, the editors of the magazine where The Childish Fear appeared were fanzine editors in 1965 (Alien, Nadler & Partington, 15 issues 1963-65) and then did just one issue of the semi-pro Alien Worlds in 1966.

But The Childish Fear is an excellent tale - the color cover must be based on it. The rest of the tales seem a bit too surreal and atmospheric too me - they remind me of dreams I have had where causality and motivation are lacking.

The Heart of Childhood, edited by William Dean Howells and Henry Mills Alden, Harper & Brothers, 286pp.
No actual date of publication is given. The copyright dates run from 1891 to 1906, which might hint that these were magazine stories - Howells' introduction is not clear on the matter. One "J. B. McClelland" wrote his name and the date on the front fly in 1910. The spine and title page also carry the words "Harper's Novelettes", as if this might be one of a series of theme anthologies, but no other titles are mentioned. There are 12 stories, one by Howells himself and the rest by authors I had never heard of before.

I liked some of these better than might be imagined from my preference for skiffy literature. They tend to be overly wordy to modern taste of course. As Howell notes in his introduction, these are stories about children for an adult reading audience. Some are too sentimental for me, while the last two, A Transplanted Boy by Constance Fenimore Woolson and Zan Zoo by George Heath, are non-supernatural horror stories.

Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue, Joanna Cotler / HarperCollins 1997, 228pp, $14.95
This is subtitled Old Tales in New Skins and would have been better with some artwork, but I enjoyed them. The 13 tales are linked by transitional dialog pages, but each stands alone. I could recognize the bones of an old tale from Grimm or Andersen in some of them. There's no indication that they are reprinted from anywhere. Oddly enough, the copyright page directs the reader to "HarperCollins Children's Books", though there is no other indication that children were the target audience, except that the print is fairly large, the margins wide, and only 25 lines to a page. The content would be suitable for "young adult" I suppose.

New fanzine archive - The University of Iowa, which recently acquired the large Mike Horvat amateur journalism archive (both mundane and sf zines), is apparently interested in archiving current fanzines as they appear. Address - Greg Prickman, 100 Main Library, The University of Iowa, Iowa City IA 52242-1420. I hope they are managing to keep their collection dry!

It Comes In The Mail -

Steve Aylett (or someone - there is no return address) sends three colorful postcards from the UK promoting the books by "Jeff Link" published by Raw Dog Screaming Press:

Su Bates, who sends a Christmas card.

Ruth Berman, who knows where Chuck Connor got the fanzine title Phlizz - it's a Lewis Carroll word from Sylvie and Bruno that refers to images of people that Sylvie and Bruno can create out of thin air.

Sheryl Birkhead, who sends a Christmas card, and later a decorative fillo, and notes that the Sherlock, mentioned last time as having Ron-Cobbish art in Brad Foster's LOC, is a woman and a Hugo nominee.

Dainis Bisenieks, who kindly says that IGOTS reminds him of Poe's "quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore" in The Raven.

Leigh Blackmore, who sends a Christmas card from Wollongong down in Oz.

Rick Brooks, a distant midwestern cousin, who notes that he found a "really vile villain" named Cuyler Willington in The Shadow in 1935, a tale called The Dark Death; and that he thinks Bush is just stupid rather than actually evil - it's hard to tell, but in any case he didn't do the evil all by himself, a lot of people had to cooperate.

Kevin Cook, who sends the address of the nursing home where Tom Cockcroft is now, alas. T. G. Cockcroft, c/o Wesley Haven, 249 Rata Street, Nae Nae, Lower Hutt, New Zealand. Kevin notes that I wrongly attributed the apazine he sends me to the EOD - it's a PEAPS zine.

Ken Faig, who kindly sent a program and flyer and Machen photo card from the the stage version of The Great God Pan put on in Chicago this year by the WildClaw Theater. Earlier he had sent his EOD zine with the Wikisource printout of H. P. Lovecraft's 1912 will - twice, if anyone wants the extra copy.

Al Fitzpatrick, who sends a Christmas photo card of himself and family - he now looks rather like the late lamented George Carlin.

Brad Foster, who sent the beautiful cover.

John & Diane Fox, who sent a very "Down Under" Christmas card showing a pygmy possum peering out of an exotic flower.

E. B. Frohvet, who sends a Christmas card and a LoC - he asks where all the books in the library at Gormenghast came from.

Alexis Gilliland, who sends his homade Christmas letter noting that he is putting his 40 years of cartoons on the Net - by razoring them out of old fanzines. I would have traded him a scanner for the intact fanzines!

Jim Goldfrank, who sends a photo card of his schnauzers bedecked in holiday finery.

Mary Gray, who sends a Christmas card and threatens to comment on IGOTS.

John Guidry, who sent me the URL of a website documenting a large collection of pocket protectors, that ultimate mark of the techno-nerd. It turned out that I had one not in the collection, and the collector paid me $20 for it.... It was only gently used, from when I was a safety head at NASA/Langley - it's white vinyl, with "NASA SAFETY" on it in green. I had two of them, fastened back-to-back so that I could carry a 6-inch scale as well.

John Haines, who sends his SF poetry zine Handshake; and a clipping from the Daily Telegraph about Ernest Hemingway and the Drop Dead Letter Club in Paris and its vintage typewriters.

Linton Herbert, who kindly invites me to visit him at the next Necronomicon in Tampa.

Steve & Suzanne Hughes, late of SFPA, who send a Christmas card from their hideout in Ellijay.

Alan Hunter, who apologizes for sending a mere commercial card - he is no longer able to draw his own, alas.

Ben Indick, who sends a Christmas card, and later some of his zines for FAPA and the EOD. And a postcard asking what the Steve Stiles cover on IGOTS 29 is "about".

Terry Jeeves, who sent some of his little fillos. Later he asks what the IGOTS 29 Steve Stiles cover is about - I never enquire too closely into the mental processes of artists, but it might have been inspired by the Tom Lehrer song Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.

Herman Stowell King, who sends a Christmas card - and is now online from Wicomico VA.

Kris & Lola in sunny Spain, who send their elegant zine Going Postal.

Elaine Koogler, a cousin who used to be in the SCA, sends a Christmas card.

Colin Langeveld, who sends a Christmas card with a stamp on the envelope that he designed in honor of William Hope Hodgson - full color with a portrait of Hodgson above an image of a schooner threatened by the Kraken, with the caption "The Sargasso Sea Company" below. Alas it was not treated kindly by the postal myrmidons - they didn't cancel it, but tore it.

Terence McVicker, who challenges my assertion that there were at least two typos in his edition of The Black Abbot of Puthuum - I sent him the gruesome details.

Joseph Major, who notes that the "pithed" mentioned as of the fallen airships in the book version of Kipling's With the Night Mail meant that the gas bags were punctured so that the wreckage would sink and not be a hazard to navigation.

Tim Marion, who finally noticed that I managed to review the same book (The Unknown Lovecraft: II) twice (and not quite the same) in IGOTS 28. Tim has since bought my spare Skullface dust-jacket - and sent me a mini-poster of the image!

Eric Mayer, who says I must be totally mad by now from the reading of eccentric books - no, the maddest of the books is harmless compared to the reality as seen in the daily paper. Who ever thought a president of the United States would make torture official policy? Speaking of mad books, Eric notes the publication (Poisoned Pen Press) of his seventh book, about a eunuch detective in the Byzantine Empire.

Dale Nelson, who asks how I knew about the C. S. Lewis travel books mentioned in IGOTS 29 - the author sent them as thanks for my having scanned a book for him. Most of the hardcover fiction in my collection is listed at my website.

Rick Norwood, who kindly sent me a replacement for the Comics Revue 250 with the Vaughn Bode cover that was taken by gremlins. That's the 250th monthly issue, an amazing record for such a publication. And it has the Russ Manning Tarzan in full color in each issue. Enquire at
Rick also says that the Generation of Prime Numbers is nonsense. And asks what he should do with boxes and boxes of SFPA and CAPAalpha zines - I don't remember just what I told him. There are several fanzine archives around the country besides mine. I have all of SFPA (to date). Hal Hall at Texas A&M, the Pelz collection at UCR, the Univ. of Iowa archive mentioned above are all archiving fanzines.

Christopher O'Brien, probably the youngest fan I know, who sends a Christmas card.

Mark Owings, who reveals the sad (if deserved) fate of Tom Haughey, who I remember endlessly reciting his iambic pentameter at the room party Phil Harrell and I hosted at the 1963 DisCon - Haughey "...became a radio preacher in Texas. He has run at least twice for Congress against Kiki LaGarza, and written a couple of Christian detective novels, in one of which I understand the evident murder victim was not murdered at all, but translated directly to heaven".

Lloyd Penney, who notes that Barry Kent Mackay lives in the Toronto area and still does artwork. Lloyd says that the artist "Sherlock" is Sherry Sherlock, and that she has had art in Challenger and other southern zines.

Andrew Pickles, who found one of my zines among the papers of his father, Derek Pickles, and e-mailed me that Derek had died - which I knew from the fan press, of course. I had corresponded with Derek Pickles on and off for decades. I have 172 issues of his Odds & Sods from the 1990s.

Gary Roberts, a fellow collector of archaic gizmos - he sold me a Hotchkiss stapler - sends excellent photos of an A B Dick mimeograph, all wood and brass and cast iron. There was still liquid ink in the tank.... I offered to send him a stencil!

Andy Robertson, who sends an e-mail noting that he had remailed the UK copies of IGOTS. And he won't even let me refund the postage - thanks Andy!

Andy Robson of Krax,whose letter has a large colourful (UK) stamp in honor of the "Customs Dog" - not an actual breed as far as I know, looks like a spaniel. The Royal Mail will apparently put anything on a stamp.

Bob Sabella, probably one of the few who understood my comment on the little booklet about The Generation of Prime Numbers - and thought it was bogus. I think it was honest but that the author was self-deluded.

Tom Sadler, who sends a Christmas card from his new abode in the mountains of Kentucky, and later another issue of The Reluctant Famulus.

Jeff Schalles, who I traded e-mails with over how to clean an old Gestetner ink gun. I had sold my second Model 320 to a man on Long Island and hadn't thought to check that - I had only used the other 320, and never had a problem. But the two spare ink guns I have here were also clogged. I took them apart and cleaned them, and the man in NY did the same, I think - an interesting if messy task. One gun was full of petrified black ink, and the other of gooey red ink.

Langley Searles, who sends a card showing the Christmas cougar.

Steve Sneyd, who notes that his book on poetry in UK fanzines, Flights from the Iron Moon, mentioned in IGOTS 16 in the previous millennium, is now online courtesy Chuck Connor at Bill Burns' site as a searchable PDF file.
Steve notes that the "Thursbitch" used as title by Alan Garner is a real place in the Peak District, a derelict 18th-century farm. And that Brian Talbot's Alice in Sunderland seems to be based on Michael Bute's A Town Like Alice's - and I see that the earlier book is indeed in the Sources list.

Garth Spencer, who sends a Dec'07 postcard to say that he is resuming The Royal Swiss Navy Gazette as an online zine. Apparently this is still in the works (as of July 2008), as Google does not find it.

Milt Stevens, who cringes at the idea of the fictional fried whale and plum sandwich mentioned lastish - I think it would depend on the bread and seasoning how tasty this would be. I once had pickled octopus and plum brandy at a fan's house - not bad at all. Milt also wonders if the completists are saving PoD books - probably. I'm told that the user-made stamps are now collected!

Peter Sullivan, who has been sending me Virtual Tucker Hotel, the paper version of an e-zine about a virtual fan lounge, that is (I think) a fannish chat room. Try -

Dave Szurek, who sends a Christmas card and a letter.

Juan Carlos Verrecchia, who sends a Felices Fiestas card from down in Argentina.

Brad Verter, who noticed that the Schoenherr art on the dust-wrapper of the Chilton edition of Frank Herbert's Dune (Chilton 1965 - the art had appeared on the cover of the Jan'65 issue of Analog) did not actually fit the wraparound (onto the spine) that the designer wanted - so he patched a strip from the right-hand side over to be the spine background.

Toni Weisskopf, who sends a Christmas card.

George Wells, for whom I had sold a copy of Jetman vs the Mad Madam, explains the plot of that unlikely tome. What a memory!

Walter Wentz, who sends a wonderful account of being stuck in the La Brea Tar Pits.

Fred Woodworth, who publishes The Match, sends a sheet on the police-state raids on the Long Haul Infoshop publishing collective on the Berkeley campus - odd how that never made the local press. Maybe it was on the TV news - I wouldn't know, I watch very little of that.

This issue seems to be short compared to what I produced in previous years. Perhaps, as I passed the Biblical three-score-and-ten, my inspiration failed along with my knees.... I remember 20 years ago when I went book-hunting with Emory Bradley he would ask me what was on the bottom shelves, as his knees no longer let him get down there. I do not try to write about whatever happens to turn up here - even when I like something I may not feel I have anything useful to say about it.

And so closes another issue, in the eighth (and last, praise Ghu!) year of the reign of King George Dubya, the Star-Spangled Torquemada. I hope that
all of you had a Happy Halloween, and will have a

Merry Christmas!
A Happy New Year!
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