Tempus fidgits as my mother says and here it is February of 1993 and I am 55 years old and eligible to retire from the only job I ever had, as an engineer with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I don't know that I actually will retire any time soon - where else could I have so much fun and get paid for it? And what would I do with myself all day long?
For my birthday my sister sent a picture, from an Isaac Asimov book, of camels loaded with books - the descriptive text tells of the book-lover Abdul Kassem Ismael (A.D.938-995) who was Grand Vizier of Persia. In his travels he was always accompanied by a train of 400 camels just for his library of 117,000 volumes. The camels always stayed in the same order on the trail so as to facilitate reference. Each camel-driver was also a librarian responsible for the books on his camel (about 300), so any volume could be retrieved fairly quickly - though the train must have been nearly a mile long.
A most appropriate book to start with is one I got recently from England:
The Cabinet of Curiosities by Simon Welfare & John Fairley, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1991, 214pp, illus, 15 pounds (about $27).
I love this sort of book, though I would prefer it had an index. The d/w shows the preserved body of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, on display as he wished at University College, London. He has been there for 150 years, and for the first 90 years after his death was brought to meetings of the governing body of the College - though not allowed to vote. Bentham had proposed that everyone be preserved at death and left on display for the edification of his descendants!
Another item that interested me was that about the Vermont number wizard Truman Henry Safford who was asked, at the age of 10, to multiply 365,365,365,365,365,365 by itself. After dashing about the room biting his fist and rolling his eyes in agony for less than a minute, he gave the answer: 133,491,850,208,566,925,016,658,299,941,583,225. The date of this event is given only as `in the last century', meaning before 1900. I couldn't help but wonder how they knew for sure that he was right! The calculation can, of course, be carried out longhand - but there would be an enormous number of opportunities for error. Matters may be simplified somewhat by noting that the answer is also equal to:
Out of curiosity I wrote a BASIC program in this computer to multiply any two numbers of less than 100 digits each. It took me a lot longer than a minute to write it, but it gave the same answer in less than a second of computation.
Chinese Creeds and Customs by Valentine Rudolphe Burkhardt, no
publisher, no place, 1958 (12th impression), 181/201/164pp + indexes &
bibliographies, illus. in line by the author.
The first editions were 1953, 1955, and 1958. The three volumes are printed on the very thin unbleached paper typical of Chinese books and bound together in blue cloth. Burkhardt was a British colonel (D.S.O., O.B.E.) born in 1884 who spent most of his life from 1913 to 1941 in China. Was there a British edition? A very detailed look at an alien civilization. I may scan in the depiction of the God of Literature!
The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, Redfield, New York, 1858,
A very wrecked 4-volume set, missing the first few pages of V.2 and pp.607/608 at least of V.3 as the last of the Fifty Suggestions that appears is LXV. But it didn't cost much and contains Eureka: A Prose Poem which I wanted to read after seeing it mentioned in the first issue of Roger Reus' The Stylus. Eureka is very long for a prose poem, nearly 100 pages of small print - in fact, it seems to run to over 30,000 words! You got your money's worth when you bought a book in them days... These must have been handsome books when they were new. The bindings have stamped in gold on the spine the famous Raven on the bust of Pallas.
In form Eureka looks more like an essay than a `prose poem' and is, in fact, solemnly subtitled An Essay on the Material and Spiritual Universe. By the third page it seems to have become what we would call science fiction, as there is a description of a letter from the year 2848 - but with the introduction of this letter, the very solemn tone of the beginning rapidly becomes more like solemn farce, as Poe uses the device of this letter to meander through a sarcastic description of Western philosophy, from Aristotle to Mill.
Poe had obviously read a great deal of philosophy and saw the essential problem of being able to say anything definite about anything - the indeterminacy of the language. He notes that many of the axioms that Aristotle reasoned from are no longer accepted as self-evidently true. And he uses as an example the impossibility of a man leaping to the moon - in a sense, this can no longer be considered impossible!
After about the 15th page, Poe begins to make theosophical conclusions by analogy from what physics he knew. The physics seems to be right (there is even a diagram showing how the force of radiant energy falls off as the square of the distance), but the analogies do not seem to me to have much force and the argument rapidly becomes incomprehensible. After 96 pages, the conclusion (italicized like the shock ending of a tale by H P Lovecraft) seems to be that all creatures have the capacity to feel pleasure and pain but the general sum of their sensations is precisely that amount of Happiness which appertains by right to the Divine Being when concentrated within Himself. I like that `precisely'!
Free I Got by Ernest Mann, Little Free Press, $8.95
This is not on hand, but an offer from the author, who published it himself. It is a compendium of the issues of The Little Free Press from the previous gathering, I Was Robot through the last one, #90, when the title folded after 23 years. This non-fan economics fanzine nevertheless promoted a very science-fictional (or even fantasy!) idea - that everyone should work for nothing and all goods and services be free. Inclosed with the letter is a cartoon poster called Portals to Paradise showing the happy citizens of the free economy at work and play. Address: 1011 Sixth Avenue NE Apt 21, Little Falls MN 56345. [NB - Ernest Mann is now deceased]
The fanzine itself was always free, though the books are not - but `small publishers' or people on his mailing list can also get both of the books free as IBM/DOS ascii files, by sending 2 formatted 360K 5.25 floppies for each book and including the return postage.
But even aside from the well-known flaws in human nature such as laziness and greed, I don't see how this scheme could work beyond a very small self-sufficient community. The wealth of modern industrial society is based on mass production, which brings the unit cost of even very complex gizmos within the reach of the average worker. But if these gizmos were free, the information feedback that controls the level of production would be lost, not to mention the competition that enhances quality, and the system would collapse in chaos.
Henry Miller A Bibliography of Primary Sources compiled by Roger
Jackson & Lawrence J. Shifreen, 1160pp.
Another book that I don't have and am not likely to - they want $99 for the trade edition, or $150 for the casebound limited edition with color photographs. Apparently no great demand is anticipated, there are to be 1000 of the trade edition and 85 of the limited. Address: Roger Jackson, 339 Brookside Drive, Ann Arbor MI 48105.
Roger Reus (see above in the Poe section) also contributed to my attempt to compile a Wallace Smith bibliography when he mentioned the two stories by Smith in the first and second issues (there was no third) of the 1952 pulp Fantastic Science Fiction. Curt Phillips writes that this pulp was a bedsheet and the contents mostly juvenile, and that it is scarce because the editor was the same Walter Gibson who wrote The Shadow. Well, Roger is sending a xerox of the first story Lost City of the Sky, perhaps someone out there can supply the second, She Was a Creature of Fire and Death. And I would like to know where Gibson got these stories - Smith had died 15 years earlier, in 1937.
Tom J. Fulopp, (Srobarova 33, 05801 Poprad, Slovakia) sends a form letter (typeset for dot-matrix, rather like my system here) apologizing for not replying to whatever fanzine or letter I might have sent him, because he is swamped with fanstuff and can't keep up. I know the feeling, but I don't think I ever sent him anything!
The Overwrought Urn ed. by Charles Kaplan, Pegasus, New York, 1969,
A very funny collection of parodies of literary criticism that I picked up at a sale at the Hampton Public Library - more fools they, this is exactly the sort of book they should have kept. It opens with Jorge Luis Borges Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote; and if it never quite attains that level again, at least they tried.
Ritual And Other Stories by Arthur Machen, Tartarus Press, 1992,
286pp, 22.50 sterling.
The price would be about $35, depending on the exchange rate. Only 300 copies were made so I don't know if there are any left, but the address is: R. B. Russell, 51 De Montfort Rd, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1SS, England. Oops, I see I have a COA to `5 Birch Terrace, Hanging Birch Lane, Horam, Heathfield, East Sussex TN21 0PA'.
This beautifully-made volume contains 32 Machen pieces, 14 of which are collected from pre-1900 magazines and so extremely hard to track down. I enjoyed them very much.
The New Year by Arthur Machen, Tartarus Press, 1992.
This is a tiny pamphlet with only five pages of text, and only 100 copies were made. I don't remember the price. It is a reprint from a 1928 issue of a magazine called The Referee, a rambling dissertation on customs and memories of New Year celebrations.
Argo by R. A. Lafferty, United Mythologies Press, 1992, illustrated by R. Ward Shipman.
This is part of the larger work More Than Melchisedech that Dan Knight at United Mythologies in publishing serially in editions of 50 signed copies and a trade edition. Unaccountably the pages are not numbered! The artwork is excellent and the book well-made. I have to be in a certain mood to read Lafferty, but I can't resist these. Address: United Mythologies Press, Box 390, Station A, Weston, Ontario M9N 3N1, Canada.
R. A. Lafferty, Live!, United Mythologies Press, 1992.
See previous item for address. This is a cassette tape given to those who bought the limited edition of Argo - Lafferty's Guest of Honor speech from the 1979 Deep South Con in New Orleans, as recorded by R. W. Sirignano (better known in fandom as Robert Whitaker). I was there and thought it was one of the best speeches I ever heard.
Virgil Finlay's Strange Science, Underwood-Miller, 1992, 150pp,
If your local skiffy dealer doesn't have this any more, try 708 Westover Drive, Lancaster PA 17601. I don't much care for the color covers of this 8.5x11 pb, but the b&w interiors, collected from books and pulps going back into the 30s are great! And they are obviously reprinted from the original art, not from the murky smudges that were often seen on the cheap pulp paper. On p.56 is the single illo for the 1937 Weird Tales story Quest of the Starstone by C L Moore and Henry Kuttner. Like many of Finlay's illos, it attempts to reproduce the actual description of the scene - almost any other scene in this space opera would have been easier. This one involves a spaceman and his Venusian sidekick and a medieval witch being threatened by reptilian alien undead in an atmosphere full of drifting sparks. Not Finlay's greatest illo - but I would like to see anyone do better! The foreword and introduction are by Robert Bloch and Harlan Ellison, respectively.
Bill Danner writes at some length - he knows what the corrosive sublimate and proof spirit mentioned lastish in the mention of Inquire Within are - corrosive sublimate is an old name for mercury bichloride (very poisonous) and proof spirit is a dilution of ethanol (grain alcohol) to 0.4924 by weight. He does not explain, however, why this particular mixture should have a special name.
Bill (who is older than dirt) notes that he saw the The Scoundrel, the film version of Ben Hecht's Fantazius Mallare starring Noel Coward as a first-run movie. Probably by candlelight...
Bill also says that my explanation of `stereotyping' is not quite correct, but I don't think I will inflict any more of this very technical and obsolete technology on the readers, if any of them are still awake. He also complains about my use of the non-word attendee - certainly he is right that the formation of the word is inconsistent with older uses of the `ee' suffix, and it doesn't seem to be in the dictionary. Must be a newspaper word.
Anita Cole sents three pages of purple handrot about Hurricane Andrew; and says that she thought she did see R. A. Lafferty at MagiCon.
Notes & Queries, V.1 & 2, compiled by Brian Whitaker, Fourth
Estate, London, 1990, 185 & 216pp, 6 pounds sterling each.
I forget where I bought these pbs, but I think when I ordered them I was laboring under the misapprehension that they were reprints from an old magazine column. Actually they are reprints from a modern newspaper column that started in the British paper The Guardian in 1989. But they are fun anyway - people would send in questions, and then they would print answers recieved from other readers, thus relieving the newpaper staff of the need to actually do much. They would also publish later answers from readers who thought the first answer was full of it.
This method does not always provide a satisfactory answer, but usually the Guardian readers come up with something in reply to questions like Why is `q' always followed by `u' in English, What is the origin of the expression `Holy Mackerel'?, and Did Adolf Hitler ever visit Liverpool?. This last question is the basis of the 1979 Beryl Bainbridge novel Young Adolf and is not as far out as I thought when I read the novel - there is a book by Bridget, the wife of Hitler's half-brother Alois, that claims that Hitler visited them in Liverpool in 1912 (he would have been 23 at that time). The date of publication of this book is given as 1979, but it is also stated that it was written `at the height of Hitler's power', which would have been somewhat earlier - perhaps Ms Bainbridge got a look at the manuscript.
Another entry was on the meaning of the curious nonsense riddle Why is a mouse when he spins? and its even sillier answer, The higher, the fewer. This was one of my father's favorites. The most interesting answer was that it is not altogether nonsense - properly it should go How is a mouse when it spins? - The higher, the fewer. And the meaning had to do with the centrifugal governor on an old steam engine - the weight was called the mouse, and as the engine rpm increased the mouse would rise due to centrifugal force. But as the mouse rose, the arm would force the steam valve in the more closed direction, thus reducing the rpm, that is, the higher (the mouse), the fewer (rpms). So for a given setting of the mouse on the arm, the engine would run at a constant speed.
Button-Tack, The Rick Sneary Memorial Fanzine, ed. by June & Len
Moffatt and John Hertz, Moffatt House, 1992, 58pp.
Probably too late to get this but the address is Box 4456, Downey CA 90241. Excellent Cover photo of the late Rick Sneary and a backcover by ATom. Besides samples of Rick's own writing, there are contributions by Bob Bloch and Walt Willis. Like Warner's A Wealth of Fable, this fanzine gives the reader some idea what fandom was like in the 50s - I've always regretted that I didn't know about it until the 60s.
Other Americas Radio (Box 85, Santa Barbara CA 93102) / Prevailing Winds Research (Box 23511, Santa Barbara CA 93121) This 50pp dual catalog seems to be divided between printed material from Prevailing Winds and audio cassettes from Other Americas - it would have been a favor to the customer to merge the ordering system! At first glance I almost chucked it in the trash, as the cover is a photo of Nixon (ptui!) and Bush (yechh!), but it turns out to be at the opposite end of the political spectrum from those two bozos. Many of the entries are short bits of printed (xeroxed?) material of a specific corner of some political controversy of conspiracy theory, and these sell for 0.50 - 1.00+ each. Then there are items like the comic book that seems to show Rockefeller on the cover in a superman suit holding a laser cannon spewing corrosive froth. I see there is a box on how to reach their BBS if you have a computer that's up to that. Also videos, baseball cards, and T-shirts... I may order something yet!
The Mysterious Doom and Other Ghostly Tales of the Pacific Northwest,
by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Sasquatch Books, Seattle, 1992, 201pp, wraps, illus
by Jules Remedios Faye, $11.95.
Although told in fictional form, and some as the adventures of the fictional psychic detective Penelope Pettiweather, each of these tales has a note at the end of the volume giving the details of the sources consulted. The illustrations remind me a little of Lee Brown Coye and a little of Alexander King. I think this was sent to me as a review copy, but perhaps not, it isn't marked. The address for this small press is 1931 Second Avenue, Seattle WA 98101.
Oddly enough, there are only a half-dozen or so illustrations, but they are repeated 2-3 times so that each of the 17 stories gets one as a header.
The Poison Oracle by Peter Dickinson, Pantheon, New York, 1982, 191pp,
This mass-market pb reprint of a 1974 British (Hodder & Stoughton) book was marketed as a `mystery' but given a cover (by Winslow Pinney Pels) more suited to fantasy. I enjoyed it, but it seemed more like sf to me. A very complex plot based on linguistics, anthropology, and animal intelligence - there is an utterly alien primitive society and a monkey that has learned to `talk' using colored plastic disks.
The Haunted Pampero by William Hope Hodgson, Don Grant, Hampton Falls
NH, 1991, 272pp, illustrated by Arthur E. Moore, $30.
These are some of Hodgson's previously uncollected tales, in an edition of 500 copies. The preface by Sam Moskowitz (who signed this edition) is very detailed, and runs some 70 pages. Some of the stories have additional introductory material.
The Moore cover art is good as to color, but the drawing and design are awkward. The b&w interior illustrations are very good in detail, but lack that subtle magic that makes something by Bok or Fabian or Finlay seem to live.
These are excellent tales, well worth preserving in this form. Hodgson had something of the genius of Edgar Allan Poe, in that his stories are gripping to read without regard to the conclusion.
"You Dropped It, You Pick It Up", by Jim Paul, Ed's Publishing
Company, Baton Rouge, 1983, 222pp, illus. with photos and cartoons by divers
An extremely silly book that I picked up at a local thrift store, about the 222-0 score in a football game between Georgia Tech and Cumberland University in 1916.
The First Score by Cyril W. Beaumont, Nicholas T. Smith, Bronxville
NY, 1980, 100pp, illus.
Margaret Cubberly gave me this beautiful little book. It's a detailed account of the first twenty books published by the Beaumont Press between 1917 and 1927. I cannot seem to find any reference to where this press was located - perhaps in England, as some of the authors whose books are listed are Walter de la Mare and D. H. Lawrence.
Witchcraft in England by Christina Hole, Fitzhouse, London, 1990,
182pp + Notes & Index, illustrated by Mervyn Peake, 12.95 pounds sterling.
An excellent example of how not to reprint a book - the 27 illustrations by Mervyn Peake are mostly ruined by cheap printing.
Nightscape by Stephen George, Zebra/Kensington, New York, 1992, 352pp,
This was sent to me by the author, who has published five previous novels and has since started his own fanzine again - he was a fan before he began to publish.
This is marketed as `horror', and certainly kept me guessing as to what the horror might be - in the end it turned out... But why should I spoil your fun? A good plot and mysterious atmosphere and the action moves right along, with none of the repetitive dithering that makes the Stephen King books so needlessly overlong. Unfortunately, just like King, the style is too plain for me - I like the poetical pizazz you find in Poe or Dunsany or Clark Ashton Smith.
Here There Be Dragons and Way Up High by Roger Zelazny, Don
Grant,Box 187, Hampton Falls NH, 1992, 42 & 44pp, illustrated by Vaughn
I saw this boxed set at MagiCon and could not resist, in spite of the price. The gorgeous Bodé art is all in color (except the endpapers). The format is typical of books for small children, with a relatively small amount of actual text, as the print is quite large in addition to the small number of pages. The paper is all a coated stock, and the edition was limited to 1000 sets. The existence of this material had been rumored for years since the death of Vaughn Bodé in 1975. The fly note says that these books were originally to have been published by Jack Chalker's Mirage Press, but there is no other explanation of the delay. Roger Zelazny wrote the stories in the 1960s!
Avram Davidson wrote immediately after the previous issue of this zine went out (all material for the next issue is thrown in a large box, and may emerge in any order!), addressing me as Icy Beaded Bubbles - I ran across this odd phrase recently elsewhere, but carelessly failed to make a note of it, though I didn't understand it there either. In fact, I see that Avram also sent a postcard, where he addresses me as KuKu Byrd, and notes (see remarks above from Bill Danner) right under the address that Jack London's Adventure is full of corrosive sublimate, and says on the card that it was still used as an antiseptic when he was a child and that he once tasted it. In the letter Avram says that he did make an attempt about 5 years ago to complete the sequel mentioned last time to his 1969 novel The Island Under the Earth, to have been called The Six-Limbed Folk. In general he says he agrees with my not altogether rave review, which he expects will be the last of that book!
Avram also takes umbrage at my misuse of the term `Rev.' as in the Rev. Livingston, saying that it is correctly the Rev. Robert Livingston or the Rev. Dr. Livingston or the Rev. Mr. Livingston, etc. I never knew about this rule, and as with my use of the non-word attendee mentioned above can only blame it on excessive reading of newspapers.
A recent Locus carried reviews of Avram's Adventures in Unhistory, but I have yet to recieve the copy that I ordered when it was first announced - not surprising, as the current practice seems to be to send out galleys to the reviewers. Still, they might have sent me one of those! I should certainly have a copy to review here before this issue of IGOTS goes out in the fall.
Walt Willis also wrote shortly after IGOTS 9 went out, and even remembered meeting me at MagiCon, though he says so much happened during his stay in the US that it seems he must have stayed much longer. He includes an odd sort of tribute to Stephen King, saying that after a breakdown caused by overwork, he found himself unable to read any fiction except King's for some time! Just goes to show that, as Gelsomina says in La Strada, everything has its use in this world - certainly King has piled up enough verbiage to keep one reading for a long time.
Walter concludes with the following, which I must quote in full:
I have been considering just why IGOTS is so interesting. It puts one in a position reminiscent of a mediaeval monarch who has a food taster, enabling him to sample all sorts of exotic foodstuffs without risking being poisoned or sickened. You are performing a real public service, and I only hope you can escape poisoning or indigestion indefinitely.
I read somewhere recently that the word gallowsglass originally referred to a man who fulfilled this function for a Celtic chieftain. But I do not believe that it is possible to be poisoned by anything you read. Certainly much of modern fiction is distasteful, but no one is forced to read it. As to non-fiction, it is certainly possible to suffer indigestion from reading about the appalling events described in the press, if you believe the accounts - and I fear they are retold from too many aspects to be totally discounted. But of course the only hope of civilization is that the public business be carried on in public, sickening as it may be.
Dainis Bisenieks writes about books he has picked up, and asks if I ever see the trade (as opposed to the ubiquitous Book Club) edition of The Sword in the Stone or Mistress Masham's Repose by T H White - probably not, as I see my copies of both these books are the BOMC edition. A local book dealer was over recently and bought two duplicates I had of Mistress Masham's Repose, which rather surprised me as I had thought of it as being a book where the demand never exceeded the supply, but these were also BC editions.
Robert Whitaker Sirignano, mentioned above in the review of the R A Lafferty Argo, writes that he has one other book besides Fantazius Mallare with Wallace Smith art, Benjamin DeCasseres' The Shadow Eater. I have this too - I suppose I should publish my bibliography of Wallace Smith, but I keep finding it incomplete, as with the two pulp stories mentioned above under the Roger Reus entry.
I have now read Lost City of the Sky from the 1952 Fantastic Science Fiction (V.1,#1), a photocopy sent by Roger Reus. There is no mention of how the story came into their hands so long after Smith's death. An odd story, with errors in Spanish (the story is a Mayan lost-race fantasy set in Mexico) that I would not have expected Smith to make.
Ben Indick writes that he has the very rare Introduction to Islandia by Basil Davenport mentioned in the last issue, and notes that long as Islandia is, it includes only about a quarter of what Austin Tappan Wright wrote! Ben recently sent me a box of books by UPS, believing that this so-called service would not leave them without getting a signature. I could have told him better - they delivered a parcel to my roof a few years ago. The books were apparently left on an open porch, and were stolen. I have written them and the police about it, but I have little hope.
Jack Palmer (also known as Rudi Rubberoid), the husband of Pauline Palmer, writes that they enjoy IGOTS. Pauline published a fantastic fanzine about the time I was publishing It Comes In The Mail. Jack incloses a fanzine which he says I am not to review, and also this curious pamphlet, for which much thanks:
Laszlo Toth by Roger Dunsmore, Pulp Press,
Vancouver, 1979, 25pp, illus., $2.00.
Laszlo Toth is the lunatic who damaged Michelangelo's 473-year-old Pieta sculpture in St Peter's Basilica in Rome with a sledgehammer in 1972. This pamphlet (called on the cover `an improvisational text' is a sort of surrealist examination of the possible motives and reactions to this peculiar act. Toth shouted as he hammered away that he was Jesus Christ - what does this mean? The pamphlet seems almost to glorify his act in the context of the much worse atrocities being committed at the time - but what is the point of attacking a statue? If Toth had taken a sledgehammer to Thomas Enders, who sat before the US Senate and denied that the massacre of women and children at El Mozote in El Salvador (this comes to mind as the report on the excavation of the mass graves was on 60 Minutes tonight, March 14) had ever taken place so that the US government could continue to use my tax dollars to fund the government that committed this atrocity, I could at least understand his motive.
Donald Schank writes that the cover illo on IGOTS 9 is probably by Joseph Clement Coll, as `the design and appearance of the characters seems to match' illos from The Lost World reproduced in The Magic Pen of Joseph Clement Coll, a book that I thought I had but couldn't find until recently. I agree with Schank about the style, but I see now that none of the illos in the copy of The Lost World that I had actually appear in the The Magic Pen.
Somewhere a computer has hiccuped and I am now getting various catalogs addressed to James Rivbrooks at this address - I think this started with Bud Plant's massive merchandising effort. No great harm done - I sent one of the extra catalogs to a friend and he ordered some stuff!
Robert Bloch says that The Scoundrel, the film version of Fantazius Mallare starring Noel Coward, was considered florid and overdone in its time, but that it does give a good look at Coward in his prime. Forry Ackerman sent me a video of this movie, and while it is certainly dated, it moves right along and I enjoyed it.
Bloch also says that my comments about the difficulties of actually getting a copy of the MacAdams biography of Ben Hecht explains why it wasn't in the bookstores. I gave him MacAdam's address, that's how I finally got a copy. And he says that he read A Short History Of Human Stupidity by Pitkin that I reviewed last time in a public library in 1932 and has been looking for a copy ever since - so if anyone has a spare one, let us know!
John Francis Haines of 5 Cross Farm, Station Road, Padgate, Warrington, Cheshire WA2 0QG, England, says that he got my address from Langley Searles and encloses the House of Moonlight Poetry Leaflet 12:
Android Wars by John Francis Haines, pub. by John Howard (15 Oakwood Road,
Bracknell, Berks. RG12 2SP, England), 1992, 4pp, illus, 20p (about 30 cents US).
Five poems about a future in which there are androids to discriminate against in addition to all of the identifiably different human groups we have today - a depressing thought!
Jim Goldfrank says that he sends the fanzines he gets on to a Joe O'Donovan in Cork, Ireland - oddly enough, in spite of their long literary tradition, I have never heard from anyone in the Republic though I have corresponded with a number of fans in Northern Ireland. Years ago, when Lord Dunsany's widow was still living, someone gave me the address for Castle Dunsany but I never used it. When I was in Dublin in 1979 I couldn't even find a bookstore, but it must have been a matter of not knowing where to look.
Jim also blames me for introducing him to the Narnia books in 1970, says his daughter is now reading these books to his granddaughter. Since 1970 these books have not only been reprinted many times, but have been dramatized by the BBC and are available as videos at BlockBusters.
Terry Jeeves kindly sent the rumored British `Tolkien stamps' - there is no such thing, alas. What they did was put the common QEII stamps in a fancy Tolkien folder in honor of his centenary. The folder is nicely illustrated and includes the details of a contest that you enter by deciphering a test in runes - actually a drawing, as the problem is not of great difficulty.
Arthur Metzger, who was in Apanage (the apa for children's literature) at the same time I was, writes that he read IGOTS 9 at Bill Bowers' place after he moved in there, and enjoyed it. He says he recognized the cover as being from The Lost World. I don't remember when I was in Apanage, it was a long time ago - but I do remember that I suggested the name itself.
Mark Valentine offers to look for Fiona MacLeod books for me and asks if I can get him Six Against Tyranny by Inge Scholl, the basis for the film The White Rose about the anti-Nazi underground - I did, it's still in print here. He also mentions his publication Purefoy and Arthur about Arthur Machen's second wife, which has since been published - I have one. He promises to look up Wallace Smith in the British Library and says they would require him to cite a source for Smith's date of death before any artwork could be copied. I wonder what they would consider a reliable source? I have it that he died in 1937, and this comes from the preface page that Ronald Clyne did to his artfolio of the Fantazius Mallare artwork. I also have from Roger Reus a photocopy of the microfilm of the February 1, 1937 New York Times obituary. However, Clyne gives his age as 49 at the time of his death, whereas the Times obituary says he was 48.
Forry Ackerman, in addition to the video of The Scoundrel mentioned above, sent a piece of artwork by a lady he knew during WWII, when he was an army sergeant and she was a lieutenant. The art is unsigned, but he remembers her name as Elizabeth Horton. The interesting thing is that Forry says she did the art for a new illustrated edition of Fantazius Mallare! I have not been able to find any reference to this book or to Ms Horton and would certainly appreciate any information. Forry also sent Kelly Freas' new address, thanks.
Rick Norwood says that he wrote to the New Jersey address given in Penguin pbs and asked for a list of their titles - they publish some very interesting books in many fields - but never got an answer.
Whisker J. Finnell seems to contradict my recollection that I had not heard from anyone in the Republic of Ireland, but this letter from him has no return address and makes no sense. It is written on the back of a form saying that he was born in Dublin in 1930. The phone number given is Area Code 671, but this is the code for Guam, not Ireland. There is mention of a collect call after the convention from a village in the upper Himylayas, but I never had a chance to refuse this. Very mysterious... The date is October 26'92 and I haven't been to a convention since then anyway.
Robert Sagehorn sent an SASE for stuff about Arthur Machen, don't remember if he ever ordered any. He notes that Machen is mentioned in Trevor Ravenscroft's The Spear of Destiny
Stephen George - see review of his novel above - writes that he used to publish a fanzine called Zosma. And I see that indeed I have issues 12-21 of this title, notable at first glance for a lot of great Jerry Collins art.
Ruth Berman (2809 Drew Avenue South, Minneapolis MN 55416) asks for addresses of bookstores specializing in children's books, says Fred Meyer and the Oz Club are trying to get more distribution of their reprints. A local dealer recently bought a decrepit duplicate reprint of one of the Reilly & Lee editions from me for more than I would have thought it was worth.
Camille Cazedessus (1447 Main Street, Baton Rouge LA 70802-4664) sends a sketch of a Tim Kirk original that he wants to sell and asks if I can identify where it was published. No, I don't remember it and it seems quite distinctive - a castle on a hill with a huge black tube going off into the sky. Sounds skiffy! He was interested in the Coll art and I think I gave him the decrepit copy of The Lost World it came from.
George Flynn (and several others) wrote to say that Gwent is not an old name for Wales as I said last time, but only the part that was later called Monmouthshire; and that I typoed Thror for the title of the Jack Vance novel Throy, the third of the Cadwal Chronicles; and that it's Betelguese (but it was actually Betelgeuse on the DeEsque book I was mentioning); and that the last line of the dirty limerick should have been De minimis non curat lex - picky, picky, picky.
Eduardo Carletti (Ediciones Axxon, Anchorena 1517 - Itzuaingo (1714), Argentina) sent another of his computer graphics for the IBM/DOS, the covers of a fanzine called Axxon - this set has #33 through #36. Beautiful stuff. Every time you run one of them you get a different variation on that basic design. Works fine on my DOS 5.0 with VGA - if you want a copy send me a blank formatted diskette in either size.
Rodney Leighton, who sent me the Blood-Sucking Monkeys of North Tonawanda mentioned last time, sends a sheet called I Got It Free listing a bunch of people who sent him strange mail. Some sf - Leah & Dick's Stet and my thing are listed - also a lot of wrestling and comix items and even stranger things.
Dragon's Eye by Alex McDonough, Ace, New York, 1992, 167pp, $4.99.
Actually by Janet Fox (?), who sent me this copy. Another Byron Preiss Visual Publications book that has no graphics whatsoever except for the cover art by Kevin Johnson. On the back of the title page it says `Special thanks to Janet Fox' but my recollection was that she said she wrote all the Scorpio books, of which this is the fifth. Scorpio is a telepathic alien with the face of a turtle but the cover art of the medievalish lady with the castle in the background makes it look like a `gothic' crossover. I have not read it - seems to be well-written with a lot of research into Avignon at the time it was a papal seat. The heroine is Jewish and Pope Clement VI and his cardinals seem to be the villains. So many books, so little time...
A Langley Searles, the legendary editor of Fantasy Commentator, writes about the back issues of IGOTS that I sent him after Tom Cockcroft introduced us. He notes that Josephine Case, who wrote the curious book-length sf poem At Midnight on the 31st of March was also the first woman on the board of directors of RCA, and died in 1990 at the age of 82. And on Avram Davidson's remarks about eating clay, he says that this was common in the US during the depression and in China during famines for the illusion of fullness it gives, though of course there is no nutritional value. Searles says however that a clay called bentonite actually does provide a benefit in hog and cattle feed by absorbing certain toxic compounds - and even quotes the patent number for this process!
Joe Bob Briggs (Box 2002, Dallas TX 75221) sent the Nov.30'92 issue of his We Are The Weird, now in its eighth year - he will send a sample issue to anyone, anywhere.
Politically incorrect and funny, lots of stuff on schlock movies - even has a list of all the H P Lovecraft movies.
Even more radical and surreal than the above is a digest-size zine called either Secret Devil or Clowns Killing People (Box 32, 52 Call Lane, Leeds LS1 6DT, England). Alas it's so surreal I can't make out how to get it, nor do I recall what, if anything, I did to get this one. Lots of music reviews, then books, comics, and movies; some interesting art. Aha - I see this is the same address as the Syd Mygx mentioned in a previous IGOTS.
Bush For The Bushman by John Perrott (29310 Seabisquit Drive, Boerne
TX 78006), 227pp, wraps, 88 color plates, $14.95 + 3.50 p&h.
Also gives a an address at Publishers Distribution Service, 6893 Sullivan Rd, Grawn MI 49637. In spite of the title and the author's name, this is nothing to do with the recent election... Perrott has written this book to promote the idea of leaving the Bushmen of the Kalahari (as in the film The Gods Must Be Crazy) some bush to live in. He notes that rather than conquer their environment with technical progress as we have, the Bushmen have learned to live in a very hostile environment as it is, so that their lifestyle is indefinitely sustainable - whereas ours may well not be.
An interesting point of view (I have only the flyer, not the book itself), but I am not convinced. The idea of endless millenia of generation after generation pursuing the same primitive lifestyle with no hope of improvement - the mind boggles.
Richard Dalby (who never told us whether the illos from The Ship That Sailed To Mars were reprinted from the original art or from the original edition) does send a couple of John Moore books for my collection, much thanks!
Dale Nelson thanks me for trying to help with his search for sources of D. A. Freher artwork; and incloses a 16-pages story that came into being when he got carried away with his new word-processor. Not bad though, I told him I thought Ganley might buy it for Weirdbook.
Curt Phillips, just to drive me batty, goes on about the speed being too high on my old tape of George Heap singing Green Hills of Earth - capstan changes, 50-cycle vs 60-cycle electricity, and so on. But I recorded the thing live and played it back on the same machine to record to cassette. This is a heavy old Webcor AC portable, seems unlikely to me that it would play back faster here than it recorded in Philadelphia. Anyone interested in my effort to preserve George Heap's tune for this famous sf song might drop me a line. I am musically illiterate myself, so I don't know how successful the effort to have the music written down has been. My plan to publish it is frustrated for the moment by the Heinlein estate and lack of suitable art.
Curt says that he thinks Davenport's Introduction to Islandia appeared as a mass-market pb in the late 70s, and hints that I might have his copy if he ever finds it - sounds like he is as well-organized as I am! He also wants to trade me his extra copy of Orphia, the Bulgarian sf magazine, but apparently we never settled on anything suitable. I would like to have it - I think I sent for it when there was an address for mail-order, but never got anything. Curt also sent me Rusty Hevelin's new address - Rusty had to move to a bigger place to have room for his collection!
Curt wants me to advise any Hubbard/Crowley fans out there that he knows nothing about that connection whatsoever. I can confirm this, as he sent me a copy of the issue of Bixel where Alva Rogers said nothing about them at all.
Michael McKenny writes about the Russian translation of Tolkien - he can actually read it. And mentions a possible entry in the contest for worst sf novel (which has been stalled for some years as no one has been able to find anything worse than Arthur N. Scarm's Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman) called Moon Baby by John Bailey.
Phil Tortorici (who contributed some of the art to past issues of IGOTS) sends a weird postcard with an even weirder request, that I drop him from the mailing list because he won't be able to do fanzine art for some time. Guess he never heard that even death will not release you... Phil also suggests that We Are The Weird (see above) be nominated for the Semi-Pro Fanzine Hugo.
The House of Humor and Satire (P.O.B. 104, 5300 Gabrovo, Bulgaria) sends the entry form for its 11th International Biennial to be held in May'93. Alas, the closing date for entries was March 1, and I am typing this in March for publication in October. Well, get a headstart on '95!
Steve Sneyd sends a copy of p.10 of Star*Line (V.12#8, Dec'78) which not only indicates that Suzette Haden Elgin had incorporated herself as a church at that time, but includes the text of a hymn she wrote to be sung to the tune Amazing Grace - good too.
Tony Pizzini, who writes very fancy, says that the Hubbard/Crowley/Jack Parsons business that Curt Phillips knows nothing about is all written up in Gerald Suster's The Legacy of the Beast (Samuel Weiser, 1989) and The Magical Revival (Weiser, 1973).
Fred Lerner writes that he wants a Theodore Herzl novel I mentioned in an apazine - alas, I cannot find it nor even be sure whether it was by or about Herzl, it's been a while since I saw it here. The particular title he wants is Altneuland which would be something like `Old-New Land' in English and is about a Zionist utopia.
Fiodor Eremeyev in Ekaterinburg, Russia, writes that his firm has translated a number of Arthur Machen works and is looking for others. I sent him the 1888 Thesaurus Incantatus in its reincarnation as The Spagyric Quest of Beroaldus Cosmopolita, but it was one of the last copies of my edition of that, it's now out of print. Mr Eremeyev says that his firm, KUBIN, is in touch with all of the sf fan clubs there!
The Devious Decade by Joseph C. Ackaway, Little Ferry NJ, 1991, wraps,
This book (of which I have only a direct-mail advertisement) is subtitled "A New Approach To Finding A Job In The 90's" and claims to be the only book on the market on how to "Exaggerate and Fabricate Your Resume". Well, I should hope so - one is too many!
Steve Sneyd, who transcribed the old weird poems that I copied from wire recorder to cassette, sends a weird postcard showing the Royston Cave.
Dark Majesty by Texe Marrs, Living Truth Ministries, Austin Texas,
Another book of which I have only the flyer... How the devil does he pronounce `Texe', I wonder. This book (not his only one, and there are audio tapes too) claims to unmask George Bush and his Skull & Bones (they worship the swastika), and Bill Clinton and the Bilderbergers, as tools of the dread Illuminati. One of the proofs of this is that the thousand points of light symbol is a illuminist message - well, yes, but what about a Christmas tree, the famous candle we should light rather than curse the darkness, or the Georgia law requiring cars to burn their headlights if it's raining?
Mark Valentine sends me his Aklo in trade for IGOTS, and says that he thinks Arthur Machen suppressed the last two chapters of The Secret Glory for purely artistic reasons and notes something I had not realized, that part of the recently published chapter 6 also appears in The Cosy Room.
Kerry Knudsen seems to agree with the above about The Secret Glory and says he wishes I had written more about the Charles Nodier Trilby, The Fairy of Argyle while he waits "for the Dedalus reprint to come in from England". I had no idea anyone would reprint that!
Mark Manning admits to being 40 (by the time this is published, anyway) and insists that Tand is not dead but sleepeth. He also notes that a zine called Popular Communications ran an article around 1985 on the anti-Nazi radio station that Walt Willis wrote about in IGOTS 9.
Mark also mentions that a Ron Drummond in Seattle is a Whittemore fan - since IGOTS 9 appeared I have gotten all of The Jerusalem Quartet, plus an extra (though ex-lib) copy of Nile Shadows.
The House on Remington Street by James Britton, Southern Press, Miami,
1992, 530pp, wraps, $13.95.
This attractive trade pb is a review copy that I got by sending in a card from a direct-mail ad. The Miami as place of publication does appear on the title page, but on the back of the title page we find that the actual address of the Southern Press is Box 852056, Yukon OK 73099. To confuse things further, the letter with a 2-page plot summary offering a review copy of the book came from a James Millasich in Huntington Beach CA - and the book was actually printed in Orange CA. There is also a note that this is the revised edition - apparently the original was from Carlton Press in NY, as there is a blurb by them on the back cover.
A book that opens with quotes from Ephesians and Alice in Wonderland would seem to have some promise, but alas I must confess I find this thing unreadable. There must be over 200,000 words in it, and at least half of them are adjectives from the moon-June-spoon sort of popular music that the author explains in the preface he is so fond of. The rest seems to be small talk and the glories of war. Well, maybe it did him some good to write it...
A Clutch of Curious Characters ed. by Richard Glyn Jones, Xanadu,
London, 1984, 288pp, wraps, 4.95 pounds.
This trade pb, which has cover art by Heinrich Kley, had been laying on one of the stacks of unshelved books for some time - I don't remember where I got it but it has a $6.98 price sticker inside - and I picked it up to see where it should go. I still don't know about that, but I started reading it and got nothing else done for a while... A bibliography on the last page gives the sources of these non-fiction pieces, and they are very well chosen indeed. Baring-Gould describes the 1850 effort of a Monsieur Benoit to market his Snail Telegraph - according to Benoit's theory, any two snails that had ever been in contact retained a psychic link that could be used to transmit messages! Two other pieces are on religious fanatics, Lodowick Muggleton (who was born in 1609 and still had adherents to his demented theology over 200 years after he died in 1697), and George Townsend, an Anglican clergyman who spent years trying to convert the Pope. And then Thomas De Quincey describes the life of Antonina Dashwood Lee (the daughter of Sir Francis Dashwood, a founder of the Hellfire Club) who was of the opposite frame of mind - she refused to acknowledge any deity at all, which was quite troublesome in 18th-century England. There is a wonderful description of Thomas Day, the author of the Sandford & Merton that I mentioned in a previous issue - he had no use for any conventional design, to the extent that he designed his own house and furniture and adopted two orphan girls and trained them to his own notions, finally marrying the one he considered the most successful experiment.
Three short bits, for some reason in smaller print, appear at intervals through the volume - a sort of serial account of the adventures of a teenage loonie of 1838 who was so taken with the idea of Buckingham Palace that he kept sneaking into it. He must have been small and clever, as he would steal food and sleep under the furniture and evade capture for some time. It was apparently never discovered how he got in, but after he was caught the third time he was sent to sea and not heard from again.
There is a rather confusing account of the con man Cagliostro, and a wonderful long account of the career of Florence Nightingale by Lytton Strachey - she would have been an extraordinary person in any age, but for a lady in England at that time to completely reform army medical procedures singlehandedly is almost unbelieveable. She seems to have had an almost hypnotic power, and lived to be 91.
Annual Register of Book Values, The Clique, York, 1993.
But not really - this is a tiny 3x4 hardcover of two signatures sent from England as an inducement to buy the real Registers, edited by Michael Cole and published every year in six categories. Alas, none of the categories are science fiction and fantasy - they do seem to be well done. Entries are by author and then by title, with a description and a notation as to who sold it and for how much. Several copies of Richard Adams' Watership Down get into the Modern First Editions register - at $40-45 for the US first edition, $150 for the Australian, and $668 (!) for the British. Probably quite useful to an active dealer. Each of the six registers is $28 but the set can be gotten for $125. Address The Clique, 7 Pulleyn Drive, York, YO2 2DY, England.
And Their Children After Them by Dale Maharidge & Michael
Williamson, Pantheon, New York, 1990, 263pp, photos, wraps, $14.95.
And it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1990. I got it off a remainder list as a curiosity. It's an attempt to do a follow-up, fifty years later, to the James Agee & Walker Evans classic on life in the rural South, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men - in a few cases they were even able to find the same people and locales, and there are some excellent comparisons of the Walker Evans photos from 1936 with what it looks like now.
The Paradise Motel by Eric McCormack, Penguin, 1990, 210pp, wraps,
Hard to say if this is fantasy or surrealism, but it is very peculiar and yet easy to read. After worrying through the whole book over whether some strange people his grandfather told him about ever actually existed, the narrator discovers that he doesn't exist himself. No use to try to get this book, of course, and - who knows? - It Goes On The Shelf may disappear as well and some of you will become unsure if I exist!
Salute To Adventurers by John Buchan, Nelson, London, 1956, 366pp.
Something like the 12th edition from this publisher alone - the original was 1915, with a revision of some sort in 1922. A small red-bound book that I got at a library sale - from the title, I expected some sort of essay collection. However, it is a novel, and furthermore it is set in this area, about 1690. James Blair and the founding of the College of William & Mary is mentioned, and Jamestown, and Old Point Comfort - which I can see from my office window. The hero is a Scots (of course) merchant and early pistoleer who gets involved in blocking an Indian army led by a Scots religious lunatic from beyond the Shenandoah valley who wants to drive the white men into the sea. In the end he marries a girl named Elspeth, a niece of Dr Blair, who is somehow an heiress to the as yet unsettled Shenandoah Valley. Lots of fun, and seems like it should have had a sequel, but none is mentioned. A brief notice at the front has it that the religious fanatic, Muckle John Gib, was a real person who also appears in books by a Patrick Walker.
Even though the the book is cloth-bound, it is about the size of a modern mass-market pb, and the binding is glued rather than sewn. Like many books from London publishers at that time, it was printed in Edinburgh.
I am certainly on a lot of strange mailing lists that are apparently bought and reused around the country - in the last few days I have recieved a $2 catalog of exotic botanicals (for both consumption and as decorative plants) from Sebastopol CA; a newsletter from Cologne Germany on the auction of antique office machines (which includes a photo of a model of the famous Enigma Machine, a WWII Nazi encoding typewriter that sold last year for $20,000); a copy of Blue Ryder #29, a murky tabloid bi-monthly from Olean NY that claims to offer `the best of the underground'; and a review copy of a trade pb entitled Everything I Needed to Know About Success, I Learned in the Bible from Glen (`The-Publisher-in-the-Glen') NH. This last, as one might imagine from the title, is a hideous mixture of bad theology and New Age psychobabble.
The Uncensored Boy's Own by Dick Beresford, Macdonald, London, 1990,
96pp, illus. in line, 5.95.
The price is in pounds, I am sure I paid somewhat less as I think this was from the Hamilton remainder list. Beresford has taken the rather well-done art from a number of old British `boys stories' of the 1925-35 era and added his own idiotic captions. No artist is credited, but the style is rather like that of Joseph Clement Coll or Franklin Booth. Funny foolishness!
When The Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs, Penguin, London, 1987,
Again the price is in pounds. A large cartoon pb, all in well-printed color, about the death from radiation poisoning of a retired British couple in some imagined exchange of nuclear weapons between the US and the USSR. Apparently very popular there as it was reprinted many times after its original appearance in 1982. There is said to be an animated film as well. An item that could not be imported until now, perhaps! The art is very good.
Young Maxfield Parrish by John Goodspeed Stuart, Aurora CO, 1992,
144pp, wraps, $30.
This 9x12 pb was apparently published by Stuart himself, as no other publisher is listed. Stuart is `Superintendent Emeritus' of the Aurora public school system, and the book was actually printed by the system's T.H.Pickens Technical Center (on, they note, recycled archival paper). A fascinating look at the very early work of the great artist. Some of his cartoons from the period when he was at Haverford College look remarkably like the work of Mervyn Peake - perhaps because they were both influenced by Tenniel. I got this book from Bud Plant, Box 1689, Grass Valley CA, an excellent dealer in the field.
Peanut Butter An' Jellicle Cat Sandwiches by Bill Bridget, Twigs Died
For This, Chattanooga, 1993.
A very limited hand-bound edition on multicolored paper - hardcover with a raised cat illo on the front and computer-illustrated endpapers. Printed directly by dot-matrix, using a typesetter similar to this FancyFont. What a production! Assorted opinions and commentary from an ex-enfant terrible of SFPA, along with letters from correspondents (including myself).
In the process of cleaning up to switch computers (this is now being done on a MicroServe 486/33) I found the following Star Trek stuff from the late 1960s - a mimeoed catalog from Fred Clarke of Cinefantastique Enterprises, accompanied by a Star Trek cartoon Christmas card (one of 100 done in two colors by David Ludwig); also `Catalog #1' (revised 7/68) from Star Trek Enterprises in Hollywood, 8 pages printed on both sides of a large piece of paper. These are what are known in the book trade as ephemera - that is, stuff that should have been thrown out at the time but wasn't so maybe now it's of some value. If it's of value to you, drop me a line.
The Story of the Inquisition, Freethought Press Association, New York,
1928, 527pp, illustrated (the title page says 100 illustrations).
This somewhat worn volume, bound in maroon cloth, turned up in a Norfolk antique store. No author is given, and the title is very broadly interpreted - the actual attempt is to cover the entire history of religious persecution, not just the antics of the Inquisition. I paid $6 for it mainly because of the illustration on p.406, which shows Giles Corey being pressed to death with heavy stones after a charge of witchcraft in Salem in 1692 - a perfect example of the abuse of power by the authorities of the time (and have things changed much?). I had remembered reading that Corey (it is also spelled `Cory' in the same book) refused to plead to the charge, but according to this account the situation is somewhat more complex (and not at all clear, the legal system having changed so much):
Giles Cory pleaded not Guilty to his indictment, but would not put himself on Tryal by the Jury, they having cleared none upon Tryal, and Knowing there would be the same Witnesses against him, rather chose to undergo what death they would put him to. --- That is, having pleaded not guilty to the indictment, upon being asked `How will you be tried?' he would not reply, `By God and my Country'. Sacramental importance was attached for centuries to the speaking of these words. If a prisoner would not say them, and even if he willfully omitted either `By God' or `by my Country', he was said to stand mute, and a jury was sworn to say whether he stood `mute of malice' or `mute by the visitation of God'. If they found him mute by the visitation of God, the trial proceeded. But if they found him mute of malice, if he were accused of treason or misdemeanor, he was taken to have pleaded guilty, and was dealt with accordingly. If he was accused of felony, he was condemned, after much exhortation, to the peine forte et dure, that is, to be stretched, naked, on his back, and to have `iron laid upon him as much as he could bear and more', and so to continue fed on bad bread and stagnant water on alternate days, till he either pleaded or died.
The picture, however, shows Corey on his face rather than on his back, and the weights are stone rather than iron. There is no guide to the source of these illustrations - I don't think this one is contemporary to the event. The point of the story, to my mind, is that it shows how wise the framers of the Constitution were to forbid an `establishment of religion' in the United States - the lawyers have the courts bollixed up quite badly enough as it is, just think what fun they would have if they could drag in this sort of superstitious folderol!
Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph Grey, Feral House, Los Angeles,
John Guidry recommended this biography of Edward D. Wood Jr., the infamous perpetrator of such cinematic atrocities as Plan 9 From Outer Space and Glen and Glenda. The address of the publisher is Box 861893, Los Angeles CA 90086-1893 and there is a $2 p&h charge. I have ordered a copy and may have more to say about it if and when it appears.
The Satanist by Mrs Hugh Fraser
There was a 1912 edition of this (it's listed in Bleiler) and I seem to have given the F. Marion Crawford Memorial Society $10 toward a proposed reprint of it, according to a letter I had in April from their Director, John C. Moran. This project has encountered delays and he is asking whether the $10 should be refunded or put towards the cost of the next issue (No. 9/10) of the Society journal, The Romantist. They do still plan to publish the book (Mrs Hugh Fraser was Marion Crawford's sister Mary) eventually. If you are interested in the Society or the book, write Moran at Saracinesca House, 3610 Meadowbrook Avenue, Nashville TN 37205.
Defense Monitor V.XXI #3, Center for Defense Information:
The U.S. is the world's number one weapons provider. There are 180 nations in the world and the U.S. regularly sells weapons to 142 of them. In 1991 alone the U.S. licensed the foreign sale of military weapons and construction projects valued at $63 Billion. Forty percent of this ($26.2 Billion) is slated for delivery to 59 authoritarian governments.
And that was just for 1991 - this lunacy has been going on for many years and is one of the causes of the catastrophic conditions in Somalia and several Central and South American countries. Reminds me of the old sf story (by who?) about the anti-war activist who pleads with an inventor not to release the details of his new super-weapon to the military, and when he is rebuffed makes his point by leaving a loaded revolver with the inventor's idiot son as he departs.
Gaylord Bros., Box 4901, Syracuse NY 13221-4901, are where I send for the polyester book d/w covers that I use to preserve dust-jackets on books - a package of 100 in assorted sizes costs $21. I see they now also offer a transparent tape for book repair.
Libraries use these d/w covers, but for some reason they put them on in such a way that they damage rather than preserve both the book binding and the dust-jacket. There is no need for the tape that holds them on the dust-jacket to touch either the binding or the dust-jacket itself - I fold the cover around the dust-jacket and then, in the overlap between the polyester and the paper liner, I put Scotch `Magic Mending' tape in two small strips crossed over, so that one sticks to the polyester and the other to the paper liner.
An Island In The Moon by William Blake Dave Hall (in high dudgeon that I had expressed doubt over his description of the thing) sent me a xerox of this but never said what edition of the works of William Blake (1757-1827) it was taken from. Dave was right - it is certainly one of the most bizarre things ever written. It was not published in Blake's lifetime, but found as a manuscript fragment among his papers. It's a pity Blake never finished it - it reads something like a mixture of Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, and Dave Barry.
In the Moon as Phebus stood over his oriental Gardening O ay come Ill sing you a song said the Cynic. the trumpeter shit in his hat said the Epicurean & clapt it on his head said the Pythagorean
They spend the rest of the chapter arguing about who Phebus was and Aradobo thinks he read about him in the Bible. In the next chapter they are still at it -
Hang names said the Pythagorean whats Pharoh better than Phebus or Phebus than Pharoh. hang them both said the Cynic Dont be prophane said Mrs Sigtagatist. Why said Mrs Nannicantipot I dont think its prophane to say hang Pharoh. ah said Mrs Sinagain, I'm sure you ought to hold your tongue, for you never say anything about the scriptures, & you hinder your husband from going to church - Ha Ha said Inflammable Gass what dont you like to go to church. no said Mrs Nannicantipot I think a person may be as good at home. If I had not a place of profit that forces me to go to church said Inflammable Gass Id see the parsons all hangd a parcel of lying - O said Mrs Sigtagatist if it was not for churches & chapels I should not have livd so long - there I was up in a Morning at four o clock when I was a girl. I would run like the dickins till I was all in a heat. I would stand till I was ready to sink into the earth. ah Mr Huffcap would kick the bottom of the Pulpit out, with Passion, would tear off the sleeve of his Gown, & set his wig on fire & throw it at the people hed cry & stamp & kick & sweat and all for the good of their souls. -Im sure he must be a wicked villain said Mrs Nannicantipot a passionate wretch. If I was a man Id wait at the bottom of the pulpit stairs & knock him down & run away. -You would You Ignorant jade I wish I could see you hit any of the ministers. you deserve to have your ears boxed you do. -Im sure this is not religion answers the other -Then Mr Inflammable Gass ran & shovd his head into the fire & set his hair all in a flame & and ran about the room - No No he did not I was only making a fool of you
By Chapter 9 they have gotten onto Dr Johnson (Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784) -
I say this evening we all get drunk. I say dash. an Anthem an Anthem, said Suction
Lo the Bat with Leathern wing
Winking & blinking
Winking & blinking
Winking & blinking
Like Doctor Johnson
Quid - ho said Dr Johnson
To Scipio Africanus
If you dont own me a Philosopher
Ill kick your Roman Anus
Suction - A ha to Dr Johnson
Said Scipio Africanus
Lift up my Roman Petticoat
And kiss my Roman Anus
After that it gets even sillier.
Peace Advocate #104, May 1993
This little newsletter has a page on the execution in Texas of Leonel Herrera, in spite of evidence that he was innocent. They quote Chief Justice Rehnquist "Federal habeas courts sit to ensure that individuals are not imprisoned in violation of the Constitution, not to correct errors of fact ... `actual innocence' is not itself a constitutional claim". In other words, it doesn't matter if he's innocent, they can hang him if they feel like it!
Un Largo Camino by Eduardo J. Carletti, Axxon, Argentina, 1992
This is a novel on diskette for IBM/DOS, not just an ascii text but a production with artwork that runs as an executable. The title translates as A Long Road and the story opens with `The stars were falling' - beyond that my Spanish is inadequate to winkling out a summary of the plot, much less any estimate of the style. Carletti and I are corresponding - fortunately his English is much better than my Spanish - and some of my literary efforts may eventually be available in this format.
The single diskette containing the executable and three auxiliary files is packaged in a plastic folder about the size of a book (but only 1/4-inch thick), made so that the paper with the title and cover art can be sealed into a clear plastic cover.
And Man Created Syhom by Igor Rosokhovatski (trans. into English by
Olexander Panasyev), Dnipro, Kiev, 1990, 312pp, illus. by Kostyantin Ryazanov.
This sf collection is a hardcover (paper-covered boards, rather taller for its width than is conventional here) with color endpaper artwork at either end and b&w interior art. The endpapers remind me a little of the old Winston editions in that they seem to pertain to sf in general rather than to this book, but the front and back endpapers are different.
The cover has two blurbs - Ukrainian Tales of the Unknown and Tense, thrilling adventures by a master of the genre. All of the stories seem to involve the synthetic humanoids called syhoms, creations somewhat beyond the usual android concept as they are capable of total self-modification, even into creatures of pure energy. The syhom is capable of multiple trains of thought, and these are presented in the text as parallel columns of text.
The interior art appears only as chapter headings, but is detailed and evocative - and deserves somewhat better reproduction.
This book was sent to me by Vladimir Saliy in Kiev, who also sent a copy of the local sf club's zine, Chernobylization (which is in English).
Take Back Your Government by Robert A. Heinlein, Baen Books, New York,
1992, 288pp, $5.99.
This mass-market pb was given to me at DeepSouthCon by the editor of Baen Books, Toni Weisskopf - we are both in SFPA. The book was written by Heinlein in 1946, but never previously published. There is an introduction, notes, and an afterword by Jerry Pournelle, written before July 1992 - Pournelle seems to think that Perot would win the presidential election, and the notes are full of references to the Perot phenomenon. In my opinion the so-called Perot Phenomenon was just another media non-event, bought and paid for by Mr Perot, who has a great deal more money than he has sense - not that the alternatives were much better.
But aside from Pournelle, what use is a political analysis written in 1946 to us today? Well, you will have to read it for yourself if you want to know, it's beyond me!
Backward Masking Unmasked by Jacob Aranza, Huntington House,
Shreveport (La), 1984 (3rd printing), 115pp, illus. photos, $4.95.
A slim trade pb that I picked up in a thrift store for my silly book collection - I do not believe that `backward masking', the supposed subliminal technique of hiding messages in a sound recording by putting them in backwards, could possibly have any effect on a listener. I don't think Aranza believes it either, but has generated this piece of claptrap to capitalize on the publicity.
The author does take a great deal of trouble with his charade. He claims that the practice started with the Beatles White Album and the Paul McCartney death hoax - as is proven, he says, by the fact that McCartney appears in the cover photo without shoes. Using that sort of `proof', it is quite possible to prove anything you like!
The book opens with pseudo-scientific gobbledygook about the left and right hemispheres of the brain and the Reticular Activating System, apparently derived from the work of a William H. Yarrow II, president of the Applied Potentials Institute. It closes with two murky photos of album burnings - I rather suspect that the air pollution from burning vinyl is far more harmful than anything anyone ever heard on a rock album!
Volcano Island by J. M. Spaight, Goeffrey Bles, London, 1943, 147pp,
The author was Principle Assistant Secretary at the Air Ministry. The photos are of bombed cities, and the main point of the text seems to be the justification of the bombing of civilian population centers. An odd and antique mode of thought these days, that such slaughter might require justification!
Unequal Justice by Guy Reel, Prometheus Books, New York, 1993, 250pp,
illus. photos, $22.95.
I do not have this book, but only the publisher's notice of it - it is scheduled for October. It has to do with the story of a rape case in Arkansas in 1985, while Clinton was still governor there. The original suspect was a Wayne Dumond, who was later proved innocent - but in the meantime he was castrated and left for dead while out on bond, and the local sheriff displayed the testicles as trophies. Dumond survived to be convicted and imprisoned for life, but Clinton refused to release him when his innocence was proven (even though the parole board recommended it), apparently because the rape victim was his cousin and the prosecutor in the case was a political ally.
Now we see what sort of person has gotten into the White House and launches bombing raids on the basis of unproven allegations of terrorism. I would still have voted for him over Bush...
A Hannes Bok Treasury, edited by Stephen D. Korshak, Underwood/Miller,
Lancaster (PA), 1993, 87pp, art, $29.95.
Aside from the Ray Bradbury foreword, this is mostly art, with about 38 of the pages in full color. The d/w (there is also a $17.95 pb with the same art on the cover) is the famous painting for Roger Zelazny's A Rose For Ecclesiastes. It appears here as it was intended, rather than mirror-image as it appeared on the cover of the November 1963 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Their desire to get the dancing girl on the cover is quite understandable, and it is a great painting either way! The editor is the son of old-time fan Earl Korshak, and gives his address on the back of the title page in hopes of recovering more of Bok's art that has been scattered over the years: 2345 Sand Lake Road, Suite 120, Orlando, Fla - 32809. A great production!
White to White on Black/White by Toni E. Weaver, Ph.D, Voices
Publishing, Vandalia (Ohio), 1993, 112pp, $9.95.
Not much book for the buck, but then it appeared as an unsolicited review copy. Well-meaning but shallow and of no practical value. The Ph.D is in Social Psychology, whatever that is.
Rymes of Robin Hood by R. B. Dobson & J. Taylor, Alan Sutton
(Gloucester GB and Wolfeboro NH USA), 330pp, map, illus., appendices,
bibliography, index, 7.95 pounds.
I got this trade pb reprint from the 1976 Heinemann edition from David Bates. There is a nice color cover from a painting by Daniel Maclise. The authors trace the poems about the famous outlaw back into the 12th century and quote them at length. Excellent interior art from many sources. The 16th century Gest of Robin Hood runs to 456 quatrains, and the archaic language takes some deciphering!
This accursed state of Virginia has on death row (as of July 1993) a man named Earl Washington, who has a an IQ of 69 (bottom 2%) - even though after his conviction DNA evidence was found showing that he could not possibly have committed the crime. Our Supreme Court, led by the thrice-accursed Rehnquist, has ruled that death sentence appeals can only be based on procedural errors, not on evidence of actual innocence!
A Dutch outfit called the european book service has sent me (as Purple Mouth Press) a form letter demanding that I send them my `VAT registration number', saying that as of 1-1-93 all invoices on European Community customers must show their VAT number - but I have never dealt with them, and have no particular notion that I ever will. Does anyone in the US have a VAT number? Where would I apply for such a thing?
Poltergeists by Sacheverell Sitwell, University Books, New York, 1959,
418pp, illus by Irene Hawkins and George Cruikshank, index, $5.75.
Found in very good shape in d/w at the local thrift store. I suspect it is a facsimile reprint, but no details of any earlier edition are given. Sitwell was a British eccentric from a family of famous eccentrics. This book opens with a poem about a poltergeist by Edith Sitwell, followed by another poem said to be by a poltergeist.
How To Build a Flying Saucer by T. B. Pawlicki, Prentice Hall Press,
New York, 1986, 152pp, illus. diagrams, index, wraps, $8.95.
In spite of its small size (but then too, the print is fairly small), this book also reveals the secrets of how the pyramids were built, the Philosopher's Stone, and time travel. It was on sale too! The megalithic engineering seems workable enough, now if I could just understand the later chapters...
Hauling Up The Morning edited by Blunk & Levasseur, Red Sea Press,
Trenton (NJ), 1990, 408pp, illus. color and b&w, wraps, $15.95.
Another book, like the above, that Hamilton had on sale, this is an anthology of art and writing by `political prisoners and prisoners of war in the U.S.' The blurb claims that there are some 200 political prisoners in this country, some of whom have been in jail almost as long as Nelson Mandela was. Not all of the artists represented are still living, however - Ethel Rosenberg was executed in 1953. Some of the best color art is by the Indian activist, Leonard Peltier, who - as far as I can tell from the 60 Minutes segments on his case - is held on very slender evidence for purely political reasons.
The Undying Monster by Jessie Douglas Kerruish, Macmillan, New York,
1936, 256pp, frontispiece sketch.
I got this famous horror story from Ben Indick and enjoyed it a lot. The setting and a lot of the slang are British - I see from Tuck that the original British edition was 1922 and there were also French and Italian translations and a 1942 movie. There is not only a secret room, a sorcerer, a haunted forest, and a family curse, but the author manages to drag in a spiritualist, a Hand of Glory, a magic sword, both the Fourth and Fifth dimensions, and the Norse gods. I will have to look out for the movie!
Tedious Brief Tales of Granta and Gramarye by Ingulphus, Ghost Story
Press, London, 1993, 105pp, illus. in line by E Joyce Shillington Scales,
This reprint from 1919 was a cooperative effort between the Ghost Story Society, our correspondent Richard Dalby, and David Tibet; and there is an introduction by old friends Rosemary Pardoe and Mark Valentine.
The author's real name was Arthur Gray (1852-1940), and these tales appeared first in Cambridge University magazines in 1910-1925, and this book includes the last tale, which was not in the 1919 volume. The artwork is all of the ancient buildings of Jesus College, and the stories, like the buildings, date back to the 16th century. The introduction notes that the ancient documents referenced in the footnotes are a mixture of real and invented sources. The bizarre title is not explained, but I enjoyed the stories a lot.
War of Words, The Censorship Debate edited by George Beahm,
Andrews & McMeel, Kansas City, 1993, 430pp, illus. in line by Kenny Ray
Linkous, wraps, $12.95.
A very wide-ranging anthology, which George (who has become a sort of all-purpose writer) dedicated to yours truly. It includes contributions (on the side of the angels) from Bradbury and Vonnegut and Salman Rushdie, not to mention Dave Barry; and on the other side from those paladins of darkness Jesse Helms and Pat Robertson - on all sides of the censorship question, the NEA, the `Comics Code' (reprinted here), the movie ratings, the suppression of books (from Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles to Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses) and so on. In my mind there really is no question at all - censorship is always an error, a mistake, an unwarranted intrusion, a tyrannical abomination.
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, Macmillan, 1945
(reprinted many times from their 1926 edition; originally 1872), 267pp,
illustrated by F. D. Bedford.
This late reprint once belonged to Chippewa County and is in rather poor condition. I have had it for a long time and never read it, so I thought I would try it before I gave it to someone who was looking for a copy. The influence on the later work of C. S. Lewis, who was a MacDonald fan, is clear enough, and the Goblins here are quite like Tolkien's Dwarves. This book predates the 1883 The Princess and Curdie, but Curdie is the hero of both and Irene is the Princess in both. The later book seems to have a rather more complex plot, but I haven't read it yet.
Both Curdie and Irene are much too good to be true. MacDonald seems to have had an obsession with a demented Victorian standard of `courage' - hardly a page goes by that the reader is not assured that Curdie does not fear the goblins. Tolkien's Bilbo and Frodo had a great deal more sense!
Mosher Books in Lancaster Pennsylvania writes to offer me a `tight copy in superbly preserved contemporary bindings' of the 1699 Works of Cyrano de Bergerac, said to be the first illustrated edition, published in Amsterdam. But even if I could read the antique French, I think I would find the $9500 price tag a bit steep!
Orchestral Works of Joseph Holbrooke (1878-1958) has been issued on the Marco Polo label (CD #8.223446), performed by the Slovak Philharmonic Choir and the Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra under Adrian Leaper. This includes three pieces based on poems by Edgar Allan Poe - Ulalume, The Bells and The Raven - and two others; and the liner includes a reproduction of a color painting by Sidney Sime.
Dave Hall, who collects weird music, brought this to my attention - he knew I would be interested because I reprinted the 1923 book Bogey Beasts by Sidney Sime and Josef Holbrooke several years ago (copies still available at $10). I was amazed to learn that Holbrooke lived until 1958. I think I have all of the modern books with Sime art, and this painting is not in any of them - it shows a sailing ship in a stormy sea off a wooded coast and no title is given. Nor is there any explanation of why Holbrooke's given name is spelled `Joseph' here instead of `Josef' as in Bogey Beasts.
It may be possible to get this CD from Harmonia Mundi, 3364 S. Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90034, for $17 + $3.50 p&h.
Slaves of Sleep & Masters of Sleep by L. Ron Hubbard, Bridge, Los
Angeles, 1993, $19.95.
The price is for either the hardcover or the 6-hour audio cassette, according to the promos they sent. They offer to give me one or the other if I would run their flyers, but I would not inflict this hideous stuff on my readers - why didn't they stick with the Hannes Bok art of the 1948 Shasta edition?
Black No More and Black Empire by George S. Schuyler,
Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1989/1991, 222/347pp, wraps.
These are reprints of books that originally appeared in 1931 (Black No More) and as a newspaper serial 1936-38 (Black Empire) under the pseudonym Samuel I. Brooks. I have only read the first so far.
Black No More is definitely sf, and written much in the style of the sf pulps of the period. It is a social satire that hinges on the invention of a `scientific' process by which blacks (or negroes or Afro-Americans or whatever term is currently PC) could be turned `white'. Both the skin hue and other racial characteristics such as the hair are changed, and the plot is complicated by the fact that the effect does not extend to the descendants. The inventor claims that even though the voice and features are unaffected by his process, the subjects will be accepted as `white' - and this proves to be true, in the story. Schuyler's style is no better than mediocre and I do not care for his cynicism, but it is an interesting effort.
Black Empire is not really as much longer a book as the page count would suggest - there are only 258 pages of story, the rest is academic analysis. It seems to be about a `brilliant and sinister Dr. Henry Belsidus' who makes himself dictator of a united Africa.
Black Unicorn by Tanith Lee, Tor(52459-4), New York, 1991, 188pp,
illustrated by Heather Cooper, wraps, $3.99.
This fantasy (which has overtones of trans-dimensional science-fiction) can't seem to decide whether it is comic or dark - or whether it is `young adult' - but I enjoyed it. Why Heather Cooper gets the big byline for the `art' I can't imagine - the only art I can find is a very conventional unicorn painting by Dennis Nolan on the cover and one piece of interior art that is repeated three times. It consists of a murky sketch of a weak artist's conception of half of a walled medieval town.
The World of Zines by Mike Gunderloy and Cari Goldberg Janice,
Penguin, 1992, 181pp, illustrated, wraps, $14.
This quarto trade pb is a spinoff of the legendary Factsheet Five and is illustrated with cuts from the zines reviewed. There is also a final section on the technical details of how to do a zine. The page-count is rather padded out, in my opinion, by leaving quite a few blank pages at the end of sections and by putting the zine titles and addresses in very large type.
Only five pages is devoted to what we call fanzines - 15 titles are mentioned, of which I regularly get two, Dick and Nicki Lynch's Mimosa and Marty Helgesen's Radio Free Thulcandra.
Calif of Fornia by Pat'rick Neal Pugh, PNP (18901 Wyandotte, 91335),
Reseda CA, 1993, 210pp, wraps, $9.95.
This review copy was sent out of the blue and, in terms of weirdness, I suppose I am an apt choice... There were previous editions at $35 and $22.
Perhaps I should send this to Steve Sneyd, it seems to be New-Age prose poetry, badly riddled with neologisms. But as far as I can make out, it has to do with the discovery and translation of a 100-pound wooden book that reveals the existence of an empire called Fornia, a few thousand feet off the ground. The three gods of Fornia are Life, Death, and Indifference, so matters there proceed not much differently from Washington DC... And then there's the Great Black Umpthing...
Big Bang Cannons by Raymond V. Brandes, Ray-Vin Publishing (Box
11435), New Brunswick NJ, 1993, 160pp, illus., $19.95 pb or $27.50 hc.
I apparently could have requested a review copy of this book aimed at collectors of carbide cannon toys (who I am sure will get a BANG out of it), but I am running out of space to keep them.
The Holy Place by Henry Lincoln, Arcade/Little Brown, New York, 1991,
176pp, illus., $24.95.
This is by one of the co-authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail and concerns the mystery connected with the town of Rennes-le-Chateau in SW France. The affair starts with the well-documented business of the priest Berenger Sauniere and his cyphers. Lincoln takes the reader through the entire fantastic decryption of the code-within-a-code - it made me dizzy to try to follow it. Then - without much connection that I can see - we plunge into drawing lines on a map of the entire area. Lincoln claims that an area some 30 miles across is an enormous `temple' formed by the location of sites on the ground such as churches, standing stones, and grottoes. Sometimes he connects these sites with circles, sometimes with straight lines (as in the famous ley-line or dragon-track theories), sometimes he shows that they lie on pentagrams or hexagrams. And he makes much of the fact that some of the distances are integers and fall into the ratio known as the Golden Mean (1.618034...) - but to get the integers he has to convert the distances from the local kilometers into the English mile!
The strange thing is that Lincoln has such a pleasant, self-deprecating style that this twaddle, which drags in pyramidology, the Albigensians, the Templars and all the other baggage from the earlier books, is fun to read. The photos of the sites are excellent, and the famous `Et in Arcadia ego' painting by Poussin is reproduced double-page-size in full color.
Michael H. Ketcher, `America's Mr Privacy', offers his Financial Privacy Report for only $96/year. The flyer consists of scare stories about government seizures of property in which no individual was convicted or even charged. Unfortunately, these stories have been confirmed elsewhere (such as 60 Minutes) - including the horrifying statistic that no charges are ever filed in 80% of the seizures. Thank you Reagan and Bush for the American Police State!The Dictator and the Devil by Severance Johnson, Ecnareves Press, New York, 1943, 322pp, frontis by `Moncayo' (art signed but not otherwise credited, more art apparently from contemporary sources.
"Death was his god. To Death he prayed for still
More weapons of destructive power to kill
All in his path, more gases, bombs, more guns,
More warships of the air to drop down tons
Of blasting fire. O Death," he cried, My foes
Must perish. Once I conquered without blows.
Myself attiring in a lion's dress,
I vanquished many with sheer frightfulness.
Other I undermined with agents, spies,
Bribes, secret plottings, promises and lies:
Forthwith I sprang from ambush like the beast
Or the assassin, when his victim least
Suspects annihilation. Death, give me
All of thy might that irresistibly
I may sweep all my enemies aside
And all the world triumphantly bestride."
There was apparently an earlier edition, as a 1940 copyright is also noted. Ah yes, I see that the 1940 edition was on three pages of a 9x5 pamphlet that the author sent to every member of the Congress - and the Hon. Clyde Ellis of Arkansas reprinted it in the Congressional Record - must have been a much abridged version of the poem printed here! The last 70 or so of the pages are numbered notes to the text. The Dictator of the title is Adolf Hitler.
This copy belonged to Lester Sodemann, who seems to have had an insatiable desire to acquire screwball books - in which he then put his name over and over again. This one has a rubber stamp with his Toledo Ohio address on both front and back endpapers, and just his name embossed on both the front and back fly and the title page. I had long lists of his books from his daughter, who was selling them by mail a couple of years ago.
Tom Cockcroft had asked about two titles that had been announced from the late lamented Starmont operation, The Annotated Guide to Fantastic Adventures by Gallegher and The Gernsback Days by Ashley & Lowndes. When Starmont went out of business, there was some hint that Borgo had taken over their stock, but the Borgo ad in Locus seemed to have only the Locus address. So I wrote Locus and explained the problem to them. Yesterday I got (by `Priority Mail' at $2.90) a large envelope containing my original letter, and 18-page running account of the status (as of 8/23/93) of all the Borgo projects, and the 80-page 1992 catalog of Borgo Press (Box 2845, San Bernadino CA 92406-2845) books. I had not realized that Borgo was such a monster - in addition to the sf titles that are advertised in the field, which now includes Starmont and FAX, they also publish as Brownstone, Burgess & Wickizer, Emeritus, Sidewinder, St.Willibrords, and Unicorn & Son. These are all specialty presses and in obscure fields - St Willibrord's, for example, got out in March of this year A Directory of Autocephalous Bishops of the Churches of the Apostolic Succession; while Sidewinder produced in April a second volume in a series on tombstones of the British West Indies. The catalog has a sort of generic science-fantasy cover painting by Larry Ortiz that reminds me a little of the old Winston endpapers.
The Gallegher book does actually exist, according to this list, and can be gotten from Borgo for $17 pb or $27 hc (+ $2 p&h). The Gernsback Days by Ashley & Lowndes is not yet available - its status is described here as `uncontracted Starmont project - contracts sent'.
The Bleary Eyes by John Berry, Guineapig Press, Stourbridge, 1993,
Volumes 1 (The Early Days) and 2 (The Middle Ages) of this reprint of the assorted adventures of The Goon and his Goon Detective Agency have appeared so far this year, beautifully mimeoed by Ken Cheslin in an edition of 100 copies. The illustrations are the original ones by ATom, Berry, and Cawthorn. The Goon was a comic phenomenon of the fandom of the 1950s and 60s - the earliest of these tales is from 1956, and the latest (so far) from 1963. I had gotten into fandom in 1962, and remember seeing Phil Harrell's copies of some of this material. Great stuff, very much in the comic tradition of the old BBC Goon Show. At least one more volume is threatened. In the trufannish tradition, no price is even hinted at, but the Guineapig Press belongs to Ken Cheslin, 10 Coney Green, Stourbridge, West Midlands DY8 1LA, England. [NB - Ken is now deceased]
Montaillou The Promised Land of Error by Le Roy Ladurie,
translated from the French by Barbara Bray, Braziller, 1978, 383pp, index, maps,
Montaillou is one small village in the French Pyrenees, a few miles north of the Spanish border. In the early 1300s there was a resurgence of the Albigensian heresy in that region, and Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers, held a series of inquisitions. The persecution of the heretics was relatively mild - apparently only one person was burnt at the stake though quite a few were imprisoned and their property seized. But Bishop Fournier apparently had a passion for detail and asked the witnesses and accused endless questions about their daily life. All of the testimony was taken down, and most of it survived to wind up in the Vatican archives. Ladurie has converted this material into a fascinating description of the life and culture of the region. The Albigensian heresy was not a simple matter, but a mixture of folk beliefs, Manicheanism, and a reaction against the abuse of power and wealth of the established church. The mostly illiterate peasants and shepherds of Montaillou would have been particularly prone to seek some alterate religion, as their Catholic priest for many years, Pierre Clergue, was the wealthiest man in the village, a heretic, and an open adulterer and rapist!
Vows of Silence by Diana Louise Michael, Trust, Minneapolis, 1993,
188pp, photos, foreword by Steve Allen, wraps, $12.95.
This was offered to me as a review copy and I accepted out of curiosity because I liked the old Steve Allen Show. Alas, I find it mostly unreadable. The chapter headings are all pop music titles and the contents seem to be drawn from the same source. As far as I can make out, the author, who was born a Catholic in the 1940s, was raped as a teenager and later tried to commit suicide. She was saved by the Steve Allen Show and spiritualism - to become a bad writer. Maybe if she had found fandom...
Honk If You Are Jesus by Peter Goldsworthy, Angus & Robertson,
Australia, 1992, 290pp, wraps, $14.95 (Aus).
This was sent to me by Diane Fox down in Oz - a well-written science-fiction novel about a lady doctor's involvement in a project to clone Jesus Christ from tissue fragments left on one of the nails from the True Cross.
The Boy Who Saw True by Anon., introduction, notes and afterword by
Cyril Scott, Neville Spearman, London, 1971 (reprinted from 1953), 248pp.
This is said to be the edited diary (kept 1885-1887 with other papers appended through 1927) of a boy who, from infancy, was able to see `auras' and ghosts. According to the account he grew up in a conventional middle-class home in England and learned quite early to conceal his unusual talents, until he was given a tutor who was a spiritualist. I can't find where it states what age he was in 1885, but he died in 1933, having specified that the diary not be published until some time after his death.
I got this book (not in particularly good condition) for next to nothing at a book sale in Norfolk to benefit the Chrysler Museum. It reads much better than I expected, and held my interest - but do I believe it? Do I even believe that the author existed rather than the whole thing being the invention of Cyril Scott? I don't know.
The Book of the Mad by Tanith Lee, Overlook Press, Woodstock (NY),
1993, 209pp, $19.95.
This is the fourth of Tanith Lee's Secret Books of Paradys, a series that I like almost as well as the Flat Earth books. But at the price of new books these days and the computer voodoo currently available to publishers, it is disgusting to find a good book defaced with the endless stupid errors that this one has - on p.36, `pastal' for pastel; p.47, `stomache' for either stomach or stomach ache; p.55, `glicking' for gliding (of a snake in the water); p.76, `cigarishis' for cigarettes; p.175, `Volpeh' for Volpe (the name of a principal character). If anyone has the British edition, let me know if it has the same errors - surely no one has to retype such texts any more.
Smart Drugs II The Next Generation by Dean, Morgenthaler, and
Fowkes, Health Freedom Publications, Menlo Park (CA), 1993, 287pp, index, wraps,
Another book offered to me as a review copy. The title seems to have been borrowed from horror movies and TV! I am not qualified to say how legitimate this research is, if at all. Certainly a `smart pill' is an old science-fiction dream. This book lists a number of substances that are supposed to enhance intelligence and/or memory in normal people - some available in health food stores, some only by prescription. Finding a cooperative doctor is apparently a major problem of people interested in this sort of experimentation, although none of the drugs listed are illegal.
But while I can see how experiments could be devised to test for the alleged affects of these drugs, I don't see how an individual taking them on his own would have any idea whether they were effective. Perhaps I would find that I could work the `Jumble' puzzle in the daily paper more quickly - I certainly feel stupid when it takes me ten minutes to see that `hemic' is chime and have to use a computer program I wrote to discover that `yentic' is nicety.
Ex Libris Miskatonici by Joan C. Stanley, Necronomicon Press, West
Warwick (RI), 1993, 66pp, wraps, $7.95.
A collection of detailed descriptions of the moldering eldritch tomes invented by H. P. Lovecraft and the other writers of the Cthulhu Mythos, to be found in the Special Collections of the Miskatonic University Library. The author is said to be a Boston criminal lawyer who read At the Mountains of Madness in the tenth grade. Beautifully done and fun to read.
The Complete Ghost Stories of Charles Dickens edited by Peter Haining,
Washington Square Press/Pocket Books, New York, 1982, 408pp, wraps, $3.95.
I had been looking for something like this mass-market pb ever since David Bates sent me Captain Murderer, which is a retelling of the first tale in this book. Having read that, I kept on, and found that Dickens wrote many excellent ghost tales. In fact, I enjoyed all of them up to the familiar A Christmas Carol on p.103. I did not reread that, and the rest of the volume seemed to be of a lower quality.
Herman Stowell King, a long-time gafiate (we first met in the 60s) and collector, turned up in the local Sunday paper with a well-written review of Whitley Streiber's The Forbidden Zone (Dutton, NY, 1993, 309pp, $21). Sounds more interesting anyway than his previous Communion, which I found terminally dull and boring.
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, Bantam/Turner, New York, 1993, 264pp, illus.,
Benoit Girard recommended this in his The Frozen Frog so I got it - and found it interesting and well-written enough that I read it all that same weekend. The title, of course, is a reference to Melville's Moby Dick and through that the Biblical idea of Ishmael (the son of Abraham and traditionally the forefather of the Arab race) as a doomed wanderer on the face of the Earth. The connection with the character of that name in this novel is tenuous.
Most books about how to save the world - and in spite of the fictional format the author here makes no attempt to conceal that that is his intent - are deadly dull stuff, but in spite of the lack of plot and action this novel held my interest. It is mostly a Socratic conversation between a man and his guru, a telepathic gorilla. Of course the plan proposed for saving the world shares the common flaw of such schemes - how do you get enough of the right people to agree to it, especially when it requires that they surrender some of their power? Still, the development of the ideas is brilliant, although they will not be all that startling to science-fiction fans. Quinn cannot be all that familiar with the science-fiction ideas of the last 30 years judging from the passage on p.244 - and we see why, when he jumps from `every civilization in the history of science fiction' to `every civilization encountered by the U.S.S. Enterprise' as if they were about the same thing. I'm not sure there can be any useful generalizations about every civilization in the history of science fiction, but many sf writers (Orson Scott Card and David Zindell come to mind) have envisioned advanced civilizations that survived indefinitely because they lived in balance with their environment rather than destroying it as we are doing here on Earth. Nor are sf fans likely to see mankind as the ultimate pinnacle of evolution.
Quinn seems to actually be trying to start a movement of some sort, and doubtful as I am about the usefulness of such things, I will reprint here the address given in the closing `Note to the Reader' - Daniel Quinn, Box 163686, Austin TX 78716-3686 - and send him a copy of this issue. I hope I don't live to regret it... If enough people came to believe in these ideas with, say, the fervor that the Chinese believed in the ideas of Mao, there would be Hell to pay!
We also heard from (`CC' denoting a Christmas card):
Renee Alper, (6068 Tam Circle, Mason Oh 45040) a Cincinnati area fan who sent a brief notice (distributed by Buck Coulson) about her need for a personal care attendant to help her get to cons - the job includes living quarters and pays $80/day. This was not dated, but the envelope has an April postmark.
Anonymous in the StPaul MN area who sent four nicely printed forms that appear to be intended for the purpose of extracting `Freedom of Information' data from the NSA, the CIA, and the `Defense Technical Information Center'. One of the forms seems to be all-purpose, two more request `case logs' for the years 1980-92, and the last requests eight specific reports having to do with exotic physics - ball lightning, hyperspace, etc.
Bill Bridget (CC), who sent many dot-matrix fanzines (printed directly on colored stock rather than through any sort of repro) and several letters.
David Bates (CC), about Green Hills of Earth, Arkham House books with `Book Club Edition' stamped in them, Slant, Captain Murderer, and other esoteric subjects.
Sheryl Birkhead (CC), who says she can't find ribbons for her manual typer - Office Max here still carried a `universal' ribbon that should work in most manual typers of the last 50 years.
Eduardo Carletti, who sent `issues' 32-36 of his illustrated computer sf zine Axxon - and must think I'm an idiot for not realizing there was a zine behind the cover. I thought the cover graphics was all there was until I copied it for a friend in SFPA and hit the right button to bring up the text, which also includes graphics, an Asimov story, a picture of PKDick, a picture of Carletti himself, and so on. Carletti claims that his zine was the first in this format, and I certainly know of no other. He sends it out free, and it's also on a BBS out of Philadelphia - Carletti is Argentine, and the zine is in Spanish! I have also discovered that this zine, which is `written' in the computer language C++, offers the reader the opportunity to select which of several on-screen fonts he would rather read it in. I can read Spanish well enough to get the sense of it, though not well enough to really enjoy fiction properly.
Anita Cole (CC) says she is still recovering from Hurricane Andrew and reading an autobiography by Aristide, who was almost president of Haiti. I wouldn't try both at once, myself!
Michael Dobson (CC), who used to be a fan.
Eric Ferguson (CC) - and a very silly card it was, too; says he is retiring, from the AF, I think.
Jan `Wombat' Finder must have sent something but all I have here is the envelope...
Al Fitzpatrick (CC)
John & Diane Fox (CC), who often send me strange books - like The Badger of Ghissi.
Meade & Penny Frierson (CC)
John & Serena Fusek (CC)
Mary & Terry Gray (CC)
Deb Hammer-Johnson (CC)
Mark R. Harris (3712 N. Broadway #190, Chicago IL 60613), who sent me some issues of his ReDiscoveries News in trade for IGOTS - his zine is done by photocopying reviews that his readers send in.
Kim Huett (CC) sends a homemade card threatening me with good cheer - this is the tightest hand-coloring I have ever seen, must have been done by a midget with a magnifying glass...
Ben Indick (CC)
Herman Stowell King (CC)
Ian McKelvie (45 Hertford Road, London N2 9BX, England), who sent a catalog of some 2700 (20th Century British American Commonwealth Literature) books in 50 pages - and it looks like mimeo. Alas, I could find nothing I needed, but I commend the effort!
David Monette, who sent a sample postcard of a color painting - pretty good too, but Purple Mouth Press will never be able to afford color reproduction.
Mark Owings (CC)
Bud Plant (CC), an excellent dealer in new and used fantasy art items, sends a card with art by Frederick Judd Waugh, from a painting called The Knight of the Holy Grail.
Steve & Martha Pritchard (CC)
Ray Russell (5 Birch Terrace, Hanging Birch Lane, Horam, Heathfield, East Sussex TN21 0PA), a Machen publisher mentioned here before, who now proposes to found a Sylvia Townsend Warner Society - write him if you are interested.
Langley Searles (48 Highland Circle, Bronxville,NY-10708), who sent the 44th issue of his legendaryFantasy Commentator. This issue concentrates on Isaac Asimov but includes the usual excellent verse and reviews.
Joe Singer, who sent his Village iDiot and then passed away before my last letter reached him, alas. Actually, I see that what was returned marked `Deceased' is a paperback chain letter that Lon Atkins and Roy Tackett dragged me into. Dick Smith, who was here in August, confirmed the bad news.
Leah & Dick Smith, who won DUFF and will be moving to a new house about the same time as the trip. They say not to review their fanzine This Is Not a Fanzine, so I won't - I don't review fanzines here anyway. As a non-fanzine though, I must say that it looks too much like a fanzine to review here... As of July'93, I have their COA to 410 West Willow Road, Prospect Heights, IL - 60070-1250.
John Wright (CC)
Valerie Weich (CC)
Jonathan Wood, a British Machen fan and book dealer (BM Spellbound, London WC1N 3XX) whose catalog includes quotes from HPL and an excellent essay on Arthur Machen.
Ray Zorn (CC) - two of them, in fact.
Typing completed October 4, 1993 -