It Goes On The Shelf

No.4 December 1987

Published at The Sign of the Purple Mouth by Ned Brooks
4817 Dean Lane, Lilburn GA 30047-4720
Website -

Cover art and interiors by Sheryl Birkhead
plus the three cuts in the Arthur Machen essay for which the source is lost.

Fandom Is Something That Comes In The Mail

Sheryl Birkhead sends a couple of pieces of art, but only one is usable for thermal mimeo, the other has far too wide an area of black. Looks like IGOTS as imagined by Cecil B DeMille at his most monolithic - a comment on my style, perhaps.

Eric Mayer writes that he liked the Machen and the crank Bible book in #3. He also enclosed four of his comix booklets, King Cotton, The Stick Dick, Bad Cat, and Fred's Dream - this last has a magnificent hecto cover in full color and two color' pages inside. Eric also incloses a copy of his article on how to do hecto from Small Press Comix Explosion.

Simone Welch at Bridge Publications (1414 N Catalina St, Los Angeles, Calif-90027) has sent along two volumes of the Writers of the Future anthology series for review. I had hoped to review the Battlefield Earth books as well, but the tenth one has yet to appear here and I might as well do all that at once - maybe next issue.

Ruth Berman (2809 Drew Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minn-55416) notes that I missed at least one "Tom O'Bedlam" title last time, Poul Anderson's A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. Not the only one I missed, I think there were other titles sent in by readers.

Gene Wolfe (Box 69, Barrington IL-60010) writes, with regard to the Tom O'Bedlam page last time, that our modern "Toms" are not even let back into the asylum at night. It is a little hard to see much difference between what is now called "deinstitutionalization" and the primitive tradition that madmen had been "touched by God" (probably the origin of the use of "touched" for insane) and should not be interfered with.

Walt Willis sends a postcard that is mostly by Vincent Clarke. Gee, the Locus photos of these two taken at this year's British worldcon would not lead one to imagine that they are so old and feeble that it takes two of them to produce one postcard... Clarke notes that he has a pb of Arthur Machen's The Bowmen with a newspaper cutting pasted in about an affadavit sworn to the fact that some soldier (this was WWI, of course) had seen the "Bowmen of Mons" that Machen insists he invented for the story. Willis says that he is familiar with the Mt.Nephin region that was the setting of the Machen tale in #3, and that it lacks the ravines mentioned having "only bog, scree, and runnels". I have some notion of what a bog is, but I'm not sure about scree and runnels.

Dainis Bisenieks (921 South St. Bernard, Philadelphia, Pa-19143) Says nothing about IGOTS at all, but I must have stuck this letter in that pile for some reason. Perhaps because of the mention of an anecdote from the Jerusalem Post that Dainis mentions - A mad British Foreign Minister named George Alfred-Brown once tried to start the dancing when the music started at a diplomatic function. The "beautiful lady in scarlet" that he invited to waltz pointed out that he was drunk (he must have been!); the "waltz" was the Venezuelan national anthem; and worst of all, "she" was not a lady but the papal nuncio...

Tom Cockcroft (84 Pharazyn, Lower Hutt, New Zealand) sends photocopies of three lovely Norman Lindsay drawings for the poem "Tom O'Bedlam" by Francis Thompson, and the text of this poem as it appeared in the Winter '79-80 (#30) issue of Fantasy Commentator. Francis Thompson (1859-1907) used extensive (25 of the first 40 lines) fragments of the 16th-century poem in his effort. Whether he attributed the older source in the original publication I have no idea, but Cockcroft notes that the poem was omitted from the Collected Poems.

Chester Cuthbert (1104 Mulvey Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3M 1J5 Canada) notes six typographical errors in our Guinevere and Lancelot all of them misspellings. Sigh. The worst one is "dairy" for "diary" on page 22.

Harry Warner (423 Summit Avenue, Hagerstown Md-21740) doubts the statement quoted from Spivey's Ecclesiastical Vocabulary and Apocryphal Code that none of the people mentioned in the Bible ever existed. Of course - I review books because I find them interesting, not because I agree with them. I rather suspect that Mr Spivey was a few bricks shy of a load on that subject. I would be interested to know what drove him over the the edge, he obviously felt very strongly about the matter.

Robert Bloch has a ratber antique return-address stamp! He notes on this postcard (and he must be old enough to know!) that the 18th-century writer Restif de la Bretonne (see IGOTS 3) was a foot-fetishist and his friends called him "Rusty".

Darrell Schweitzer who is now an editor at the new Weird Tales writes that full credit to the oldest sources was given when his "Tom O'Bedlam" tales appeared in Amazing in 1981 and '83, and that he has written another story in the series called "The Last Dangerous Lunacy" for Amazing. Darrell also notes two other sf books that use "Tom 0'Bedlam" that I should have remembered - Bester's The Stars My Destination and Brunner's Bedlam Planet.


The Werewolf vs Vampire Woman - Arthur N. Scarm - Skiffy Press, Newport News and New Orleans, 1987, no price.
Or, if you please, "The Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman" by Arthur N. Scram - the title and Arthurs name are given both ways... In either case, the author's name is followed by the mysterious "a.s.p.c.d.". Extensive research has not revealed what honor these letters represent. Fine binding in gold-stamped maroon pebbled vinyl and appropriate illustrations by Alan Hutchinson cannot conceal that this is undoubtedly the worst horror-fantasy novel ever written. Bad taste, bad dialogue, bad grammar, bad syntax, an idiotic plot and a style that if it were architectural could only be called 'early outhouse' are only slightly relieved by a certain talent for bizarre and grotesque imagery.
Rating: 1

The Encyclopedia of Super Villains - Jeff Rovin - Facts-On-File, New York and Oxford, 1987, $29.95.
This is the companion volume to the same author's Encyclopedia of Super Heroes reviewed in #3. A lavish production, 416 8 1/2 by 11 pages on coated stock, illustrated in color and b&w from the sources and fully indexed. I find it a little hard to follow the logic by which the entries were selected, but then I am not a comics fan - Popeye's "Sea Hag" is included, but not Dudley DoRight's "Snidely Whiplash".
Rating: 80

The New Inquisition - Robert Anton Wilson - Falcon Press, Phoenix, 1986, $9.95.
A "trade paperback", very sparsely illustrated with simple diagrams and a striking cover; this is by the co-author of the famous Illuminatus books. His "New lnquisition" is the scientific and technical "establishment" and while no heretics are being burned at the stake - about the most serious crime of which this murky cabal can be accused is the burning of Wilhelm Reich's books - the old self-righteous authoritarian spirit is certainly in evidence. But leaving all that serious bullshit aside, this book is the most fun to read I have seen lately, a little as if Hunter Thompson had collaborated with Charles Fort on The Book of the Damned.
Rating: 90

Song of Kali -Dan Simmons - Tor, NY'86, $3.95.
An extremely gruesome and realistic tale of supernatural horror set in modern India. I suppose what impressed me about it was that non-fiction accounts of life in India that I read at about the same time indicated that the worst horrors of the book, which are not part of the supernatural trappings of the tale, are not much different from reality.
Rating: 85

Writers of the Future, vols. I & II - Edited by Algis Budrys - Bridge Pubs., Los Angeles 1985 & '86, $3.95.
These are standard pulp paper pbs, if rather fat (350-400pp) and with numerous full-page b&w illustrations. These books are intended to present "new" authors and artists. There is also a heavy dose of Hubbardian philosophy: There are, for example, a few pages in v.II about Hubbard's notions on Sf art - I can't make a lot out of them, but in practice, if these were the criteria used to select the art in these books, they failed to find anything better than minimal competence. There is no Bok here, no Kirk, no Barr, no Cartier, no Freas, in short, no magic. The stories, as might be expected since they were probably chosen in the usual way, are a mixed bag of good and bad imitations of 1950s Sf. You can't synthesize genius, which what Hubbard tried to do with Dianetics and Scientology, but, as in attempts to make a perpetual motion machine, little harm is done in the effort.
Rating: 75

Together - Norman Douglas - McBride, NY'31.
A reprint from the 1923 edition, curious photo-illustrated endpapers. Douglas (1868-1952) is an interesting writer (from the same general period as two of my favorites, Machen and Dunsany) with an excellent style. This a sort of look into memories of his childhood in the Alpine region where his family had owned a home from a return there after WWI. Much of the same commentary on flora and fauna that make Edward Abbey and Loren Eiseley such attractive writers.
Rating: 85

The Pleasure Garden - Leon Garfield - Viking, NY'76, $6.95.
A curious original fantasy set in London. The descriptions are excellent and the characters are fascinating. The supernatural element so subtle as to almost disappear altogether.
Rating: 88

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card - Tor, NY'86, $3.50.
I got interested in Card when I attended what he said was his last "Secular Humanist Revival" at the 1987 DeepSouthCon in Huntsville. His future in which humanity spreads out across the Galaxy (with the help of Ursula LeGuin's instantaneous communicator, the ansible) is told from multiple viewpoints surrounding the hero Andrew Wiggins. A little too much repetitive detail and pop psychology perhaps but this and its sequel Speaker for the Dead are good, idea-rich sf. I was particulariy impressed with the use of non-Anglo cultures and the treatment of alien races and the development of human philosophy that they compell.
Rating: 81

The Self-Anointed - Gladis Lenore DePree NY, 1978, $9.95.
I think I first noticed this book because of the excellent d/w art (by Bob McMahon). It is the very well written true story of a child who grows up in the grip of her father's charismatic religious lunacy, and finally frees herself.
Rating: 80

A Maggot - John Fowles - Signet, NY'85, $4.50.
The author says in the introduction that this book was the result of a long obsession with a recurring dream of "travelers in an English countryside of long ago. The explanation of who these people were and where they were going takes up 467 pages and must have entailed extensive research into the society of the 18th century. I enjoyed this much more than what I read of the author's earlier books The Magus and The Ebony Tower.
Rating: 75

The Postman - David Brin - Bantam, NY'86, $3.95.
This tale of a post-holocaust America reunited by the legend of the United States Postal Service would have been a bit more believabie back before the USPOD decayed into the USPS, but in any case it's a bit too much tale for the gimmick. I can't remember if I made it to the end or not.
Rating: 75

Hawksmoor - Peter Ackroyd - Harper & Row, NY'87, $7.95.
The trade pb reprint of a 1985 novel. Again (are you beginning to suspect that I am a sucker for the period ?) we are in 18th century London, this time with a never-explained mystery having to do with the contruction of seven new churches in the reign of Queen Anne. Very mystical and atmospheric, almost Lovecraftian in places, but the hope for an explanation dragged me on to the end! Who was it said that "to travel hopefully is better than to arrive"?.
Rating: 83

London For Everyman - revised by John Freeman after William Kent - Dent, London, 1956.
A reprint of the 1931 edition. This is a handy pocket-size guide to historical London, intended at the time I suppose for tourists there. I found it of some use in trying to follow the church builders in Hawksmoor, reviewed above. There are pages of colored maps and a Short History from Roman times on.
Rating: 81

The City In The Autumn Stars - Michael Moorcock - Grafton, London, 1986, 9.95.
The price is in pounds sterling, for which I am to lazy to construct the proper symbol. This is the second volume in the chronicle of the the von Bek family that started with The War Hound and The Worlds Pain. I did not enjoy it as much as that first book but it's almost worth the price for the title and the d/w art by Geoff Taylor. I am still trying to obtain the third book in the series, The Brothel In Rosenstrasse.
Rating: 85

Melchizedek Truth Principles - through Frater Achad - DeVorss, Santa Monica, 1963.
And now for something remarkably bad - this 3rd edition of the "Fourth DIMENSIONAL (sic) Teachings" copyright by the Lockhart Memorial Research Foundation is twaddle from one end to the other, a silly mishmash of Christianity and occultism. And yet some benighted soul has gone through and marked it up in ballpoint as if one line of it was less asinine than another.
Rating: 10

Hold Your Tongue - Morris L. Ernst & Alexander Lindey - Morrow, NY 1932.
Subtited "Adventures in Libel and Slander" this is a light, non-technical account by two lawyers of the evolution of the law in that area, well illustrated with examples. The fascinating chapter on "Novel Cases" includes a suit by a critic of Octave Mirbeau's Torture Garden against the publisher for objecting to his review. There is an extensive description under "Famous Cases" of James Fenimore Cooper's endless suits against various newspaper critics, and a wonderful case from 1920 where a paper (The Dearborn Independent, owned by Henry Ford) slandered Jews in general as being responsible for Germany's economic problems, i.e. the Nazi party line.
Rating: 84

The Bible Story - Basil Wolverton - Ambassador College Press, Pasadena, 1961.
Yes, the Basil Wolverton of Plop and other comics also did religious books for Herbert Armstrong's cult. I have on hand (thanks to George Wells) volumes I and V of this set of large pbs. Wolverton is credited with both the text and the artwork, which while in his distinctive style, contains none of the grotesquely unlikey detail he was famous for. There are subtle oddities, hoever - in a scene from the Fourth Day of Creation the Earth is shown from beyond the Moon, as seen with the western hemisphere inverted; and Adam and Eve are shown in the Garden of Eden sitting under a tree watching Adam being "formed of the dust of the ground.

A number of Old Testament characters seem to be dressed in modern trousers and checked shirts. Boaz's threshing shed is a lean-to built of planed boards for which the technology had yet to be invented. The idols of Moab and the fall of the temple of Dagon do finally provide some opportunily for more typical Wolverton art.

Rating: 70

The Pictures on the Cards

by Arthur Machen.

Editor's note (n.b.: the original editor of the Dalton Citizen, Tom Y. Horan): In a recent letter Mr. Machen wrote that this present article speaks of "that strange propensity in our nature for making trouble if we have not got any." Published for the first time anywhere in the Citizen, the essay is a chapter from Mr. Machen's forthcoming book, which will be called "The Glitter of the Brook". Our celebrated English correspondent is best known to discerning readers in Great Britain and America as the author of The Hill of Dreams, The Great God Pan, The Secret Glory and Dog and Duck.
In a letter which accompanied the manuscrips the this month's article, Mr. Machen wrote: "By the time you recieve this, I suppose soft airs of spring blowing in Georgia. We cannot reckon on anything of the sort until April at the earliest." With the arrival of our current snow storm, it looks as though we can't either. Mr. Machen's address
(n.b.: in 1932) is Lynwood : High Street : Amersham : Bucks. : England.

A very plausible case might be made, I believe for the proposition that life would be intolerable if it were not for its evils.

Nonsense? Well, take one evil, worry, anxiety, that painful occupation of the mind which has been held responsible for so many shattered souls. "It is not work that kills men; it's worry," I once heard a famous divine declare, and I have often felt inclined to agree with him. It is not work however hard that poisons life. Often, in old days, I have gone into the hayfields and watched the mowers with their scythes advancing across the meadow; scythes, arms, legs bodies swinging in perfect measure. The sun beat down, the mowers steamed with heat, the work, so they say, uses and tries every muscle of the body: but it all looked jolly - to use an old word - and they Iook jolly; and with what a relish they lifted up the great stone jars of small cider or small beer that were kept cool in the shade of the pollard beech. Then after a mighty draught of the cold drink, back to the work again, and the long swathes, sweet smelling, fell before the shining scythes; and so till the sun went down behind the mountain wall in the west, and the mowers went home, tired and cheerful. A hard day's work, but a good day's work without a pang in it.

Such hours as these do no harm to any man; such work, as the clergyman said, does not kill. I often how any man can be a coal miner; and yet the men of the mines are often cheerful fellows. "You can't keep them out of the pits," a Welshman once said to me. Then there are the housebreakers, who stand on a high wall and hack at it with their picks, and the men who wheel barrows of bricks at a brisk trot on a bounding scaffolding plank, I know not how many feet above the ground. But such forms of work are so dangerous that they only need to be taken up in the right social quarters to become highly fashionable sports. Work, then, is endurable and may be enjoyable. But worry...

It is the slow, but burning poison of life; a worm that dieth not, a fire that is not quenched; an anticipation of hell itself. It is the black care that sits behind the horseman; the terrible companion that draws the curtain at night, and appears, strangely, awfully disguised in the dreams of the sleeper. It wakes with him at dawn, and strikes a pang through his breast. It mingles venom with his meat and his drink, with all his thoughts, and words, and deeds. He had rather meet a stranger than his dearest friend; for with a stranger one can act a part. He cannot read his well-loved books: good wine breeds but greater loathing on a fevered palate. He is almost ready to cry: "Who will put me out of my misery?" And, often enough, finding life unendurable, ends it by his own violence.

And the strange thing is that we go to pains and labour to make counterfeit cares, imitation anxieties, feigned worries of all sorts. As if a man's real troubles were not enough for him, he invents a tortuous enigma called chess, grows pale over its problems, and racks his brains by way of resting them. And, as if chess were not difficult enough, he refines upon its tortures and plays the game in a dialogue, without seeing the board; plays three, six, a dozen games at once: seeks out any device to increase his troubles. Then there is another popular torture called bridge. A few weeks ago, the world gathered around a bridge table in New York. The doings on that table formed an important item day by day in our English newspapers. We read how the players worried so over the game that their nerves got on edge, and they addressed each other with considerable acrimony. At last the contest came to an end; and I must say that the only sensible comment on the affair that I read was in this very paper, The Dalton Citizen. And it was: "What of it?" What of it, indeed? Haven't we, most of us, enough real and actual cares without these fantasmal anxieties? There are Kings and Queens of darkness with powers of life and death and torment, and knaves in plenty to rob us of all we have: and yet we must, of our own free will, call on the pictures on the cards to harry us. But the paradox goes all through life. We cannot keep our pet dogs in peace. Mrs. Smith, the owner of the famous Pekinese Ling Pu, shows him, and bursts into tears because her pet is beaten by Mrs. Brown's Wang Lu. And I daresay that the heart of the grower of roses is often pierced by a like thorn. I remember once calling on some people at Wimbledon, near London. There was a beautiful garden, and I knew that my friends were proud of their roses. It was the day before the local flower show, and the weather was showery. We strolled out on the lawn after tea: and there, instead of roses, were umbrellas. All the umbrellas, parasols, sunshades that the house could provide were stuck here and there about beds; the object being to protect the precious blooms from the assault of the rain, so that tney might be perfect for the show next day. Here, I thought, is a taking of anxious thought for the morrow: these people are worrying about their roses, instead of enjoying them.

And the moral of this grave discourse is to the address of the fanatics, the cranks, the red-hot reformers of the universe. By all means let us help the lame dog over the stile and raise the blind man from the ditch. But do not let us endeavour to abolish stiles and ditches; since, if we had none, we should at once proceed to construct them with immense pains, labour, and expense. In Mr. Aldous Huxley's latest book, there is a picture of a world without evil. It is an unspeakably awful place.

Faith is not an exotic bloom to be laboriously maintained by the exclusion of most aspects of the day to day world, nor a useful delusion to be supported by sophistries and half-truths like a child's belief in Father Christmas - not, in short, a prudently unregarded adherence to a constructed creed; but rather must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God. This is why religion can only be advice and clarification, and cannot carry any spurs of enforcement - for only belief and behavior that is independently arrived at, and then chosen, can be praised or blamed. This being the case, it can be seen as a criminal abridgement of a person's rights willfully to keep him in ignorance of any facts or opinions - no piece can be judged inadmissible, for the more stones, both bright and dark, that are added to the mosaic, the clearer is our picture of God.
Milton / Coleridge / Powers

The above quotation is from a speech about John Milton by Charles Taylor Coleridge, contained in The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, published by Ace as an original paperback novel in December 1983. Perhaps some graduate student in English Literature can tell us whether Milton or Coleridge ever really said any such thing - I like it anyway, and will keep it around on this page of It Goes On The Shelf until I find something I like better as representing the proper attitude of a journalist.

This fanzine will not be sold. It will not even be distributed in the usual sense of mailing out a lot of the copies at once. This tired old fan will just send it through SFPA and Slanapa, and in trade as zines come in, and to correspondents as letters go out. If you should hear of it and feel you must have a copy, you may send a SASE for lack of anything better. If there is to be much art in future issues, I will need some good line art - no tone, no solid blacks, no shading except for dot or line - suitable for thermal stencil. I do not have to have the original, a good xerox is fine.

For those interested in the gruesome technical details, this fanzine is composed in FancyFont using WordStar on an Osborne microcomputer. It is printed on a RexRotary M4 mimeograph from stencils cut directly by the Epson MX-80 dot-matrix printer. Art is printed from thermal mimeo stencils cut by a 3M Thermofax machine.

And don't forget to ask yourself -

Are you sure you want to be happy?
Happy New Year!

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