Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, October 31, 2014


Florrie Forde.


The Goddess of Ganymede by Michael D. Resnick (1967)

For his very first book in the fantasy field, Mike Resnick channeled his inner Edgar Rice Burroughs.

(Let me back up just a little bit.  Resnick actually published a previous story, "The Forgotten Seas of Mars," that was a sequel to Burroughs' Llana of Gathol.  This 26,000 word story was published in a limited edition by EBR-dom with the full approval of the Burroughs estate.  But that was a story, . not an novel, and it was published by the amateur press, not a professional -- albeit fledgling -- publisher like Donald M. Grant.  Resnick, of course, was not new to the writing field.  He had written over 200 soft core novels under pseudonyms and had been a columnist and a magazine and newspaper editor.  Resnick had the chops and The Goddess of Ganymede was his first major entry into a long, distinguished, and on-going career in speculative fiction.)

So, Ganymede.  Not Mars (Barsoom) or Venus (Amtor), but the largest of Jupiter's (and the solar system's) moons.  Because long before man made his first suborbital space flight, the United States government was operating two secret space programs in addition to the one the public knew about.  Of the two secrets programs, one -- Project Jupiter -- looked the most promising.  Unfortunately, the first two attempts to reach Jupiter failed.  In their wisdom, the powers that be decided that their third try might have a better chance -- or, at least, a less complicated result if it failed -- with a crew of one:  an experienced pilot not associated with the government.  It happened that such a pilot was the experienced adventurer Adam Thane.

So Adam Thane blasts off for Jupiter and Jupiter's gravity captures his ship, pulling Adam to a certain death on the gas giant.  Luckily Adam's course has also brought him close to Ganymede and its weaker gravitational pull.  Adam uses most of his fuel trying to push his ship away from Jupiter and to its moon.  His gamble works and Adam finds himself on a stranded on a strange planet.

Ganymede, or Kobar, as its inhabitants call it in their universal language, is essentially a world of city-states.  One hemisphere of the moon had been devastated in an ages-old war, the radiation from its super-weapons has spawned mutated races.  On the other hemisphere live a human-like race, their skins a golden color.  Most technology has been abandoned after that war thousands of years ago; preferred weapons now are swords, knives, spears, and maces.  Each kingdom (city-state) has a Togron (or king).  The kings sons carry the title Gron.  A Gron may be the Togron's biological son, or someone adopted by the Togron.  Kobar is under the thumb of Malthor, the "City of the Gods."  The gods -- cruel, callous, and vengeful -- number about a hundred with Tarafolga as the main god.  The "gods" are actually men made immortal by scientific means and who have created a religion to solidify their powers and exercise their depravities.

That's the basic set-up.  Adam Thane, like John Carter has extraordinary powers due to Kobar's lower gravity.  Taken by the flying beings from the Kingdom of Kroth, Adam soon is named a Gron by the kingdom's leader, Balor.  A war is brewing between Kroth and the human kingdom of Rambus.  Adam leads a regiment of Kroths and soon discovers that the war is being manufactured by Malthor with the help of a treacherous Rambian.  Adam soon meets and falls in love with Delisse, the daughter of the Togron of Rambus.  Another pawn of war, Delisse is captured and taken to Malthor to be wed  to Tarafolga,  She is named a princess, soon to become a queen of Kobar.

There are battles and sword fights, captures and escapes, strange beasts and beastly men, huge palaces and deadly pits, evil villains and a noble hero -- all the trappings of a great Burroughs novel.  And a happy ending?  Not quite, but a satisfying enough ending to set up a sequel, Pursuit on Ganymede, which was published the following year by Paperback Library.

A good book and a good beginning to a storied career.  The thirteen-year-old in me says thanks to Resnick for this one and all that followed.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


One of the great things about growing up in Massachusetts was the availibilty of world-class entertainment and culture.  Back then, everybody knew the name Arthur Fiedler, you could just as easily catch him having lunch at Durgin Park or chasing fire engines through the Boston streets as you could watch him conducting at Symphony Hall.  Under Fielder's long-term leadership, The Boston Pops turned out more records than any other orchestra.  Originally designed to showcase light classical works, the Pops branched out to include popular works.  Bringing great music for almost fifty years with the Pops, Fiedler was one of the most recognizable faces in New England.  The Boston Pops post-Fiedler continue on under the direction of  first John Williams and then Keith Lockhart.

Relax and go to your happy place with Fiedler and the Pops.

With Earl Wild on piano, Gershwin's "Variations on I Got Rhythm."

From 1937, Walter Piston's "The Incredible Flutist," a work commissioned by the Pops.

From 1957, Borodin's "In the Steppes of Central Asia."

From 1957, "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from Grieg's Peer Gynt.

Here he is with the Boston Promenade orchestra conducting Ravel, Bizet, and de Falla.


Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.


From 1933, a two-part radio program to get you in the mood for tomorrow's festivities.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Sweethearts of the Radio.


I certainly hope this film is not overlooked.

Edward G. Robinson, Orson Welles, Loretta Young, and Richard Long -- a powerful cast for a powerful movie.  Directed by Welles and written by Anthony Veiller (with uncredited help from Welles and John Huston), The Stranger is a fine example of post-War noir.


Monday, October 27, 2014


Boz Scaggs.


  • Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe's Sword. Historical novel.  This time Captain Richard Sharpe is with the Salamanca Campaign in June and July of 1812.
  • Ovid Demaris, The Lindbergh Kidnaping Case.  Non-fiction, part of Monarch Books Americana Series from the early Sixties.  (I spell kidnapping with two "p"s but my spellcheck seems to feel that one "p" is okay, too.  Ovid Demaris, you've wriggled out of this one!)
  • Vince Flynn, five Mitch Rapp thrillers:  American Assassin, Extreme Measures, The Last Man, Protect and Defend, and Separation of Power.
  • Melanie M. Jeschke, The Inklings.  Sweet Christian romance novel set at Oxford University.  C. S.  Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien are among the characters and a number of minor characters are named for Jane Austen characters.
  • Hugh Lofting, The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle. Adapted for young readers by N. H. Kleinbaum.  Huh?  The Doctor Doolittle books were written for young readers, weren't they?  This one probably should be advertised as "dumbed down for today's dumbed down readers."  Ptah!  There oughta be a law!
  • Kathy Reichs, Deja Dead.  A Temperance Brennan mystery.
  • David Rosenfelt, Open and Shut.  Mystery.  An Edgar-nominated first novel.
  • Karen Russell, Swamplandia!  Russell's first novel and a Pulitzer Prize finalist.  Southern gothic with gators.
  • Lisa Scottoline, Lady Killers. A Mary DiNunzio thriller.
  • Clifford D. Simak, Highway of Eternity.  SF from an always dependable author.
  • Karin Slaughter, Fallen.  A Faith Mitchell/Will Trent/Sara Linton mystery.
  • Wayne Warga, Singapore Transfer.  A Jeffrey Dean mystery.
  • Charles Harry Whedbee, Pirates, Ghosts, and Coastal Lore:  The Best of Judge Whedbee.  Collection of thirteen legends from North Carolina's Outer Banks, culled from Whedbee's five books.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Here's a letter that young scientifiction fan Jerry Siegel wrote to Amazing Stories long before he and Joe Schuster created Superman.  The letter appeared in the August 1929 issue when Siegel was fifteen years old.


     I'm starting my letter off with a request which I am sure will be seconded by a large host of AMAZING STORIES readers.  What I wish you would do is reprint A. Merritt's "Through the Dragon Glass," which appeared in the All-Story magazine years ago.  Also some stories written for the same magazine by Austin Hall, Ralph Farley and Homer E. Flint.  In the "Discussions" column in the May issue of AMAZING STORIES, 1929, a reader by the name of Todhunter said he would like to know of a story called "The Invisible Professor."  The correct name is "The Vanishing Professor" and its author is Fred McIsaac.  I read the story when it appeared and I can safely say any scientifiction reader would enjoy it thoroughly.
     I'm for reprints, but I do not mean the ones that were written so long ago that their forecasts had already come true.  I  am also in favor of your reprinting "The Blind Spot," even though I've already read it.  And, Editor, if you are undecided as to whether or not to reprint it, you should hurry along with your decision, for the readers of the magazine in which it originally appeared are voting whether they should it reprinted or not.  By the way, will your readers stop casting slurs at "Weird Tales" magazine?  I buy every issue of "Argosy," "Weird Tales" and "Our" magazine as they appear, for they all have the same authors or most of them.  They List:
          1) Edmond Hamilton
          2) David H. Keller
          3) A. Merritt
          4) Clare W. Harris
          5) Ray Cummings
          6) Murray Leinster, etc., etc.
     So you see when you criticize that type of fiction appearing in these magazines, you are in turn throwing dirt at your own.
     And, Editor, give us another cover (story) contest.  I have written many science stories, amateurishly, and can hardly hold myself in restraint, when I know that some of my friends who have also written science stories galore, chiefly among them John Redul [??? I can't make out the last name - JH], author of "Voice from the Moon," also of "Emperor of Ten Worlds," both Sunday Times, and Bernard Kantor, author of "Invisible World," and "Beyond This Finite World," and are also waiting for a chance to number as contributor to "Our" magazine.

                                                              Jerome Siegel,
                                           10622 Kimberly Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

The editor, who by this time was T. O'Conor Sloane, explained that the magazine was receiving so many good stories that they had to be "very chary of giving reprints."

Fred MacIsaac's The Vanishing Professor was a four-part serial in Argosy All-Story Weekly, beginning January 9, 1926, and appeared in book form the following year.

I haven't got a copy of the May1929 issue available -- probably because there was no issue with that date.  There was a May 1929 issue of Amazing Stories Quarterly but I could find no "Todhunter in the letters column.  So I don't know who "Todhunter" was.  The name conjures up images in my mind of Rex Todhunter Stout and his cousin Willis Todhunter Ballard.  Wishful thinking on my part, I'm sure.

The Blind Spot by Austin Hall and Homer Eon Flint was a six-part serial beginning on May 14, 1921 in Argosy All-Story Weekly.  Neither Amazing Stories nor Argosy All-Story Weekly chose to reprint the story.  An incomplete version was reprinted in three parts in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1940 and then in Fantastic Novels in July of that year.  Prime Press published the novel in book form in 1951 and it has been reprinted many times since.

Of the authors mentioned by Siegel, most were mainstays in the early days of science fiction.  Hamilton and Leinster both had long and distinguished careers.  Cummings wrote a variety of pulp stories; many of his SF books were reprinted in paperback by Ace.  David H. Keller was a physician and prison psychiatrist who wrote some effective and more than a few clunky stories. He underwrote the cost of printing at least one of his collections from Arkham House.  Keller also wrote several works on sexual health.  Merritt was the editor of The American Weekly and the author of some widely-respected works of imaginative fantasy.  Austin Hall wrote mainly in the Western field but several of his SF stories are considered classics.  Homer Eon Flint's brief writing career was mainly concentrated in the Frank A. Munsey magazines, notably All-Story Weekly (later Argosy All-Story Weekly).  He died mysteriously (and brutally) in a car crash in 1924, after picking up a hitchhiker who was later found to have a criminal record.  "Ralph Milne Farley" was the pen name of teacher Roger Sherman Hoar.  Farley is best known for his "Radio Man" series, popular but pale imitations of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Clare Winger Harris is noted as "the first woman to publish sf in the specialized 1920s pulp magazines."  Her eleven SF stories were reprinted in a 1947 collection.

Bernard Kantor never had a story published in Amazing, nor in any other SF magazine as far as ISFDb can tell.  The two stories mentioned by John (whatever his last name is) are also not listed in ISFDb.

ISFDb lists this as the only letter Siegel published in Amazing Stories.  He did publish a letter in Astounding in 1931.  Siegel's 1929 Cosmic Stories may have been the first SF fanzine.  Siegel and Schuster created Superman in 1934 but it would take four years before the Man of Steel finally saw print in Action Comics #1.  The rest, as they say, is history.


I have no idea who sings this one.


Saturday, October 25, 2014


Toby Keith.


The cover story of this issue of Crackajack Funnies was features The Owl, a costumed superhero who, like Batman, had no particular super powers.  The Owl first appeared in the July 1940 issue of Crackajack Funnies.  Hiding behind the Owl mask was police detective/special investigator Nick Terry, who brought justice to the city of Yorktown.  Nick has a girlfriend, reporter Veronica Lake Belle Wayne (no relation to Bruce) who began six months before aiding him as Owl Girl.  The Owl is the bane of Nick's boss, Chief Murphy who is upset because The Owl seems to be doing a better job fighting crime than Murphy's own police force.  On Murphy's force, by the way, is officer Dozey O'Toole, who provides comic relief.  (remember, back in the day many workplaces had signs, "No Irish Need Apply.")  The Owl's costume includes a cowl and a cape and some striking curly-pointed boots that I can only describe as "girly-boy."

The Owl and Owl Girl were revived in the Sixties, and then again in 2008 by Dynamite Entertainment.  The characters had fallen in the public domain.  The Owl now has a few superpowers, while Owl Girl is the granddaughter of the original Owl Girl.  The Marvel Comics villain The Owl is a completely different character, as is DC Comics' The Owlman.

In Part One of "Manse of the Mad Modespos," Ma Madestos has broken out of Lenmoor Asylum.  Soon after three of her four sons mysteriously escape, one by one.  The superintendent of the asylum has tried to keep secret that these vicious killers get loose -- and then Ma dons a disguise and shoots Chief Murphy.  Convinced that Ma's remaining son will soon be broken out of the asylum, The Owl stands watch and sees a trained gorilla climb the walls of the asylum, rip apart the bars of a cell window, and carry the fourth Modespos son away.  Following them, The Owl reaches their hideout.  What happens next is reserved for the September issue.

Also in this issue a serial story featuring Cyclone, a shirtless Australian he-man who straps a pistol by his side and wears some sort of fuzzy chaps.  Cyclone's brother is a midget named ('natch) Midge. Midge is a magician who wears black tie, a top hat, and spats.  This time, the duo and Cyclone's horse Calico accompany an expedition into the jungle.

We also get adventures of wild animal hunter Clive Beatty,  the western pioneer family The Crusoes,  Bob and Bill the scout twins, SF character Stratosphere Jim, master detective Ellery Queen, boy's hero Don Winslow, and comic reporter Gabby Scoops.

Quite a variety for your dime.  If only you didn't have to wait a month to see what happens with some of you favorite characters.

Friday, October 24, 2014


The Grateful Dead.


The Shield of the Valiant by August Derleth (1945)

The major work in August Derleth's life was his Wisconsin Saga, which encompassed poems, novels, short stories, essays, and various non-fiction works.  Integral to this sweeping saga was its subset, the Sac Prairie Saga, in which Derleth examined the inner working of his hometown of Sauk City, thinly disguised as the village of Sac Prairie.

The Shield of the Valiant is a substantial novel that visits the village during the years 1936 through 1941, ending with America's entry into World War II, also marking the end of an era for the quiet village and its surrounding farm country.  The underlying theme of the book is the damage that gossip and rumor can do.  We meet Rena Janney in her senior year in high school, a brash, outspoken girl whose overly mature appearance and dress belie her sweet and innocent nature.  Her father had deserted her, her brother, and their mother when Rena was two, forcing her mother to take jobs in distant Madison and leaving her children in care of her mother.  Because of Rena's family background and because off her provocative dress and her defiant, unsophisticated manner, local gossips have pegged her as easy -- the kiss of death in 1936 small town circles.

One who easily believes the rumors is John Sewell, the local banker and a hide-hound conservative.  Sewell's daughter -- to his regret -- is Rena's best friend.  His son Kiv has just graduated from college and Sewell's plan for him to have Kiv eventually take over the running of the bank.  Kiv is a far more creative spirit than his father and is constantly rebelling.  Could this rebellion explain his growing infatuation with his sister's best friend?  Whatever the reason, Kiv is slowly drawn to Rena and she to him. spawning both unsubstantiated rumors and Sewell's ire.  Because they come from two different spheres, Rena comes to believe that she is holding Kiv back and painfully decides to break it off.  Rena moves to Madison to join her mother.  Kiv pines away in Sac Prairie and eventually quits the bank, although he has little idea of what to do with his life.

In the meantime, a new priest has come to Sac Prairie.  Father Peitsch, although young, is very conservative, strongly anti-Protestant, weak-willed, insecure, and prone to bluster.  Some of the more un-Christian members in his flock have told him that one of the high school teachers has been preaching anti-Catholicism in his class.  Peitsch denounces the man from in his next sermon.  He is going strictly by the say-so of the several rumor mongers without checking whether the rumors are true.  In fact, the rumors could be traced to some dissatisfied students.  It falls to Steve Grendon (a member of the School Board and Derleth's alter ego in this and many other books) to quash the rumor.  This Steve does with a well-worded letter to press and to the bishop about the priest's ill-informed and unfortunate accusations.  The situation is resolved, but Steve has earned the priest's enmity.  Father Peitsh begins circulating rumors about Steve.

One rumor that does have a basis in fact is about the affair Royce Myron is having with young Megan Hods.  Royce is married with a young child, and when the rumors reach Royce's wife, tragedy ensues, followed by further tragedy.

All this is played out in a strongly delineated village.  Derleth brings in familiar characters and adds new depth to them.  The impact of the past and its follies and joys are examined as are the way family ties can be strengthened or weakened.  Characters move in and out as in real life.  People age and die.  The village slowly changes until some are hard pressed to remember what was there before.  The village, in partnership with its vibrant, natural environment, is the strongest character in the novel, but all of the characters are worth getting to know.  There are no real villains here, just ordinary people with their ordinary virtues and ordinary weaknesses.

Speaking of weaknesses, the book is somewhat flawed by Steve Grendon's over-philosophizing.  Some sections also seemed rushed -- perhaps forgivable because Derleth was trying to pack in so much into a 500 page novel.  All in all, though, this was a enjoyable read for a confirmed Derleth fan as I am.  It was nice to spend some time with old friends in Sac Prairie.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I love this story song, its imagery and its hope.

Here's Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie.


Over a six-decade career Eddie Arnold epitomized Country and Western music.  His relaxed style, smooth voice, and gentle guitar brought him success in recording and on the radio and television.  Here's a couple of his radio programs for you to enjoy:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


From 1928, Sam Coslow and the High Hatters.


(This one's an update of an old Red Skelton joke.)
First seagull:  "Say, have you seen any of the new 2015 cars?"

Second seagull:  "Sure.  I spotted one yesterday."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Stan Rogers.


 Okay, I'm confused.

This show was originally called The Art Baker Show when it premiered on the DuMont Network in December 1950.  That makes sense because Art Baker was the host and the creator of the show.  The show's name was soon changed to You Asked For It.  This also makes sense because it easily explains the concept of the show and perhaps because few people knew who Art Baker was.  (I certainly didn't.  I was four years old at the time and we had had our television set for all of two months.)  But supposedly the title change came in April 1951 -- two months after this particular episode aired.  But this episode is clearly titled You Asked For It.  So either I got the air date wrong or the title change came much earlier.

Art Baker, "your genii with the light white hair," was a popular radio personality.  His L.A. based radio show, Art Baker's Notebook, ran for over 20 years beginning in 1938.  He also appeared in 48 movies, starting with uncredited roles in the 30s and moving on to appear in such films as Spellbound, Abie's Irish Rose, and The Farmer's DaughterYou Asked For It ran through September 1959.  Baker hosted the show for all but the final 20 episodes when replaced by Jack Smith.  Baker continued to act in television and films until his death in 1966.

The question remains, who asked for it?  The show's viewers did, through postcards requesting what they wanted to see,,,from reunions of the Our Gang actors to views of movie stars homes, from secrets of special effects to people working with wild animals, from the eerie Winchester House to modern engineering marvels.  Most of the requests seem humdrum to today's jaded viewers, but to audiences in the early days of television this was pretty heady stuff.

I guess you had to be there.

From (I believe) February 7, 1951, here's the show's (methinks) sixth episode:

Monday, October 20, 2014


Roseanne Cash.


  • Ace Atkins, Robert B. Parker's Lullaby.  Atkin's first take on Spenser.
  • Neal Barrett, Jr., Daniel Boone:  Westward Trail.  Historical novel, fourth in the American Explorers series.
  • Lincoln Child, Terminal Freeze and The Third Gate.  Thrillers.  For more Lincoln Child, see below.
  • Ralph Compton, The Killing Season.  Western the second in the Nathan Stone, Gunfighter series.
  • Glen Cook, Dark War.  An omnibus of the Dark War trilogy, contains Doomstalker, Warlock, and Ceremony.
  • Richard Doetsch, The Thieves of Darkness.  Thriller.
  • Jeffrey Deaver, Carte Blanche.  Deaver's take on James Bond.
  • "Carl Laymon" (Richard Laymon),   Laymon's take on the YA romance novel.
  • Madeline L'Engle, A Swiftly Tilting Planet.  YA fantasy, the second in her Time Quintet, following A Wrinkle in Time.
  • Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Cold Vengeance and Fever Dream.  Thrillers in the Special Agent Pendergast series.  For more Lincoln Child, see above.
  • Paricia Wentworth, The Catherine-Wheel and Vanishing Point.  Miss Silver mysteries.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Here's a children's book of British animals, complete with rhymes for each animal.  We start (of course) with the British Bulldog and move on to:

  • The Un-Common Cat
  • The Friendly Hen
  • The Learned Pig
  • The Beautiful Swan
  • The Very Tame Lamb
  • The Toilsome Goat
  • The Lucky Duck
  • Cock o' the North
  • The Simple Sheep
  • The Servile Cow, and
  • The Growing Colt
Purists will note that there is no mention of The Paddington Bear.

The book was designed by Sir William Nicholson in 1896 and first published by Heinemann in England in 1899.  Nicholson was a well-known painter, illustrator, and designer (he designed the sets for the first performance of Peter Pan).  The rhymes are by Arthur Waugh, the father of Alec and Evelyn.  The link will take you to the 1900 R. H. Russell (New York) edition.


Michelle Gibson.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Cab Calloway and His Orchestra with the Nicholas Brothers.


Let's make something clear from the git-go:  despite the title, this comic is NOT about me.  Not that I'm not amazing, mind you, but 1942 was just a tad before my time.  So Amazing Man was just some dude who should have conceded the title to me when I came of age.  He didn't.  That might be the reason he is somewhat forgotten now.  (Other reasons could include his shorts, his lack of a shirt, or his sidekick Tommy -- who at least deigns to wear a shirt.)

So here's the deal.  Amazing Man is super strong, bullet-proof, can fly and also turn himself into green mist.  He probably can do a whole bunch of other things, too, because he's amazing, right?

In a mash-up of the Old West and today (well, 1942, ok?), John Worth and his daughter Gladys have struck gold and are riding their horses into town to file a claim.  They are suddenly attacked by giant, remote controlled vultures who tear John apart.  Gladys manages to escape and flee to town where the sheriff suggests she call Amazing Man for help.  (The sheriff apparently doesn't do killer vultures and he thinks Amazing Man does.)  The vultures are the creation of Dr. Mord who is raising millions of them so he can take over the United States and become a dictator.  When Amazing Man and Tommy arrive in the nick of time to save Gladys from a second vulture attack, Mord pulls out all the stops.  He utilizes his evil henchmen, dip the vultures' claw in cobra venom, uses his dehydrator pistol on Amazing Man, and tosses him into a pit of giant crabs.  If you this all this will stop Amazing Man, you're reading the wrong comic.  (Tommy appears to  be along just for the ride this time.)

The next story features Basil Wolverton's Meteor Martin of the Space Patrol as he faces "The Monsters of Gorakon."  Sucked into a negative universe, Meteor recues the beautiful Rana and her father only to have a monster make away with Rana.  Before he can rescue the damsel once again, Meteor is thrown into a pit of flames and...continued in the next issue of Stars & Stripes (another comic book published by Centaur Publishing).

Also featured in this issue is a story about The Blue Lady (who owns "the oriental power-giving blue bird") and one about Electric Ray (who decides to wear rubber gloves after electrocuting a gang of baddies).

If that's not enough, there's a story about the King of Darkness and his antigravity invention and on about Mighty Man and Super-Ann (yeah, we're scraping the bottom of the super-hero barrel now).

Anyway, it's a fun issue.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Manfredd Man.


As It Is Written (not) by Clark Ashton Smith (1982)

Considered one of the earliest fantasy magazines, The Thrill Book was a twice monthly publication from Street and Smith and lasted for 16 issues in from May to October, 1919.  When the magazine folded, a number of stories in its inventory went unpublished and remained forgotten for 60 years.  In 1969 writer, editor, and pulp historian Will Murray went combing through the Street and Smith files in search of an unpublished Doc Savage story.  He found instead several of the unpublished stories bought by The Thrill Book, among them this one.  The author's name on the manuscript was De Lysle Ferree Cass, a name Murray did not recognize.  Could it be a pseudonym?

The more Murray looked into the manuscript, the more he became convinced the story was an early work (probably written between 1912 and 1915) by Clark Ashton Smith, the poet/author/sculptor now recognized as one of the greatest fantasy writers of his time.  Notice that "Cass" is Smith's initials with an "s" added.  (Murray's very convincing argument is outlined in the introduction to this book.)  Murray took the manuscript to small press publisher Donald M. Grant, who agreed with Murray that this was an early work by Smith.  The manuscript was also given to Donald Sidney-Fryer, a preeminent Smith scholar, who concurred.

And so the story -- a novella -- was published as a limited edition book by Grant as by Clark Ashton Smith.  Grant did his usual excellent work in putting out a lovingly crafted book.  The illustration -- both black and white and colored -- by R. J. Krupowicz fit the story well.  All well and good.  Except...

It later turned out that De Lysle Ferree Cass was a real person.


About the story itself:  it was an oriental adventure story with some slight fantasy content.  Datu Buang, a devout Mohammedan is a fugitive being chased through Malaysian jungles, certain to be killed if caught.  After several harrowing days, he stumbles upon an abandoned city where he is nearly killed by apes.  Fleeing through the jungle, he is tracked by the apes for three days before he is able to steal a small boat.  Danger still lies ahead for the river soon turns into an area of boiling hot water and whirlpools.  He is sucked into a large whirlpool and is pulled underwater into a pool in a remote palace where he is attacked by a large intelligent ape.  There is also a zoftig, barely dressed girl there and -- joy of all joys! -- she is a Mohammedan also.  They begin to get it on as the curtain quietly closes on that chapter.  There are a few more thrills and one rather unlikely scene involving a costume before the author plot-holes his way to a happy ending. 

All in all, a very readable entertaining story and above the average fare of the time.

As It Is Written will probably be remembered more for the mistaken attribution of authorship than for its content, but it was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Tucked in the pages of the anonymously-edited Master Sea Stories (NY:  Edward J. Clode, Inc., 1929) I found this small, very yellowed newspaper clipping with a penciled date:  May 1937:


Widow Of Sailor, Who Disappeared In 1873, Dies

     NEW YORK -- (/P) -- Mrs. Frances N. Richardson, 91, widow of the first mate on "the phantom ship," the Marie Celeste, whose crew vanished on the high seas in 1873, died last night -- the mystery of her husband's fate still unsolved.
     As a bride, Mrs. Richardson stood on the dock and waved good-bye to her husband, Albert, as the Marie Celeste sailed for Genoa from New York Harbor with a cargo of alcohol casks.

(To this I can only add, Bill Crider found a penny last week.)


Dr. John.


From May 21, 1953, "The Big Hands," with Jack Webb and Frank Alexander as Friday and Smith and featuring Cliff Arquette (yep, "Charlie Weaver") and Olan Soule.  Directed by Webb and from a radio play by James E. Moser.

Just the facts, ma'am.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Yesterday we went to Hillwood, Marjorie Merriweather Post's estate, to view their Cartier jewelry exhibit and to take in the estate and grounds.  For some reason I was thinking of this song.

Here's Marilyn:

Marjorie Merriweather Post was (among other things) the heiress to the Post cereal empire, so I thought I'd add this little blast from the past:


  • Dennis Archer, Cannon's Law.  Western.
  • Kelley Armstrong, Stolen.  Horror in the Women of the Otherworld series, a sequel to Bitten.
  • Rhys Bowen, In a Gilded Cage.  A Molly Murphy mystery.
  • Patricia Briggs, Cry Wolf.  Fantasy, an Alpha and Omega novel.
  • Algis Budrys, editor, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume XXII.  SF anthology with twelve stories and four articles as well as prize-winning art.
  • Queenie Chan, The Dreaming.  Manga. Horror in an Australian girls' boarding school.
  • Peter David, Battleship.  Movie tie-in novel.
  • Norbert Davis, The Adventures of Max Latin.  Five mystery stories from Dime Detective mystery pulp magazine.
  • J. T. Ellison, So Close the Hand of Death.  A Taylor Jackson mystery.
  • Kate Flora, Death in Paradise.  A Thea Kozak mystery.
  • Jon Gardner, Goldeneye.  Movie tie-in novel.
  • "George G. Gilman" (Terry Harkness), Edge #13:  The Hated and #15:  Paradise Loses.  Westerns not for the squeamish.
  • Donald Goines, Dopefiend.  Urban crime.
  • Simon R. Green. Blue Moon Rising.  Fantasy.
  • Charlaine Harris, Grave Secret and Grave Surprise.  Two novels in the Harper Connelly series about an anthropology professor who can find people.
  • Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson, Dune:  The Butlerian Jihad and Dune:  House Corrino.  Prequels to Brian Herbert's classic series.  These...evidently not so much classics, although these prequels seem never-ending.
  • Gary L. Holleman, Ungrateful Dead.
  • Jonathan Kellerman, Savage Spawn:  Reflections on Violent Children.  Non-fiction in Ballantine's Library of Contemporary Thought series.
  • Deborah LeBlanc, Family Inheritance.  Horror.
  • Paul Levinson, The Silk Code.  SF, winner of the 2000 Locus Award for Best First Novel.
  • Kurt Mahr, Perry Rhodan #98:  The Idol from Passa.  Novel in the long-running German juvenile-ish SF series, with added Ackermania in this English translation series.
  • George R. R. Martin, editor, Wild Cards XVI:  Deuces Down.  A mosaic SF novel written by seven authors.  (Melinda M. Snodgrass, assistant editor.)
  • Paul McAuley, Pasquale's Angel.  Alternate history SF.
  • David Morrell, Double Image.  Thriller.
  • Douglas Niles, The Druid Queen.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novel.
  • R. A. Salvatore, The Spine of the World.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novel.
  • Lisa Smedman, Extinction.  Gaming (Forgotten Realms) tie-in novel, the fourth in the multi-author War of the Spider Queen series based on a concept by R. A. Salvatore.
  • W. C. Tuttle, Trouble at War Eagle/The Redhead of Aztec Wells.  Two western novels, the first (actually a novella) features Hashknife Hartley and Sleepy Stephens.
  • Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, Dragons of the Winter Night (Gaming [DragonLance] tie-in novel; Volume II in the DragonLance Chronicles).  Also, Well of Darkness and Guardians of the Lost (Volumes One and Two of the Sovereign Stone trilogy).  Fantasies all.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix (2014)

Big box stores are soul-sucking establishments for those who work in them.  That's the basic credo of Horrorstor (there's supposed to be an umlaut over the third "o" that I can't reproduce here), a smart and savvy novel that that the people who love IKEA may not love.

The horrorstor in question is the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland.  Orsk is a US-owned IKEA wanna-be, complete with Kjerring bookshelves, Glans water goblets, Liripip wardrobes, Brooka sofas, Knabble cabinets, Muskk beds, Lagnia water glasses, and Mesonxic closet systems.  If you are looking for unpronounceable furniture, look no further.  (Apologies for not being able to reproduce all the delightful Swedish dots and squiggles that lurk over these names.)

The store has 318 partners (that's big box speak for employees), 90 of them part-time.  And this particular store has been open for 11 months and is already in trouble.  Sales are down, merchandise is being vandalized every night after the store is closed, every once in a while there is a strange odor wafting through the various departments, and on a certain Thursday in June it was learned that corporate officers were going to make a store inspection the next morning.

Deputy store manager Basil, the one employee partner who has actually read the corporate manuals, decides to have two other employees partners stay in hiding with him after store hours to (at least) catch whoever is thwarting the highly inefficient Orsk security systems and is vandalizing the merchandise.  Chosen to accompany Basil for this important mission are Amy, a rebellious screw-up, and Ruth Anne, a lonely woman who has nothing in her life but her job.

Once the store is closed and empty of all but three (one hopes), strange things begin to happen.  Writing is etched on to the walls of the ladies room, there are more foul odors, and a dim figure is seen in the distance.  Amy and Ruth Ann also catch two fellow employees partners -- Matt and Trinity -- canoodling on a Muskk bed.  They've been using the store as a love nest (did I mention the highly inefficient Orsk security system?) for a while, but they have not seen anything untoward, vis-a-vis vandalism.  They then discover Carl, a homeless man who's been living in the store.  (The Orsk security system is far less efficient that those of nearby Target and IKEA.)  But Carl is not the vandal.

Then, reality gets warped:  every direction one takes through the big store maze leads back to the same location.  Only by using the view finder of a camera can they navigate through the store.  The store is definitely haunted. Trinity suggests having a séance to talk to the spirit.  While acting as the medium, Trinity has some disgusting stuff ooze out her nose -- a lot of disgusting stuff that keeps oozing until it stretches out a tentacle and enters Carl, who become possessed by the spirit of Josiah Worth.

The Orsk store was built on the site of an old 19th century prison and Josiah Worth was its demented warden.  Torture was Worth's prescription for the many prisoners (he called them penitents) under his care.  The prison, like the superstore, was a soul-sucking establishment that turned its occupants into mindless automatons.  The store has now morphed into a decayed environment with passages and tunnels leading deep into hellish pits.  There are new items being used in the store:  the Ingalutt (a hydrotherapy bath that water boards its victims), the Jodlopp (a crippling iron cap), the Kraanjk (handle that is designed to be cranked for eternity), and the Bodavest (a confinement chair that advances the art of restraint).  Things get bloody and our valiant crew of employees partners (and one homeless guy) may not live to see the dawn.

Biting satire and visceral horror combine nicely.

And remember:  "Orsk voids all warranties if you ignore our clear and easy-to-follow directions."


Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Big Mama Thornton, aided by John Lee Hooker, Big Walter Horton, and Dr. Ross on the second song.


The thing with costumed superheroes is that they always have to have a costume.  These superheroes unfortunately have no fashion sense -- consider the whole wearing your underwear on the outside motif.  They never would have made it on Project Runway.  Add to that the fact that most of the  good (relatively speaking) costume ideas are already taken.  What's a new guy on the block going to do?  In the case of Captain Courageous, you wear a giant blue starfish sucking on your face to set your otherwise creepy and uninspired costume apart.

Captain Courageous first appeared in Banner Comics #3.   According to the Superpowers Wiki, he "is a supernatural being, a 'Spirit of Courage' that appeared when brave men and women ask for courage.  During World War II he responded to Americans' pleas and appeared to help the Allies.  He
had super strength, flight, limited invulnerability*, and could survive unaided underwater.  In Four Favorites #21, Captain Courageous willingly gave up his costume and joined the U.S. Navy civilian soldier.  He stopped using his powers and continued fighting crime and surviving Axis agents."  His real name is not known.  (And, yes, whoever wrote that piece for Superpowers Wiki never passed English 101, despite the use of the Oxford comma.)

The character was popular enough have a bloodless coup, changing the name of Banner Comics to Captain Courageous Comics by issue 6, which happens to be the one I've linked to below.  Palace takeovers seldom work in the long run.  In the case of Captain Courageous, issue 6 was the first and last issue to bear his name.  Cap was next seen in Four Favorites #5, where he stayed through issue 28.

In Captain Courageous Comics #6, our hero faces off again the Black Mayor.  This is not a racist thing.  The Black Mayor is a Nazi who holds the city in a grip of terror as he exhorts money from ordinary men and women in order to help finance the German war machineHe is not a nice man.  In one panel we see him taking a baby's milk money from a pleading mother (!) and in another panel he threatening to shoot a baby if the mother does not hand over her jewels (double !).

Captain Courageous could only manage one story out of six in his own magazine.  The other five stories feature The Sword (in the first appearance of that character), Lone Warrior, Typhoon Tyson, Kay McKay, and Paul Revere, Jr.

The cover of this issue has Captain Courageous fighting a giant cross-eyed genie who's holding a well-endowed woman in his clutches (well, clutch, maybe -- he has the woman in one hand while fighting the Captain with the other).  The woman is wearing a red dress that shows a lot of leg while showing that she is not wearing a bra.  This cover is a complete lie:  this battle, this genie, and this zaftig woman do not appear in the story -- in fact, there is no woman, zaftig or otherwise, in this tale.  Thus many eager boys spent their dimes on this issue only to be disappointed.

Put on your PC blinders, buckle up, and enjoy the adventures of Captain Courageous, et alia.

* "Limited invulnerability" is one of those oxymorons that makes disgusting fluids spurt from my nose when I laugh.  Like "partially pregnant."

Friday, October 10, 2014


Doc Watson.


The Story of Ulla and Other Tales by Edwin Lester Arnold (1895)

Englishman Edwin Lester Arnold (1857-1935) is best known today for his proto-science fiction novel Gulliver of Mars, first published as Lieut. Gullivar Jones:  His Vacation* (1905), which many feel was an inspiration for Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom.  His other major (?) works include three novels dealing with the popular (at that time) theme of reincarnation:  The Wonderful Adventures of Phra the Phoenician (1890), Lepidus the Centurion:  A Roman of Today (1901), and Rutherford the Twice-Born (1892), which is either an expansion of the story listed below or a separate printing of the short story; since I have not seen the book I cannot comment.  Arnold quit writing fiction after two of his novels failed and once Gullivar Jones was published to a weak reception.   In all, Arnold published five novels, five books of non-fiction, and this collection of stories during his lifetime.

The Story of Ulla contains ten stories ranging from historical fiction to fantasy to tales of romance.  All are told in the florid, melodramic style that seemed popular in its day and most rely on plot-moving coincidence that was just a tad more rife then than it is now.  Surprisingly (to me, at least), the book holds up well, the turgid tales rarely creaking their way to conclusion.  Not prime reading, but pleasant enough if you are in the right mood.

The stories:

"The Story of Ulla" - Ulla is an aged Viking looking back to his youth and to an unrequited romance that stripped him of his power.

"The Vengeance of Dungarvan" - A story of 17th century Ireland and of a villain's revenge on a town that tried to hang him -- and failed.

"A Dreadful Night" - A hunter in Colorado falls through a hole and is trapped in a hidden cavern littered with the bones of those -- both animal and human -- who preceded him.

"Rutherford the Twice-Born" - A tale of reincarnation.

"A Stranger Woman" - Two brothers fight over a woman, with tragic results.

"A Narrow Escape" - A game between two towns, one rough-and-tumble, the other more civilzed and refined, results in many of the citizens inadvertently married to each other.

"That Babe of Meg's" - A young wife nearly abandons her husband for a rich man.

"A Fair Puritan" - A young girl obeys her father and agrees to marry a man she does not love.

"Meg of the Braids" - Meg spurns her boyfriend who then goes to sea before she realizes her  mistake.  When he returns, only Meg can save him from a horrible death.

"Margaret Spens" - As in "A Fair Puritan," a young girl agrees to her father's wishes to marry a man she does not love.  Her fiancé vanishes at sea before her wedding.  After fifteen years of waiting for him she agrees to marry the man she truly loves.  The morning of the wedding, a ship is wrecked off the coast.  Margaret's groom-to-be braves a storm to rescue any survivors.  The only survivor, near dead, is Margaret's missing fiancé.  What to do?

As you can tell, a number of the stories have plots that could be -- and probably have been -- used on the afternoon soap operas.  If that's your cup of tea, The Story of Ulla offers a diversion from the everyday world.

* The character's name was spelled Gullivar by the author; the name was changed to Gulliver for the first U.S. edition (and for the short-lived comic book).  a recent Bison Books edition restored the original spelling.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Patsy Cline.


A half-hour old time radio program from December 1947.  Favorite Story ran from 1946 to 1949, dramatizing classics of literature as chosen by celebrities.  Ronald Colman hosted.  Frankenstein was chosen by radio personality Fred Allen as his "favorite story."

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


The Ink Spots.


There was a time when British thriller writers rules the roost.  Authors such as Edgar Wallace and E. Phillips Oppenheim accounted for a good percentage of books sold each year -- especially in England.  Close behind them in popularity was Sydney Horler, a puritanical xenophobe whose 157 books were  eagerly snatched up by a devoted public.  As a writer, he could be classed somewhat below Harry Stephen Keeler, but as a purveyor of thrills he delivered the goods.

The House of Secrets is based on his 1926 novel and play of the same name.  Directed by Roland D. Reed (perhaps best known for Rocky Jones, Space Ranger) for RKO and adapted by John W. Kraftt (whose 80-plus credits include Here's Flash Casey), the movie features Leslie Fenton, Muriel Evans, Noel Madison, and Sidney Blackmer.

Not a great flick, but an interesting time-passer.  One reviewer, however, did say, "...(T)he holes in it make the Kraft swiss cheese company seem like a hermetically sealed container."


Monday, October 6, 2014


  • Alafair Burke,  Judgment Calls.  A Samantha Kincaid mystery.
  • Douglas Clegg, Nightmare House.  Horror.
  • Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl, Murder Casts a Shadow.  A Mina Beckwith/Ned Manusia Hawai'i mystery.
  • Patrick Lee, Deep Sky.  A Travis Chase thriller.
  • Rick Mofina, The Panic Zone.  A Jack Gannon thriller.
  • T. Jefferson Parker, Black Water.  A Merci Rayborn mystery.
  • Iain Pears, The Bernini Bust.  An Art History mystery.
  • Laura Joh Rowland, Black Lotus.  A Sano Ichiro 17th century Japan mystery.
  • James Swain, Grift Sense.  A Tony Valentine mystery.
  • Thomas Tessier, Wicked Things.  Horror.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Instrumental from Happy Traum.


He's Matt Stone, the Maverick Marshal -- a combination of Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, Tom Smith, and Bill Tighman -- and he's bringing justice to the Old West.

Ride with Matt Stone on four rip-snortin' adventures:  "Needle Rock Rendezvous!," "Gold Is Never Safe," "Fugitive in Power," and "A Warrant for Uncle John."

Also, "Range Hog," in which a  gunfighter tangles with a mild farmer, and "Western Pioneer." a two-pager that promises to be the first in a series.

And there's a full page ad for Charles Atlas and a full page ad for Joe Weider!  Will they duke it out?  No, but one can hope.


Friday, October 3, 2014


Jim Kweskin.


Adventures in Heaven by Charles Angoff (1945)

I read so you won't have to.

I approached this book with hopeful feelings.  The author had a solid reputation, both as a writer and editor.  He served as managing editor of American Mercury until that magazine was sold by H. L. Mencken.  Angoff then moved to the editorial board of The Nation.  Later he became editor of American Spectator before moving full circle back to American Mercury, once again as managing editor.  Later on in life he was a distinguished college educator and co-founded the quarterly Literary Review.  He edited many books and published dozens of his own work, fiction and non-fiction across a wide spectrum.  Three of the stories in Adventures in Heaven were first published in Story, which should have elevated the book in my mind.  The book was also mentioned as a fantasy in Donald Tuck's Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy (although Tuck inexplicably misses one story), so when I had a chance to read it I grabbed it.

As I said, I read it so you won't have to.

From the jacket blurb:

     "The twenty-two stories that make up this collection are unique in contemporary literature.  They are quiet and gentle in mood -- almost otherworldly in manner.  In once sense they relate to nothing in the here and now.  The reader will not encounter the war in them, or the jitterbug malaise, or the problem of collectivism vs. free enterprise.

     "Yet in another and more powerful sense they speak of the most enduring and ever timely problem of all ages and all countries -- of life and the great adventure beyond life, of love, pity, charity, friendship, faith and grace.  They accept or project no theological dogma, yet they are deeply religious -- as all things beautiful, from a sunset to the smile of a child, are deeply religious."

Let me pause here for some carping.  These stories are not unique.  The "war" is a constant topic here.  As for theological dogma, the stories are deeply Catholic, if not overtly so.  (The author himself was from Russian Jewish stock.)  And "jitterbug malaise."  Really?

As mentioned in the blurb and on the jacket cover, Adventures in Heaven contains twenty-two stories, although they are more dialogues than stories.  (The book's cover reads "Twenty-Two Gentle Fables of the Enduring Adventure Beyond Life.") (And, by the way, "Adventure" is a bit of hyperbole here.)  The book runs to a mere 120 pages and can be zipped through in an hour or two -- something that lessened my pain.

The God in Angoff's book often seems to  be wishy-washy.  He is indecisive and prone to doubt.  He often calls on others (Jesus, the saints, Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, Thomas Hardy, ordinary men and women, and children) to advise Him.  Should He eliminate mankind?  Should He limit humans to just one sex and, if so, should it be male or female?  What can He do to avoid the malaise He is feeling?  Of course, this is the author's way of broaching topics for discussion, but it is very off-putting.  The answers to these questions and other problems discussed are simplistic.

Off-putting also is the view of women.  And of children.  And of men.  And animals.  And.  And.

Once a year, either on Christmas or Easter, God allows a select few in Hell to come and stand outside the gates of heaven and to look in.  This is supposed to bean example of God's infinite mercy, yet it comes across as petty and cruel.

Angoff's writing is pleasant enough but it is not enough.  He is treading on the same territory as Mrs. Oliphant's "A Little Pilgrim in the Seen and the Unseen."  He does not exude the vigor of Roark Bradford's Ol' Man Adam an' His Chillun.  And he doesn't have the depth and perception of A. J. Langguth's Jesus Christs.

This book may have its admirers somewhere.  Sadly, I am not one of them.