Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, October 2, 2017


  • Lin Carter, The Quest of Kadji.  Sword and, excuse me,this is, per the paperback's cover, "Lin Carter's classic tale of sword and sorcery" [emphasis mine].  Well, the book is copyrighted 1971 and this Belmont/Tower book is dated 1972, so this is a pretty short time for a book to become a classic.  I would submit that few books that Lin Carter wrote (and he wrote many) could be called classics.  (Well, maybe his Thongor series -- if you look at it in a dark room while squinting really hard.)  Carter spent much of his career writing pastiches of former fantasy, science fiction, and pulp writers.  He was, at best, an entertaining writer and (through the Adult Fantasy series he edited for Ballantine) a very influential editor.  Anyway, back to this book:  "Zarouk, Lord Chief of the fighting Kozanga, sent his fierce young grandson, the warrior Kadji, to hunt the vile imposter to the throne of the Dragon emperor and bring back the sacred medallion as proof.  With his two companions, beautiful redhaired Thyra and the clever magician Akthoob, Kadji rode East to World's End to vanquish his deadly for; knowing full well that if he failed it would mean another dread evil was in the Dragon Empire, that he would be branded coward -- and worse."  This is the first volume in the Chronicles of Kylix trilogy.  Time to swash your buckles, kiddies, and suspend your sense of disbelief!  I think I'll actually like this one.
  • Brendon DuBois, Blood Foam.  A Lewis Cole mystery.  "Ex-intelligence analyst Lewis Cole is already in deep trouble for using his unique skills to save a friend.  Still, he can't resist when a former girlfriend, Paula, asks him to locate her missing fiance.  But he soon discovers that successful lawyer Mark Spencer's life is not what it appears.  His hometown has never heard of him, and his employer won't discuss him.  Then Paula is nearly abducted, and Lewis must take her on the run only steps ahead of the police.  As Lewis risks his life to unravel Mark's past and protect Paula, deceptive clues and treacherous witnesses pull him deeper into a decades-old tale of betrayal and obsession.  As his every move fuels a sadistic killer who can't wait to settle scores and teach Lewis a lesson in shattering loss..."  A few standby tropes here, but I'm betting the author spins gold out of them.  DuBois is one of the better writers we have.
  • Libby Fischer Hellman, Set the Night on Fire.  Mystery novel.  Hellman was already writing two successful series when she wrote this, her first stand-alone novel.  "spoeone is trying to kill Lila Hilliard.  First her family home goes up in flames, then she is attacked by a mysterious man on a motorcycle.  As Lila desperately tries to piece together who is after her, she uncovers information about her father's past in Chicago during the volatile late 1960s...information he never shared with her, but that now threatens to destroy her.  She finds an ally in ex-convict Dar Ganter.  after decades behind bars for his role in a protest act that killed three people.  Dar wants to make amends.  Instead he ends up on the run with Lila, dodging a killer intent on eliminating the former activists and their families.  Time is running out, and someone from the past is ready to put a stop to their future..."  I haven't read anything by Hellman, a popular and award-winning author, so I felt I should correct that shortcoming.
  • Peter Haining, editor, Scary!  YA horror anthology, subtitled "Stories That Will Make You Scream!" Fourteen stories, mostly familiar, from R. L. Stine, Jerome Bixby, Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan, Leon Garfield, Isaac Asimov, Zenna Henderson, Roald Dahl, Ambrose Bierce, Joan Aiken, Stephen king, Ramsay Campbell, and Robert Bloch.  Some pretty good stuff here, and a good bargain for readers new to the field.  I picked this one up for the Roald Dahl story "Spotty Powder," a five-page quickie that had been cut from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and has never been printed in any of Dahl's books.
  • Charles H. Meeker, Folk Tales From the Far East.  Juvenile, published in 1926 by the John C. Winston Co. as part of their Winston Clear-Type Popular Classics line.  There are 34 stories here (actually, 35, because one was embedded in the introduction.  I have no idea if these stories are based on real folk tales or if the author made them up from whole cloth.
  • Kris Neville, Spacial Delivery, bound with Dave Van Arnam, Star Gladiator.  SF, billed as "Two Complete, Full Length Science Fiction Novels" by the publisher.  Actually, these are novelettes (or maybe novellas...potato, potahto),  The Neville originally appeared in Imagination, January 1952 (reprinted in the same magazine in August 1958 and in William F. Nolan's 1965 anthology Man Against Tomorrow, and also appeared in 2011 bound with Charles F. Myers' No Time for Toffee).  "Earth had been silently, stealthily invaded.  No Earthman was aware of the attack.  No man or woman realized alien races walked among them...or knew that the strange packages everyone received through the mail contained the weapons which would destroy their planet.  Earth had been silently invaded, but can you fight something you can't see?"  Neville was an underrated SF author whose body of work deserves attention.  David Van Arnam was a fan who co-authored a nonfiction book abour Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom and Amtor in 1963.  He wrote or co-wrote SF eight novels and two novellas from 1967 to 1972; one of the novellas was Star Gladiator, a story original to this book.  'survival for Jonnath Gri was merely a word droning incessantly in the ancient rites from mother Earth.  Survival became a bloody reality in the dreaded arena of the Star Games.  Parents slaughtered by the Star Guards, his fiance abducted, tall Jonnath was captured and thrown into the blood-soaked arena to fight for the amusement of the citizens of the Ten Star Complex.  Weaponless and naked, he had to fight against the most treacherous animals to be found on 50 planets -- the most advanced weaponry developed on untold worlds.  Weaponless?  The is one weapon of unlimited power...Revenge."  Sounds like the Van Arnam was the B-team on this match-up.
  • Harry Price, The Most Haunted House in England.  Nonfiction or bushwah?  You decide.  As you might have guessed, this book is a history of England's famous Borley Rectory.  Price (1881-1948) was a British psychic researcher and self-professed ghost hunter who also exposed fraudulent spiritual mediums.  Borley Rectory was never known as the most haunted house in England until Price published this book in 1940.  Price rented Borley Rectory in 1937 for the purpose of psychic investigations.  The history of the house and its supposed occurrences are put forth in great detail in the book.  Sadly, the book was never looked at critically when it came out and soon became a mainstay in the paranormal game of tricks.  After Price died, more critical eyes prevailed and most -- but not all -- feel that Price faked a number of occurrences and that others could be explained by natural phenomena -- wind, rats, and so on.  Oh, well.
  • Ian Watson, The Very Slow Time Machine.  SF collection, Watson's first, with thirteen stories from 1973 to 1978.  A prolific and thoughtful writer, Watson should be on every SF lover's list.


  1. I liked Kadji. Carter is far from my favorite writer but I still enjoyed his work for the most part