Openers: Lightning washed the girl on the cliff. It showed her blue eyes wide, staring, terror-glazed. Her slender body was set stiffly against the tearing, maniac fury of the storm.
Again she heard it.
The sound set the horny feet of terror creeping along Robin Dell's spine. The thin scream cut through the roar of the ocean. It was like the cry of a child in anguish. And its animal strangeness ripped her soul with talons of eldritch dread.
Again, lightning shattered against the cliff beyond her. The storm-torn sea was a mad grey turmoil. Upon great black rocks, far below, green water was exploding into white clouds of spray.
And then fear closed on her white throat, like thick, cold serpent coils.
For she saw now a thing that moved. Some huge bulk loomed grey and slimy in the brief light. It swayed toward her, its movement boneless, flowing. It was monstrous -- yet somehow, unmistakably, it suggested the human.
Obscenity leered from that hint of humanity, and horror beyond words.
-- Jack Williamson, "Grey Arms of Death" (from Thrilling Mystery, December 1935)
Hoo doggies! Does that set up the scares! That's pulp with a capital P! The blurb to this story adds to the excitement: "A Giant from the Depths -- Half Man Half Octopus -- Vents Its Sadistic Fury!"
Thrilling Mystery started out as a "terror" pulp, featuring stories that combined sadism, sex, horror, and often racism. They sold like hotcakes in the Thirties. The target audience was men looking to escape their boring work and their boring lives with a little bit of self-indulgent fantasy. Each story had a brave, handsome hero and a beautiful and pure girl. She would often be captured by sick psychopaths (often Orientals) and tortured while being shorn of her clothes. The hero saves her, protecting her purity while getting an eyeful of her nakedness, and all is well as she falls into his arms. Not the most mature plotline, granted, but it appealed to the horny thirteen-year-old mind that many readers escaped to.
There were variations on the plot. A number of the pulp hero magazines, close cousins to the terror pulps, focused on the terror and sadism part and downplayed the sex part, although often using deranged Orientals as villains.
None of this is politically correct nowadays, but it remains fun, escapist reading.
There was a stable of writers who specialized in the terror pulps, although many were also active in other aspects of the pulp magazine market. But a fast-paced story with lots of action and little logic could be churned out easily and these stories helped pay the bills. The covers displayed all the features of the story, with mad, deformed baddies threatening barely-dressed zaftig girls with all sorts of torture instruments and deadly animals, while the hero barges into the scene with guns blazing.
And the titles were a work of art. Here's the contents of the December 1935 issue (which was the mag's second issue):
- "The Flame Demon" by Wyatt Blassingame (one of the most prolific writers of weird menace stories for the terror pulps)
- "Voice from Hell" by Jack D'Arcy (a pseudonym for D. L. Champion, who wrote a number of Phantom Detective novels as "Robert Wallace" and "G. Wayman Jones," as well as many crime stories for the pulps)
- "Ghouls of the Green Web" by G. T. Fleming-Roberts (author of Secret Agent X stories under the house name of Brant House, as well as stories about the Green Ghost, the Black Hood, and Captain Zero)
- "Blood in the Night" by James Duncan (pseudonym of Arthur Pincus, who wrote over sixty stories for the crime and terror pulps during the Thirties)
- "Forest of Fear" by Saul W. Paul (possibly a pseudonym; he had about a dozen stories in the spicy pulps from 1934-1936)
- 'Devils in the Dust" by Arthur J. Burks (one-time military aide to General Smedley Butler, Burks wrote over 800 stories for every type of pulp except love and western; he was a staple for the terror pulps)
- "Hooks of Death" by H. M. Appel (who wrote nearly fifty stories for the detective and terror pulps during the 1930s}
- "Grey Arms of Death" by Jack Williamson (a Grand Master of Science Fiction, Williamson was active in the field from 1928 until his death in 2006; this was the first of three stories that Williamson would publish in the magazine)
- Stephen Baxter, The Massacre of Mankind. SF novel, the "sequel" to The War of the Worlds. "It has been fourteen years sine the Martian invasion. Humanity has moved on, always watching the skies but confident that they know how to defeat the alien menace. The Martians are vulnerable to Earth germs. the army is prepared. Our technology has taken great leaps forward, thanks to machinery looted from abandoned war-machines and capsules. So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seem little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells' book. He is sure that the first incursion was merely a scouting mission, a precursor to the true attack -- and that the Martians have learned from their defeat, adapted their methods, and now pose a greater threat than ever before. He is right." Stephen Baxter is one of the most acclaimed British science fiction writers today and the winner of many awards. An earlier book if his, The Time Ships, was written as a sequel to wells' The Time Machine.
- Adam Roberts, Superfast Primetime Ultimate Nation: the Relentless Invention of Modern India. Nonfiction. A look at the problems and promises of modern India and how it might reach its full potential to become a truly powerful nation. The author spent five years in India as the Economist's South Asia correspondent.
- Florida Man Elvis Harold Reyes came up with a fool-proof plan to provide himself and his girlfriends an easy $411,00-. Well, it was fool-proof until he got caught. Reyes posed as an immigration attorney and filed a number of fraudulent applications on behalf of his undocumented "clients." Reyes operated out of a Christian nonprofit called EHR Ministries, charging $5000 to his clients, most of whom did not speak English, to represent them on immigration related matters. The Tampa man filed more than 225 false applications. He was sentenced to 20 years, a little less then one year for every 12 phony applications.
- Florida Man Walter Medina, 34, of Escambia County (near where I live), has been charged with assaulting his girlfriend, throwing her on a bed, and smelling her. The smelling part was to see if she had cheated on him.
- Florida Man and (ahem) pardoned Trump Ally Roger Stone is being sued by the Federal Government for nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes and interest. Stone and his wife owe some $1.4 million from tax years 2007 to 2011, while Stone himself owes more than $400,000 from 2018. Stone and his wife had been making scheduled payments of $20,000 a month to the IRS. Shortly after his indictment in 2019, he formed a trust and used funds from a company they controlled to buy a home in Fort Lauderdale in the name of the trust. They transferred funds and deposits into the company they controlled rather than into their personal accounts, thus evading IRS collection efforts. The "use of Drake Ventures [the company they created] to hold their funds allowed them to shield their personal income from enforced collection and fund a lavish lifestyle despite owing nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest, and penalties," according to the complaint.
- Florida Man and former circuit court judge Thomas Lynch is under investigation for violating election laws during his recent campaign to become Broward County's public defender. The investigation was revealed in an executive order issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on April 6. It has not been revealed what election law or laws were violated. In fact, Lynch did not learn of the the investigation until last Thursday. Lynch came in last in the three-way race. "I truly welcome any investigation because I did nothing wrong. I got beat fair and square," Lynch said. The case has been assigned to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office because Lynch's son is a current judge in Broward County, where the case would normally be held,
- Florida Yuckies the Pine Rockland Trapdoor Spiders, first spotted in 2012 have now been officially declared a new species. A zookeeper at Zoo Miami was checking the reptile rearch traps at the zoo when the spider was first spotted. He took a photo of the spider but the conservation and research arm of the zoo did not recognize the species. Two years later another specimen was found and shipped off to a researcher at Georgia's Piedmont College. The spider has now been confirmed as a previously unknown species -- Ummidia richmond. The new species is very rare and no female spider has yet been found. For myself, I hate spiders. Hate 'em, hate 'em. hate 'em. In response to this discovery I am starting a GoFundMe site to provide a flamethrower for Zoo Miami.
- Washington state man finds $10,000 and returns it to owner, was given a jar of homemade applesauce "made with love and care by his family" in gratitude, plus promises of more treats https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/steve-harrison-mike-king-finds-10k-and-searches-for-owner/
- First human trial of HIV vaccine brings a 97% rate of immune response https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/human-vaccine-trial-to-prevent-hiv/
- Endangered trout may soon return to Los Angeles https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/restoration-of-the-la-river-aims-to-welcome-back-steelhead-trout/
- Frat brothers pay off mortgage for house cook https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/frat-brother-lsu-pay-cook-mortgage-jessie-hamilton/
- Deaf sheepdog returns to herding her flock after learning 'sign language" https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/deaf-sheepdog-returns-to-herding-her-flock-after-learning-sign-language/