What have you been reading?

Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
5,519
Reaction score
10,553
The Bresson is a filmnerd classic that I read way back in university while studying film and I have wanted a copy ever since but it was both rare and expensive. Happily it has been recently reissued by New York Review of Books.
It's great when classics of any form get reissued like that. Similar to the joy of finding an older copy of some text for nothing in a 2nd hand place. :thumbsup:
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
Have the day off between stopping at one workplace and starting at another so I went for a stroll to my favourite local bookshop that I haven't been to in 5 years and picked these two up and now I'm at a pub patio to enjoy.

The Bresson is a filmnerd classic that I read way back in university while studying film and I have wanted a copy ever since but it was both rare and expensive. Happily it has been recently reissued by New York Review of Books.

View attachment 28970

The NYRB Classics re-issues include a lot of good stuff, though not much SF, fantasy, or horror. The Chicago Review Press' Rediscovered Classics line offers more for those genres, like the Strugatskys' work, some Zelzany, etc.

I keep meaning to read some of Anne Applebaum's books on Communist Russia and Eastern Europe, but I've got a stack by other writers to deal with first. I saw in interesting interview with her recently on the First Nation's Network, of all places.
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
9,858
Reaction score
16,462
The NYRB Classics re-issues include a lot of good stuff, though not much SF, fantasy, or horror. The Chicago Review Press' Rediscovered Classics line offers more for those genres, like the Strugatskys' work, some Zelzany, etc.

I keep meaning to read some of Anne Applebaum's books on Communist Russia and Eastern Europe, but I've got a stack by other writers to deal with first. I saw in interesting interview with her recently on the First Nation's Network, of all places.

Applebaum is excellent, I read her history on the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and it is first rate.
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
Over the weekend I finished The Moon Pool by A. Merritt. It's the first of his books that I've read--he is one of those pulp writers I never got around to when I was younger. I enjoyed it, mainly for the world-building and rather headlong plot. The characterizations, particularly of the hero, were pretty over-the-top: he's a part Irish/part American ex-member of the Royal Flying Corps who has an implicit faith in Gaelic folklore, but it constantly razzing the other characters for their superstitions. But the 'lost world' was an interesting take on the hollow earth idea and made more sense than the Burroughs' version.

Merritt's prose is very descriptive, in fact florid in its style. He's a very visual writer and I couldn't help but picture the story as a kind of 1930s film serial. For all that, though, I found that sometimes he would leave a crucial part out of his (often very long and detailed) descriptions of places and environments that made it difficult for me to picture exactly the setup he had in mind. I wish that I'd had an illustrated edition of the book, but the Hoopla version I was using had no pictures.

I wonder what the copyright status of Merritt's writing is? There seem to be lots of micro-presses publishing his books, which suggests to me that they are out-of-copyright. Only a few of them show up in Project Gutenberg, however; I'd have thought more would be there if they were clearly in the public domain.
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
9,858
Reaction score
16,462
Pretty sure Merritt is PD but his literary reputation isn't held in too high of regard due to overwriting and weak characterization so it doesn't seem anyone has prioritized him for the various more prestigious reissue/reprint presses. I haven't read a lot of Merritt (just an excerpt in one of the Adult Fantasy books I think) so I can't comment on his qualities as a writer.

An interesting writer in the decadent, jewelled prose style of Merritt/CAS/Brackett who I think would benefit from a quality reissue is Frank Owens who wrote oriental fantasies for Weird Tales. Moorcock turned me on to him but the only place I could find his stories were the original Weird Tales issues scanned as pdfs online.
 
Last edited:

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
An interesting writer in the decadent, jewelled prose style of Merritt/CAS/Brackett who I think would benefit from a quality reissue is Frank Owens who wrote oriental fantasies for Weird Tales. Moorcock turned me on to him but the only place I could find his stories were the original Weird Tales issues scanned as pdfs online.

I should read some of his stuff. It looks like an early collection of his Chinese stories, The Wind That Tramps the World (1929) is available used for a decent price ($15-$22 U.S. on Amazon), but that the fuller collection from Gnome Press (1948) The Porcelain Magician is a lot more pricey ($46+ US). So I may make do with the Internet Archive Weird Tales PDFs.

Another Weird Tales writer I've been meaning to try is Nictzin Dyalhis; it looks like there are a couple of different e-books that collect his stories for a reasonable price (about $3).
 

Simon Hogwood

Puritan Bearbearian
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
809
Reaction score
1,582
Another Weird Tales writer I've been meaning to try is Nictzin Dyalhis; it looks like there are a couple of different e-books that collect his stories for a reasonable price (about $3).
I highly recommend the DMR Books version, The Sapphire Goddess. Not that I've read that particular volume, but I'm a big fan of DMR and their work in reissuing older fantasy works generally.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,776
Reaction score
7,439
Wow, my reading queue has gotten crowded. I'm plowing through both Doc Savage and the Drenai Chronicles, while also reading a couple of books on current theories of mind (in a desultory way), and a book on English history that I just started because I'm a bloody masochist.
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
I highly recommend the DMR Books version, The Sapphire Goddess. Not that I've read that particular volume, but I'm a big fan of DMR and their work in reissuing older fantasy works generally.
DMR it is then; they are the same price as the alternative, anyway.
A book on English history that I just started because I'm a bloody masochist.

Is it this particular book? The entire subject? Something else?
 

Ronnie Sanford

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
1,360
Reaction score
2,012
Wow, my reading queue has gotten crowded. I'm plowing through both Doc Savage and the Drenai Chronicles, while also reading a couple of books on current theories of mind (in a desultory way), and a book on English history that I just started because I'm a bloody masochist.
How do you find Doc Savage?
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
Over the last week or so, I've read the omnibus collection of Gail Simone's run on Red Sonja--18 issues in all. I don't read much in the way of superhero comics, or any comics for years before I found them on Hoopla, so I wasn't familiar with her work. It was entertaining, though it became more heroic and less morally grey in sword-and-sorcery fashion after the first series. I appreciated that, although the covers almost always showed Sonja in a chainmail bikini, in the books themselves she usually wore something more protective and reasonable.

Today I went onto the Amazon Kindle site thinking I might purchase some fiction by Avram Davidson. Simon & Schuster had reprinted a lot of it electronic format through Prologue Press series, and a month or so ago I read and really enjoyed his Island Underneath the Earth. Simon & Schuster even sent me an email suggesting others of his titles I might like. Imagine my surprise when I found that all of that is gone: Simon & Schuster has apparently dropped his work and it is no longer available in e-format.:thumbsdown:
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
9,858
Reaction score
16,462
Over the last week or so, I've read the omnibus collection of Gail Simone's run on Red Sonja--18 issues in all. I don't read much in the way of superhero comics, or any comics for years before I found them on Hoopla, so I wasn't familiar with her work. It was entertaining, though it became more heroic and less morally grey in sword-and-sorcery fashion after the first series. I appreciated that, although the covers almost always showed Sonja in a chainmail bikini, in the books themselves she usually wore something more protective and reasonable.

Today I went onto the Amazon Kindle site thinking I might purchase some fiction by Avram Davidson. Simon & Schuster had reprinted a lot of it electronic format through Prologue Press series, and a month or so ago I read and really enjoyed his Island Underneath the Earth. Simon & Schuster even sent me an email suggesting others of his titles I might like. Imagine my surprise when I found that all of that is gone: Simon & Schuster has apparently dropped his work and it is no longer available in e-format.:thumbsdown:
For some reason ebooks go in and out of availabilty pretty often, just give it some time and it should come back, or if you don't want to wait most of his novels in used paperback are easily available and reasonably priced, within North America at least.
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
For some reason ebooks go in and out of availabilty pretty often, just give it some time and it should come back, or if you don't want to wait most of his novels in used paperback are easily available and reasonably priced, within North America at least.

That's interesting to learn. I'm still a novice at e-books for fiction; I had no interest in that format until I got an IPad last year. I naively thought that once a publisher had gone to the trouble of creating the e-version of a book, they would keep in in their catalog forever, since there are minimal costs connected to maintaining that 'inventory.'

I wonder if someone will reprint Davidson in paper? Tor did a collection of some of his stories a while back and a tribute collection. It would be nice if some reprint house would pick up his works.
 

E-Rocker

Not a goose
Joined
Mar 25, 2019
Messages
1,801
Reaction score
3,476
I'm listening to the audiobook of Riley Sager's novel Final Girls.

I'm about halfway through and enjoying it quite a bit so far. Good story & the person they hired to narrate does a good job. I'm finding that listening to audiobooks while I do my long-distance running helps me keep a steady & not-too-fast pace.
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
9,858
Reaction score
16,462
That's interesting to learn. I'm still a novice at e-books for fiction; I had no interest in that format until I got an IPad last year. I naively thought that once a publisher had gone to the trouble of creating the e-version of a book, they would keep in in their catalog forever, since there are minimal costs connected to maintaining that 'inventory.'

I wonder if someone will reprint Davidson in paper? Tor did a collection of some of his stories a while back and a tribute collection. It would be nice if some reprint house would pick up his works.
This is a a great collection I found used. Not sure how rare it is.

51M68AP5CQL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

That lineup of sf authors doing the intros shows how admired of an author he is. Would be cool if Vintage did some reissues.
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
This is a a great collection I found used. Not sure how rare it is.

View attachment 29324

That lineup of sf authors doing the intros shows how admired of an author he is. Would be cool if Vintage did some reissues.

Yeah, that was the Tor collection I had in mind. It is available on Kindle, but not that hard to get used in hardback or paper. I'm also pondering another Tor anthology of Davidson's stories, which you can actually get cheaper in paper than on Kindle:

Davidson.jpg
 

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
5,519
Reaction score
10,553
Got the first hardback volume of Gaiman's "Norse Mythology" comic. It collects the first six issues. Mike Mignola's art covering the "Mimir's Well" story is well worth a look.

Overall it's a pretty faithful adaptation with a few subtle jokes in the panels, including one making fun of the famous "raven on an eagle" retconning by Snorri Sturluson. I'm looking forward to how they do Völuspá.
 
Last edited:

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
Thanks in part to a recommendation by Voros Voros, I've recently read Henry Kuttner's The Dark World in e-format on Hoopla (yay public libraries!). It's a fun sword-and-sorcery tale, made more interesting by the fact that the protagonist is also a villain (in a way). The book has a lot of narrative drive--it reminded me of Burroughs' novels in that--but also some cool images and world-building in it. Like The Mask of Circe, it also has an SF-gloss on the fantasy core, though it is lighter in this novel.
 

E-Rocker

Not a goose
Joined
Mar 25, 2019
Messages
1,801
Reaction score
3,476
I read a comic called Boxmasters, about a rock band that gets recruited by a time-travel agency. It has an art style I really like, where it's mostly black & white, but every once in a while, something will be in color for visual emphasis.
 

Giganotosaurus

I'm a traveler of both time and space
Joined
Sep 22, 2018
Messages
1,558
Reaction score
4,087
I read a comic called Boxmasters, about a rock band that gets recruited by a time-travel agency. It has an art style I really like, where it's mostly black & white, but every once in a while, something will be in color for visual emphasis.
That sounds pretty metal!
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
Last night and this morning I read some of Planet Stories, July 1951, in particular the cover story, "Virgin of Valkarion," by Poul Anderson and "Temple of Han," by Jack Vance. Many of the old pulps are available to read or download on the Internet Archive, which is where I found this.

planet_stories_195107.jpg


"Virgin of Valkarion," is a sword-and-planet tale, probably set on Mars (there are dry sea beds, canals, and two moons, one of which orbits more swiftly and rises in the west). It was enjoyable, though the characterization was a little flat and the romance element completely unbelievable. It raised some questions in my mind about how much a setting can borrow from obvious Earth analogues and still be believable as an alternate world. Despite the slight Martian dressing, the world is clearly semi-medieval Earth with the serial numbers filed off. The hero is Alfric, Beodan's son, from a not-Saxon or not-Norse set of northern barbarians who live in great halls, and the rest of the world is equally recognizable. Here is the description of the foreigners found in Valkarion, which is the capital of a now-vanished empire (Rome or Byzantium):

But there were strangers—robed traders from Tsungchi and Begh Sarrah riding their humped dromads, black-skinned men of Suda and Astrak, coppery feather-cloaked mercenaries from Tollaciuatl, fair-haired barbarians from Valmannstad and the Marskan hills...

I guess if this had been presented without the Martian elements I would have found it less jarring. I did like the pun in calling the not-horses 'hengists.'
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
9,858
Reaction score
16,462
Characterization isn't Poul Anderson's strong suit I think which I think makes romance hard to pull off. I really, really love his The Broken Sword though, one of the finest modern fantasies I've read. I have some of his later books where he essentially modernizes some of the classic sagas that I still need to read.

I'm reading this BFI Film Classic monograph, long OOP but now available on Kindle, one of my favourite modern writers discussing Pasolini's infamous film with his usual penetrating insight.

41JZhOEDdSL._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

The film itself, which I disliked when I first saw it in a cropped and faded print, I re-evaluated once Criterion put it out on DVD in its proper aspect ratio and reasonable shape so that I could appreciate how carefully constructed it actually is. A bluray release for North America is long overdue.
 

Nobby-W

No, I have not got an onlyfans site.
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
4,649
Reaction score
8,098
Characterization isn't Poul Anderson's strong suit I think which I think makes romance hard to pull off. I really, really love his The Broken Sword though, one of the finest modern fantasies I've read. I have some of his later books where he essentially modernizes some of the classic sagas that I still need to read.

I found the Dominic Flandry stories to be a bit reminiscent of the one or two James Bond books I read, and they've aged badly for much the same reasons.
 

Kilted Rob

Where's your troosers?
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
697
Reaction score
2,077
Characterization isn't Poul Anderson's strong suit I think which I think makes romance hard to pull off. I really, really love his The Broken Sword though, one of the finest modern fantasies I've read. I have some of his later books where he essentially modernizes some of the classic sagas that I still need to read.

I'm reading this BFI Film Classic monograph, long OOP but now available on Kindle, one of my favourite modern writers discussing Pasolini's infamous film with his usual penetrating insight.

View attachment 29723

The film itself, which I disliked when I first saw it in a cropped and faded print, I re-evaluated once Criterion put it out on DVD in its proper aspect ratio and reasonable shape so that I could appreciate how carefully constructed it actually is. A bluray release for North America is long overdue.
Criterion upgraded it to Blu-Ray and it is still in print.

Criterion.
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
Characterization isn't Poul Anderson's strong suit I think which I think makes romance hard to pull off. I really, really love his The Broken Sword though, one of the finest modern fantasies I've read. I have some of his later books where he essentially modernizes some of the classic sagas that I still need to read.

I've read a fair amount of Anderson over the years, including most of his fantasies, though not the later "King of Ys" sequence he wrote with his wife. I also need to get around to A Midsummer Tempest some time. I think that, to a degree, he has kind of disappeared into the 'rain shadow' that often falls over authors who are of a previous generation but not far enough back that they can be rediscovered. The (typically good) entry on him by John Clute in the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction suggests that his work is maybe best appreciated as a corpus, or several--that the sum of some of his series is greater than its parts. I'd like to read those series through, at some point. Tor has published some of them in collected volumes: the Psychotechnic League stories, the Polesotechnic League ones, and the Imperial Earth/Dominic Flandry sets.

I found the Dominic Flandry stories to be a bit reminiscent of the one or two James Bond books I read, and they've aged badly for much the same reasons.

I've read a few of them, years ago, and my vague memory is that they were in part at least 'Bond in Space.' I've also heard that the later entries in the series have a good deal more depth and a darker vision, so I'd like to read them someday. Unfortunately, the current re-issues by Tor have embarrassingly cheesecake covers, so much so that it's put me off from buying them. I suppose I could get them on Kindle, which makes the covers unimportant.

In case anyone doubts me about the covers:
51TZ-A92SvL.jpg 61D2959YHYL.jpg

Last night and this morning I read some more from Planet Stories, this time the September issue. Anderson had another story in it, "The Lord of a Thousand Suns," which I enjoyed a good deal--a nice bit of space opera. Theodore Sturgeon's "Incubi of Parallel X," got the cover, and I read it as well, but found it less satisfying. One surprise in these old pulps is the amount of space they devote to letters from readers, and how weird some of those letters are.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,776
Reaction score
7,439
I reread the first book and a half of the Twenty Palaces series by Harry Connolly today (Child of Fire and Game of Cages). Excellent urban fantasy. It's a shame it didn't sell better.
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
Over the weekend I've read Henry Kuttner's Elak of Atlantis, a collection of four stories he wrote in 1938 and 1941, in an e-book format courtesy of Hoopla and my public library. They are enjoyable sword-and-sorcery fiction, if not Kuttner's best work. I wonder a bit about the edition I read, though--at couple of times it seemed like a paragraph must have been dropped from the original text. It might be worth looking for them online to see.

Kuttner seems to have been fascinated with the idea of a female character who lives by drawing the life force from men: Circe in The Dark World is one such and there is another version in these stories. There is also a lusty duke's wife who becomes a warrior alongside Elak in the first story, which was a nice change of pace from the usual 'princess to be rescued' one often finds in such tales.

Kuttner's Atlantis is a decent but not too gripping alternate world. He thought about its geography and provides a map for it, though this is not 'map fantasy.' The cultures seem the standard ancient-medieval one finds in such fiction, with borrowings from Earth's later history; there are druids, Vikings, and Picts, for instance, and gods include Eblis, Ishtar, and Dagon. There are hints of cosmic wrongness of the Lovecraftian variety, but handled rather differently and in a suitably creepy way. There is also an interesting explanation, given in passing, of why Atlantis will eventually sink beneath the waves.

Elak himself is described as tall and thin, and he has a short companion named Lycon; I wondered if this finds a faint echo in Elric and Moonglum? Also like Elric, Elak is a self-exiled heir to a kingdom. And the names are even similar, now that I think of it. But Elak has none of Elric's moody anti-hero qualities.

One thing that I found jarring at first: Elak's weapon is always described as a 'rapier,' a weapon I very much associate with Early Modern Europe. But then I remembered that the Mycenaeans had a rapier-like bronze sword as well, so I just pictured that. Here's one from the British Museum:
Mycenaean Rapier.jpg
 

Simon Hogwood

Puritan Bearbearian
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
809
Reaction score
1,582
I just finished reading The Robert E. Howard Guide by Patrice Louinet. It was very good, if a bit basic for someone who's done more than a cursory study of Howard already. Even so, it has some good insights - I'd never before considered, for example, that Howard may have committed suicide when he did not because he couldn't live without his mother, but because she didn't need him anymore. :sad:

If I have any criticisms, it's that Louinet seemed a bit too eager to interpret any given Howard yarn as reflective of his home life.
 

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
5,519
Reaction score
10,553
Read a scientific biography of Julian Schwinger, who shared the 1965 Physics Nobel with Feynman and Shin'ichirō Tomonaga. In my estimation he was probably the greatest physicist of the 20th Century next to Bohr and Einstein, so it was really interesting to learn about him on a more day to day level, how he thought about the subject and some of his other interests and some insights into the climate of American science at the time.

71VoHVFts9L.jpg
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
9,858
Reaction score
16,462
I've read a fair amount of Anderson over the years, including most of his fantasies, though not the later "King of Ys" sequence he wrote with his wife. I also need to get around to A Midsummer Tempest some time. I think that, to a degree, he has kind of disappeared into the 'rain shadow' that often falls over authors who are of a previous generation but not far enough back that they can be rediscovered. The (typically good) entry on him by John Clute in the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction suggests that his work is maybe best appreciated as a corpus, or several--that the sum of some of his series is greater than its parts. I'd like to read those series through, at some point. Tor has published some of them in collected volumes: the Psychotechnic League stories, the Polesotechnic League ones, and the Imperial Earth/Dominic Flandry sets.



I've read a few of them, years ago, and my vague memory is that they were in part at least 'Bond in Space.' I've also heard that the later entries in the series have a good deal more depth and a darker vision, so I'd like to read them someday. Unfortunately, the current re-issues by Tor have embarrassingly cheesecake covers, so much so that it's put me off from buying them. I suppose I could get them on Kindle, which makes the covers unimportant.

In case anyone doubts me about the covers:
View attachment 29744 View attachment 29745

Last night and this morning I read some more from Planet Stories, this time the September issue. Anderson had another story in it, "The Lord of a Thousand Suns," which I enjoyed a good deal--a nice bit of space opera. Theodore Sturgeon's "Incubi of Parallel X," got the cover, and I read it as well, but found it less satisfying. One surprise in these old pulps is the amount of space they devote to letters from readers, and how weird some of those letters are.

Forgot to note how horrible these covers are and can imagine how much they would have been disliked by Anderson himself.

Also a bit odd that Tor didn't go the classy or pop art approach for their reissues the way Vintage, Penguin and Orbit do these days.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,776
Reaction score
7,439
How do you find Doc Savage?
It's fun. The prose is pretty purple but that's not unexpected. I doubt I'll read all 200+ of them, but I'll skip around. I started at the beginning and I'm curious to see how the prose develops (if at all).
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,170
I've read some other entries in Planet Stories from the 1950s recently, including, two by Poul Anderson: "The Swordsman of Lost Terra," (Nov. 1951) and "The War Maid of Mars," (May 1952). The first is actually a Dying-Earth tale, set in a far future where the planet has stopped rotating. A group of not-Scots Highlanders are on an extended walkabout through the twilight lands, because of famine conditions in their own homeland. They become caught up in an invasion by 'darklanders' from the night-side of the planet. There is princess for the hero to fall in love with--or not, this is left somewhat vague--and a semi-magical set of bagpipes. It's actually a better yarn than this brief summary makes it sound. There is some interesting world-building in the imagination of a tidally-locked Earth and most of the characters are interesting, though the romance is not. The second story is about a native resistance on Mars which recruits a young physicist who has a new power-source/weapon to their side. Again, the romance element is unconvincing, but some parts of the description of Mars and the Martians are well-done, and Earth politics play a role as well.

The May 1952 issue had a couple of other interesting stories, to me at least. One was "When the Spoilers Came," by Robert Moore Williams. I'd never heard of him, but he wrote the Jongor and Xanthar series, of which I'm vague aware. Clute's entry on him in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction labels him "an important supplier of competent genre fiction" in the 1930s-1960s and notes that he "wrote few original tales, but rarely a dull one." I was intrigued by this one in part because of its setting, the 'Old Mars' of canals, dying races, etc. which I find evocative. Williams takes a slightly different slant on this--Martian agriculture is failing despite the canals because of soil exhaustion and minerals from Earth are needed to revitalize the planet. The story's hero is not a man of action but a trader who is willing to supply the minerals on generous terms. There is also a Martian ritual invented for the story: the local king holds recurrent 'testings' to which individuals are summoned. These are public, held in an open-air amphitheater. Those summoned must kneel before an altar; if the king thinks they are a threat to the community, they are beheaded on the spot. The story has weak elements, mainly involving the hero's relationship with his son, and an unbelievable conclusion. But there were things to like about it.

Another interesting tale in this issue was "Venus Hate," credited to John McGreevey. It struck me for several reasons. First, its Venus is not the typical swamp-planet one finds in a lot of vintage SF, but rather an overwhelmingly dry desert. Second, the protagonist is blue-collar bully and ne'er-do-well. This is a prime example of a trend one often finds in pre-space-program SF--the assumption that spaceships will be something like tramp freighters and people with limited education or technical skills will be part of the crews, doing scut work. Finally, I'm intrigued by the author. A note in the ISFDB claims that "John McGreevey" was a house name used by a couple of editors. That may be so, but there was a fairly famous radio and TV writer by the same name (he did a lot of work on the Waltons, for instance). He wrote and performed a large number of radio plays on the Old West in the 1940s and 1950s, and in many ways this tale could simply be a reskinned Western, with Venusian woman put in place of the Apache or Mexican maiden. So I'm wondering if this is by the TV writer.
 
Last edited:

Ronnie Sanford

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
1,360
Reaction score
2,012
It's fun. The prose is pretty purple but that's not unexpected. I doubt I'll read all 200+ of them, but I'll skip around. I started at the beginning and I'm curious to see how the prose develops (if at all).

When you say “purple” are you refering to misogyny and racism or did I guess completely wrong?
 
Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Top