Monday, November 27, 2017

Lin Carter's 1980s WEIRD TALES Revival

In the same interview published in March 1980 in which Carter described his plans for the Zebra fantasy series, as discussed in my previous blog post, he also discussed at length his plans to revive, also with Zebra, Weird Tales magazine, which originally ran from 1923 through 1954, and which had been revived once under the editorship of Sam Moskowitz for four issues in 1973-1974.

Weird Tales #1 and #2, both published in December 1980
Carter managed to get four issues done, though their subsequent publication was sporadic and spread out over three years. It is interesting to note that Carter had apparently turned in to the publisher all four issues previous to his March 1980 interview, for a note in the same issue as the Carter interview gives news from Roy Torgeson that "four issues are complete at this time" and the first issue of the quarterly will a appear in "July at the latest."  Actually the first two issues, both dated Spring 1981, appeared simultaneously in December 1980; the third issue (dated Fall 1981) in August 1981 (the same month as Bloch's Mysteries of the Worm appeared); and the fourth and final issue (dated Summer 1983) snuck out without much notice towards the middle of 1983.  (The first volume was actually reprinted, with a new ISBN and a raising of the printed price from $2.50 to $2.95, in conjunction with the appearance of the fourth volume.)

Here are Carter's lengthy comments, with some interspersed footnotes, marked by asterisks:

"I am reviving Weird Tales with the cooperation of Zebra Books, and I'm so thrilled—it's one of those things that I never dreamed could ever happen, when I was fourteen years old and picking up Weird Tales on the newsstand, in helpless admiration of the writers in it, and to find myself the fifth editor of Weird Tales in half a century is a dream come true that I never dared to dream. It's like having an Arkham book published. I had an Arkham book published, I never dreamed I could have an Arkham House book published. I have only two dreams left, that's to write an Oz book and to do my Tarzan [Laughs].

"With Weird Tales, well, I guess I'm best known for sword and sorcery, and I want to promise people that I'm not going to turn Weird Tales into half sword and sorcery and half Cthulhu mythos. It's going to be exactly the same magazine it always was. The mainstay of the thirty years that Weird Tales published regularly was always the urban horror story; the modern scene, urban horror story. We forget, because Conan and some of the swashbuckling Howard stuff attracts our attention, but in every issue, the bulk of the issue was modern day, urban-scene horror stories, and it's going to be exactly like that, if I have to go out there and rewrite the stories. Thank God, Ramsey Campbell is out there; nobody has ever done the urban horror story better than Ramsey, and Ramsey has a story in the first issue and a story in the second issue, and he'll have a story in every issue if I have anything to say about it, which of course I do. There will be a little sword and sorcery, of course. There will be at least one story in every issue. There will be Cthulhu Mythos stories, when I get good Cthulhu Mythos stories, but the rest of the stuff is going to be as close to the stuff Weird Tales used to print as possible. The fact that it's coming out as a paperback periodi­cal—I think the reason that the pulp magazines went under in 1954 was that pulp magazines no longer had space on the newsstands, because of the rise of the paper­back book. You could either buy a magazine for 25 cents or a book. And people wanted the books. So, since we can't lick 'em, we gotta join 'em. . . .

"I've been sitting on a pile of stuff ever since the Ballantine series dropped out from under me. I've had people from all over the world sending me Xeroxes and manuscripts of things that they happened to have. I'll mention a 10,000 word fraction of a novel by Clark Ashton Smith*1 that was sent to me from New Zealand, which is not known to otherwise any longer exist. The Ballantine series did not last long enough for me to get all of these things into print. For ex­ample, there's a trove of short stories by Hannes Bok,*2 who of course is much better remembered as an artist and an illustrator, but did about seven stories for Weird Tales over the years. Not the best stories in Weird Tales, but still . . . Ever since the idea of Weird Tales has come up, I have been calling, writing, begging, asking—and there are enough of the old authors, there are enough of the surviving members of the Weird Tales group still writing, that I can, at least with the first four issues, bridge the gap between what Weird Tales was and what Weird Tales will have to be in the future, because we are running out of the original authors. Ob­viously, to be viable to go on for years it will have to depend on the newer authors like Gary Myers, Tanith Lee, Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley.*3 But Joseph Payne Brennan has given me a story. Carl Jacobi has given me two stories. I have a story from Robert Aickman; also one of the newcomers.*4 I have unearthed unpublished stories by Howard, by Smith, by David H. Keller.*5 I have this trove of Hannes Bok stories.*6 I have stories promised me from Frank Belknap Long and Mary Elizabeth Counselman.*7 I just received a story from Manly Wade Wellman.*8 And I'm gonna do my damnedest to coax and wheedle stories from C.L. Moore, E. Hoffmann Price. Robert Bloch, Ted Sturgeon, people like that.*9 You see, Weird Tales lasted such an incredible length of time—a human lifetime, thirty years of publishing, that towards its end, a lot of the authors were fairly young. And there's still a residuum of unpub­lished work by the great masters—a little bit is left. Howard and so forth."
Weird Tales #3, published in August 1981
*1. The fragment of a novel by Clark Ashton Smith was "The Infernal Star," first published in Strange Shadows (1989). edited by Steve Behrends, with Donald Sidney-Fryer and Rah Hoffmann.

*2. Hannes Bok published five stories between 1942 and 1944 in the original Weird Tales. Carter published for the first time Bok's tale "Someone Named Guiborg" in Weird Tales #1.

*3. Gary Myers (with Marc Laidlaw) contributed "The Summons of Nuguth-Yug" to Weird Tales #3. Tanith Lee contributed "When the Clock Strikes" to Weird Tales #1 and "The Sombrus Tower" to Weird Tales #2. Ramsey Campbell contributed "Trick or Treat" to Weird Tales #2. Brian Lumley's "The House of the Temple" appeared in Weird Tales #3, in the interim having also appeared in English in the Italian magazine Kadath in issue #3, November 1980, a special Brian Lumley issue. 

*4. Joseph Payne Brennan contributed "Fear" to Weird Tales #2.  Carl Jacobi contributed "The Pit" to Weird Tales #1 and "The Black Garden" to Weird Tales #3. Robert Aickman (who died in February 1981) contributed "The Next Glade" to Weird Tales #4. This was perhaps Aickman's last story.

*5. Carter published "Scarlet Tears" by Robert E. Howard in Weird Tales #1. Gerald W. Page completed a Howard fragment "The Guardian of the Idol" for Weird Tales #3. Carter completed fragments by Clark Ashton Smith, "The Light from the Pole" in Weird Tales #1 and "The Decent into the Abyss" in Weird Tales #2.  David H. Keller's "The House without Mirrors" appeared in Weird Tales #1.

*6. No other stories by Hannes Bok, beyond the one mentioned in footnote 2 above, appeared in Carter's Weird Tales.

*7. Frank Belknap Long's "Homecoming" appeared in Weird Tales #4. Mary Elizabeth Counselman contributed two stories, "Healer" in Weird Tales #1, and "The Lamashtu Amulet" in Weird Tales #2.

*8. Manly Wade Wellman's "Nobody Ever Goes There" appeared in Weird Tales #3.

*9. No new stories by C.L. Moore, E. Hoffmann Price. Robert Bloch (a reprint of "The Feast in the Abbey" from 1935 appeared in Weird Tales #2), or Ted Sturgeon appeared in Carter's Weird Tales. However, letters from Bloch and Sturgeon (and from Ray Bradbury) appeared in the letter column "The Eyrie" in Weird Tales #1.
"For the first issue of Weird Tales, I desperately wanted something by Seabury Quinn, be­cause Quinn, of all the authors who ever wrote for Weird Tales, had more appearances in that magazine than anybody else. I think, just talking off the top of my head, that he appeared in 168 issues. Now, I could be wrong, I'm just talking off the top of my head, I don't have my notes. But there's not a word of unpublished Quinn left. But there are three stories Quinn wrote, ob­viously for Weird Tales, which were obviously rejected by Weird Tales, because they ended up in Weird Tales, short-lived com­petitor, Strange Stories, and they have never been reprinted, anthologized, or put in any collec­tion of Quinn, and therefore their exposure has been very limited. I'm going to be reprinting them in the weird story reprint department, which was there from the very first year of the magazine, and there was one story left in manuscript that appeared in Jack Chalker's fanzine Mirage, which I'm going to lead off with, since that's had the least exposure of all. . . .*10"

*10. Seabury Quinn's "Master Nicholas" appeared in Mirage #6 (1964), but it was not reprinted in Carter's Weird Tales. Instead, "Some Day I'll Kill You" (from Strange Stories, February 1941) appeared in Weird Tales #1. It was the only Seabury Quinn story that appeared in Carter's four issues. Carter's Weird Tales did not retain the "Weird Story Reprint" department, and only had the letters column, "The Eyrie," in Weird Tales #1.

Weird Tales #4, published circa April 1983
Carter published a story of his own in each of the four issues, as well as his two posthumous collaborations with Clark Ashton Smith.  Carter did manage to include other authors from the heyday of Weird Tales, including August Derleth (reprinting his first contribution from 1926) and Evangeline Walton (utilizing the bulk of the extensive prologue she wrote for inclusion in the 1950 UK edition of her novel Witch House, which had originally been published by Arkham House in 1945). For Weird Tales #2, Carter trumpeted R.H. Barlow's story, "The Night Ocean," as by H.P. Lovecraft and Robert H. Barlow [sic; Barlow always signed his contributions with his initials and surname], because it had  been revised lightly and stylistically by Lovecraft, who would never have claimed any credit of partial authorship.

The license of Weird Tales to Lin Carter and Zebra was revoked in 1982 owing to non-payment (though Zebra went ahead and published issue number 4 in 1983). Zebra seems always to have worked on the edge of financial disaster, and they were known to pay only very small advances and to be lax about accounting for sales and subsequent royalties. It is probably this financial instability that doomed from the outset both Lin Carter's new fantasy series, as well as the revival of Weird Tales. It was a sad last hurrah for Lin Carter's editing career. In 1985 Carter was diagnosed with oral cancer, and he died three years later at the age of fifty-seven.*11

*11. In an interview with Robert M. Price, published in the Yule 1985 issue (#36) of Crypt of Cthulhu, Carter outlined another project which did not come to fruition, a new magazine to be called Yoh-Vombis:

"In the beginning it will consist of the stories I would have published in Weird Tales if I had been permitted to continue editing Weird Tales. I'm only returning a handful of stories which are too long. Yoh-Vombis will have about 25,000 words of material in every issue. And, naturally, I will have to be going for the shorter stories. It will also contain poetry and art, and every other issue will have a section called "Epistle" which will feature unpublished letters from Lovecraft and Smith and people like that. It will also have, in alternate issues, a section called "Folio" which will consist of unpublished art by Clark Ashton Smith, Roy Krenkel, Mahlon Blaine, etc. There will be at least one item, either story or verse, by Howard and Smith in every issue."

Monday, November 20, 2017

Lin Carter's Lost Fantasy Series

The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series, which published some 70-odd books from 1969-1974, is justly renowned, and Lin Carter (1930-1988) is often acclaimed as the editor of the series, but he was not the editor.  Look at the footer of every single one of his introductions to books in the series: his title is given as "Editorial Consultant, The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series."  The Editor of the series was actually Betty Ballantine.  What titles Carter suggested for the series had to have her approval, and since Carter's own taste was known to reach pretty low, we can be grateful to Betty Ballantine for holding the reins and keeping the standards higher. Thus I think the series as a whole was much better than if Carter had had carte blanche over the selections.  

Carter did have the chance of editing another fantasy series. He described it in an interview published in March 1980: 

"Zebra will be doing the Lin Carter Fantasy Selections. They'll be doing seven books a year, and I am able to cross over the borders into other genres. It doesn't have to be "like Tolkien", the epic fantasy sort of thing that was the premise at Ballantine. I'm able to do straight weird fiction, both novels and short story collections. I can do real science fiction, and some lost race and things like that. We're  starting with, I think, a very exciting book, Elak of Atlantis by Henry Kuttner, which will be the first time all of Kuttner's sword-and-sorcery has ever been in one place at one time. I've been trying to get this book into print for years through various people. . . . Some of the first titles we've already got in the works are John Silence by Algernon Blackwood, Phra the Phoenician by Edwin Lester Arnold, and a collection of Robert Bloch's Cthulhu Mythos stories.  It'll be called The Histories [sic] of the Worm, after the title of Bloch's imaginary volume in the Cthulhu Mythos [De Vermis Mysteriis]. We'll be doing one of these a year, one book out of the seven which will put together all the Cthulhu Mythos stories by the authors who wrote in the mythos. The only exceptions will be Derleth and Lovecraft, because those are available elsewhere, but we'll be doing a book of Kuttner's Cthulhu mythos stories, as well as Howard's and Frank Belknap Long's. I envision a collection of about eight volumes, which will bring into print all the Cthulhu mythos stories up to this date, at least by the older authors. I'm not sure we can get all of Ramsey Campbell's work into on place, and so on. Anyways, we'll also be putting out a collection of miscellaneous Cthulhu Mythos stories, by people who only wrote one or two; Carl Jacobi wrote one, Manly Wellman wrote one, there's a couple by Wandrei. Eventually, we 'll have a library of the Cthulu mythos, which I think will be a great thing. . . . I learned some lessons from Ballantine, that the sort of thing I thought should be in print wasn't commercial enough, and I don't like spending other people's money. Therefore, with the Zebra series, even though I hate the idea, I'm going to have to turn away from doing any more Clark Ashton Smith, or any more Kai Lung, because these things have to make cash, they have to be viable on the market-place. I'm going to be doing a number of adventure-fantasy novels, like Valdar the Oft-Born, Phra the Phoenician. I have some Atlantis novels I want to do and quite a bit of good stuff. I have a magnificent original novel from someone I've never heard of before, who's done a sequel to The Dying Earth with the permission of Jack Vance. I looked at it and said, "Nah, not a chance."  Then I read it and I was very impressed. It was such a good imitation, it was really a lot of fun. In other words, in the Zebra series, I can sprawl across categories much more broadly than I was ever allowed to at Ballantine, which is good." (Science Fiction Times, v. 1 no. 7, March 1980)

Carter had previously published with Zebra. He contributed an introduction to the July 1978 Zebra reprint of H. Rider Haggard's Eric Brighteyes, which sold well enough to achieve a second printing.  Zebra followed this title with three further Haggard titlesThe Wanderer's Necklace; Morning Star; and Pearl Maidenand while these titles did not have Lin Carter introductions, he probably suggested them to Zebra. Zebra also published in October 1979 Carter's original novel Tara of the Twilight, which Carter himself described as "elegantly written porno." Carter's editor at Zebra was Roy Torgeson (1936-1990), best known for editing ten volumes of Zebra's original anthology series Chrysalis (1977-1983).

So, pulling out the details from Carter's statement above, here is an alphabetical list of the proposed titles of the Zebra fantasy series.

Arnold, Edwin LesterPhra the Phoenician [Originally published in 1890, under a slightly different title, The Wonderful Adventures of Phra the Phoenician]

Blackwood, Algernon. John Silence [Originally published in 1908]

Bloch, RobertThe Mysteries of the Worm [Book of Cthulhu Mythos stories. See below]

Campbell, Ramsey.  [Book of Cthulhu Mythos stories. Campbell's Lovecraftian stories were first collected in Cold Print (Scream/Press, 1985); an expanded edition came out in 1993.] 

Carter, Lin, presumed editor. [Book of misc. Cthulhu Mythos stories, including two by Donald Wandrei, and one each by Carl Jacobi and Manly Wade Wellman. Depending upon how expansive one's definition of the Cthulhu Mythos is, Wandrei, Jacobi and Wellman can be considered to have written several more Cthulhu Mythos stories than the few suggested by Carter.]

Griffith, GeorgeValdar the Oft-Born [Originally published in 1895]

Howard, Robert E.  [Book of Cthulhu Mythos stories. Twelve stories were collected in Cthulhu: The Mythos and Kindred Horrors, by Robert E. Howard, edited by David Drake, and published by Baen Books in May 1987.]

Kuttner, HenryElak of Atlantis  [A limited edition of 500 copies, containing four Elak stories and editorial matter by Gary Lovisi, was published under this title by Gryphon Books of Brooklyn in 1985]

Kuttner, Henry. [Book of Cthulhu Mythos stories. Ten of Kuttner's Cthulhu Mythos stories, plus one collaboration and with stories by other hands, were collected in The Book of Iod, published by Chaosium in 1995] 

Long, Frank Belknap. [Book of Cthulhu Mythos stories. In June 1979, prior to the Lin Carter interview, Zebra published Night Fear, a large collection of stories by Frank Belknap Long, edited and with an introduction by Roy Torgeson. It includes Long's Lovecraftian novella, "The Horror from the Hills," originally published in Weird Tales in 1931.]

[Unknown author, a sequel to The Dying Earth by Jack Vance and authorized by him. This can not refer to Michael Shea's sequel to The Dying Earth, A Quest for Simbilis, also authorized by Jack Vance, for it was published by DAW Books in 1974]

Though this interview with Lin Carter was published in March 1980, only one of the books of his proposed series was ever published by Zebra. Mysteries of the Worm by Robert Bloch came out a year and a half later in August 1981 as "A Lin Carter Fantasy Selection" comprising thirteen stories by Bloch, and Introduction by Carter, and an Afterword by Bloch. A second edition, revised and expanded (including three additional stories), edited by Robert M. Price, was published by Chaosium in 1993, and a third edition (also edited by Price), adding four more stories, was published by Chaosium in 2009.

Thus with Mysteries of the Worm Lin Carter's fantasy series with Zebra died.

Alongside the Zebra fantasy series, Carter was editing for the same publisher a revival of the magazine Weird Tales in mass market paperback form. This will be covered in a subsequent post. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

JRRT & the Cthulhu Mythos, New Nodens Books, and Points on the US editions of Charles Williams's Novels

A few unrelated mini-posts.

Tolkien and the Cthulhu Mythos

It is not possible to consider Tolkien as an influence on H.P. Lovecraft himself, for Lovecraft died in 1937, months before The Hobbit was even published.  Yet the Mythos that Lovecraft created, and which has posthumously achieved the misnomer of The Cthulhu Mythos, has been continued by many other writers up to the present day.  These writers include August Derleth (1909-1971), who is famous as the person behind the publisher Arkham House, founded in 1939. 

Derleth published a collection of six of his own Cthulhu Mythos stories as The Mask of Cthulhu, under his Arkham House imprint in June 1958.  It includes a story "The Seal of R'lyeh", reprinted from the July 1957 issue of Fantastic Universe Science Fiction, where it appeared as "Seal of the Damned."

Basically, the story is about a man named Phillips who inherits his uncle's house in Innsmouth. (There are many more references to Howard Phillips Lovecraft and his invented mythos.) In going through his uncle's effects, including his uncle's occult researches, Phillips finds a ring with some unusual qualities.  Here are some quotes:
"I examined it closely. There was nothing extraordinary about it, save its sizeto look upon; the wearing of it, however, carried with it unimaginable results. For I had no sooner put it on my finger than it was as if new dimensions opened up to me—or as if the old horizons were pushed back limitlessly. All my senses were made more acute."  (pp. 168-169)

"With the assumption of the ring, I became cognizant of the pressure of unseen forces, potent beyond the telling, as were this house the focal point of influences beyond my comprehension; I stood, in short, as were I a magnet to draw elemental forces from all about me, and these rushed in upon me with such impress that I felt like an island in the midst of the sea, with a raging hurricane centered upon it." (p. 169)

"I had put on my uncle's ring one day, and, drawn to the sea, was bent on climbing down to the water's edge, when I found myself, while in the act of crossing the great central room of the house, virtually unable to leave it, so strong was its pull upon the ring, I ceased to try, presently, recognizing that a psychic force was manifest, and simply stood, waiting for guidance." (p. 170)
It is interesting that no other author that I know of used a ring in this manner before Tolkien, the use of which is manifest in The Fellowship of the Ring, published in 1954.  Could Derleth have read Tolkien's book?  We know that certainly he did, for he reviewed it in his regular column, "Minority Report," in the 18 November 1954 issue of the Madison, Wisconsin, newspaper The Capital Times.  Here's the meat of the review:
"It is completely captivating on a grand scale . . . It is set down in memorable prose . . . A vividly imaginative work, it is surely a classic in its field; one will look forward with keen interest to the succeeding volumes. I have no doubt at all that Tolkien's three-volume work will come to be regarded as one of the great books of its kind."  (p. 18)
Derleth also reviewed The Two Towers in The Capital Times, 30 June 1955:
"It is the story of  Frodo the Hobbit, of his possession of a ring which rules all the Rings of Power. . . . Mr. Tolkien's book is almost unique. It is related to such sagas as E.R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros, it has kinship to the Arthurian legends, to the Icelandic Sagas, but it stands quite alone. It is a great book in the realm of fantasy. . . . I commend the book to all discriminating readers, old and young; begin it with The Fellowship of the Ring, and go on with The Two Towers. And wait on The Return of the King, soon to come." (p. 20)
No one has yet found a review by Derleth of The Return of the King, but Derleth was one of the dozen or so writers and critics who awarded The Lord of the Rings the International Fantasy Award for 1957,  presented at the London World Science Fiction Convention in September of that year.  Derleth is known to have written a short review of The Tolkien Reader for Books of the Times in 1966, so his interest in Tolkien is shown to have continued.

I do also note that in the "Introduction" to The Mask of Cthulhu, Derleth claims that "The Seal of R'lyeh" was "conceived and written in Los Angeles in the summer of 1953," i.e., in the year before The Fellowship of the Ring was published; and I also note that the manuscript of the story was returned to Derleth by Weird Tales magazine in November 1954, just after the magazine had folded. However, it seems likely that Derleth would have revised it before submitting it to Fantastic Universe Science Fiction, who published it in July 1957.  I have not seen the magazine text, and cannot compare it to that published the following year in The Mask of Cthulhu. [Update: the texts appear to be identical.] But it is not unlikely that Derleth would have revised his story after reading The Fellowship of the Ring, seeing the added aspects he could give to his ring in his story, publishing it three years later. Thus the very Tolkienian echoes of the One Ring found their way into Derleth's Cthulhu Mythos story.

Thanks go to Richard C. West and to John Haefele for help on this topic. 

New Nodens Books 

I've published three books in my Nodens Books imprint since my last blog post here, so let me give some account of them.

Lady Stanhope's Manuscript and Other Stories, by Dale Nelson, is a collection of eleven ghostly tales (think M.R.James and Robert Aickman, not H.P. Lovecraft or Stephen King), written over the last thirty years.  Ordering details click here.

The Laughing Elf, by Ronald MacDonald, is a fairy tale in the style of the author's father, George MacDonald. More details here.

The Man Who Lived Backwards and Other Stories, by Charles F. Hall, collects all three known stories by Charles F. Hall.  The title story of this volume influenced The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.  More details here.

More book will be announced soon.

Charles Williams's Novels and Their Early American Editions

The above title refers to an article I recently published at, for which click here. It is basically a bibliographical study of the publication of Charles Williams's novels in the US by Pellegrini & Cudahy and Wm. B. Eerdmans, with illustrations.  It is not very well-known that there are points on several of the books, including their dust-wrappers.  I have been sorting out these editions for years, and here present my conclusions. I published it on primarily because I couldn't think of an academic venue that would allow the space for all of the dust-wrapper scans, and they are central to my discussion (as well as being interesting to look at!).