Avon Fantasy Reader/Issue 10
|Avon Fantasy Reader (1949)
|Editor: Donald A. Wollheim|
Unique and Fascinating
|Take bewitching twin princesses, sisters, equally beguiling, one a she-serpent with all the evils of hell in her twisted soul, the other as sweet as she was voluptuous.|
|No man could tell them apart, but the fate of a kingdom rested on doing so. That is the striking situation in which Robert E. Howard's A WITCH SHALL BE BORN is laid. One of the lesser known adventures of that author's warrior-hero Conan, it brings that romantic adventurer of the pre-glacial era up against a baffling problem of witchcraft and black magic.|
|This is the sort of story which has made the AVON FANTASY READER the leading anthology of its kind. Bringing to the thrill-seeking public the most colorful and wonder-bearing tales of the best imaginative writers, this popular-priced collection compares favorably with the highest priced collections. Take some of the other fine tales in this number:|
|BIMINI by Bassett Morgan a tale of a strangely youthful old man and the goddesses of the arctic aurora that brought him eternal life and other men lingering death.|
|THE GOSTAK AND THE DOSHES by Miles J. Breuer: the pioneer science-ficton story of semantics—a different and thought-provoking adventure.|
|THE STATEMENT OF RANDOLPH CARTER by H.P. Lovecraft: an eerie graveyard tale by a master of the macabre—a story unavailable in any other volume now in print.|
|In addition, you will find Francis Flagg's future vision of machine triumphant, THE MENTANICALS, Amelia Reynolds Long's story of the end of the world, OMEGA, and others.
DONALD A. WOLLHEIM
|ROBERT E. HOWARD • BASSETT MORGAN|
|H. P. LOVECRAFT • MALCOLM JAMESON|
|DONALD A. WOLLHEIM • FRANCIS FLAGG|
|MILES J BREUER • AMELIA REYNOLDS LONG|
119 W. 57th St., N.Y.C. 19
Contents and Acknowledgements
|A WITCH SHALL BE BORN by Robert E. Howard||
|Copyright, 1934, by the Popular Fiction Publishing Company for Weird Tales.|
|VENGEANCE IN HER BONES by Malcolm Jameson||
|Copyright, 1942, by Weird Tales.|
|THE MENTANICALS by Francis Flagg||
|Copyright, 1934, by Teck Publications, Inc., for Amazing Stories; copyright now held by Ziff-Davis; reprinted by permission of the heir thru the Ackerman Fantasy Agency.|
|THE GOSTAK AND THE DOSHES by Miles J. Breuer||
|Copyright, 1930, by Ziff-Davis Publishing Co. Published by permission of Estate of Miles J. Breuer.|
|THE STATEMENT OF RANDOLPH CARTER by H. P. Lovecraft||
|Copyright, 1925, by The Popular Fiction Publishing Company; copyright, 1939, by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei; copyright, 1947, by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei. By permission of Arkham House.|
|BIMINI by Bassett Morgan||
|Copyright, 1928, by The Popular Fiction Publishing Company for Weird Tales.|
|OMEGA by Amelia Reynolds Long||
|Copyright, 1932, by Teck Publishing Corporation.|
|STORM WARNING by Donald A. Wollheim||
|From "Future Fantasy and Science Fiction" for October, 1942, by consent of the author and publishers.|
avon fantasy reader no. 10
copyright, 1949, by avon novels, inc.
printed in u.s.a.
by Robert E. Howard
Robert E. Howard's stories of the wanderings of Conan the Cimmerian through the realms of the pre-Glacial era were based upon a carefully structed "history" of those ages devised by Howard before starting his series. It is, we think, this careful groundwork which makes these tales so colorfully realistic, so vivid, so varied in background. We sense that he has woven into his literary tapestry not merely varicolored threads but clothes of different textures, so that his prehistoric kingdoms are national not merely because he calls them by different names but because he has thought of them as different in culture, approach, tradition. This is no mean feat for a purely imaginary world and it is one of the things that have made Robert Howard's stories so much more memorable than attempts at similar construction by more commercially slanted writers.
1. The Blood-Red Cresent
Taramis, Queen of Khauran, awakened from a dream-haunted slumber to a silence that seemed more like the stillness of nighted catacombs than the normal quiet of a sleeping place. She lay staring into the darkness, wondering why the candles in their golden candelabra had gone out. A flecking of stars marked a gold-barred casement that lent no illumination to the interior of the chamber. But as Taramis lay there, she became aware of a spot of radiance glowing in the darkness before her. She watched, puzzled. It grew and its intensity deepened as it expanded, a widening disk of lurid light hovering against the dark velvet hangings of the opposite wall. Taramis caught her breath, starting up to a sitting position. A dark object was visible in that circle of light—a human head.
In a sudden panic the queen opened her lips to cry out for her maids; then she checked herself. The glow was more lurid, the head more vividly limned. It was a woman's head, small, delicately molded, superbly poised, with a high-piled mass of lustrous black hair. The face grew distinct as she stared—and it was the sight of this face which froze the cry in Taramis' throat. The features were her own! She might have been looking into a
by Bassett Morgan
With rare imaginative power and beauty of vision, Bassett Morgan's story an arctic fountain of youth brings all the terror and fascination of the far polar plains—the eternal mystery of ice caps whose aurora is a symphony of color, whose white fields are garbed in peace, and whose atmosphere is the chilling breath of death. With such ingredients, "Bimini' is a weird tale par excellence.
Commander crayne interrupted the tale by a gesture of his hand.
"Do you mind, Captain Ek, if I call Lieutenant Murphy in and have him take down what you are telling me? I'd like to check up on a few historical dates."
The old man nodded assent.
"It's what I want. Shows you're takin' int'rest. I've told some of this to several people. They think I'm crazy like you do, only they never got as far as takin' notes."
"Captain Ek, this is my aide, Lieutenant Murphy. He was with me on the polar flight. He is taking the brunt of this trip and I don't mind telling you that I'd rather take a dozen trips like our northern one than meet the crowds and dodge this publicity.—Murphy, Captain Ek is telling of a trip he made north. Please make a note of places he mentions and data."
Lieutenant Murphy, was one of those Americans who "don't have to come from Ireland to be Irish." Stormy black lashes "set in with a smutty finger" hid twinkling blue eyes as he looked at Captain Ek, whose white hair and silvery beard were close-trimmed, whose leathery brown skin showed fine wrinkles, and whose general appearance gave the impression of a man prematurely white.
Commander Crayne, whose name still occupied newspaper headlines recounting columns of his achievement in circling the North Pole and remaining in its vicinity long enough to make valuable discoveries which no other polar explorer had done, sat near the window. His face was in shadow and did not reveal the incredulity of his mind at the tale Captain Ek had been telling. He had first been impatient. So many visitors had called during his
by H. P. Lovecraft
Telling ghost stories in dark and lonely places is an honored tradition. As a rule such tales, recited from memory, are not the type that make for literature—they are terse, grim, and usually described as true occurrences. The works of the "greats" of modern fantasy—save perhaps for Ambrose Bierce—are not easily adapted to such recitation; they are too complex or too esoteric. But here is an H. P. Lovecraft tale that lends itself to recitation. Not word for word, but the plot idea is one to be worked into a midnight tale. Your editor has related it several times—usually on deserted rural roads—with marked effect.
I repeat to you gentlemen, that your inquisition is fruitless. Detain me here for ever if you will; confine or execute me if you must have a victim to propitiate the illusion you call justice; but I can say no more than I have said already. Everything that I can remember, I have told with perfect candor. Nothing has been distorted or concealed, and if anything remains vague, it is only because of the dark cloud which has come over my mind—that cloud and the nebulous nature of the horrors which brought it upon me.
Again I say, I do not know what has become of Harley Warren, though I think—almost hope—that he is in peaceful oblivion, if there be anywhere so blessed a thing. It is true that I have for five years been his closest friend, and a partial sharer of his terrible researches into the unknown. I will not deny, though my memory is uncertain and indistinct, that this witness of yours may have seen us together as he says, on the Gainsville pike, walking toward Big Cypress Swamp, at half past eleven on that awful night. That we bore electric lanterns, spades, and a curious coil of wire with attached instruments, I will even affirm; for these things all played a part in the single hideous scene which remains burned into my shaken recollection. But of what followed, and of the reason I was found alone and dazed on the edge of the swamp next morning, I must insist that I know nothing save what I have told you over and over again. You say to me that there is nothing in the
by Francis Flagg
The timeliness of Francis Flagg's "Mentanicals" is shown by the unexpected rush of public interest in a recent book with the enigmatic title of "Cybernetics." This new word is designed to represent a new science—that of the mechanical brain, or the machine that seems to utilize such processes as memory, association, and even deduction. The public interest shows the trend of the times; people have a way of suspicioning for themselves important angles of future development when they become ripe. But with the acute imagination of the science-fictionist and social scientist that he was, Francis Flagg spotted the trend fifteen years before. In this thought-provoking novelette, we are treated to a startling vision of the possible result of this present work in cybernetics.
THIS IS A strange story, and if you are the kind of person who believes nothing without overwhelming proof, read no further, for the story is an incredible one and centers around characters widely divergent as to background and walks of life—Bronson, Smith and Stringer.
Bronson was by way of being an adventurous man, one who had sailed the seven seas, first as fo'cas'le hand, then as mate and skipper of rusty tramps for Chinese owners in the Orient. Yet he was by no means uneducated, though the knowledge he possessed on a wide range of subjects seldom met with in the repertoire of that type of tramp captains, had been gleaned from books and not from colleges. Olson Smith had picked him up—I never rightly understood when or how—in the Indian Ocean and made him captain of his sleek ocean liner masquerading as a yacht. Olson Smith could afford the luxury of thousand-ton yachts, because his father had been canny enough to get into a packing-house combine at the right moment and so turn an already sizable fortune into millions. Olson himself, however, had nothing to do with the packing business aside from helping to spend its profits. He was a dilettante of sorts, a patron of the arts, a stout, distinguished looking gentleman under sixty, who endowed colleges and founded chairs and laboratories for research work. Through these benevolences he
by Malcolm Jameson
The late Malcolm Jameson was a naval officer who turned to writing after he had retired from service. Your editor has always preferred those stories of his that dealt with deep water over those that dealt with deep space. There is a verisimilitude about sea stories that all the phony parallels about space-going navies can never attain. The feeling all seafarers get about their ships—the animism with which they regard them—is a real thing. And a strange tale of the sea is fact more likely to arouse genuine reader emotion than the most slickly handled but irrevocably synthetic story of a moon-flying navy.
The messenger from the Navy recruiting office found old Captain Tolliver in his backyard. The crabby, sour-visaged housekeeper took him as far as the hedge back of the house and pointed the retired mariner out to him. Captain Tolliver was reclining in a ragged canvas deckchair taking the sun. He had on faded dungarees, soft and pliant as linen from hundreds of scrubbings, and the stump of his handless left arm rested carelessly on his lap. The peg-leg that matched it lay in alignment with the one good leg. The captain had his eyes closed, comfortably drinking in the sun's good heat, when he heard the crunch of the messenger's step on the gravel walk that separated the vegetable from the flower beds. The old skipper's hearing was still alert, though, and at the sound he raised his lids and looked inquiringly at the newcomer.
"Commander Jason's compliments, sir," said the bluejacket, "and would you please step down to the office. He has a ship for you."
Captain Tolliver smiled feebly, then he closed his eyes against the glare. His eyes were not overstrong these days—the doctors had said something about incipient cataracts.
"Commander Jason is confusing me with my son. He already has a ship, working out of West Coast ports. My sea-going days are over. Forever." To emphasize his point he waved the stump of his left arm, and lifted the pegleg slightly.
"No, sir. It's you he wants. He was very clear about that. He has a ship that only you can command. She's a rogue. They say she a will obey no other
by Miles J. Breuer, M. D.
Of late the pages of science-fiction periodicals have been filled with a lot of words about words. We refer to the stories based upon the neo-science of semantics, the talk about "non-Aristotelianism," and the multiple social, political, moral, and psychological concepts that the more fanatical followers of these word-schemes derive from them. At risk of calling down the wrath of devotees, your editor must confess that most of these stories do not seem to make too much sense. And it is just possible that some of the readers of "The Gostak and the Doshes" may also express, for a while, similar bewilderment. Dr. Breuer's story, we think, was the very first story about semantics to appear in a fantasy magazine. It was written many years before its time, back in 1930, and we still feel that it is the best of the lot. We also suspect that it points a moral that could well be heeded in these hectic days of slogans, advertising, and mass hysterias.
Let the reader suppose that somebody states: "The gostak disims the doshes." You do not know what this means, nor do I. But if we assume that it is English, we know that the doshes are distimmed by the gostak. We know that one distimmer of the doshes is a gostak. If, moreover, doshes are galloons, we know that some galloons are distimmed by the gostak. And so we may go on, and so we often do go on.—Unknown writer quoted by Ogden and Richards, in THE MEANING OF MEANING, Harcourt Brace & Co., 1923; also by Walter N. Polakov in MAN AND HIS AFFAIRS, Williams & Wilkins, 1925.
Why! That is lifting yourself by your own bootstraps!" I exclaimed in amazed incredulity. "It's absurd."
Woleshensky smiled indulgently. He towered in his chair as though in the infinite kindness of his vast mind there were room to understand and overlook all the foolish little foibles of all the weak little beings that called themselves men. A mathematical physicist lives in vast spaces where a lightyear is a footstep, where universes are being born and blotted out, where space unrolls along a fourth dimension on a surface distended from a fifth. To him, human beings and their affairs do not loom very important.
"Relativity," he explained. In his voice there was a patient forbearance
by Amelia Reynolds Long
Inosofar as all men are mortal and foredoomed to death, and as far back as history and myth can pierce we are impressed with the similar mortality of cities and peoples and kingdoms, it is quite natural that the death of the world is a subject that would engage the thoughts of the imaginative. In Amelia Reynolds Long's story, the subject is approached in an intriguing fashion. Without stirring from their own time, without a "time machine," the characters of "Omega" manage to get a vision of things to come—to share those experiences as well.
I, doctor michael claybridge, living in the year 1926, have listened to a description of the end of the world from the lips of the man who witnessed it; the last man of the human race. That this is possible, or that I am not insane, I cannot ask you to believe: I can only offer you the facts.
For a long time my friend, Prof. Mortimer, had been experimenting with what he termed his theory of mental time; but I had known nothing of the nature of this theory until one day, in response to his request, I visited him at his laboratory. I found him bending over a young medical student, whom he had put into a state of hypnotic trance.
"A test of my theory, Claybridge," he whispered excitedly as I entered. "A moment ago I suggested to Bennet that this was the date of the battle of Waterloo. For him, it accordingly became so; for he described for me—and in French, mind you—a part of the battle at which he was present!"
"Present!" I exclaimed. "You mean that he is a reincarnation of—?"
"No, no," he interrupted impatiently. "You forget—or rather, you do not know—that time is a circle, all of whose parts are coexistent. By hypnotic suggestion, I moved his materiality line until it became tangent with the Waterloo segment of the circle. Whether in physical time the two have ever touched before, is of little matter."
Of course I understood nothing of this; but before I could ask for an explanation, he had turned back to his patient.
by Donald A. Wollheim
The story of "Storm Warning" grew directly out of the great impression that G. R. Stewart's remarkable book "Storm" made upon the writer. Constantly your editor has been impressed with the sparsity of our actual knowledge of the world—the things we think we know best so often turn out to be scarcely more than isolated fragments of a great knowledge, our sciences mere segments of other sciences. Biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, all seem to interlock, and the more we know the more we realize how tenuous our grip on universal understanding is. "Storm" impressed the writer with this observation on even that most prosaic of topics, the weather. And "Storm Warning" was the result.
We had no indication of the odd business that was going to happen. The boys at the Weather Bureau still think they had all the fun. They think that being out in it wasn't as good as sitting in the station watching it all come about. Only there are some things they'll never understand about the weather, some things I think Ed and I alone will know. We were in the middle of it all.
We were riding out of Rock Springs at sunrise on a three day leave but the Chief Meteorologist had asked us to take the night shift until then. It was just as well, for the Bureau was on the edge of the desert and we had our duffle and horses tethered outside. The meteor fall of two days before came as a marvelous excuse to go out into the badlands of the Great Divide Basin. I've always liked to ride out in the glorious, wide, empty Wyoming land and any excuse to spend three days out there was good.
Free also from the routine and monotony of the Weather Bureau as well. Of course I like the work, but still the open air and the open spaces must be bred in the blood of all of us born and raised out there in the West. I know it's tame and civilized today but even so, to jog along with a haphazard sort of prospector's aim was really fine.
Aim was of course to try and locate fragments of the big meteor that landed out there two nights before. Lots of people had seen it, myself for one, because I happened to be out on the roof taking readings. There had
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|No. 3. (Merritt, Lovecraft, Moore, Bradbury, Grendon, etc.)|
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|No. 5. (C. L. Moore, Bloch, Chambers, Owen, Benét, etc.)|
|No. 6. (Merritt, Williamson, Lovecraft, Hamilton, McClusky, etc.)|
|No. 7. (Rohmer, Howard, Merritt, Moore, Long, etc.)|
|No. 8. (Flagg, Howard, Bradbury, Blackwood, Counselman, etc.)|
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WITCHERY AND THRILLS
|The use of siren spells and charms to win endearment and riches continues to attract the mind and heart of modern man and woman. For beneath the surface of our workaday world, there flows deeply every man's desire for romantic mastery and future fruitfulness. The storied enchantment of witchcraft—of beautiful princesses to be won by secret deeds—is instilled in each of us by mankind-old lore of the past. And no matter what the nature of our everyday occupations, the longing for mystic thrills remains in full reign.
It is no wonder therefore that fantasy, stories dealing with the witchery of the past and the romantic mystery of the future, continues to dominate and fascinate the public.
AVON FANTASY READER NO. 11
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