Avon Fantasy Reader/Issue 11
|Love potions, romantic incantations, and spells that bind men's hearts have been the stock in trade of witches from time immemorial. Surely therefore if witches exist today—as some say—then would they not still be trying to snare the souls of unsuspecting men? GLAMOUR by the well-known Seabury Quinn is a story dealing with just that intriguing notion. For what is glamour but a mysterious art, the secret and sale of which is actually one of the Twentieth Century's major industries? Perhaps, as this colorful tale suggests, we have something to learn from the darker centuries.|
|Seabury Quinn is only one of the popular fantasy writers this new number of the Avon Fantasy Reader presents. You will be pleased to read other excellent and long-sought-after classics of the imagination, hitherto unobtainable, such as:|
|MOGGLESBY by T. S. Stribling: a story of the “Missing Link,” of ape-men in a jungle fastness and of the terrible decision that was forced upon their human discoverer. An overlooked classic that should rank with “Tarzan.”|
|THE DANCER IN THE CRYSTAL by Francis Flagg: an unusual tale of the incredible events that occurred when a celestial visitor short-circuited the world.|
|THE INHERITORS by John Michel and Robert Lowndes: a grimly compelling novelette of the final war and Nature's own ultimatum to mankind.|
|Specially selected tales by Frank Owen, M. R. James, Nelson Bond, and Ray Bradbury round out this number to make the Eleventh Avon Fantasy Reader the best collection of imaginative stories on the market at popular prices.|
DONALD A. WOLLHEIM
|NELSON BOND||•||SEABURY QUINN|
|T. S. STRIBLING||•||FRANK OWEN|
|RAY BRADBURY||•||FRANCIS FLAGG|
|JOHN MICHEL and ROBERT LOWNDES|
119 W. 57th St., N.Y.C. 19
Contents and Acknowledgements
|GLAMOUR by Seabury Quinn|
|Copyright, 1939, by Weird Tales.|
|THE GOLDEN HOUR OF KWOH FAN by Frank Owen|
|From “The Purple Sea” by Frank Owen. Copyright, 1930, by Frank Owen.|
|UNCOMMON CASTAWAY by Nelson Bond|
|Copyright, 1949, by Nelson Bond. Reprinted by permission of the author.|
|MOGGLESBY by T. S. Stribling|
|Copyright, 1930, T. S. Stribling.|
|ASLEEP IN ARMAGEDDON by Ray Bradbury|
|Reprinted by permission of “Planet Stories,” copyrighted by Love Romances Publishing Co., Inc., 1948.|
|THE INHERITORS by John Michel and Robert Lowndes|
|From “Future Fantasy and Science Fiction” for October, 1942, by consent of Columbia Publications, Inc., and the authors.|
|THE DANCER IN THE CRYSTAL by Francis Flagg|
|Copyright, 1929, by the Popular Fiction Publishing Company for Weird Tales.|
avon fantasy reader no. 11
copyright, 1949, by avon novels, inc.
printed in u.s.a.
by Seabury Quinn
Let us be honest about it, is not love something of a witchcraft? And has not each sex its own particular brand of witchery, so that man and woman may join hands in marriage and be contented with each other even though the outside world, the world beyond the boundaries of the tight band of love mirage, sees them as without exceptionalism, without glamour? This is basically the theme of Seabury Quinn's strange tale of a witch in modern days, a witch whose charms are no less potent than those of her fearsome ancestors of Colonial days and yet whose spell is perhaps more to be desired than feared.
THE WIND tramped round and round the fieldstone walls of the clubhouse, muttering and moaning; seemingly it maundered threats and wailed pleas alternately. Rain sweated on the recessed windows, glazing them with black opacity until the mullioned panes gave back distorted mirrorings of the gunroom, vague and indistinct as oil paintings smeared with a rag before they had a chance to dry. In the eight foot fireplace beech and pine logs piled in alternating layers upon the hammered iron firedogs blazed a roaring holocaust and washed the freestone ﬂoor and adz-cut oaken beams of the ceiling with ruddy light. From the radio a bass voice bellowed lustily:
“Then all of days I'll sing the praise of brown October ale. . .”
Hurigan felt like a cat in a strange alley. Newly come to Washington as a member of the scientific staff of the Good Roads Bureau, he had permitted himself to be talked into joining the Izaak Walton Gun and Rod Club, being assured he would find some kindred spirits there. “None o' your dam' lily-fingered pen-pushers an' desk-hoppers there,” Jack Bellamy had told him. “They're men like you an' me, son. Two-fisted, hairy-chested sportsmen, capable o' handlin' liquor or an argument like gentlemen. Lawyers, bankers, doctors, scientists; not a Gov'ment clerk in a carload of 'em.”
Used to outdoor life and with some experience with both rod and gun. Harrigan had risen eagerly to the bait, but already he began to have his doubts. The station wagon from the club had met him at Vienna Junction, depositing him on the clubhouse porch little after five. Bellamy, whom he had expected to meet him, had not shown up; there was no one there he knew, and the members gathered in small cliques at dinner and in the gunroom afterward. No one but the white-jacketed colored waiter seemed
by Frank Owen
Frank Owen confides to us that he himself has never been in China, that his vision of China is a poetic dream of his own. And yet he has been told by Orientals themselves that he embodies the romance and dreams of a yellow empire, a romance that unfortunately too often is denied to those whose vision of Celestial Asia is limited to the hustle of a shouting Shanghai marketplace or a commercial Canton street.
“WE GIVE too little thought to the forces which control life.” As Kwoh Fan spoke, he lifted the delicate cup of jasmine-scented tea to his lips and sipped slowly of the lush warm beverage. As he did so he closed his eyes as though he were praying. Drinking tea is as fine an art as etching or engraving.
“The real forces of life,” he continued musingly, “though seen are not realized. They are composed of lights and shadows, colors, tones, harmonies, rhythms, perfumes and sweet music. Color, I believe, is one of the main props of existence. Plants derive their gorgeous colors from the solar spectrum, especially in the Orient. That is why yellow predominates in China. The yellow-golden skin of gorgeous China girls—what could be more superb? Or the sacred yellow robes of Buddhist priests. China is different from all other countries primarily because of the presence of this pungent color. It swirls over everything like a flood. It brings on drowsiness and lassitude. My people are yellow people steeped in yellow. If white or red predominated, the whole history of China would be different. Its very existence is directly traceable to color, which in turn goes directly to the sun.”
As Kwoh Fan paused, Coutts Cummings surveyed him meditatively. After all, to a great extent, life was a mystical puzzle. It was odd to be sitting in that room in a house so immense and magnificent it was a veritable palace, and to know that it stood in one of the most silent, least inhabited spots in China far beyond the Western Hills of Peking. Every luxury of the Occident and the Orient had been drawn into its building until it had almost become as famous and mystical as Kwoh Fan himself, Kwoh Fan, the philosopher, the dreamer, Kwoh Fan who was fanatical in his pursuit of loveliness. About his house lingered lovely Chinese serving girls,
by Nelson S. Bond
Nelson Bond, who made his start in the regular pulp magazines, rapidly graduated from that class to star his fine fantasies in the pages of the better popular magazines. Gifted with an easy, smooth narration, his themes may vary from trick inventions to hypothetical reconstructions of the beginning and end of man. In “Uncommon Castaway” he spins an anecdote of the recent war—an odd little adventure which might explain in modern terms one of the older mysteries of recorded lore.
HEED ye! 'Ware and repent, I cry, and woe to him who will not hear my warning! For verily I say unto you that the Day of Judgment neareth, when for your sins and your iniquities shall be visited upon you the fire and the sword of Those whose fury maketh the earth to tremble; yea, the very seas to burn!
They shooed us out of Alexandria when Rommel pressed past Mersa Matruh and down the long sandy highway that leads to Cairo. Shooed us, but fast. The Admiralty said there was nothing we could do but hide out in safe harbors until events disclosed whether Montgomery's plan for a last-ditch stand at a dot on the map called El Alamein was sound strategy or—as almost everyone feared—pure desperation.
The Old Man hated like blazes to run. When I handed him the order, he grunted and his teeth met through his pipe-stem. He didn't even swear. Which just proves how deeply he was moved, because the skipper is an educated man. He cusses fluently in six languages. At trifles.
But this was too big. He just shook his head and said, “Very good. Sparks. Carry on!” And turned and walked forward, very fast.
So the Grampus, under cover of a jet Egyptian night, slipped out to sea and safety. It was a strange leave-taking. The West Harbor was like a coalpit; even the lighthouse on Raset-Tin was blacked out. But the darkness was alive with sounds. The incessant wash of Mediterranean waters against the crags of Pharos … the high, flat notes of a bosun's key, piping-thin against the sigh of a westering breeze … the mute ripple of voices from ships that glided dimly past, cheerless as drifting wraiths. Gray sounds, angry sounds. The petulant farewell of vessels evacuating a harbor that had
by Ray Bradbury
Even when dealing with the perilously stereotyped modern interplanetary story, the devilish pen of Ray Bradbury achieves that originality of concept, that special spark of subtle pin-pricking that has made him outstanding. This story, thepen of Ray Bradbury achieves that originality of concept, the most near-to-believable stage wherein one lone man can have an entire world to himself … to himself and few disquieting dreams.
YOU DON'T WANT death and you don't expect death. Something goes wrong, your rocket tilts in space, a planetoid jumps up, blackness, movement, hands over the eyes, a violent pulling back of available power in the fore-jets, the crash…
The darkness. In the darkness, the senseless pain. In the pain, the nightmare.
He was not unconscious.
Your name? asked hidden voices. Sale, he replied in whirling nausea. Leonard Sale. Occupation, cried the voices. Spaceman! he cried, alone in the night. Welcome, said the voices. Welcome, welcome. They faded.
He stood up in the wreckage of his ship. It lay like a folded, tattered garment around him.
The sun rose and it was morning.
Sale pried himself out the small airlock and stood breathing the atmosphere. Luck. Sheer luck. The air was breathable. An instant's checking showed him that he had two months' supply of food with him. Fine, fine! And this—he fingered at the wreckage. Miracle of miracles! The radio was intact.
He stuttered out the message on the sending key. CRASHED ON PLANETOID 787. SALE. SEND HELP. SALE. SEND HELP.
The reply came instantly: HELLO, SALE. THIS IS ADDAMS IN MARSPORT. SENDING RESCUE SHIP LOGARITHM. WILL ARRIVE PLANETOID 787 IN SIX DAYS. HANG ON.
Sale did a little dance.
by John Michel and Robert Lowndes
The test of existence is the ability of a species to adapt itself to a changing environment. The first law of existence would seem to be therefore the ability of each type of creature to combat the obstacles of nature successfully. Humanity is as subject to this as any other creature. Our success so far has been due entirely to our ability to outfox both the normal and abnormal attacks of nature. The greatest detriment to our struggle for survival has become in the past century our tendency to self-destruction. In this arresting and grim story, there is projected a climax to this struggle for existence. “The Inheritors” is a novelette from one of the minor pulps but it has already been hailed as a “lost classic” by fans in the know.
A GREAT BARE plain, misty, grey vapours swirling in endless writhing strings. Horizons in shadow, dimmed, seemingly limited but stretching everywhere to nowhere. Small, jagged ridges covered with a green slime from which pale streamers arose in slow ascent to the invisible sky.
Silence. Heavy, thick, interwoven with the mists, a part of them. Silence, broken by footsteps, the sound of metal on rock.
A shape looming up out of the darkness, human, bulbous. A figure in grey metal with fantastic eyes of glass, metal-clad arms pumping up and down. Then for a few moments the monotonous click of his footsteps leading forward. To where?
“Hayward! Hayward! Why don't you answer? Where are you? Hayward!”
The cry pierced through nothing but the ether and was absorbed into silence. The figure who uttered it stopped and swung about. One metal-gloved hand clutched frantically at the face-plate of the gasproof suit's helmet.
A face within pressed against the glass, eyes popping, striving to spear through the impenetrable mists. Again the cry. The fumbling hands fell limp. The figure fell inert to the slimy floor of the endlessly stretching room. Its roof, the hidden sky, gave back no answer. But again.
“Tom, Tom, I'm lost. Tom, where are you? Where am I?”
by Francis Flagg
It is bad enough to have a fuse in one's home blow out and to stumble about in unfamiliar darkness trying to replace it. The feeling of helplessness that strikes when one tries to switch on electric lights and equipment and obtains no response is one that must have been shared at one time or another by everyone. Now suppose the entire world was short-circuited—every electric channel and source diverted to some unknown wastage; a blown-out fuse in every home, town, industry, railroad, and continent! Such is the stage setting for the opening scene in Francis Flagg's unusual and colorful tale.
THEY WHO LIVED during that terrible time will never forget it—twenty-five years ago, when the lights went out.
It was in 1956.
All over the world, in the same hour, and practically at the same minute, electrical machinery ceased to function.
The youth of today can hardly realize what a terrible disaster that was for the people of the middle Twentieth Century. England and America, as well as the major nations of Europe, had just finished electrifying their railroads and scrapping the ponderous steam engines which did duty on some lines up until as late as the summer of 1954. A practical method of harnessing the tides and using their energy to develop electricity, coupled with the building of dams and the generating of cheap power through the labor of rushing rivers and giant waterfalls, and the invention of a device for broadcasting it by wireless as cheaply as it was generated, had hastened this electrification. The perfection of a new vacuum tube by the General Electric Company at Schenectady, in the United States, had made gas economically undesirable. The new method, by which it was possible to relay heat for all purposes at one-third the cost of illuminating gas, swept the various gas companies into oblivion. Even the steamers which plied the seven seas, and the giant planes that soared the air, received the power that turned their propellers, warmed their cabins and cooked their foods, in much the same fashion as did the factories, the railroads, and the private homes and the hotels ashore. Therefore when electricity ceased to
The Publishers of the Avon Fantasy Reader
Call Your Attention to
Selected from AVON'S Hundreds
of Better-selling Titles
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|One of the finest interplanetary novels ever written.|
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|Eleven great horror stories by a modern Poe.|
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|THE GIRL WITH THE HUNGRY EYES||Anthology|
|New fantasy stories by Leiber, Long, Wellman, Tenn, Miller, and Grendon.|
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|The mystery of the East makes aa unholy pact with the science of the West!|
|TERROR AT NIGHT||Anthology|
|Great fantasy stories by Dunsany, Wakefield, Lovecraft, Bierce, etc.|
|A powerful tale of a superman's struggle for world mastery.|
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AVON FANTASY READERS
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|If you've missed any of the previous numbers, you will be pleased to know that there are a limited number o! copies still available. They may not be obtainable long, and you are urged to take advantage of this opportunity to acquire these fascinating numbers:|
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|No. 3. (Merritt, Lovecraft, Moore, Bradbury, Grendon, etc.)|
|No. 4. (Bond, Miller, Dunsany, Van Vogt, Smith, etc.)|
|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.)|
|No. 9. (Kline, Hodgson, Wandrei, Miller, Leiber, etc.)|
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|* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *|
WITCHERY AND THRILLS
|The use of siren spells and love charms to win endearment and riches continues to attract the mind and heart of modern men and women. 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 the 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.
THE AVON FANTASY READER
|is the only regularly appearing imaginative anthology in America which brings to the public, at a price everyone can afford, stories hitherto available only at great cost and effort. In its pages have appeared and will appear such masters of weird fantasy and science-fiction as:|
|NELSON BOND||ROBERT E. HOWARD|
|FRITZ LEIBER, JR.||SEABURY QUINN|
|FRANCIS FLAGG||H. P. LOVECRAFT|
|MILES J. BREUER||RAY BRADBURY|
AND MANY OTHERS
|Every name is a guarantee of the best stories of their kind available.|
Ask for the
AVON FANTASY READER
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