Page:Weird Tales volume 31 number 02.djvu/126

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Impressive Illustrations

J. Vernon Shea, Jr., writes from Pittsburgh: "The most impressive thing about the December issue is the Virgil Finlay illustrations. The one for The Black Stone Statue is one of his best, an especially shuddery thing; and I applaud his new series of illustrations from famous poems, which answers my request for illustrations outside the magazine proper. Of the stories, I liked best Mary Elizabeth Counselman's The Black Stone Statue, although it left open a number of questions: how did the thing ear, if everything it touched Midas-like turned to stone? How did it mate? I was very glad to see Donald Wandrei appear once more, with his genuinely eery Uneasy Lie the Drowned, and hope he will be represented soon again. The recent experiments in extra-sensory perception conducted at Duke University lent especial interest to Claude Farrère's odd little story. Edmond Hamilton departed for once from his formula, and Child of Atlantis is one of his best stories."


Professor T. O. Mabbott writes from New York City: "December–A grand issue–The Sea-Witch best, Polaris notable, and The Keen Eyes of Kara Kèdi a real masterpiece. Seabury Quinn is a master of technique, but the Flames was not up to his standard, as I found the natural part of the story too hard to believe. My passion in a weird tale is credibility, when one is reading it. There are things that are purely supernatural and must be taken as such, there are other things physically possible but unlikely to happen, and there is a third kind of impossibility, where dimension enters in. The last two are dangerous, as they arouse an unbelieving mood, and so put one out of the acceptance of the frankly supernatural. So I wished the curtain had only been put back yearly in the Black Pharaoh, because a foot a day for some thousand years is too many miles to walk in an evening. The priest could have called the last night of the year, or the day for moving been fixed by the stars. But the Black Pharaoh is a fine tale. Child of Atlantis and The Black Stone Statue however are completely worked out, nothing incredible in the way: the same is true for Laocoon. One word of defense for the incredulous attitude of Doctor Trowbridge; it is a convention for the narrator to be a person to whom things must be explained, as they have to be told to the reader. In a series it tires the old reader, but a writer has to keep his work intelligible to the reader who begins in the middle of a series. Suter's end to the Abyss also seemed to me justified, for even if it did not involve really supernatural things, it did take us into the world of the half-conscious and delirious mind, which is the first step into the weird, as telepathy is the second, though neither is magic or ghostly."


Gertrude Hemken writes from Chicago: "Wow! Wotta nude by Finlay! Honestly, she looks almost real 'ceptin' her nose ends almost too sharply. Coming along with Finlay, I'm sure it will be interesting to see his full page pictures–particularly Poe's Raven and The Skeleton in Armor, which poem ranks among my favorites. May I suggest one of my other favorites–which I have mentioned in a previous letter. Goethe's Erl-King. Or is he too vague a character? The Sea-Witch is as strange and romantic as the author's name. Never have I read a tale so pleasing–somehow this Heldra Helstrom calls to mind that lovely tale of Fouqué and its heroine Undine. Water people–Norse legends–it's all so fascinating and seems so true, just as a dream seems true to its dreamer. It's a story to be remembered a long, long time, and I will keep it in my mind's library along with sagas, myths, legends and folklore. This is the top story in the December issue, and ranks above the others from many issues back. Robert Bloch really has something with his Black Pharaoh's prophecy–can it be that any one man can foresee what is to come for thousands upon thousands of years? It's a question for meditation. The Black Stone Statue had a Medusa tinge to it, although so very different. I rather liked it. Second best yarn was Quinn's Flames of Vengeance. Somehow the author seemed to deviate from the stilted pattern into which he was falling–and I am quite glad of it. This differed from narsty ghosts and sperrits–this was Hindoo magic–about which there is such a mystery and which seems to remain unexplained through the ages. Well, Mr. Hamilton: Although I don't like robots and superior intelligences (if such word there be), Child of Atlantis proved interesting–