Friday, June 29, 2012

Weird Tales Books

The Avon Fantasy Reader edited by Donald A. Wollheim and George Ernsberger

During the late 1960s and early 70s, Americans looked back with nostalgia upon the years of the Great Depression. Bonnie and Clyde (1967), The Sting (1973), Paper Moon (1973), Chinatown (1974), and The Fortune (1975), all set in the 1920s and '30s, played at the movies. On television, you could watch The Waltons, and on the radio, you could listen to music inspired by the great bluesmen of an earlier era. Captain Marvel, The Invaders, and The Shadow returned to comic books. And readers of pulp fiction thrilled to old adventures reprinted in paperback form. A two-book series, The Avon Fantasy Reader, even revived the title of an earlier reprint series from 1946 to 1952 (or 1947 to 1951 according to George Ernsberger). The original series ran for eighteen issues and reprinted stories from the great fantasists of the pulp fiction era. They included H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, C.L. Moore, Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, Jr., Ray Bradbury, and Nictzin Dyalhis. The revived Avon Fantasy Reader, from 1969, ran to two volumes in more or less the same format. Both were edited by George Ernsberger with stories drawn from the original series edited by Donald A. Wollheim (1914-1990). Both also featured full-color cover art in the old style by Gray Morrow. The first volume holds seven stories, four from the magazine Weird Tales.

The Avon Fantasy Reader edited by Donald A. Wollheim and George Ernsberger
(Avon Books, 1969, 173 pp.)
Foreword by George Ernsberger
"The Witch from Hell's Kitchen" by Robert E. Howard (Avon Fantasy Reader #18, Mar. 1952)
"Black Thirst" by C.L. Moore (Weird Tales, Apr. 1934)
"A Victim of Higher Space" by Algernon Blackwood (Day and Night Stories, 1917)
"The Sapphire Siren" (Weird Tales, Feb. 1934, as "The Sapphire Goddess")
"A Voice in the Night" by William Hope Hodgson (The Blue Book Magazine, Nov. 1907)
"The Crawling Horror" by Thorp McClusky (Weird Tales, Nov. 1936)
"The Kelpie" by Manly Wade Wellman (Weird Tales, July 1936)

The Avon Fantasy Reader (1969) with cover art by Gray Morrow.
Text copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

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