Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Topics for a Summer Night-Part One

Yes, I admit, this is supposed to be a blog about Weird Tales magazine and the men and women who contributed to it over the last near-century. It's not really supposed to be about Star Wars or Star Trek, and it's definitely not supposed to be about a creepy FBI agent, who is, by the way, so very disgusting that writing about him the other day has left a really bad taste in my mouth. I for one don't like the sensation. I hope that I haven't disgusted you too much by putting him before you. If I have, I'm sorry. In any case, I'll bring that unsavory topic to a close by observing that the agent in question is a good example of what happens when you give small men outsized power.

I've gotten around the narrow focus on Weird Tales by changing the blurb you see on your right. In case you haven't noticed, it now reads:
Welcome to Tellers of Weird Tales, an online compendium of the men and women, writers and artists, stories and ideas that appeared in Weird Tales and other weird fiction and science fiction magazines of the pulp era. [Emphasis added.]
Pretty sneaky, huh? Even that wider focus doesn't include Star Wars and Star Trek, though, unless I do a little dodging and weaving. After all, both franchises have their roots in far older forms and genres. For example, "When the Green Star Waned" by Nictzin Dyalhis, first published in Weird Tales in April 1925, with its fearless crew and their rescue of a planet, could easily be adapted to an episode of Star Trek. (And isn't a phaser really just a blastor?) For another example, the creators of the original series drew from magazine science fiction for many of their concepts, plots, and story ideas, including those depicted in the episodes "Operation: Annihilate" and "The Trouble with Tribbles," both from 1967. In the former, there are flying pancakes that attach themselves to people's backs and tap into their nervous systems, just as in The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein, serialized in Galaxy Science Fiction in 1951. (Basil Wolverton used the same concept in his weird and brilliant science fiction story "The Brain-Bats of Venus," published in Mr. Mystery #7 in 1952.) In the latter appear little furry creatures like the flat cats in Heinlein's novel The Rolling Stones, originally in Boys' Life in 1952. Now I'll stretch really, really far and point out that Robert A. Heinlein contributed to Weird Tales in the 1940s. As for Star Wars, I think I have already traced the descent (shakily or not) of Han Solo through Leigh Brackett's Eric John Stark to Northwest Smith, created by C.L. Moore for the 1930s Weird Tales. I should point out here that Robert Heinlein was also inspired by C.L. Moore in the title of his story "The Green Hills of Earth" (The Saturday Evening Post, Feb. 8, 1947), based on a song of the same name from "Shambleau" (Weird Tales, Nov. 1933). And could Ernest Hemingway have been inspired by C.L. Moore as well? After all, his book Green Hills of Africa was published in 1935, after Northwest Smith had hummed his little song . . . nah, couldn't be.

So I can try to justify writing about Star Wars and Star Trek with that kind of logic, but I really only need one bit of logic: this is my blog and I can write about whatever I want. And what I want to write about next is Brazilian culture.

To be continued . . . 

In the category of "They Should Have Been in Weird Tales," there is Basil Wolverton. I can't lay my hands on one of my favorite panels by him, so this one will do, but when it comes to Wolverton, any panel will do. He was inimitable--irreplaceable. His kind, of which there was only one, will never be seen again. (I have to ask, though, was he influenced by Matt Fox of Weird Tales?)

Text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

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