Friday, December 19, 2014

A.J. Mordtmann (1839-1912)

August Justus Mordtmann
Aka Dr. Eisenhart, R.A. Guthmann, N.N. Guthmann, R. von A. Duroy-Warnatz (1)
Civil Servant, Journalist, Editor, Author, Classical Scholar
Born February 27, 1839, Hamburg, Germany
Died April 30, 1912, Darmstadt, Germany

August Justus Mordtmann was a German author, editor, and journalist born in Hamburg on February 27, 1839. He was the son of Andreas David Mordtmann (1811-1879), a teacher, diplomat, and Orientalist, and the brother of Andreas David Mordtmann II (1837-?), an author and historian, and Johann Heinrich Mordtmann (1852-1932), who, like his father, was a diplomat and Orientalist.

August J. Mordtmann received his education in Anklam and at the famed Johanneum school in Hamburg. (2) He then went to work in the customs and tax office (Zoll- und Akziſe-Deputation), then in the post office, all in his native city. Mordtmann served during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 and did not begin his career as a writer and editor until 1881.

Mordtmann was a friend of the German teacher, writer, and journalist Ernst Otto Hopp (1841-1910). Hopp edited Deutschen (Schorerschen) Familienblatt (translated as Family Blade or Family Paper) beginning in 1881 and founded the weekly Echo in 1882. Mordtmann was an editor with the Familienblatt in 1882-1883 and worked on Echo with Hopp. Mordtmann also edited Görlitzer Nachrichten (Görlitzer News) from 1883 to 1888 and was editor-in-chief of Münchner Neuesten Nachrichten (Münchner Latest News), in Munich, until 1902.

August Justus Mordtmann is little known today, but he was a prolific author. His works include the following: Aus zwei Welten (From Two Worlds, 1882), Das Goldene Vliess (The Golden Fleece, 1883), Märchenprinzessin (Fairy Princess, 1890), Der Untergang der Hibernia (The Sinking of the Hibernia, 1891), Kronjuwelen (Crown Jewels, 1892), Belladonna (1893), Max Ingram (1894), Der Vagabund (The VagabondThe Rover, or The Tramp, 1895), Sneewittchen (Snow White1896), Schlangenring (Snake Ring, 1898), Familienschmuck (Family Jewels, 1899), Die Insel Zipangu (The Island Cipangu, 1899, illustrated by Hugo L. Braune), Albumblatt (Album Leaf, Sheet, or Page, 1900), Die Abrechnung mit England (The Settlement with England, 1900), Sonnige Tage (Sunny Day, 1901), Perlen der Adhermiducht (Pearls of Adhermiducht, 1902 and 1905), Leukothea (1903), Konigin von Golkonda (Queen of Golconda, 1906), Jasillü-Tasch, Zacharula: Zwei Geschichten vom "Golden Horn" (Jasillü-Tasch, Zacharula: Two Tales from "Golden Horn", 1908), Pfingsten (Pentecost, 1909), Violanta (1911), Aus tiefer Not (From Great Distress, 1922), Eine halbe Stunde (Half an Hour), and Pater Unselm (3). Mordtmann also wrote the libretto for the operetta Der Fürst von Sevilla (The Prince of Seville, 1889) and may also have written works of history or geography.

Mordtmann wrote one story in Weird Tales. It is called "The Ship That Committed Suicide," and it appeared in the issue for March 1936. I am fairly certain that the translator was Roy Temple House, who had written a brief review of a German-language collection of ghost stories some years before and who was a regular translator of European stories for Weird Tales. The collection of German ghost stories about which he wrote is called Der Untergang der Carnatic: Spukgeschichten (The Sinking of the Carnatic: Ghost Stories), and it was published in 1927 by Deutsche-Dichter-Gedächtnis-Stiftung of Hamburg. The title story, "Der Untergang der Carnatic," is the work of A.J. Mordtmann and was almost certainly the basis for Roy Temple House's translation for Weird Tales. In his review, published in Books Abroad in January 1929, House called Mordtmann's tale the most realistic of all to appear in the collection. "There are also shudderers by the Grimms, Wilhelm Hauff, Friedrich Gerstäcker, Paul Heyse, and Heinrich Zschokke," wrote House. The illustrations were by A. Paul Weber, and I believe Benno Diederich also contributed to the collection, perhaps as editor or the author of an introduction.

The story "Der Untergang der Carnatic" is an episode in a longer work by A.J. Mordtmann, Die Perlen der Adhermiducht, which was originally published in the magazine Deutschen Romanbibliothek (German Novel Library) in 1902, then published in hardback in 1905. I will quote from Axel Weiss:
Die Perlen der Adhermiducht is an epistolary novel consisting mainly of letters one Lydia Thompson receives from several admirers. A central part of the story is the adventurous hunt for the pearl necklace of the Adhermiducht. (In the book "Adhermiducht" is the name of a princess of the Sassanids). In the end it is revealed that most of these adventures are simply made up to impress the lady--so is the tale of the sinking of the Carnatic.
In his study of ghost stories, Von Gespenstergeschichten, ihrer Technik und ihrer Literatur (On Ghost Stories, Their Art and Their Literature, Leipzig: Schmidt & Spring, 1903), Dr. Benno Diederich described Deutschen Romanbibliothek as having an inclination for telling stories with a spooky atmosphere, and German adventure stories as being less grotesque than their English counterparts. Dr. Diederich gave "Der Untergang der Carnatic" as an example. The title by the way translates as "The Sinking of the Carnatic." Axel Weiss describes it as "a ghostship-story taking place in the Antarctic region." The SS Carnatic was a real ship that foundered in the mouth of the Gulf of Suez in 1869. In addition to Mordtmann's story, the ship is mentioned in Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (1872).

August Justus Mordtmann died on April 30, 1912, at age seventy-three. I have found out about him only recently after hearing from Axel Weiss, the editor and layout designer for the German magazine Cthulhu Libria and the co-host of a podcast called Arkham Insiders. (Click on the titles for links.) Mr. Weiss wrote to me regarding A.J. Mordtmann because he would like to read the English translation of "The Ship That Committed Suicide" from Weird Tales. I don't have a collection of Weird Tales myself, so I ask:
Can anyone provide Axel Weiss with a copy or scan of "The Ship That Committed Suicide" by A.J. Mordtmann, from Weird Tales, March 1936?
If so, please contact me and I will put you in touch with him, or I will forward your reply to him.

Now, on to two issues that have come up in this article.

First, "Der Untergang der Carnatic" is an episode from Die Perlen der Adhermiducht, a story originally published in the magazine Deutschen Romanbibliothek in 1902. According to Dr. Benno Diederich, Deutschen Romanbibliothek had an inclination for telling stories with a spooky atmosphere. I don't know what kind of magazine it was. I have found only five references to that title on the Internet, and all are in German--and in Fraktur script! Der Orchideengarten: Phantastische Blätter (The Orchid Garden: Fantastic Leaves, 1919), a German title, is supposed to have been the first magazine in the world devoted to literature of the fantastic. Could Deutschen Romanbibliothek have been a forerunner? Or was Deutschen Romanbibliothek itself the first magazine of that type? Axel Weiss provides an answer:
Deutsche Romanbibliothek was a weekly magazine comparable to Charles DickensAll the Year Round (1859-1895). Die Perlen der Adhermiducht was printed throughout the thirtieth volume (1902). The magazine was not exactly specialized in uncanny tales but hosted a broad range of romantic, adventurous, and humorous novels and poems. Most of its authors are now forgotten (so is the magazine itself); among those who won a little bit of fame was Eva von Baudissin (1869-1943).
So if Der Orchideengarten: Phantastische Blätter is comparable to Weird Tales, perhaps Deutsche Romanbibliothek was like The Black Cat or The Argosy, which printed a variety of genres, including adventure and fantasy.

Second, "Der Untergang der Carnatic" was reprinted in the book Der Untergang der Carnatic: Spukgeschichten (Hamburg, 1927). The other authors in that book are the Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm Hauff, Friedrich Gerstäcker, Paul Heyse, and Heinrich Zschokke. A. Paul Weber was the illustrator. Farnsworth Wright, editor of Weird Tales, had previously used the book Modern Ghosts (1890) as a source of stories from the Old World. It's nice to think that he could have used Der Untergang der Carnatic: Spukgeschichten for yet more stories, translated of course by Roy Temple House. Instead, Weird Tales reprinted Mordtmann's tale and just one story by Wilhelm Hauff, "The Severed Hand," from October 1925. ("The Severed Hand" is not from Der Untergang der Carnatic: Spukgeschichten--see the list of contents below.) So who were those other authors, the illustrator, A. Paul Weber, and the contributor, Dr. Benno Diederich? First a list of their stories, then a few facts about each.

Der Untergang der Carnatic: Spukgeschichten (Hamburg, 1927)
Illustrated by A. Paul Weber
"Märchen von einem, der auszog, das Fürchten zu lernen" ("The Story of a Youth Who Went Forth to Learn about Fear") by Brüder Grimm
"Die Höhle von Steenfoll" ("The Cave of Steenfoll") by Wilhelm Hauff
"Das rote Haus" ("The Red House") by Friedrich Gerstäcker
"Germelshausen" by Friedrich Gerstäcker
"Die schöne Abigail" ("The Beautiful Abigail") by Paul Heyse
"Der Untergang der Carnatic" ("The Sinking of the Carnatic") by A.J. Mordtmann
"Die Nacht in Brezwewmeisl" ("Night in Brezwewmeisl") by Heinrich Zschokke

The Brothers Grimm--Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859), together the Brothers Grimm, are among the most famous storytellers of all time. You can read more about them on your own.
Wilhelm Hauff (1802-1827)--You can read more about Wilhelm Hauff in my posting "Weird Tales from Germany and Austria," here.
Friedrich Gerstäcker (1816-1872)--A traveler, adventurer, travel writer, novelist, and oddly enough honorary citizen of Arkansas, Friedrich Gerstäcker wrote the story "Germelshausen," upon which the Broadway musical Brigadoon (1947) may or may not have been based.  
Paul Heyse (1830-1914)--Paul Heyse wrote novels, short stories, poems, and plays and for his work was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1910.
August Justus Mordtmann (1839-1912)--His biography is here in front of you.
Heinrich Zschokke (1771-1848)--Heinrich Zschokke was a novelist, playwright, historian, journalist, teacher, and civil servant. He spent most of his life in Switzerland.
A. Paul Weber (1893-1980)--Commercial artist, illustrator, lithographer, and painter Andreas Paul Weber was an artist whose work can be called weird without hesitation, but it also has a political dimension. There is information on him all over the Internet, including on the website of the A. Paul Weber Museum, here.
Dr. Benno Diederich (1870-1947)--Benno Diederich was a teacher, scholar, philologist, author, and biographer. Among his works is the aforementioned Von Gespenstergeschichten, ihrer Technik und ihrer Literatur (1903) and a biography of Alphonse Daudet. Diederich's daughter was the painter, illustrator, writer, and stage designer Ursula Schuh (1908-1993). I will quote Axel Weiss once again:
Benno Diederich is indeed the man who saved Mordtmann's ghost ship tale from ruin. [H]e featured it in Von Gespenstergeschichten, ihrer Technik und ihrer Literatur in 1903 and once again in Der Untergang der Carnatic: Spukgeschichten (1927). But there is one more title to mention where it has been collected: Das Buch der seltsamen Geschichten (The Book of Strange Tales), an anthology published by Norbert Falk in 1914. Since 1945 "Der Untergang der Carnatic" has been reprinted seven times in Germany; finally it appeared as a recording on the audiobook CD Das Geisterschiff (The Ghost Ship) in 2004.
Of all the authors listed here, only August Justus Mordtmann is unrepresented on the Internet by an original work of biography. I hope I have done my part in correcting that oversight. I would like to acknowledge the great contribution of Axel Weiss and to thank him for giving me a start on August Justus Mordtmann.

This is probably my last entry on Tellers of Weird Tales for 2014. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

A.J. Mordtmann's Story in Weird Tales
"The Ship That Committed Suicide" (Mar. 1936)

Further Reading
Gespenstergeschichten, ihrer Technik und ihrer Literatur by Dr. Benno Diederich (Leipzig: Schmidt & Spring, 1903), p. 176+.
Deutschlands, Österreich-Ungarns und der Schweiz Gelehrte, Künstler und Schriftsteller in Wort und Bild (Leipzig, 1908), p. 321.
Lexikon der deutschen Dichter und Prosaisten vom Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts bis zur Gegenwart, Volumes 5 and 6 (?), by Franz Brümmer (Leipzig, 1913), p. 27.
Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie, [Volume] 7: Menghin-Potel, by Walter de Gruyter (Munchen: K.G. Saur, 2007), p. 189.

(1) Mordtmann apparently also wrote under a pseudonym which is some variation of the name for a traditional Turkish storyteller, Hodscha Nasreddin.
(2) The character Otto Lidenbrock from Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864) is a professor at the Johanneum, the first of two references to Verne's work you will find in this article.
(3) I have transcribed this list from sources printed in German Fraktur script. I'm not sure that I have translated them or certain other words or phrases correctly from Fraktur to a modern typeface. My task is complicated by the fact that I know only a few words in German and nothing at all about German grammar. The list is from Deutschlands, Österreich-Ungarns und der Schweiz Gelehrte, Künstler und Schriftsteller in Wort und Bild (Leipzig, 1908), found on the Internet by clicking here, and from Lexikon der deutschen Dichter und Prosaisten vom Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts bis zur Gegenwart by Franz Brümmer (Leipzig, 1913), found by clicking here. I invite corrections, comments, and additions.

Die Perlen der Adhermiducht by A.J. Mordtmann, serialized in Deutsche Romanbibliothek in 1902. The script is Fraktur, not easy for our American eyes. Translating it takes two translations: from Fraktur to a modern typeface, then from German into English. In my original article (from Dec. 19), I made a few mistakes. Axel Weiss has offered corrections, and I have included them in my revision of today, December 20.
Das Buch der seltsamen Geschichten (The Book of Strange Tales, Berlin: Ullstein and Company, 1914), in which "Der Untergang der Carnatic" appeared. The editor was Norbert Falk.
Mordtmann's story appeared once again as the title story in Der Untergang der Carnatic: Spukgeschichten (Hamburg, 1927).
Die Insel Zipangu (The Island Cipangu, 1899) by A.J. Mordtmann, illustrated by Hugo L. Braune.
Aus tiefer Not (From Great Distress, 1922) by A.J. Mordtmann, published posthumously. Axel Weiss provided this image, as well as the first and second images shown above.

A postage stamp showing the work of A. Paul Weber, illustrator of Der Untergang der Carnatic: Spukgeschichten.

Revised December 20 & 21, 2014.
Many thanks to Axel Weiss.
Text and captions copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley
Axel Weiss' comments are copyright 2014, 2021 Axel Weiss.

Reading the Pulps

Here's an advertisement from Country Gentleman, February 1948. The cartoonist was Hank Ketcham (1920-2001), later of Dennis the Menace fame (or infamy, depending on what you think of Dennis the Menace). Reading is definitely good for you, and there's nothing wrong with reading horror tales. Reading horror tales at 3 o'clock in the morning might not be good for you however, especially if you have to get up at six.

Caption copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Skulls and Skeletons on the Cover of Weird Tales

You can make a case that the literature of fear is based on a fear of death.* The ghosts and monsters of literature are usually one of two kinds: 1) the undead, or 2) the predator, which threatens death. The undead are represented by ghosts, vampires, zombies, and even Frankenstein's monster, all of whom have returned from the grave. The simplest way of showing the undead is to show the human skull or skeleton--an effective way of invoking fear and dread. I have counted seventeen covers of Weird Tales with skulls and skeletons. Ben in Seattle--see the comment at the end of this posting--has found two more, and I have added them now, December 3, 2018, four years almost to the day after my original entry. In some of these covers, the skull is a motif. In others, it or the skeleton is a kind of monster. 

*In his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature," H.P. Lovecraft famously wrote that "the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." I won't quibble: fear of death and fear of the unknown may be the same thing.

Weird Tales, November 1929. Cover story: "The Gray Killer" by Everil Worrell. Cover art by C.C. Senf.

Weird Tales, August 1932. Cover story: "Bride of the Peacock" by E. Hoffman Price. Cover art by T. Wyatt Nelson. The monster here isn't quite a skeleton, but he's skeletal enough to qualify in this category.

Weird Tales, November 1933. Cover story: None. Cover art by Margaret Brundage.

Weird Tales, February 1937. Cover story: "The Globe of Memories" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Virgil Finlay. The male figure is almost certainly a self-portrait of the artist. The woman doesn't seem to be very afraid at all.

Weird Tales, December 1935. Cover story: "The Hour of the Dragon" by Robert E. Howard. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. As Ben in Seattle points out in his comment, the skull here seems to be gnawing on Conan's shinbone. The reason has not yet been explained by science.

Weird Tales, March 1938. Cover story: "Incense of Abomination" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. The skull reminds me of a smoking monkey on the Fourth of July. By the way, the opposite end of the tendril of smoke is a hand--a reaching hand--thus this cover also belongs in the category "Reaching Hands," from April 15, 2014.

Weird Tales, October 1939. Cover story: None (?). Cover art by Harold S. De Lay. According to Jaffery and Cook's index, there isn't a cover story for this issue of Weird Tales. Can anyone say different? (There are more question marks below.)

Weird Tales, November 1941. Cover story: "The Book of the Dead" by Frank Gruber. Cover art by Hannes Bok. There may not have been a Weird Tales cover that captured the spirit of its age more than this one.

Weird Tales, September 1942, Canadian edition. Cover story: Unknown. Cover art by Unknown.

Weird Tales, July 1944. Cover story: "Death's Bookkeeper" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by A.R. Tilburne. The title echoes that of Frank Gruber's story from three years before. Bok's image is clearly more powerful and compelling.

Weird Tales, January 1945, Canadian edition. Cover story: "The Shadow Folk" (?) by Edmond Hamilton. Cover art by Unknown.

Weird Tales, November 1945. Cover story: "The Cranberry Goblet" by Harold Lawler. Cover art by Lee Brown Coye.

Weird Tales, January 1946. Cover story: "Kurban" (?) by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by A.R. Tilburne.

Weird Tales, March 1948. Cover story: None. Cover art by Lee Brown Coye.

Weird Tales, September 1949. Cover story: "One Foot and the Grave" (?) by Theodore Sturgeon. Cover art by Michael Labonski. Cubism and surrealism come to Weird Tales.

Weird Tales, January 1951. Cover story: "The Hand of Saint Ury" by Gordon MacCreagh. Cover art by Charles A. Kennedy. I have included this image here not so much for the hand as for the skulls that form the woman's pupils. A late addition, December 3, 2018.

Weird Tales, September 1951. Cover story: "Gimlet Eye Gunn" by H. Bedford-Jones. Cover art by Lee Brown Coye.

Weird Tales, November 1952. Cover story: None (?). Cover art by Anthony di Giannurio.

Weird Tales, March 1954. Cover story: None (?). Cover art by Evan Singer, his one and only cover for the magazine.

Here is a bonus, suggested by Ben in Seattle, Virgil Finlay's illustration for "Loot of the Vampire" by Thorp McClusky, from Weird Tales, July 1936, page 61.

Updated December 3, 2018. Thanks to Ben in Seattle for suggestions.
Text and captions copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ghosts on the Cover of Weird Tales

I count a dozen ghost covers for Weird Tales. Most of these images are conventional to the point of cliché. The exception is the last, by Virgil Finlay, illustrating one of few poems to make it to the cover of "The Unique Magazine."

Weird Tales, November 1923. Cover story: "The Closed Room" by Maybelle McCalment. Cover art by Washburn, the only Weird Tales cover by an otherwise unknown artist.

Weird Tales, January 1924. Cover story: None (?). Cover art by R.M. Mally.

Weird Tales, April 1924. Cover story: "The Spirit Lover" by Harry Houdini. Cover art by R.M. Mally. I don't want to give away too much, but he only looks like a ghost.

Weird Tales, June 1927. Cover story: "A Suitor from the Shades" by Greye La Spina. Cover art by C.C. Senf. There aren't many Weird Tales covers less scary than this one. The female figure is well done, though, as can be expected of Senf. 

Weird Tales, November 1940. Cover story: "The Last Waltz" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Margaret Brundage. A non-typical cover by Margaret Brundage.

Weird Tales, July 1943. Cover story: "His Last Appearance" by H. Bedford-Jones. Cover art by Edgar Franklin Wittmack. The man looks a little like Ernie Pyle.

Weird Tales, May 1945, Canadian edition. Cover story: "Bon Voyage, Michele" by Seabury Quinn. Cover art by Unknown. This image also appears in my posting "Woman and Wolf."

Weird Tales, September 1945. Cover story: "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade" by Robert Bloch. Cover art by Peter Kuhlhoff. I assume the headless figure is a ghost, although he looks pretty solid.

Weird Tales, May 1948. Cover story: None (?). Cover art by Matt Fox. How fortunate that Weird Tales discovered Matt Fox during the 1940s. If only he could have found more work in pulps and comics.

Weird Tales, September 1950. Cover story: "Legal Rites" by Isaac Asimov and James MacCreagh (Frederik Pohl). Cover art by Bill Wayne. The man on the right looks like it he could be the co-author, Isaac Asimov. And are those newspaper comics in the lower right corner?  

Weird Tales, March 1951. Cover story: "A Black Solitude" by H. Russell Wakefield. Cover art by Bill Wayne. These two covers are Bill Wayne's only covers for Weird Tales.

Weird Tales, September 1952. Cover poem: "Hallowe'en in a Suburb" by H.P. Lovecraft. Cover art by Virgil Finlay, his last original cover in the original run of Weird Tales.

Text and captions copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Asimov on Weird Tales and Other Topics

Forty years have gone by since Doubleday published Before the Golden Age: A Science Fiction Anthology of the 1930s, edited by Isaac Asimov. Fans of Weird Tales might not care very much for what Asimov had to say about "The Unique Magazine":
During the 1930s, there were fantasy magazines of a kind on the market. One was Weird Tales, which was actually older by a couple of years than Amazing Stories itself. Its stories were reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe and were fearfully overwritten. The author most typical of Weird Tales was H.P. Lovecraft, whose style revolted me. [p. 675]
Nevertheless, in collaboration with Frederik Pohl (writing as James MacCreigh), Isaac Asimov contributed to Weird Tales in September 1950. Their story was called "Legal Rites."


Asimov didn't care much for Charles Fort either. Here are his comments on Fort's work:
You see, every once in a while a science fiction magazine would run a non-fiction piece that dealt with some subject the editor conceived to be of interest to science fiction readers [. . . .] Astounding Stories, for instance, published Lo! a book by Charles Fort, in eight installments beginning with the April 1934 issue. It irritated the devil out of me, since to me it seemed to be an incoherent mass of quotations from newspapers out of which ridiculous conclusions were drawn. [p. 815]
Asimov would have been just fourteen years old when Astounding Stories ran those installments in 1934, but he was already leaning towards a career in science. Fort was of course a gadfly of science and scientists--and a favorite of Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright and his stable of authors.


Presumably, Isaac Asimov drew a line between science fiction and fantasy. August Derleth erased that line in his introduction to Portals of Tomorrow: The Best Tales of Science Fiction and Other Fantasy (Rinehart and Company, 1954) when he wrote:
The development toward more orthodox fantasy in what is called science fiction only demonstrates what every intelligent reader, whose awareness goes beyond the limited field of fantasy, has always known: that science fiction is only another form of fantasy, and not a genre in its own right. [p. x]
August Derleth was an disciple of H.P. Lovecraft and a very prolific contributor to Weird Tales. I wonder what Asimov might have said had he observed the good comte sticking his knife in with this: "science fiction is only another form of fantasy," and twisting it with this: "[science fiction] is not a genre in its own right." By the way, Asimov is not included in Derleth's anthology, though Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, and Murray Leinster--all contributors to Weird Tales--are.


Speaking of Ray Bradbury, Derleth, in his introduction, quoted from a review of a collection by Bradbury. The quote is by Graham Hough of the London Listener:
Some [of Bradbury's] stories are of magic, some are not supernatural, some of the stories are sociological parables . . . but their morals are always on the side of life and humanity. [The ellipses are as printed in Derleth's introduction, p. x.]
That's a clumsy sentence; my point here is to emphasize that last clause: "but their morals are always on the side of life and humanity." Contrast that with so much in our culture, more specifically in our science fiction, that is against life and humanity.

Portals of Tomorrow (1954) with a cover design by Fiorello and Marmaras.

Original text copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, December 1, 2014

More Troubles for Science Fiction

Within the past week or so, I have read that science fiction is struggling with political correctness. Evidently the controversy has been going on for a while, but it seems to have come to a head earlier this year. I'm not up to date on these things. I don't fully understand the controversy. If you want to read more, you can do a simple search on the Internet. All I can say is that political correctness is fatal in art and that if science fiction crosses over into political correctness, that will surely be its end. Finally, we should remember that political correctness is a Leftist or Statist--in other words, totalitarian--practice. In one form or another, it made its way into science fiction as thought crime, from the novel 1984. You would think science fiction writers as well as anyone would understand its dangers.

1984 by George Orwell. Cover art by Alan Harmon.

Copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Weird Tales in Futures Past Magazine

Writer and publisher Jim Emerson has begun publishing an online magazine called Futures Past: A Visual History of Science Fiction. His plan is to cover fifty years of science fiction beginning in 1926 with the publication of the first American science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, and ending with the year 1975. The first issue, subtitled "1926: The Birth of Modern Science Fiction," is now available for purchase at the Futures Past website:

One of the highlights of the first issue is a nine-page article by Mr. Emerson entitled "Weird Tales: The Unique Magazine," which tells of the origins of Weird Tales, lists the contents, and shows the covers of all the issues from 1926. There is also a sidebar biographical sketch and photograph of Farnsworth Wright, as well as a brief article on the cover artist, interior illustrator, and designer of the heading for "The Eyrie," Andrew Brosnatch.

Mr. Emerson plans on publishing his magazine quarterly, with each issue covering a year in the history of science fiction, with all the books, films, magazines, people, organizations, and events in detailed chronological order. The next issue will be available in November.

Thanks to Mr. Emerson for information on and the cover image of Futures Past.

Text copyright 2014, 2023 Terence E. Hanley