on August 17, 2004
This book purports to reprint the best story of the year for each year the magazine "Weird Tales" was published, from 1923 through 1954. Not surprisingly, many of these tales range from creepy to truly scary.
Two of the stories, C.M. Eddy's "The Loved Dead," and Robert Barbour Johnson's "Far Below," I had actually heard of in urban legends passed around in grade school and middle school myself. The actual stories, dealing with necrophilia and New York's subway system, were much scarier than any rumors.
Also included are Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" and stories authored by C.L. Moore, Fritz Leiber, Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov & James MacCreigh, August Derleth, and Richard Matheson, Seabury Quinn, Jack Williamson, H. Warner Munn, Robert E. Howard, and Edmund Hamilton.
I first read this book late at night and alone, while ill and unable to sleep. Please do not make my mistake.
on February 12, 2008
Though hardly a runaway success in its day, and a publication that faced financial hardships for much of its existence, the pulp magazine known as "Weird Tales" is today revered by fans and collectors alike as one of the most influential and prestigious. Anthologies without number have used stories from its pages, and the roster of authors who got their start therein reads like a "Who's Who" of 20th century horror and fantasy literature. During its 32-year run, from 1923-1954, and in its 279 issues, "Weird Tales" catered to a select readership that could not help but be impressed by early efforts from the likes of Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, C.L. Moore, Henry Kuttner, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson and dozens of others. "Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors," unlike some of the other books that have cherry picked the best from the magazine's pages, takes a slightly different approach. Its editors have selected one story from each year of the magazine's run; not necessarily the "best" story of that year, but the one that the editors felt has been the most unjustly underappreciated, or too rarely anthologized, or simply most in need of a reappraisal. The result is 655 pages of some of the finest imaginative writing that any reader could ask for. Simply put, this is one helluva collection.
Several of the stories here are fairly well known. Lovecraft's complete posthumous novel, "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," an offshoot of his "Cthulhu Mythos," has generously been offered as the token tale from 1941. Fredric Brown's "Come and Go Mad," a gripping tale of paranoia; "Dust of Gods," a C.L. Moore story featuring spaceman Northwest Smith; and Robert E. Howard's "The Shadow Kingdom," featuring the first appearance of King Kull, are all here, and are welcome presences, always. But there are also lesser-known works from writers who would one day become quite well known; "Weird Tales" was as much an incubator and proving ground for horror and fantasy writers as "Astounding Science-Fiction" was for the sci-fi author. Thus, we have stories here such as 1946's "Let's Play Poison," an eerie tale of some devilish children, by a bloke named Ray Bradbury. Richard Matheson, in what can almost be seen as a warm-up for his later, terrific novel "Hell House," here gives us "Slaughter House" (one of the scariest stories in the whole collection, I might add). Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl appeared only once in "Weird Tales," in 1950, with their very amusing tale of a ghostly court case, "Legal Rites," and that story is here, too. Other well-known names in this volume include Edmond Hamilton, with a wonderful story of evolution run amok, "Evolution Island"; Jack Williamson, telling the story of a scientist's matter materialization experiments gone horribly wrong, in "The Wand of Doom"; Fritz Leiber, and his very humorous story of a supernatural firearm, "The Automatic Pistol"; and Robert Bloch's hilarious tale of a witch, a mermaid, a werewolf, a tree nymph and a vampire, "Black Barter."
Even nicer than encountering unknown works from old friends, however, is making the acquaintance of new ones, and this anthology should serve as an introduction to many readers of some terrific authors whose reputations died with "Weird Tale"'s demise. C.M. Eddy's notorious story "The Loved Dead," with its creepy necrophiliac protagonist, should long linger in the memory (it caused a scandalous sensation back in 1924). Nictzin Dyalhis (I LOVE that name!) contributes here a sci-fi tale of the Venhezians saving the men of Aerth from some particularly nasty Lunarians, and pulpy and primitive as "When the Green Star Waned" is...well, I just loved it. C. Hall Thompson, in his 1947 story "The Will of Claude Ashur," attempted a Lovecraft pastiche that, if no Lovecraft, is still awfully darn good. Seabury Quinn, the author who appeared in more issues of "Weird Tales" than any other (165!), is of course represented here, with one of his wildly popular Jules de Grandin adventures, "Satan's Stepson," a tale of demon things and the Black Mass. Another new author here (for this reader, anyway) is Gans T. Field, whose 1938 story "The Hairy Ones Shall Dance" (a modern-day werewolf thriller) made me an instant fan. H. Warner Munn provides an unforgettable story of atrocious torture, "The Chain," and Robert Barbour Johnson, in his story "Far Below," tells a tale sure to chill the bones of anyone who has ever ridden the N.Y.C. subway. (I, unfortunately, do so every day!)
And there are many other wonders to be found in this generous collection; I haven't even mentioned the excellent contributions from August Derleth, Theodore Sturgeon, Henry Kuttner, Clark Ashton Smith and so many others. The book is indeed a treasure trove of fantastic literature, with concise introductions AND illustrations for each story. There is only one quibble that I would like to register here, and that is the inordinate number of typos--hundreds of them, I'd say--scattered throughout the book's almost 700 pages. As a proofreader and copy editor myself, I find it deplorable that such a wonderful collection was so carelessly composed. Had I known, I would have volunteered my services for free back in 1988, to help guarantee that this tribute to such a legendary magazine could have received the immaculate presentation that it so well deserves. Still, the presence of these regrettable printer's errors should in no wise deter any potential readers. The book is still amazing, and remains a very fine introduction and tribute to "The Unique Magazine."
on February 20, 2006
A few years ago a group of my friends and I and discussed what books we would choose to have with us if we were ever marooned on a desert island.
This amazing anthology made it to the top of my list.
Robert E. Howad, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Henry S. Witehead, Clark Ashton Smith, and many more. You literally can't open this book to a boring page.
An amazing book, edited by Martin Greenberg and Robert Weinberg, the folks that defined the fantasy anthology!
on June 17, 2008
Weird Tales - 32 Unearthed Terrors has a Story from each year the classic horror and fantasy magazine was published; 1923-1954. Introduction by Robert Bloch and Edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz (Try writing that last name on papers your whole life!), Robert Weinberg, and Martin H. Greenberg. The stories can be disturbing as I had a nightmare after day two and halfway through the book. Please be WARNED - READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!
Visit your local mom & pop used book store and you might get lucky like I did and find this book in excellent condition for only $12. If you can find this book anywhere get it! Included is my favorite Robert E. Howard's The Shadow Kingdom 1929. Prior to each story is some interesting information about each author. Example; For sheer storytelling wallop, no one could match Robert E. Howard. His action-packed tales of noble barbarians, savage warriors, and frontier justice propelled him quickly from an inauspicious start in Weird Tales in 1925 to the height of reader popularity. In his time, Howard was the major exponent of the fantasy subgenre now called sword and sorcery. His most famous creation along these lines, Conan the Cimmerian, all but obscures the exploits of his other heroes Bran Mak Morn, King of the Picts, and Kull, King of Valusia. Kull's first adventure, "The Shadow Kingdom," is a good example of the depth Howard could give a type of story know for its gore. It appeared in 1929, predating Conan by three years. In fact, the first Conan story was a rewrite of a Kull story.
The copyright of this book is 1988 and I have to tell you REH's other heroes are making a comeback and people are reading and enjoying them immensely and each and every year there are new fans of REH who is the best of the best in storytelling. Must reads: Rogues in the House, Red Nails, Beyond the Black River, Blood & Thunder, The Life & Art of REH by Mark Finn, The Last of the Trunk and Selected Letters of REH by Paul Herman, The Dark Barbarian by Don Herron, Two-Gun Bob, One Who Walked Alone by Novalyne Price, Weird Tales & Weird Works of REH, The Beast from the Abyss about Cats (My favorite) and can be found on the internet. Check out the REH Foundation and Forum!
on August 17, 2009
What can you expect when you crack open a _Weird Tales_ anthology? You can expect a sampling of stories from "the unique magazine." You will wander in cemeteries, haunted houses, castle oubliettes, and laboratories illuminated with an eldrich glow and flashes of blue lightning. You will encounter blood sucking vampires, curly werewolves, diaphonous ghosts, and (briefly) tentacled gods. You will be menaced by mad scientists, demented murderers, necrophiliacs, and Unspeakable Horrors. You will read authors like H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Seabury Quinn, C.L. Moore, Fritz Leiber, and Ray Bradbury. Perhaps you will see original magazine art-- the skeletal figures of Lee Brown Coye, the cross-hatched etchings of Virgil Finlay, or the graceful nudes of Hannes Bok.
These pleasures are not to be sneezed at. But you must understand that you will not be perusing a tome filled with literary dazzlers. It is not the same experience as reading an anthology of tales from _Unknown_ or _Fantasy and Science Fiction_. _Weird Tales_ was an unabashed pulp magazine, and the quality of its writing was --to put it kindly-- uneven.
Of the thirty-two stories in this collection, there are only seven that strike me as hands-down winners: Robert E. Howard's "The Shadow Kingdom," Henry S. Whitehead's "The Shut Room," C.L. Moore's "Dust of the Gods," Fritz Leiber's "The Automatic Pistol," H.P. Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," Theodore Sturgeon's "The Professor's Teddy Bear," and Fredric Brown's "Come and Go Mad." Only the Lovecraft, serialized posthumously, and the Brown, about the man who was Napoleon, rank among the author's best work.
There are five other curiosities that are worth your attention. There is a Jules de Gradin psychic detective thriller by Seabury Quinn (the most frequently published author in the Magazine and arguably the most popular). There is an underground chiller by Robert Barbour Johnson that reminds me of alligator in the sewer legends that still abound today. Ray Bradbury is represented with a short, rather nasty portrait of childhood, unlike much of his more sentimental modern fare. Gans T. Field (Manly Wade Wellman) gives an effective blend of the supernatural in the South, predating his Silver John stories. Carl Jacobi recounts a bachelor's encounter with a female aquatic horror. Jacobi's stories for _Weird Tales_ were usually minor filler pieces, but "Carnaby's Fish" is better than his average performance.
The other tales tend to be much more routine, though there may be a certain amount of fun in them. Edmond Hamilton, Jack Williamson, and Nictzin Dyalhis have some of the "soft" science fiction that appeared from time to time in _Weird Tales_. Anthony Rud, C.M. Eddy, and H. Warner Munn have tales of straight-- and unpleasant-- horror. Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch, and Isaac Asimov and James MacCreigh (Fred Pohl) all have a go at humorous exercises. Mary Elizabeth Counselman, August Derleth, and Joseph Payne Brennan have smoothly told but thoroughly predictable supernatural yarns.
There have been numerous _Weird Tales_ anthologies over the years. This is one of the best. It gives you the flavor of the magazine from its birth in 1923 to its demise in 1954. (I am aware of various attempts to ressurect the magazine, but the editors wisely focus on its "main run".) It presents a generous sampling of stories and avoids the trap of representing one author more than one time. While this approach has limitations, it offers readers a sense of the range of different authors who appeared in its pages. Moreover, the editors have brought back more than one story that deserved a better fate than to be buried with a stake through its heart.
I hope the editors will forgive me for making two small corrections to their introductory comments. Nictzin Dyalhis (1879- 1942) was _not_ a pen name invented to sell stories. Dyalhis, a reclusive chemist and short story writer, may have fiddled with the spelling of his name at times; but the name was his own. And the gangsters in Fritz Leiber's story are from New Jersey-- not Chicago.
on December 21, 2015
This book is worth it just for the complete full novel of "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," a masterpiece of extremely perverse writing; we also get "Slaughter House" by Richard Mathesen in full Edgar Allen Poe mode; Fredric Brown's outstanding "Come and Go Mad," as well as a Jules deGrandin by Seabury Quinn, the excellent "Satan's Stepson," "The Wand of Doom," by Jack Williamson, "When the Green Star Waned," science fiction horror by Nictzin Dyalis, and the beyond perverse story of a necrophiliac serial killer, "The Loved Dead," by C.M. Eddy. You really get your money's worth with this book. You can't go wrong!
on February 16, 2013
tryed to buy back issues of this mag. on e-bay but they were going to high.i guess this is the best of the best printed by weird tales.
on January 15, 2008
This book has many classics like "The Loved Dead" and "The Parasitic Hand." It has something for every horror fan.
on August 21, 2014
Normally I'm a nonfiction guy but I like H.P. Lovecraft and the era that produced his writings.
on October 7, 2015
Perhaps better left interred