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The Best of Weird Tales: 1923 Kindle Edition
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- Print length : 132 pages
- File size : 219 KB
- Publication date : November 2, 2010
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Lending : Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B004AM5NO2
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
Best Sellers Rank:
#833,715 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #1,742 in Horror Short Stories
- #2,312 in Fantasy Anthologies & Short Stories (Kindle Store)
- #2,458 in Contemporary Fantasy Fiction
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The collection kicks off with Orville R. Emerson's "The Grave," a ghastly little tale from the trenches of WW1 that culminates quite ironically. "The Basket," by Herbert J. Mangham, is an odd little slice of life, depicting the quiet existence and passing of a man who scarcely causes a ripple on the world's consciousness. "Beyond the Door," by J. Paul Suter, tells of an emotionally stunted scientist who is haunted by visions of a strange well in his basement, leading to a conclusion that is at once both surprising and apropos. One of many (what Kaye refers to as) "malevolent vegetable stories" to appear in "Weird Tales" over the decades, "The Devil Plant," written by Lyle Wilson Holden, is a purple-prose tale of vengeance that takes place in the Australian outback, marred only by a weak description of that "devil tree." In Julian Kilman's "The Well," we are given still another man who is haunted by visions of a sinister cistern. This outdoor slice of rural nastiness culminates with a satisfyingly horrific denouement. One of the best (and longest) tales in the collection, "The Two Men Who Murdered Each Other," by Valma Clark, tells of the rivalry between two archaeologists, incorporating shipwreck, murder, hallucination and decades-long guilt into a most impressive piece of storytelling. P.D. Gog's "The Dead-Naming of Lukapehu" is a short-short; a tale of a Hawaiian witch doctor that has no real impact, perhaps due to its brevity, but, as Kaye tells us in his introduction, "might well be a true story." "The Bloodstained Parasol," by James L. Ravenscroft, is a tale concerning madness, romance and vivisection (!), concluding with a fittingly macabre moral. In "The Man Who Owned the World," Frank Owen presents us with another case of madness: a homeless person in Greenwich Village who believes he is the master and owner of everything he surveys, leading to another ironic and memorable conclusion. Farnsworth Wright, who would go on to edit 177 issues of "Weird Tales" from 1924-1939, is represented in this volume with the humorous story "An Adventure in the Fourth Dimension," a tale whose silliness is mitigated by it final two paragraphs. H.P. Lovecraft, one of "Weird Tales"'s more renowned alumni, is shown to good effect by his first story in the magazine (found in the October issue), "Dagon." This early tale from the man who would go on to become one of the most important horror writers of the 20th century depicts a subterranean land that is volanoed up to the surface of the sea, and the terrifying experiences that a lost sailor has while exploring it. "Dagon" is easily the best-written of all the 13 tales in this volume. Finally, we have John D. Swain's "Lucifer," the story of a Satanic miracle cure in a 19th century London hospital that ends on a deliciously morbid note.
As you can see, a highly eclectic collection, and if most of the authors here are comparative "nobodies," well, I suppose that is part of the volume's charm: It introduces us to a large assortment of talented writers who have long been ignored. This volume, on the down side, can hardly be called a generous collection, at a mere 129 pages, and contains an inordinate number of typographical errors. (Was this book even proofread before publication?!?!) Still, it affords us the wonderful opportunity to peek into "The Unique Magazine" in its earliest, nascent months, as as such must be deemed essential reading for all fans of pulp literature. I do recommend it.
There are some tales that start out well and end abruptly/too hastily (The Bloodstained Parasol by James L. Ravencroft & The Well by Julian Kilman & The Grave by Orville Emerson). Stories that are good include Dagon by Lovecraft, which is readily found a hundred other places, and the Poe-influenced Beyond the Door by J. Paul Sutter, and to a lesser degree, Lucifer by John D. Swain works. The remainder are decent, but forgettable, including the longest tale in the book, The Men Who Murdered Each Other. Certainly I doubt that these were truly the best of these magazines--- it's hard to imagine that an issue of stories inferior to The Devil Plant or The Purple Heart could ever exist.
Overall, a mostly acceptable assortment of tales that did not inspire me to further investigate the work of most of its authors, which was my hope.
For those who want to adventure past the the Eldritch Trinity (RE Howard, HP Lovecraft, and my favorite, Clark Ashton Smith) and look at others weird fiction writers, first go back in time to Arthur Machen (The Three Imposters is a masterpiece) & Algernon Blackwood (The Wendigo is incredible), and then dig into hearty collections by Weird Tales peers, Carl Jacobi (Revelations in Black) and Donald Wandrei (The Eye and the Finger).
Top reviews from other countries
Sadly a 1924 book was announced as forthcoming, .. it would have made for an interesting series of books.
All in all the selection is of excellent stories. The only disappointment with the book is its cover: I'd very much preferred if one of the original Weird Tales covers of the ones published in 1923.
I'd have liked this book to be the first of a series, one per "Weird Tales Magazine" year. Infortunately it seems it remains the only one of its breed.