Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Reading Rumble Round 13

Tunneling up through the floor, Richard Shaver emerges from the hollow earth and joins the fray.

Was Shaver a man haunted by strange messages from beyond and used those experiences to become a pulp writer? Was he an aspiring pulp writer first and used the Shaver Mystery as a gimmick? Was he a rambling lunatic whose inane scribblings were rewritten by Ray Palmer?

Whatever the truth, the man was crazy.

The Mind Rovers by Richard Shaver
Amazing Stories January 1947, Vol 21 No 1

A prisoner learns a novel means of escape - into his own mind. The world his dreams created has spawned life, and he can live in that world while a robot in the dream world controls his daily activities. He can travel into other dream worlds, where he recruits other prisoner and seeks to bust up the Prison Industrial Complex Racket, only to find it run by a former Nazi with strong mental defenses. Ambitious, creative, and Shaver definitely doesn't pull it off.

The Pitch by Dennis Etchison
Whispers, October 1978

Mall kitchen appliance pitchman with dark motives.

He Asked for Hell by Paul Ernst
Horror Stories, November 1935

A crystal cube creates a doorway to a gruesome dimension of the dead, where a man tries to dump the body of his murder victim. Truly chilling.

The Demons of Darkside by Leigh Brackett
Startling Stories, January 1941

A falsely accused man hijacks a ship to Mercury for evidence to save his loved one and encounters telepathic crystals.

On a Dark October by Joe R. Lansdale
The Horror Show, Spring 1984

Available in Bumper Crop from Amazon 

Dark quickie tale of human sacrifice.

The Grisly Horror by Robert E. Howard
Weird Tales, February 1935

Arcane African rites and a carnivorous gorilla in the pine swamps of Mississippi. More racist than it sounds.

All authors stay in the ring

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Reading Rumble Round 12

The Queen of the space opera, Leigh Brackett, springboards over the ropes and into action.

Galactic Central 

Black Amazon of Mars by Leigh Brackett
Planet Stories, March 1951

Earthman from Mercury John Stark accompanies a dying friend to his homeland on primitive Mars, only for him to die, leaving him a mysterious talisman. He gets involved with an invasion led by the titular Amazon, who's described as on the cover, and stops an ancient frozen city from awakening and reclaiming the planet. Good prose and imagination, but could stand to have more adventure - the Amazon hardly does anything.

Collected here 

Death Wears My Face by Paul Ernst
Horror Stories, 1935

A man is approached by people he's never met, claiming they know him under a different name, only to later turn up dead. A doppelganger story outside of the shudder pulp formula.

Daughter of the Golden West by Dennis Etchison
Nightmares, 1979

A teenager is found dead and mutilated and his friends trace his steps to a new girl in school. There's a fine line between "atmospheric quiet horror" and "half-formed ideas with no ending".

The Case of the Stalking Shadow by Joe R. Lansdale
Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations, 2013

Not really an occult investigator story, other than a wrap around narrative. A woman returns to the woods to discover the truth behind a shadow that scared her as a child. Thin story with some creepy imagery.

The Devil in His Brain by Robert E. Howard
Lurid Confessions 1, June 1986

An abusive husband loses his arm in the Foreign Legion, and like everyone exposed to the horrors of war and trauma, came out a gentler man. Unsold attempt at the confessions market, more fun as a novelty than on its own merits. 

The Cold Cash Kill by James Reasoner
The Green Hornet Chronicles, 2010

Green Hornet and Kato investigate the murder of one of Hornet's alter ego's employees. 

James Reasoner goes over the ropes. Howard clings on by sheer force of novelty. Lansdale is knocked cold, but comes to before Ernst can drag him over the side.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Reading Rumble Round 11

Author of mystery, weird menace, and action, prolific pulpster Paul Ernst enters the ring.

Galactic Central bibliography 


The Tower of the Elephant by Robert E. Howard
Weird Tales, March 1933

Conan sneaks into a sorcerer's tower to steal a fabulous jewel, only to find it's a tortured captive alien. The third Conan story published, and my favorite of his so far.

The Shaggy House by Joe R. Lansdale
The Horror Show, Fall 1986

Comedy horror piece about a vampire house that drains the life from other houses in the neighborhood.

Death in Clown Alley by James Reasoner
The Avenger Chronicles, 2008

The Avenger and Justice Inc. help a threatened circus against ghost clowns.

We Have All Been Here Before by Dennis Etchison
Whispers II, 1979

A psychic with her own agenda helps the police find a killer.

Madman's Circus by Paul Ernst
Horror Stories, February 1935

Two reporters go to a spooky insane asylum for lunatic deaf-mutes. Horrible creatures, secret passages, blasphemous surgeries, everything you want from a Shudder Pulp

Collected in Twelve Who Were Damned and Other Stories, available from Amazon 

All five authors stay in the ring.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Reading Rumble Round 10

From men's mags to the Twilight Zone, master of the form Dennis Etchison returns to the squared circle.

Bibliography https://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?1419

Tarzan and the Land That Time Forgot by Joe R. Lansdale
Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs, 2013 from Amazon https://amzn.to/3WRq8yi

Tarzan's airship crashes on the way back from the underground land of Pellucidar, landing him near an island with strange creatures. Paced like a longer piece that was cut short.

Aloft in the Whirlwind: A Tale of the Great War by James Reasoner
Rocket's Red Glare, 2017

A WW I pilot is abducted by aliens and joins in their intergalactic war.

Valley of the Worm by Robert E. Howard
Weird Tales, February 1934

The first published James Allison story, a modern man who remembers the lives of his previous incarnations. Feels like a framing device to publish story fragments, but the monsters were fun enough.

The Walking Man by Dennis Etchison
Mystery Monthly, November 1976

Noir plot (dame asks a bar pick up to commit murder) with quiet horror execution.

Californian Dennis Etchison withstands the Texas tornado and all authors stay in the ring.