1909


Black Magic: Sandy’s Favorite Read of 2021

Black Magic by Marjorie Bowen

The British publishing firm Sphere Books had a really wonderful thing going for itself back in the 1970s: a series of 45 books, both fiction and nonfiction, curated by the hugely popular English supernatural novelist Dennis Wheatley, and titled Dennis Wheatley’s Library of the Occult. This reader had already experienced seven of these novels in the natural order of things, in other editions – titles such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), Read More

The Land of the Lost: A cause for celebration

The Land of the Lost  by Roy Norton

A little while back, I had some words to say concerning Roy Norton’s 1919 novel The Glyphs, the Kewanee, Illinois native’s fourth and final novel containing fantastic content, in a career highlighted by numerous Western novels as well. The Glyphs, as I mentioned, was a compact affair, and a pleasing one, dealing with a sextet of adventurers and their explorations of a lost Mayan city in northern Guatemala. It was a novel that had gone OOP (out of print) for 95 years, until the fine folks at Armchair Fiction chose to resurrect it in the autumn of 2020 for a new generation to discover. Well, now I am here to tell you about still another novel by Norton, another lost-race affair that went OOPs for a full 95 yea... Read More

The Lady of Blossholme: A rousing historical novel with traces of the fantastic

The Lady of Blossholme by H. Rider Haggard

The Lady of Blossholme was Henry Rider Haggard's 34th piece of fiction, out of an eventual 58 titles. It is a novel that he wrote (or, to be technically accurate, dictated) in the year 1907, although it would not see publication until the tail end of 1909, and is one of the author's more straightforward historical adventures, with hardly any fantasy elements to speak of.

The story takes place in England during the reign of Henry VIII, in the year 1536. This was the period when King Henry was rebelling against Pope Clement VII, and when many Englishmen in the north, and many clergymen, were consequently rebelling against Henry, in the so-called Pilgrimage of Grace. To raise needed funds for this rebellion against the king, the Spanish abbot Clement Maldon murders Cicely Foterell's father and ... Read More

The Ghost Pirates: Succeeds marvelously

The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson

William Hope Hodgson's first published novel, The Boats of the Glen Carrig (1907), is a story of survival after a disaster at sea, and of the monstrous plant and animal life-forms that the survivors encountered while trying to reach home. In his second book, the now-classic The House on the Borderland (1908), Hodgson described an old recluse's battle against swine creatures from the bowels of the Earth, and the old man's subsequent cosmic journey through both time and space. And in his third novel, 1909's The Ghost Pirates, Hodgson returned to that milieu for which eight hard years at sea had provided such an extensive background.

The book takes the form of a narrative told by able-bodied seaman Jessop, who had been sailing on the Mortzestus from San Francisco to (what we can only presume to be) England. As its name suggests, the ship has something of t... Read More

With the Night Mail: Kipling is a grandfather of steampunk

With the Night Mail: Two Yarns About the Aerial Board of Control by Rudyard Kipling

I didn’t know that Rudyard Kipling wrote steampunk, especially since that moniker didn’t exist during his lifetime. Kipling’s novellas “With the Night Mail” and “Easy as A.B.C.” have airships, vaguely defined etheric power sources and more energy weapons than you can hit with a stick. He may not have written steampunk, but he might be one of its literary grandfathers.

Written in 1905, “With the Night Mail,” narrated in the first person by a young journalist, chronicles the flight of Postal Packet 162, the dirigible charged with delivering the mail from London to Quebec. Crossing the ocean, Packet 162 encounters a super-storm that tests the strength of the airship and the capabilities of its crew.

The Aerial Board of Control, a “semi-elected, semi-nominated body of a few score persons of both sexes,” manages transportation, ... Read More