1934


Intrigue on the Upper Level: My kind of Hell, Chicago is…

Intrigue on the Upper Level by Thomas Temple Hoyne

Just recently, I had some words to say about Jack Williamson and Dr. Miles J. Breuer’s 1931 novel The Birth of a New Republic, in which a group of citizens (living on the Moon) rises up in rebellion against the despotic corporate forces oppressing them. Well, now I am here to tell you of another sci-fi book of the early ‘30s dealing with still another revolt against the powers that be. The book in question this time is called Intrigue on the Upper Level, by someone named Thomas Temple Hoyne. The chances are very good that you are unfamiliar with both this novel and its... Read More

Before the Dawn: An entertaining if lesser Taine novel

Before the Dawn by John Taine

Following the release of John Taine’s four-part, serialized novel The Time Stream, which wrapped up in the March 1932 issue of Wonder Stories, fans of the Scottish-born author would have to wait a good 27 months for any more sci-fi product from him. But this is not to say that Taine was idle during that time, his “day job” as a mathematician and professor — under his given name Eric Temple Bell — keeping him more than busy, and indeed, in 1933, Bell even came out with a nonfiction book entitled Numerology. But fans of the Taine alter ego, and the wondrous nine novels that had thus far been the product of his abundant imagination, were eventually rewarded in June ’34, with the release of Taine... Read More

Odd John: Lo And Behold!

Odd John by Olaf Stapledon

Just recently, I had some words to say regarding Olaf Stapledon’s superlative novel entitled Sirius (1944), which featured as its protagonist a German shepherd/border collie mix who, thanks to his owner’s experiments in genetic engineering and hormonal supplements, winds up a canine with the mentality of a human genius. It was the first book that I had experienced by this British author, and I loved it so much that I immediately began reading an earlier Stapledon novel, Odd John (1935), which can happily be found in the same 1972 Dover edition as the 1944 work.

As it turns out, the two make for a supremely well-matched double feature, as Odd John also deals with the subject of ... Read More

Mary Poppins: Perhaps not what you were expecting

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

Having recently seen Saving Mr. Banks, a film that purports to examine the strained relationship between author P.L. Travers and film-maker Walt Disney when it came to adapting Mary Poppins for the big screen, it was only natural that I finally got around to my long overdue reading of the classic children's story Mary Poppins (1934).

Having grown up with the Disney film, it's quite shocking to realize how little one resembles the other. Of course, I knew there would be significant differences — the film is filled with animation and musical numbers, for a start. But I was surprised by how many of the most iconic elements of the Disney film are completely absent from the novel: there is no line of potential governesses being swept away by the East Wind, no "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," no dancing chimney sweeps, no kite flying.

And (contrary to what ... Read More

The Devil Rides Out: An excellent source novel

The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley

When I first saw the 1968 horror film "The Devil Rides Out" several years back at one of NYC's numerous revival theatres, I thought it was one of the best Hammer films that I'd ever seen, and made a mental note to check out Dennis Wheatley's 1934 source novel one day. That resolve was further strengthened when I read a very laudatory article by Stephen Volk on the book in Kim Newman and Stephen Jones' excellent overview volume Horror: Another 100 Best Books. Now that I have finally read what is generally deemed Wheatley's most successful and popular novel, I can see the Hammer film for what it is: a watered-down adaptation that can't hold a Black Mass candle to its superb original. The great Rich... Read More

Burn, Witch, Burn! Creep, Shadow, Creep!: Merritt proves himself

Burn, Witch, Burn! / Creep, Shadow, Creep! by Abraham Merritt


Having conquered the field of fantasy (with such classics as The Moon Pool, The Ship of Ishtar and Dwellers in the Mirage) as well as the field of the bizarre yet hardboiled crime thriller (with his wonderful Seven Footprints to Satan), Abraham Merritt went on, in 1932, to prove that he could master the field of supernatural horror, as well. That he succeeded brilliantly should come as no surprise to readers of those earlier works. His first foray in the occult, Burn, Witch, Burn! first appeared in the pages of Argosy magazine in 1932, and was then expanded into book form the following year.

In it, we meet Dr. Lowell, an eminent neurologist who becomes curious when a series of mysterious deaths comes to his attention. Men and women in the NYC area have been dying of no apparent cause, but with horr... Read More

The Charnel God: A Zothique story on audio

The Charnel God by Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith’s most popular short stories take place in a land he called Zothique, the last continent on our dying earth. It rose out of the sea and its people have forgotten modern technologies, customs, and religions. Instead they worship strange gods and practice sorcery. Smith’s 16 complete ZOTHIQUE stories were published in Weird Tales from 1932 to 1953. They’ve since been reprinted in several collections and, because they’re in the public domain, posted with the Smith family’s permission at Eldritchdark, a fan website.

Some of the ZOTHIQUE stories are also available in a... Read More