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Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Ghost of the Book House

Strange Sounds at Night

I was working late in the Book House last night. It was snowing outside, and the light from its large front windows lent the snow and the shadows of the trees an eerie whiteness in the dark. It was very cold outside, but I was warm inside, with a single space heater that was working overtime.

All was well until I became aware of the sound of muffled tappings from the ceiling above me. I discounted the tappings and continued sorting the series of the four “Macabre Quarto” advertising cards into sets. I sorted one batch of fifty and then started to do the same with the second batch. The tappings persisted and even grew in volume and became more persistent. Had I known the Morse Code, I might have been able to interpret the sounds. All I knew was “S.O.S.” for Save Our Ship and “V” for Victory. But before long the tapping sound was continuous.

I turned the lights down, and when I went outside, I used a flashlight to check the freshly fallen snow for footprints. There were none in the snow that I could spot, human or otherwise. Although outside I could hear no tappings, only the wind, my imagination started to work overtime. What was happening inside? Was there a leak in the roof? That was unlikely because the roof was new and the shingles had just been laid last fall, before the snow, under ideal weather conditions.

Was there, up there, a new nest of some animal or other? A family of raccoons, squirrels, or rats? There were no footprints and there was nor spoor in the snow in the morning, when I walked entirely around the perimeter of the Book House to check. On the roof, the snow appeared to be undisturbed and, more importantly, the eavestroughs and the screens were completely covered in snow.

The next morning the situation remained unchanged. In the light of day I went back in the Book House and I found that all was well. I continued to unpack the boxes of books, one by one. All was quiet; not a soul stirred.

I returned to the Book House after dinner, and all was initially noiseless. But then the tappings resumed. They were exactly the same as they had sounded the previous evening. They were very quiet at first, and then a little louder. The tappings were persistent and suggestive of an unseen hand, some unseen force that was only now manifesting itself. There had to be a natural explanation, I concluded, but up until then I could not come up with it.

What was the cause of the tappings? Was it a ghost? Was it a poltergeist? Was it a shade or a wraith or a spectre? Was it a critter or creature that had lodged between the walls? Was it an eerie being from another dimension trying to communicate with me in some unknown fashion, in some foreign language, Swahili perhaps? Was it the spirit of the books of the fantastic that I was publishing and shelving?

I could not answer these questions but I could come to a conclusion. Then and there I decided that my new Book House was a haunted site. Should I arrange for an exorcism? Should I try to communicate further to find a natural explanation for this unusual phenomenon? Should I
have a colleague visit to see if he could confirm what I heard? And whatever or whoever it is, should I give it a name? Should I call it “BH,” the Ghost of the Book?

Stay tuned! Be sure to read the next thrilling installment of “The Ghost of the Book House”!

 

Pulpwood Proofing

A Thousand Fops or How I Got Into the Proofreading Biz

by Rodney Schroeter

At the 2004 Windy City Pulp and Paperback Show, I was on a mission.

Obviously, I was looking for pulps, originals, books, and any other miscellanea that struck my fancy. But my mission went even beyond that.

I’ve been to every annual Windy City show since it started in 2001. In the years since, I’ve picked up lots of small-press publications that reprint the kind of pulp fiction that makes me smile, clench my teeth, widen my eyes so that the whites show all around, and chuckle insanely, causing my wife to wake in alarm and order me to turn off the light.

And when I did finally turn out the light, I could not easily fall asleep. It was rage that kept me awake. The seething resentment that had built up, causing my skin temperature to rise, as I read publication after publication.

All those typographical errors!

How could they publish books with all those typos? Didn’t anyone actually read them before the manuscripts were sent off to the printer in Timbuktoo?

I don’t think the science of psychology is advanced enough to explain why I developed my razor-sharp ability to catch errors as I read. (Actually, I don’t think psychology is advanced at all, but that’s another rant.) Part of it has to do with my decision to master the English language. (I haven’t done that, quite yet.)

I think, also, that my error-catching mindset is due to the fact that I deliberately chose to never mentally skip over errors. I remember a nice lady that my mother knew, when I was ten, lending me some science fiction paperbacks. Even back then, I didn’t let the publisher get away with anything; I circled and corrected each error with my orange-ink cigar-pen before I returned them to her.

In contrast, most normal people would shrug it off. An error? OK, I know what it should be; let’s move on. But for me, it’s like tripping over a carpet.

Thus, at the 2004 Windy City convention, I stopped at each publisher’s table, gave them a spiel about how I could help improve their product, and submitted a business card. I’d also put an ad in the show’s program and here, for posterity, it is:

Publishers!

You put a lot of work into your book or periodical. But your publication’s attractive, professional look is all too easily undermined–made amateurish and substandard–by only a handful of typos.

I can help! My eagle eye, and mastery of the English language, make my proofreading skills and ability to spot typos unsurpassed.

And I’ll do it for free!!–the first time I work with you. Thereafter, you’ll find my fees so reasonable, my services so invaluable, that you wouldn’t consider going to press without first subjecting your manuscript to my stern scrutiny.

Have a project in the works? Please e-mail me!

Rodney Schroeter
Proofreader
sreels@execpc.co
m

Several publishers offered polite, “We’ll let you know” responses. As I walked down an aisle in the dealers’ room, one such publisher caught up with me. “Come to think of it,” he said, “I do have something you could work on.”

I returned to the tables of Dr. George Vanderburgh, owner of the Battered Silicon Dispatch Box press. I have asked him just what the Dickens that phrase means, but he simply responds with a cagey smile that it’s a reference to a Sherlock Holmes adventure. (Dr. George is a serious Sherlockian.)

“I have this project that needs proofing,” he said, bringing forth two thick spiral-bound manuscripts from one of his boxes. It was The Compleat Adventures of the Moon Man, written by Frederick C. Davis. I’d never heard of the character; working with Dr. George would prove to invaluably enhance my knowledge of pulp authors and characters. (Another recent tremendous boost to my pulpwood education is Robert Sampson’s 6-volume work, Yesterday’s Faces, which I’ll write about at some point.)

“Can you have this done in a month?” Dr. George asked. I thrust out my chest and said, “Sure!”

It was no idle boast. Proofing that nearly 800-page set of 38 stories was about all I did for the next few weeks, but I got her done. The absolute worst aspect of that job: I did not have the source material. So I was left guessing on a lot of mysterious typos, which will no doubt lead to pulp fiction historians, centuries from now, sneeringly making light of my work on that edition.

Dr. George has provided me, for subsequent projects, with that much-needed source material, so I have been able to check the input whenever that wacky OCR program has garbled up the output beyond all recognition.

And those subsequent projects? Here they are, to date:

(Most are part of a series called Lost Treasures from the Pulps, edited by and/or with input from Robert Weinberg and other collectors/pulp historians.)

2005, The Compleat Adventures of the Green Ghost, by G.T. Fleming-Roberts. Edited by Garyn Roberts. 2 volumes.

2006, The Compleat Great Merlini Saga, by Clayton Rawson. 2 volumes.

2006, The Compleat Park Avenue Hunt Club, by Judson P. Philips. Edited by Garyn Roberts. 2 volumes.

2007, The Other Seabury Quinn Stories, by Seabury Quinn. 2 volumes.

2009, The Compleat Saga of John Solomon, by H. Bedford-Jones. 3 volumes.

2009, The Macabre Quarto, by August Derleth (jointly published by the August Derleth Society and Arkham House). 4 volumes.

2009 (forthcoming), The Compleat Adventures of The Suicide Squad, by Emile C. Tepperman.

Incomplete and unpublished, The Strange Ocean Vistas of Philip M. Fisher.

In-process, The Compleat Adventures of Luther McGavock, by Merle Constiner.

In-process, The Compleat Adventures of Satan Hall, by Caroll John Daly.

Finally: In case you’re wondering, “What’n’e heck does that title refer to?” Well, that was one of the most interesting boners the OCR program pulled on my most recently-completed project, The Suicide Squad. The output: “a thousand fops”. The input? “a thousand Japs”. (This was published during World War II, so that kind of thing was OK then.)

Rodney Schroeter, in Wisconsin

 

A Reflection on Edwin Drood

Some years ago now I received a letter from Richard F. Stewart wondering if I would like to publish he book. Richard was in Scotland and he had written a book entitled End Game: A Survey of Selected Writings about The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. I asked to see the manuscript and he sent it along as an e-mail attachment as Richard lived in Scotland, and we agreed that I would publish it.

end-game

About the Author: Richard F. Stewart was born in Dundee in 1936 and educated there and at St. Andrews University. He laboured to pass on some of this education to the British soldier during ten years in the Royal Army Educational Corps, but eventually threw down his chalk and joined the administrative staff of Manchester University in 1968. He survived this for 25 years before rescue by early retirement. The author of one other book, And Always A Detective … (a sort of history of detective fiction), he now dabbles in books, bowls and baby-sitting.

About the Book: Charles Dickens’ last, unfinished book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, is probably the most written-about novel ever. Few works of fiction have full-length assessments devoted to them, yet Edwin Drood has at least a dozen such, not to mention the array of attempts to complete the novel itself and the almost countless articles purporting to solve the mystery of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. This distinction has of course come about because the book is unfinished – and is a mystery. An unfinished Pickwick might tease but would scarcely tantalise in the way Edwin Drood has done. As G.K. Chesterton remarks, ‘The only one of Dickens’s novels which he did not finish was the only one that really needed finishing’.

When Dickens died on the 9th June 1870 at the age of 58, he had completed half the story. No notes were found to show how he intended the tale to finish and the reader is left pondering a series of riddles – has young Edwin Drood been murdered? if so, where is the body? what part is played by John Jasper, Edwin’s opium-addicted uncle? who is the mysterious stranger, Datchery, who comes asking questions in the quiet cathedral city of Cloisterham? Yet Dickens has bequeathed us a wealth of hints and clues in the part we have, but despite – or perhaps because of – these, no two commentators seem able to agree on the outcome of the story. And growing by what it feeds on, a unique cottage industry geared to finding the answers has developed over the last 130 years, with amateur detectives fabricating those hundreds of books and articles, each claiming to have found the key to Dickens’ plot. They range from the sombre to the hilarious, invoking mesmerism, paranoia, schizophrenia, telepathy, cyphers, Thuggee and Sherlock Holmes (to name but a few) in the search for a solution.

In this book the author lists and assesses all the main solutions, completions and commentaries and several minor ones as well. Readers will not only be able to trace the development of an amazing literary phenomenon – they should emerge well-equipped to produce their own solution.

After the text was set, I invited Jean-Pierre Cagnat to do the cover with a caricature of the author, and he did so with his usual character insight and humour. It is a fine tribute to a man who spent many years compiling this reference work.

caricature-of-the-author-by-cagnat2

Jean Pierre never met Dick and he did this from a couple of photographs I sent him, and I’ll drop one of them in here.

dick-stewart-photo-11

After this first book we went on to do two more and I enclose thumbnails of them here: … And Always A Detective (originally published in 1980) and The Great Detective Case of 1877: A Study in Victorian Police Corruption.


 

Martin Gardner’s Projects for 2008 and 2009

In 2007, I received a letter from Martin Gardner last year complimenting me on the publication of The Compleat Annotated Father Brown in 2002. In the same letter he wondered if I would be interested in publishing a volume of his essays entitle The Fantastic Fiction of Gilbert Chesterton. I called him immediately in Norman, Oklahoma to discuss his project, and I agreed without hesitation to do the project. I suggested that if Martin had any other projects to hand I would be pleased to have a look at them as well. Martin is not computer literate but his son is. The manuscript arrived and below you will find the folded out dustjacket of the publication, along with a table of contents.

About the author: Martin Gardner is a science writer best known for the 25 years that he wrote Scientific American‘s column on recreational mathematics. In literary circles he is most admired for his Annotated Alice, an in depth study of Lewis Carroll’s two Alice books. His other books range over mathematics, science, pseudoscience, philosophy, religion, and literature. He has also written two novels and edited several anthologies of popular poetry. Mr. Gardner describes himself as a “philosophical theist” in the tradition of Plato, Kant, William James, Charles Peirce, and Miguel de Unamuno. Gilbert Chesterton, H.G. Wells, and Lord Dunsany are three of his literary heroes.

fantastic-fiction

Table of Contents

Foreword by John Peterson
Introduction
Chapter 1: The Napoleon of Notting Hill
Chapter 2: The Club of Queer Trades
Chapter 3: The Man Who Was Thursday
Chapter 4: The Ball and the Cross
Chapter 5: The Innocence of Father Brown
Chapter 6: Did Sherlock Holmes Meet Father Brown?
Chapter 7: Chesterton’s Manalive
Chapter 8: Chesterton’s Flying Inn
Chapter 9: The Poet and the Lunatics
Chapter 10: The Man Who Knew Too Much
Chapter 11: The Trees of Pride and Other Tales
Chapter 12: Tales of the Long Bow
Chapter 13: The Return of Don Quixote
Chapter 14: Four Faultless Felons
Chapter 15: The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond
Afterword by Pasquale Accardo
Appendix A: Illustrations by W. Graham Robertson for The Napoleon of Notting Hill 179
Appendix B: Illustrations by G.K.C. for The Club of Queer Trades 187
Appendix C: “The Man Who Was Thursday” from Famous Fantastic Mysteries (March 1944) 219
Appendix D: Illustrations by Sydney Seymour Lucas for The Innocence of Father Brown 227

mr-belloc-objects

Mr. Belloc Objects by H.G. Wells
Foreword
I. Mr. Belloc’s Arts of Controversy
II. The Theory of Natural Selection Stated
III. Mr. Belloc as a Specimen Critic of Natural Selection
IV. Mr. Belloc’s Adventures among the Sub-Men
Manifest Terror of the Neanderthaler
V. Fixity or Progress

Mr. Belloc Still Objects by Hilaire Belloc
Introduction
I. Mr. Wells’s General Grievances
II. Mr. Wells as Biologist
III. Mr. Wells’s Ignorance of the Catholic Church
IV. My Errors
V. Mr. Wells Shirks

VI. The Great Rosy Dawn

An Introduction by Martin Gardner

H.G. Wells’s rare little book, Mr. Belloc Objects, is almost totally forgotten today except for Wells collectors. In 1926, when this book was first printed, Wells had hit the jackpot with his Outline of History. It had become a worldwide best seller, and had earned for Wells a considerable fortune.

Histories of the world had been written earlier, but Wells’s Outline differed from them in two ways: Its range was wider, and it opened with a history of prehistoric humanity that assumed the soundness of Darwinian evolution. Hilaire Belloc, a well known British writer and an ultra-conservative Catholic, wrote a series of articles attacking Wells’s Outline, especially his defense of Darwin. Belloc’s articles were widely published in Catholic periodicals, and later issued as a book titled A Companion to Mr. Wells’s Outline of History.

Wells was furious. Not just because evolution was dismissed as bad science, but because Belloc was savage in his personal attacks on Wells. It was the first and last time that Wells was goaded into replying in kind to ad hominem criticism. His little book not only is very funny, it is one of the strongest pieces of rhetoric ever written in defense of evolution against a form of creationism known today as Intelligent Design (ID).

The creationism Belloc defends was not, of course, the crude fundamentalism of Protestant young earthers convinced that God created the entire universe in six literal 24-hour days. Belloc was not a young earther. He accepted evolution in a sense, but insisted that each species was a new creation. In just what way it was a new creation Belloc does not say. Like today’s Iders, Belloc leaves this hopelessly vague. Did God create out of whole cloth the first pigs? Or did he merely guide mutations in such a way that pigs were suddenly born to non-pig parents?

Today’s IDers are equally mute on this point. As attorney Phillip Johnson says over and over again in his books defending ID, it is not necessary for opponents of Darwin to explain exactly how God guided evolution. It is only necessary to make clear the inadequacy of explaining the origin of species by random mutations followed by survival of the fittest. The question becomes especially bothersome with respect to the origin of humans. As Wells so beautifully argues in his last chapter, proponents of ID are haunted by the fossils of Neanderthals. Were they true humans, with immortal souls, or were they merely higher apes?
Exactly how did this monumental transition occur? Surely Belloc did not believe God created Adam out of the dust of the earth, then fabricated Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. But if the Genesis account is mythological, exactly how was the transition made? Were the first humans reared and suckled by a mother who was a beast? Belloc is as silent on this question as are today’s IDers.
At the time Belloc lambasted Wells, the Catholic Church by and large rejected all forms of evolution. Consider the tragic story of St. George Jackson Mivart (1827–1904). He was a much admired British zoologist, author of many books including a massive volume titled The Cat, and a student of the great Thomas Huxley. He was also a devout Catholic, but a Catholic with extreme liberal views. Over and over again, in scholarly journals, and in his book On the Genesis of Species, Mivart defended the evolution of all forms of life, including humans, but by a process governed by God and with the proviso that immortal souls were infused into the first men and women. Repeatedly he warned his Church that by opposing evolution it was making a foolish mistake similar to the mistake it made in persecuting Galileo for claiming the earth went around the sun. In brief, Mivart he1d views on evolution identical with the views of almost all of today’s Catholic philosophers and theologians. Poor Mivart! He was too far ahead of his time. The Church branded him a heretic, excommunicated him, and denied him a Christian burial.

Today almost all liberal Christians, Protestant or Catholic, regard evolution as God’s method of creation, no more requiring miracles along the way than the origin of the solar system required frequent pushes by the Creator , as Newton believed, to keep the planets in orbit.

Almost all of today’s IDers are conservative Christians. Phillip Johnson is an evangelical Presbyterian. David Berlinski is a conservative Baptist. Michael Behe, the most persuasive of the lot, is a Catholic. Berlinski recently teamed up with Ann Coulter to help her write the part of her book Godless in which she bashes Darwin.

How did Belloc react to Wells’s attack? He promptly wrote a book titled Mr. Belloc Still Objects. It is included in the book you hold.
How do things now stand with the Roman Church? I am pleased to report that Pope John Paul II declared evolution to be more than a theory and worthy to be taught in all Catholic schools. The Church is moving slowly and cautiously in a liberal direction — that is, in the direction promoted by such Catholic thinkers as Hans Kung, in Germany, and in the U.S. by Gary Wills, Father Andrew Greeley, and many others. Hopefully it will continue to glide in that direction. If it goes the other way, it will be a sad day for both the Church and the world. — Martin Gardner

An Epilogue by Martin Gardner

Belloc learned nothing from Wells’s attack. His rebuttal continues the same insults, the same below the belt punches. As in his original articles on Wells’s Outline of History, it is not so much what Belloc says that reveals his ignorance of biology and geology, it is what he doesn’t say.
What he doesn’t say is how he thinks the “fixed types” came into being. Did God somehow manipulate the genetic information in sperm and eggs so that mothers gave birth to widely different life forms, or did the Almighty create the first fixed types from nothing, or from, as in Adam’s case, the Earth’s dust? IDers today are similarly tongue tied on this fundamental question.
Belloc seems unable to comprehend that types seem fixed because they are end points on branches of the evolutionary tree. Intermediate forms are all in the past. Fossilization is a rare event. We get only glimpses of extinct missing links. Belloc seems to think that because a horse can’t mate with a cow, the way lions can mate with tigers, horses were always horses and cows were always cows.
I have assumed that Belloc was not a Catholic fundamentalist who took the two Genesis accounts of creation to be literal history, with the word “day” of course meaning a period of many millions, or even billions, of years . Now I’m not so sure. I was startled by a sentence on page 88 where Belloc says the Fall of Man took place 5930 years ago “in the neighborhood of Baghdad.” How Belloc arrived at that date and place beats me. Wells must have guffawed when he read this! Belloc certainly believed the Fall was some sort of event, such as Adam and Eve chewing a forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is hard to believe Belloc could think this, including the roll of a talking snake, but perhaps he did. If not, just what was the Fall?
Belloc generously grants that Wells was right on a few trivial points, and he promises to make corrections on his articles when they soon go into a book. Some of Belloc’s criticisms of Wells are right on target. That Wells was an atheist is undeniable, though this was not always the case. In his younger years he believed in a limited or finite God, a God growing in time as portrayed in the philosophies of such “process theologians” as Samuel Alexander and Charles Hartshorne. Wells defended such a deity in his war novel Mr. Britling Sees it Through, and in a nonfiction work titled God the Invisible King. Later he decided he was really an atheist.
Belloc is also right in accusing Wells of having a low opinion of the Roman Church. He once likened the Church to a huge dinosaur roaming the Earth and refusing to become extinct. Shortly before he died he wrote Crux Ansata, a savage indictment of Roman Catholicism. Belloc even catches Wells in a whopping error, one often made by non-Catholics. He confused the Virgin Birth of Jesus with Mary’s Immaculate Conception!
What about Belloc’s many quotations from scientists expressing doubts about Darwinism? My guess is that most of the men quoted were finding fault with Darwin’s views about the process of evolution, not the fact. Darwin, it must be recalled, knew nothing about mutations. He was a follower of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a French biologist who believed that an animal’s striving to improve its survival chances caused favorable genetic changes. For example, a giraffe’s efforts to eat leaves high on trees would somehow be transmitted to sperm and eggs with the result that its descendant’s necks would become a trifle longer. Similarly, disuse of an organ would cause it to weaken and perhaps disappear. In Belloc’s day Lamarckism was being abandoned for lack of evidence. Today the inheritance of acquired traits has been totally discredited.
“Darwinism” of course is a fuzzy term. In a narrow sense, Darwin’s Lamarckism has been so thoroughly discarded that one can say Darwinism indeed expired. But in a broader sense, Darwinism is alive and well. It is a fact, accepted today by all biologists and geologists, with very few exception, that life began on Earth with one-celled forms, then slowly altered by random mutations which were either beneficial or harmful, or neither. Favorable mutations tended to survive. Harmful mutations tended to die off. I suspect that most, perhaps not all, the scientists quoted by Belloc actually were firm believers in evolution but had differences with Darwin over the exact way evolution took place.
Consider the remark by William Bateson, a famous British geneticist, Bateson doesn’t deny evolution. He merely expresses his belief that factors other than natural selection played a dominant rôle in the process. In Bateson’s time there was considerable controversy over the mechanisms of evolution, controversy that persists today. But Bateson never doubted that all life could be graphed by a single tree.
Hans Driesch, a German biologist, was another firm believer in evolution who differed from Darwin only on technical matters. Eberhard Dennert, Belloc’s next expert, was an obvious crank. His 1904 book The Deathbed of Darwinism is described by Stephen Jay Gould in his book The Panda’s Thumb as ranking “right up there with bumblebees can’t fly” and “rockets won’t work in a vacuum.” Dennert predicted evolution’s total demise by 1910!
Belloc annoyingly never gives first names to his experts, so I was unable to learn anything about a man with the last name of Dwight. He sounds like a simple-minded creationist. There are lots of scientists with the last name of Morgan. I don’t know which one Belloc is quoting, but his disagreement with Darwin is clearly over the process, not the fact, of evolution. We are told nothing about a 1909 book by, I assume, F. le Danree, a French biologist , except that it is a “crushing blow” against evolution.
Sitting in my apartment, at an assisted living facility (I’m 94), with only a computer on hand as a research tool, I was unable to learn anything about Edward Dawson Cope, an American paleontologist who is probably the Cope Belloc had in mind. Nor could I find much about Yves Delarge, a French zoologist, or Karl Wilhelm Nägeli, a Swiss botanist. I drew a total blank on any scientist named Korchinsky. Perhaps someone more familiar than I with the early history of evolution can tell us just what the men quoted by Belloc actually believed.
Even today scientists wrangle over the mechanisms of evolution. Gould, for instance, promoted a controversial view called “punctuated equilibrium.” It emphasizes the fact that some species, trilobites for example, remained unaltered for millions of years while others changed radically over a period of a few thousand years. Gould was of course a thoroughgoing Darwinian, yet his opinions have been strongly opposed today by Richard Dawkins and others.
As far as I know, Wells made no effort to reply to Belloc’s Still Objects book. Regardless of his objections, Belloc must still have been haunted by the Neanderthals. Were they ape-like humans or human-like apea? Was there a turning point in history, according to Belloc some six thousand years ago, when the first humans suddenly appeared on old Earth like a magician’s beautiful assistant stepping out of a previously empty container? Maybe some expert on Belloc’s opinions can tell us what Belloc failed to reveal in his forgotten and funny little volume.

life-of-mary-baker-eddy

About the book

A critical assessment of Mary Baker Eddy and the international movement she spawned is long overdue. Of the hundreds of books written about Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science, almost all have been by believers. With the notable exception of Mark Twain’s Christian Science, the small number penned by skeptics have long since gone out of print.
Martin Gardner, noted for his work in science, mathematics, philosophy, and literature, had intended to write a short essay about Mrs. Eddy, but became so fascinated by her life and personality that his work grew to book length. Written with humor, insight, and a wealth of fantastic detail, this book will delight skeptics and infuriate true believers.
Learn about the granite replica of the Great Pyramid of Egypt that was erected on the site of Mrs. Eddy’s birthplace, only to be mysteriously dynamited years later. Read about Mrs. Woodbury, who was on her way to becoming Mrs. Eddy’s rival until Woodbury announced her “immaculate conception” of a child, which she named the Prince of Peace. Discover how Mrs. Stetson, once Mrs. Eddy’s beloved pupil, was excommunicated when her Christian Science church in Manhattan began to outshine the Mother Church in Boston.
While Mrs. Eddy foretold the coming of a millennium in which all persons would be Christian Scientists and healthy, Gardner shows her to be a power-hungry individual whose life included spiritualism, a morphine addiction, frequent hysterical rages, and accusations of the use of “malicious animal magnetism” against herself and her followers, as well as litigation against her critics and persecution of those she regarded as disloyal.
Martin Gardner exposes the plagiarism that occurs in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, including the early editions of Science and Health, which were so filled with errors of grammar, punctuation, and spelling, as well as attacks on fancied enemies, that the church has done everything in its power to prevent reprintings. Later editions were edited and polished by skillful writers, notably James Henry Wiggin, who thought the book was “balderdash.”
Recent scandal, financial woes, the resignation of top officials and editors of church publications, and the tragic deaths of Christian Science children denied medical aid by their parents have all contributed to the rapid decline of church membership.
Mr. Gardner’s final chapter places Christian Science within the context of New Thought, a movement that anticipated all the elements of today’s New Age. He focuses on the life of New Thought poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox, now forgotten but once our nation’s most loved versifier. She was, in Gardner’s opinion, the Shirley MacLaine of her time.
“Laugh and the world laughs with you,” Ella began one of her famous poems, “weep and you weep alone.” While reading Martin Gardner’s eye-opening book, it is hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

Other Books also by Martin Gardner

The Annotated Alice
The Annotated Snark
The Annotated Man Who Was Thursday
The Annotated Ancient Mariner
The Annotated Night Before Christmas
The Flight of Peter Fromm (novel)
The No-Sided Professor (short stories)
The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener
The New Ambidextrous Universe
The Night is Large
Did Adam and Eve Have Navels?
Are Universes Thicker than Blackberries?
Great Essays in Science (ed)
The Jinn from Hyperspace

The Adventures of Humphrey Huckleberry (short stories, Martin has to visit his storage locker to retrieve a set of originals)

Note: Math and puzzle books, books for small children, books about conjuring, books about pseudoscience, or anthologies of verse are all purposely omitted from this list which was composed by the author. A complete bibliography of Martin Gardner is being compiled by David Morille and he describes this a work in progress, and he sent me a working galley which is 100’s of pages in length.

The Annotated Casey at the Bat (A work in progress — awaiting a new cover)
Visitors from Oz (novel — awaiting a new cover)

Blurbs about Martin Gardner

I read Martin Gardner’s manuscript and really enjoyed doing so. It’s quintessential Gardner, which means it is gracefully written, well-argued, extremely informative, quite convincing, already a classic. He certainly writes in an agreeable fashion. I knew from the first page I was reading an MG book. It is, of course, a collection of columns, chapters, essays, forewords, etc. — John Robert Colombo

Chesterton’s criticism almost always leads the reader to (re)read the subject of the criticism. Gardner’s essays on Chesterton’s fiction do exactly the same. They point out the many virtues of GKC’s fiction and invite a new generation to experience the wonder. — Pasquale Accardo

When the historian of philosophy Étienne Gilson was asked how Chesterton, who had never had any formal training in philosophy, could have written his brilliant study of the medieval philosopher-theologian, Thomas Aquinas, Gilson’s simple answer was that “Chesterton was one of the deepest thinkers who ever existed.” And when Isaac Asimov was asked whom he thought was the most intelligent person on earth, he answered without hesitation, “Martin Gardner.” — John Peterson

“For more than half a century, Martin Gardner has been the single brightest beacon defending rationality and good science against the mysticism and anti-intellectualism that surround us.” — Stephen Jay Gould

“Martin Gardner is a national treasure, and Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? should be compulsory reading in every high school and in Congress. It will no doubt hold back the current tidal wave of lunacy about UFOs, Scientology, Creationism, and the like. —Arthur C. Clarke

Martin Gardner’s contribution to contemporary intellectual culture is unique—in its range, its insight, and its understanding of hard questions that matter. — Noam Chomsky

 

Derleth on H.P. Lovecraft

I first met John D. Haefele at The Walden West Festival in 2008; John had a project he was working on and I agreed to publish it.

John and I discussed many things that day in Sauk City: 1) August Derleth’s Comic Book collection and the unpublished manuscript on comics. 2) The many collections of Mythos stories by Lovecraft and other writers, and the fact that nobody has yet produced a collection of historical merit, nor tried to understand or frame properly August Derleth’s contributions. 3) A updated version of Derleth’s Bibliography as first published by Alison M. Wilson in 1982 by The Scarecrow Press. and finally 4) the lack of information on the multiple magazine appearances of Derleth’s poetry opus. We agreed that these are all issues that we can work on in the years to come.

Here is John’s commentary about the contents of this monograph which has obviously been compiled in much detail over many years:

Lest We Forget is a reminder to everyone about the important role August Derleth had in fostering the literary reputation of H.P. Lovecraft until Lovecraft was well on the way to becoming the canonical American author he is in 2008. Specifically, it is directed to the generation of Lovecraft aficionados and critics who upon the heels of Derleth benefitted from his nearly half-century of devotion to a friend. Where what Derleth wrote might now seem commonplace, it is nevertheless interesting to note just when he wrote. — John D. Haefele

lest-we-forget

 

The first appearance of Solar Pons

The First Appearances of Solar Pons in print

Dragnet Magazine, Volume 2, #1 – February 1929
Eberhart, Mignon: The Black Bag
Leverage, Henry: Flying Crooks
Derleth, August W.: The Adventure of the Black Narcissus
Hook, Joseph F.: Pastures New
Skidmore, Joe W.: Standard Time
Philipson, Owen: The Murder Broker
Phelps, J. Werner: Framed by Fate [Pt.1]
Coons, Maurice: The Morgan Murders [Pt.4]

Volume 3, #1 – June 1929
Good, Janet Z.: The Three Scars
Derleth, August W.:
The Adventure of the Missing Tenants
Leeper, James Walter: Orders Is Orders
Levy, E. Parke: The Ruby of Blood
Pangborn, Arden X.: The Murder of Fat Joe
Gregory, John Miller: The Red Stiletto
Von Linden, Harold: The Lost Payroll

Volume 3, #4 – September 1929
Parkhill, Forbes: Death Leaves
Feldman, Anatole: The Penthouse Murder
Lindsay, C. M.: The Great Sydney Sapphire
Macdowd, Kennie: Concealed Clues
Derleth, August W.:
The Adventure of the Broken Chessman
Leverage, Henry: Red Nose Rogerty [Pt.1]

Volume 4, #1 – October 1929
Sterling, Ward: The Abel Murder Case
Leverage, Henry: Red Nose Rogerty [Pt.2]
Hofflund, Stanley: Broken Hinges
Derleth, August W.: Two Black Buttons
Saunders, Carl M.: Hard
Wells, Hal K.: The House of Hate
Marten, Erik: Beads of Death

Volume 4, #3 – December 1929
Ford, T. W.: Red Hot
Stone, Irving: The Suicide Letter
South, John Winter: Dressed We Kill
Macdowd, Kennie: Kidnapping Killers
Leveque, James Howard: No Evidence
Geary, Lance: Counterfeit Slugs
Compton, Jack: Racketeer Wages
Derleth, August W.: Adventure of the Late Mr. Faversham
Archibald, Joe: Gangster’s Revenge

In the aftermath of the 2008 Windy City Pulp and Paperback Show in Chicago Bob Weinberg and I had dinner together. We discussed many things, in particular, the run of “Rafferty” and “Chang” stories in Detective Story Magazine by A.E. Apple, who I understand to have been a Canadian living in Toronto by the name of A.E. Applebaum, who died by his own hand in 1932. I am presently searching for his next-of-kin, with no luck so far. I had borrowed the run of the magazine from Randy Vanderbeek, and would be returning them to Randy at Pulpcon, in Dayton, Ohio in July 2008. Bob then mentioned that August Derleth’s Solar Pons stories first appeared in Dragnet Magazine, (a predecessor to Detective Story Magazine) in four issues in 1929. Bob then went up to his study and came down with the four pulps. I have reproduced the covers overleaf, and include the Table of Contents of each for the reader’s edification. Please note that none of the four stories warranted mention on the covers. I was confident that Derleth rewrote and perhaps changed the stories when they subsequently appeared, and a cursory perusal of the text would confirm this.

1. “The Adventureof the Black Narcissus” and “The Adventure of the Late Mr. Faversham” in the 1945 appearance of In Re: Sherlock Holmes: The Adventures of Solar Pons.
2. “The Adventure of the Broken Chessman” in the 1951 appearance of The Memoirs of Solar Pons.
3. “The Adventure of the Missing Tenants” in the 1973 appearance of The Chronicles of Solar Pons.
4. “Two Black Buttons” An otherwise uncollected story, and will appear in an upcoming edition of the Newsletter.

 

Re: Henry St. Clair Whitehead

It was Bob Weinberg’s idea in the first place. I discussed the project with April Derleth since her father had published two volumes of Whitehead’s fiction in the 1940’s — Jumbee and West India Lights. April agreed and I borrowed the Arkham archival copies of the two books in dustjacket. plan to the art work from the two Arkham editions and add a third volume containing other uncollected stories from the pulps. One story “The People of Pan” that was already collected merited a Weird Tales cover, and that story will be published in the third volume.

Right in the middle of this project I learned that Christopher and Barbara Roden of Ash Tree Press were also publishing the same project in three volumes, and the first volume had already been released. The stories were already in the public domain when Derleth published them, so there was no question of infringing any copyrights.

I telephoned Christopher to advise him that I was proceeding with the same project, and continued to collect the stories. The majority were from Weird Tales and many had been published in various anthologies over the past twenty years. I did not want to abandon this project especially since Arkham House had published the two volumes already, and both had been out of print for years

Before I can project I still have to find three of the stories, and one correspondent has advised there may be some more htat don’t have bibliographic data available which makes them even more difficult to locate. I append the list below, if anyone can assist I would be most grateful.

Want List for Whitehead

1. The Gladstone Bag, (ss) Black Mask Sep 1925

2. Gahd Laff!, (ss) Black Mask Jun 1926

3. The Return of Milt Drennan, (ss) Mystery Stories Jan 1929

4. The Great Circle, (ss) Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror Jun 1932; Bizarre Fantasy Tales Fll 1970

5. Ruby the Kid, (ss) Nickel Western Apr 1933

6 Litrachoor, (pm) The Writer; Omniumgathum, ed. Jonathan Bacon & Steve Troyanovich, Stygian Isle Press 1976;
The Writer Etchings & Odysseys #6 1985