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Category Archives: Fantastic Fiction

Three New Wakefield Manuscripts

Tucked into the August Derleth scrapbook was a pile of H. Russell Wakefield manuscripts. Some had been published in a collection by Arkham House in the 1960’s, but three have so far never been published to the best of my knowledge, and they are titled:

— A Crystal Pause (1300 words)

— Blowing a Black Solitude (6800 words)

— A Meeting Off the Manacles (7000 words)

No decision has been made on what to do with these manuscripts, and all three of them will be on the agenda, the next time I meet with Bob Weinberg in Chicago, scheduled for the first week in August.

Note Bene: Alas, At Pulpfest 2010, Douglas Anderson has informed me that “The Black Solitude” has already been published in Weird Tales March 1951. So now there are only 2, but more news to follow shortly….

 

Another Vincent Starrett Signature

When I met with Bob Weinberg last week in Chicago prior to my visit to Arkham House in Sauk City Wisconsin we talked of many things; 1) the list of future publications 2) the The Arkham House Mission Statement 3) the Arkham Brotherhood and Sisterhood — past and future authors who have published with Arkhma House 4) The Arkham House contract which August Derleth designed and used consistly right from the foundation of the firm.

When I arrived at “The Place of Hawks” April showed me the relevant contract filing cabinet drawers in the bookhouse and invited me to have a look. He had to carefully move a stack of vintage unfolded vintage Dustjackets to have a look. The contract that Vincent Starrett signed for his collection of The Quick and the Dead back in 1964 was neatly filed under V and I perused it carefully. It was printed  on two double sided No. 14 inches pages, and I reproduce Clause I of XVI clauses belowm, along with the signature block and the face. The title story for the collection first appeared in Weird Tales, and I also append the illustration header for the first appearance.

Both AWD’s and VS’s signatures are witnessed by Roberic Meng who worked at Arkham House, fulfilling orders and serving as Augie’s chauffeur, because Derleth didn’t drive a car. Because of the same witness for both signatures, Starrett undoubtedly travelled from Chicago to visit August for the signing, and the signature is therefore undoubtedly genuine. I would speculate that Starrett came bearing gifts, perhaps his inscrobed copy of The Private Life? which he presented to Augie; unfortunately no DJ, but great inscription!

Clause I. RIGHTS GRANTED TO PUBLISHER : The Author hereby grants to the Publisher the following exclusive rights and privileges in, to, and in connection with the work now entitled THE QUICK AND THE DEAD (hereinafter sometimes referred to as “the Work”, the title to which may be changed only by mutual consent of the parties

1. The sole and exclusive book publication rights in the United States, its territories and dependencies, the Philippine Islands, and the Dominion of Canada; and the right to sell copies of the Work in the open market throughout the world.

2. Second and third serial rights, abridgment, condensation, selection, and other serial and publication rights following book publication, in the United States, its territories and dependencies and in the Dominion of Canada.

3. The right to lease or to sell plates of the Work to others for reprint publication or otherwise to license reprint publication.

4. The right to license others to publish the Work or any portions thereof in the English language outside of the United States and Canada or to translate into and/or publish the work in foreign languages, and the right to license others to exercise in any foreign country any of the rights granted to the Publisher under this Article I.

5. All rights relating to the work of dramatization, motion picture rights, rights of mechanical recording, transmission or reproduction by radio, telephone, television or other means of recording, transmission or projection, or other medium now existing or which hereafter may be developed, in the United States, its territories and dependencies and in all foreign countries.

The remaining fifteen clauses are also interesting to read, but I don’t want to bore the reader with technicalities, nor do I want to provide the read with a model template for a contract that favo(u)rs the publisher and not the author.

It is also interesting to note that Frank Utpatel designed the cover for “The Quick and the Dead.” I purchased this original art in 2001 from Bob Weinberg acting as April Derleth’s agent. I introduced the two of them in 2000. I plan to reccyle this Utpatel art as the cover for Volume XIV of the Vincent Starrett Memorial Library entitled “The Fugitive, Other Stories and The Caboose.” This title was changed because I wanted to include additional Starrett writings which would better have been included in previously published volumes, namely “Gallant Meals” which was first published in Gourmet Magazine and uncovered by Karen Murdock, some additional Memoriable Morsels, also uncovered by Karen and a number of quotes which would have ideally been included in “A Little Anthology” — Volume IX and “Memorable Meals” — Volume II in the series.

 

Escaping the black dog of February

This week has been hectic for me — a trip to the printer to pick up books for a book launch next month and delivering them to Toronto safely. I also visited John Robert Colombo to show him a new cover featuring an ourburos (linked serpent) for a volume Tearsof Our Lady and this serpent will be delicately tattooed on the left ankle of a certain International Woman of Mystery, a character created by Sax Rohmer 60 years ago named Sumuru. Now the first volume in the series used macrons over the first and third U in her name thus — Sūmurū. Now I can find this character in my wordprocessor, but I can’t find this special character here in this blog. I suspect I can find it in HTML code, and I will look before publishing this, but TMI (too much information, but I found it!). But in any case an editorial decision was made to remove the macrons altogether throughout. The next task was to discuss the proposed Dustjacket for The Sumuru Omnibus with the artist Laurie Fraser Manifold and  I did that earlier today. Will share the result when it is in hand.

I am also spending too much time at the keyboard — I suspect this is a common affliction of bloggers, and I then remembered that this was February — a month of melancholy for a number of people who live in the snowbelt, a month of cabin fever if there is too much inclement weather, and a month to contemplate driving south in March to Florida.

And so how to break the tedium of typing, the mind numbing scanning if you don’t have an automatic feeder and  the proof reading to expunge those “m” for “in” errors that always tend to creep into the finished document? Well I decided to design a bookplate for myself. I selected a photo of Eugenia Falls in winter. This is a landmark very close to my home, and also the site of a false Gold-Rush over 150 years ago. and I post the result here as well.

The two images send my black dog of winter running away across the snowswept, frozen lake, and the candles flicker in the hearth.

 

Mr. Chang and Mr. Rafferty

E.A. Apple created these two characters to run in the pages of Detective Story Magazine (1919-1931) and reprinted in Best Detective Magazine (1933-1936). Mr. Chang is a Fu Man Chu equivalent; Mr. Rafferty is a Raffles equivalent. Mr. Chang has his headquarters in Montreal with a secret entrance, and travels in Eastern Canada to find his victims and accumulate his stolen fortunes in Quebec. Mr. Rafferty has his submarine-only accessible headquarters on an island off the east coast of America. His headquarters is a repository of vast amount of stolen wealth — cash, gold, precious gems and art. I have been gathering these stories together for the past 4 years with the able assistance of the members of the Sacred Six. I even received 3 stories and covers from Norway late last year; these had previously eluded me. Chang and Rafferty clash with lethal methods and wits in a couple of the stories with no definitive outcome, and certainly no Reichenbach Falls. The entire batch is now off to the proof reader, and the series of covers, including the reprints is off to Pat who will design the Dustjackets for the four folio sized volumes each with >400 pages double column format. After all there is 1.3 million words to deal with. You can find a complete bibliography at my web site, and the proposed covers to be retouched on the DJs. I will not supply the link, othereise WordPress will capture the entire series of covers listed there, and that’s alot of Megs to duplicate.

The son (Barny), the granddaughter (Heather) and grandson (Derek) of the author will contribute an introduction based on their memoris of the author, and the entire collection should add a significant brick in the Canadian Pulps Fiction story, since Elmer Albert Apple (not A. E. Apple, that was his pen name, and he also had others) was a Canadian who lived in Toronto.

And so the beat goes on! A dinner tonight with a special Coeliac Disease compatible cake to consume. Dim-Sum in the morning with a poet who spells his words the way they sound without capital letters. Dinner tomorrow night with an author celebrating his 88th birthday with friends, and he will have a new book to contemplate, and all his friends there to ask him to inscribe their copy, and finally a return Monday to the view of the windswept frozen lake, and the fireplace where I am methodically sorting and burning my friend Bill’s papers.

 

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
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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

 

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