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30 review for Rivals of Weird Tales: 30 Great Fantasy and Horror Stories from the Weird Fiction Pulps

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    From 1923 – ’54, over the course of 279 issues, the pulp publication known as "Weird Tales" helped to popularize macabre fantasy and outré horror fiction, ultimately becoming one of the most influential and anthologized magazines of the century, and introducing readers to a "Who's Who" of American authors. I had previously read and reviewed no fewer than six large collections of tales culled from the pages of "the Unique Magazine," and had loved them all. But "Weird Tales," of course, was far fr From 1923 – ’54, over the course of 279 issues, the pulp publication known as "Weird Tales" helped to popularize macabre fantasy and outré horror fiction, ultimately becoming one of the most influential and anthologized magazines of the century, and introducing readers to a "Who's Who" of American authors. I had previously read and reviewed no fewer than six large collections of tales culled from the pages of "the Unique Magazine," and had loved them all. But "Weird Tales," of course, was far from being the only pulp periodical on the newsstands back when, as amply demonstrated in the appropriately titled, 500-page anthology "Rivals of Weird Tales." In this wonderfully entertaining, generous collection, editors Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz and Martin H. Greenberg (who had put together many of those other "WT" collections) have selected what they feel to be representative samples from some of the other "weird fiction" mags of the day, including "Tales of Magic and Mystery," "Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror," "Horror Stories," "Strange Stories," "Unknown Worlds" (a side project of John W. Campbell as he concurrently edited the seminal "Astounding Science-Fiction"), "Fantastic Adventures," "Stirring Science Stories," "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" and "Beyond Fantasy Fiction," from the period 1927 – ’55. Preceded by a highly informative introduction by Dziemianowicz, the result is one staggeringly impressive gathering of unusual fiction. What might be surprising to some is that many of the authors normally associated with "WT" can be found in this collection, too; by economic necessity, the authors back when sold their wares to whichever editor would buy them, especially if the buyer could better "WT"’s penny-per-word rate. Thus, H.P. Lovecraft is represented here, with his tale of a human corpsicle, "Cool Air"; Conan creator Robert E. Howard is shown off nicely with his oft-anthologized tale of the resurrected Odin, "The Cairn on the Headland"; Henry Kuttner delivers up one of his pulpy Prince Raynor stories, "Cursed Be the City"; his future wife, C.L. Moore, expounds on the dangers of 3-D cinema (in a 1939 story!) in "Miracle in Three Dimensions"; August Derleth gives us the pithy voodoo tale "Logoda’s Heads"; prose poet Clark Ashton Smith surprises by writing in a much less florid style than usual, in the truly grisly story "The Return of the Sorcerer"; and Seabury Quinn, the author who appeared in "WT" more than any other (165 times!), mainly via tales of his psychic sleuth Jules de Grandin, here gives us a lovely and beautifully written tale of supernatural second chances, "Doomed." Then, there are tales that can only be described with that one catchall word: weird. Thus, we have Hugh B. Cave’s "Imp of Satan," in which a Brazilian poison turns a man into an inches-high killer; Manly Wade Wellman's "For Fear of Little Men," in which a Native American grapples with another diminutive menace, the pukwitchee; Carl Jacobi's "Spawn of Blackness," in which that ebon color gives birth to a murderous, oversized rat (!); Anthony Boucher's "The Anomaly of the Empty Man," in which it is learned that by playing a certain record of a diabolical diva backwards, deadly results can be obtained; and Philip K. Dick's early story (from 1953) "Expendable," wherein talking spiders aid Mankind in its battle against the ants.... Another type of story to be found in this collection might be termed "nasty chillers." Of this type can be counted Frank Belknap Long's "Johnny on the Spot," in which Death is personified; Cleve Cartmill's short and not-so-sweet "Oscar"; Fritz Leiber's tale of a demonic mirage in the Southwest, "The Hill and the Hole"; Jane Rice's exquisitely penned story of a beautiful young man in WW2 France who just happens to be a werewolf, "The Refugee" (capped by a marvelous surprise ending); Robert A. W. Lowndes' Lovecraft-inspired "The Abyss"; Cyril M. Kornbluth's truly bizarre "The Words of Guru"; Kris Neville's story of radiation-spawned mutants and paranoia, "Underground Movement"; and Richard Matheson's truly frightening "Sorry, Right Number" (which was later adapted for TV's "The Twilight Zone"). To leaven the chills, "Rivals" also gives us a generous amount of stories in a lighthearted vein, ranging from the chucklesome to the laugh-out-loud funny. Of this ilk may be counted Eric Frank Russell's "Me and My Shadow," in which a henpecked milquetoast gets a genuine makeover from his own shadow; Lester del Rey's "Coppersmith," in which the reawakened elf Ellowan learns that making a living in the 20th century can be a major challenge; H.L. Gold's "Warm Dark Places," in which tailor Ira Kaplan is cursed with the ubiquitous presence of fuzzy little...things; Malcolm Jameson's "Philtered Power," a tale of modern-day politics and medieval alchemy; Fredric Brown's "Armageddon," in which 9-year-old Herbie Westerman goes up against Satan with nothing but a water pistol; Theodore Sturgeon's marvelous "Shottle Bop," in which a lowlife good-for-nothing becomes a 1940s "ghost whisperer"; L. Sprague de Camp's story of a most troublesome fire elemental, "Mr. Arson"; and finally, the truly hilarious offering from Robert Bloch, "The Weird Doom of Floyd Scrilch" (just one of Bloch's 25 tales dealing with the punning, Runyonesque con-man character Lefty Feep; a collection of all these tales in one volume would be most appreciated!). To make this already wonderful collection even better, the three editors have also included two full-length novellas. In Jack Williamson's pulpy in the extreme "Wolves of Darkness," invaders from another dimension inhabit the slain bodies of humans and other animals (horses, coyotes and, of course, wolves); thus, Williamson gets to deliver THIS perfect example of pulp verbiage: "Dark things--masses of fetid, reeking blackness--seemed to creep from its ugly protuberances, to swarm toward us through the tainted filth of the writhing, evilly glowing vegetation. The darkness of evil concentrate, creeping from that nightmare world into ours!" You've gotta love it! Finally, there is this collection's longest offering, at 82 pages: Norvell W. Page's classic novella "But Without Horns," in which three FBI men must tackle the mutant mentality of a Midwesterner with the wholly imposing name of, uh, John Miller. This surprisingly gritty story takes all kinds of surprising twists before slamming to a halt on a decidedly downbeat note. It is so very impressive that I am now highly inclined to read Page's collection of stories dealing with his superhero The Spider, which has been sitting on my shelf for ages now... So there you have it...30 stories of varied style and content; a huge collection that amply demonstrates that even though "Weird Tales" might have been the best in its class, there WERE surely other delicacies to be had on the newsstands back when. All fans of fantasy, sci-fi and horror literature are advised to pounce on this one. With nary a clinker in the bunch, this anthology comes more than highly recommended! (By the way, this review originally appeared on the Fantasy Literature website...a most excellent destination for all fans of any of the authors listed above....http://www.fantasyliterature.com/ )

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    Since I had recently finished Williamson's classic Darker Than You Think, I figured I'd check my list of "stories to be read" and polish off anything short by him. There was only one tale and though "short" it was not (really, it's a novella), I got it off the web and read it. I'm putting the review here because "why not?" but please note "Wolves Of Darkness" is the only thing I read in this no doubt fine anthology (well, technically that's not true, I've also read 5 other stories here, but not Since I had recently finished Williamson's classic Darker Than You Think, I figured I'd check my list of "stories to be read" and polish off anything short by him. There was only one tale and though "short" it was not (really, it's a novella), I got it off the web and read it. I'm putting the review here because "why not?" but please note "Wolves Of Darkness" is the only thing I read in this no doubt fine anthology (well, technically that's not true, I've also read 5 other stories here, but not recently enough to have reviews in my head). So, "Wolves Of Darkness" - well, it's certainly pulp, in both the positive sense that it's a cracking weird mystery sci-fi horror fantasy hybrid, and in the negative sense that it's repetitive, action-focused and mostly surface level stuff. But then you don't really read pulp for literary depth, right? For a good yarn, sure, and for occasional flashes of visionary oddness and resonant strangeness... A man arrives in a lonely, snow-bound West Texas town in answer to a strangely worded telegram from his scientist father. The locals live in fear of a weird wolf-pack that haunts the area, killing people and seemingly running alongside human beings. Eventually, our hero discovers his father and female assistant out on the farm acting strangely, with chalk white skin and glowing green eyes, assisted by a pack of similarly-orbed wolves, and the smashed remains of an experimental multi-dimensional gateway machine in the now-enormous basement. While this is a good example of the weirdness the pulps could get up to (black onyx chambers lit with low red lights, an inter-dimensional view of a black-light city populated by fiendish shadow creatures, a woman chewing into a man's leg as a form of torture) it's also a good example of how frustrating they can be to read (and I'm a man who likes 19th century literature!) - endless repetition and circular plotting, the by-now-obvious stated baldly, little sense of atmosphere, mystery or larger resonances. Williamson is better at it than most, I'll give him that, and he does occasionally generate a weird atmosphere (the leg-chewing scene is unexpected and shocking, the view through the portal is weird and Lovecraftian - if over-written, and the setting and blizzard paralyzed town are nicely atmospheric) but, on the other hand, this isn't any different than some sci-fi potboiler movie in the end. Lack of realistic characters is probably a big culprit in this feeling. Worth reading if you like pulps but if you're just a horror fan surveying the field, not essential.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeff McIntosh

    "Rivals" is a brief sampling of horror/fantasy/ and science fiction that appeared in the pages of OTHER pulps during the 30s/40s/50s.....pulps such as Amazing, Strange Tales, and Fantastic Adventures. It's probably safe to surmise that the current state of weird fiction would be remarkably different w/o said pulps. Authors as varied as Clark Aston Smith, Theodore Sturgeon, Fritz Leiber, and Frank Belknap Long (or their estates) contributed stories to this volume, originally published in 1990. "Rivals" is a brief sampling of horror/fantasy/ and science fiction that appeared in the pages of OTHER pulps during the 30s/40s/50s.....pulps such as Amazing, Strange Tales, and Fantastic Adventures. It's probably safe to surmise that the current state of weird fiction would be remarkably different w/o said pulps. Authors as varied as Clark Aston Smith, Theodore Sturgeon, Fritz Leiber, and Frank Belknap Long (or their estates) contributed stories to this volume, originally published in 1990. If you're a fan of pulp era authors - this is just the book for you... Jeff McIntosh

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Having read an awful lot of pulp fiction in the past year for a project I'm working on, I'm quite aware that most of it is irredeemable crap. It was produced for a penny a word at an extraordinary pace, and there was little time for artistry. That's why finding such a well-edited, well-chosen anthology of first rate pulp horror fiction is such a pleasure. Reading Norvell W. Page's extraordinary novella "But Without Horns" in this collection is worth the cover price alone. Among the pulp giants i Having read an awful lot of pulp fiction in the past year for a project I'm working on, I'm quite aware that most of it is irredeemable crap. It was produced for a penny a word at an extraordinary pace, and there was little time for artistry. That's why finding such a well-edited, well-chosen anthology of first rate pulp horror fiction is such a pleasure. Reading Norvell W. Page's extraordinary novella "But Without Horns" in this collection is worth the cover price alone. Among the pulp giants included in the volume are H. P. Lovecraft, Philip K. Dick, Richard Matheson, Cyril Kornbluth, Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Bloch, and Robert E. Howard, in addition to lesser luminaries like L. Sprague de Camp, Fritz Leiber, Lester del Rey (sorry for the mixed metaphor). Highly recommended for those interested in such fiction.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Schramm

    Some really great stories in the book, some not as good. Worth the read overall.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paul Darcy

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bill Cooke

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Lovatt

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  12. 4 out of 5

    Yoguul

  13. 4 out of 5

    Moudry

  14. 4 out of 5

    Victor

  15. 5 out of 5

    Philip

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jared

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nikki M.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jose Villegas

  19. 4 out of 5

    Altichiero

  20. 5 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl Proc

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  22. 5 out of 5

    David Davis

  23. 5 out of 5

    mike lopez

  24. 5 out of 5

    Justin

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ian

  26. 5 out of 5

    Roderick Patterson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ariquier

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael'S Instagram

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kaci

  30. 5 out of 5

    Randolph

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