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Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Tales

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WEIRD ARIZONA! Aztec mummies! Traitorous Mexicans! Gila monsters! Jou Jou narcotics from African witch doctors! Goodness! This book is very, very strange. But the author of Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Tales may be the weirdest thing about it: Charles Barney Cory was an American ornithologist and golfer. Not what one would expect from an author of weird fiction. But WEIRD ARIZONA! Aztec mummies! Traitorous Mexicans! Gila monsters! Jou Jou narcotics from African witch doctors! Goodness! This book is very, very strange. But the author of Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Tales may be the weirdest thing about it: Charles Barney Cory was an American ornithologist and golfer. Not what one would expect from an author of weird fiction. But it wouldn't be weird if he wasn't weird, we guess. . . .


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WEIRD ARIZONA! Aztec mummies! Traitorous Mexicans! Gila monsters! Jou Jou narcotics from African witch doctors! Goodness! This book is very, very strange. But the author of Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Tales may be the weirdest thing about it: Charles Barney Cory was an American ornithologist and golfer. Not what one would expect from an author of weird fiction. But WEIRD ARIZONA! Aztec mummies! Traitorous Mexicans! Gila monsters! Jou Jou narcotics from African witch doctors! Goodness! This book is very, very strange. But the author of Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Tales may be the weirdest thing about it: Charles Barney Cory was an American ornithologist and golfer. Not what one would expect from an author of weird fiction. But it wouldn't be weird if he wasn't weird, we guess. . . .

37 review for Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Tales

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I declined to finish Montezuma’s Castle and Other Weird Stories because it is, simply, racist and essentializing crap. Even for 1899, when it was published. For a set of “weird” or horror tales, the reader does not even get the catharsis of seeing the thieving and/or murderous villains get their just deserts. I believe this is because Cory does not understand that his villains are villains, but believes they are heroes. One potent example will suffice. In the completely despicable and blessedly s I declined to finish Montezuma’s Castle and Other Weird Stories because it is, simply, racist and essentializing crap. Even for 1899, when it was published. For a set of “weird” or horror tales, the reader does not even get the catharsis of seeing the thieving and/or murderous villains get their just deserts. I believe this is because Cory does not understand that his villains are villains, but believes they are heroes. One potent example will suffice. In the completely despicable and blessedly short story “The Voodoo Idol”, the protagonist, an American named Jones, languishes from a regrettably non-lethal gunshot wound in a hotel room in Haiti, a group of “natives” having tried to kill him. Jones explains to the American consul, who we understand is assisting Jones to escape Haiti intact, how he came to be in this terrifying position. He stole some shit that wasn’t his. From people he describes this way: “[A]s savage and bloodthirsty as any Central African tribe. Most of the inhabitants [of Haiti] are descendants of negroes brought from the Gold Coast many years ago. They have reverted to their original wild state, keeping up many of the ancient customs. Mixing as they have with the Indians of the interior, the present race is even worse than their ancestors. From Toussant l'Overture in 1804, when he first ruled, to Hyppolite Florvil and Salomon, the island has been the scene of continuous insurrection, intrigue, and murder.” This retrograde group of people, nevertheless had created an idol that captivated Jones when he saw it. And he felt perfectly justified in stealing it simply because he wanted it. There’s a moment toward the end of the story when Jones awakens to find a “native” assassin peering at him from an open patio door. The man has a knife in his hands and, for a split second I believed perhaps Jones was going to get some sort of comeuppance for his thievery and bitter racism. But instead Jones kills the man and escapes to America the Beautiful. The End. Part of me wishes to enumerate all that is culturally and historically inaccurate about this story, to pick apart the foul illogic upon which Cory’s racism rests. A more significant part of me does not want to dignify it with reasoned criticism. I am, for once, glad that my taste in musty old writing is obscure. Hopefully this wretched book will continue to fade into obscurity.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Adams

    I vacillated between 2 and 3 stars on this one, for it is a mixed bag, to be sure. Some of the outdated ideals in these stories make for some entertaining, if antiquated, charm, while others are cringeworthy and outright racially-biased sentiments. The stories I did enjoy were fair though, judged exclusively on their own merits. Just be aware, this is definitely not a book for everyone.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    I really don't know what to say or even think about this book. At first it seemed like a collection of short stories, and then a few seemed to be strung together with the character of a Dr. Watson (no relation to the Dr. Watson of Holmes and Watson). For the most part, the different pieces were highly unsatisfying. While good episodes, they didn't come to a climactic conclusion. For example: in Montezuma's Castle a relic hunter and his companion climb into a cave, and steal a mummy. The companio I really don't know what to say or even think about this book. At first it seemed like a collection of short stories, and then a few seemed to be strung together with the character of a Dr. Watson (no relation to the Dr. Watson of Holmes and Watson). For the most part, the different pieces were highly unsatisfying. While good episodes, they didn't come to a climactic conclusion. For example: in Montezuma's Castle a relic hunter and his companion climb into a cave, and steal a mummy. The companion climbs down and knocks away the first of two ladders, trapping the relic hunter in the cave. As the companion runs away, the relic hunter shoots and kills him. He then spends the night in the cave. This would have been a good point for ghostly visitations, scary noises, the wrath of the stolen mummy...something, but sadly no. The protagonist makes a rope of his clothes and lowers himself the 30 ft. to the next ladder, runs past his companions corpse to a body of water. He then drinks, bathes, slakes his thirst, and there endeth the story. There is a reference in a later story where a ghost tells one of Dr. Watson's friends that he had fallen and broken his neck from a cave while relic hunting. It would have been fascinating if the relic hunter from Montezuma's Cave had been the same person and he had actually died in the attempt to escape. As I implied earlier--so much potential, so little follow through.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    Basically a poor man's Ambrose Bierce, with some Arthur Conan Doyle plagiarism throw in (in the form of a recurring sleuth named Dr. Watson). Most of these stories aren't even speculative fiction, despite what the title seemed to promise. If you're looking for lesser-known authors of the late Victorian supernatural and early weird - such Barry Pain, Richard Barham Middleton, Emma Frances Dawson, Cyril Arthur Pearson, and Richard Marsh - this isn't it. "The Voodoo Idol" ties with Henry S. Whitehea Basically a poor man's Ambrose Bierce, with some Arthur Conan Doyle plagiarism throw in (in the form of a recurring sleuth named Dr. Watson). Most of these stories aren't even speculative fiction, despite what the title seemed to promise. If you're looking for lesser-known authors of the late Victorian supernatural and early weird - such Barry Pain, Richard Barham Middleton, Emma Frances Dawson, Cyril Arthur Pearson, and Richard Marsh - this isn't it. "The Voodoo Idol" ties with Henry S. Whitehead's "Cassius" as one of the most virulently racist short stories I have ever had the displeasure to read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Perry Whitford

    Fifteen 'weird' tales in a decidedly amiable, hucksterish vein. The reason I placed 'weird' in inverted commas is because a good number of the stories hardly qualify for that description. There are some ghosts and mummies though. The narrator for a good few of the stories is Dr. Watson, who has a particular interest in the more quackery elements of his trade, such as hypnotism, hallucinogenic drugs and the Elixir of Life. A few of the other stories involve a less than honest trader in curios, who k Fifteen 'weird' tales in a decidedly amiable, hucksterish vein. The reason I placed 'weird' in inverted commas is because a good number of the stories hardly qualify for that description. There are some ghosts and mummies though. The narrator for a good few of the stories is Dr. Watson, who has a particular interest in the more quackery elements of his trade, such as hypnotism, hallucinogenic drugs and the Elixir of Life. A few of the other stories involve a less than honest trader in curios, who knows how to get his customers what they want, even if it's not exactly the bone fide article. Charles Barney Cory was a serious ornithologist, wrote many books about birds and had a personal collection of no less than 19,000 stuffed specimens, which he left to Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a home with 19,000 stuffed birds? To give you some idea, here is a picture of his nephew trying to watch TV: http://birdingblogs.com/wp-content/up...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alex Dove

  7. 5 out of 5

    Don Voorhees

  8. 5 out of 5

    Richard Larmer

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lee Scott

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

  11. 4 out of 5

    JoAnn

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  13. 4 out of 5

    T

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cory

  15. 4 out of 5

    Salemslot

  16. 4 out of 5

    PSXtreme

  17. 5 out of 5

    M.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Roderick Patterson

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael Grogan

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matt D

  21. 4 out of 5

    david patterson

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nutuluu

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rory

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kanchan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jared Shurin

  27. 5 out of 5

    R

  28. 5 out of 5

    Verukha Scrooge

  29. 5 out of 5

    Devero

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mark Goodwin

  31. 4 out of 5

    Tina

  32. 4 out of 5

    THOMAS RYASKO

  33. 5 out of 5

    Forked Radish

  34. 4 out of 5

    Paulette Waters

  35. 5 out of 5

    Joseph-Daniel Peter Paul Abondius

  36. 4 out of 5

    Martha

  37. 5 out of 5

    Em

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