|Vol. 8 No. 4||
–e*I*45– (Vol. 8 No. 4) August 2009, is published and © 2009 by Earl Kemp. All rights reserved.
Contents – eI45 – August 2009Cover: “Art-Savvy Nudes,” by Steve Stiles
Carnal Knowledge, by John Baxter
Letters to Jim O’Meara.1, by Earl Kemp
Fafhrd and Me, by Fritz Leiber
The Unknown Unknown, by Will Murray
More Mack Reynolds, by Earl Kemp
Anthem Series Part VI Section Two, by Earl Terry Kemp
Back cover: “The Ship That Sailed the Stars,” by Ditmar [Martin James Ditmar Jenssen]
THIS ISSUE OF eI is for my old friend Jim O’Meara, because he deserves it, and a lot more.
In the strictly science fiction world, it is also in memory of Charlie Brown, David Eddings, Bette Farmer, and Paul Williams.
As always, everything in this issue of eI beneath my byline is part of my in-progress rough-draft memoirs. As such, I would appreciate any corrections, revisions, extensions, anecdotes, photographs, jpegs, or what have you sent to me at [email protected] and thank you in advance for all your help.
Bill Burns is jefe around here. If it wasn’t for him, nothing would get done. He inspires activity. He deserves some really great rewards. It is a privilege and a pleasure to have him working with me to make eI whatever it is.
Other than Bill Burns, Dave Locke, and Robert Lichtman, these are the people who made this issue of eI possible: John Baxter, Bruce Brenner, Jacques Hamon, Earl Terry Kemp, Fritz Leiber, James O’Meara, Will Murray, and Emil Reynolds.
ARTWORK: This issue of eI features original artwork by Ditmar, Steve Stiles, Harry Bell, Brad Foster, and recycled artwork by William Rotsler.
…Return to sender, address unknown…. 35
The Official eI Letters to the Editor Column
Artwork recycled William Rotsler
By Earl Kemp
We get letters. Some parts of some of them are printable. Your letter of comment is most wanted via email to [email protected] or by snail mail to P.O. Box 6642, Kingman, AZ 86402-6642 and thank you.
Also, please note, I observe DNQs and make arbitrary and capricious deletions from these letters in order to remain on topic.
This is the official Letter Column of eI, and following are a few quotes from a few of those letters concerning the last issue of eI. All this in an effort to get you to write letters of comment to eI so you can look for them when they appear here.
Thursday June 4, 2009:
Jonathan G. Jensen (PulpMags): Good stuff Earl, am making my way though your Ezine on an afternoon with nothing much going on, as they are doing preventive repair on my Semi. It came at a great time, thanks! You guys take a look too; Dave Saunders has some stuff shared here and a good bit of writing by Earl on his editor days at a very interesting company.
Was working on you son’s article on Derleth, very in-depth article, and nice piece of Silverberg’s rejections, good inside view.
Tom Lesser: Very impressive and nicely done Earl. Amazing is a better description. Thank you very much for your kind thoughts about the show. We always look forward to having you at the show.
James Reasoner: Just wanted to say that I’ve been reading eI for several years, always enjoy it, and thought it was about time I told you so. I especially enjoyed Robert Silverberg’s piece about his early rejection slips in eI44. I collected a bunch of them, too, and some of them were from Sam Merwin Jr., so I got a kick out of the rejection letter Merwin sent to Silverberg in 1949. By the time I was sending stories to him, he was the editor at Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and I guess the budget didn’t include either form rejection slips or stationery, because most of the rejections I got from him were handwritten on the backs of pieces of paper torn off various documents. But they always had good advice on them and usually specific reasons for rejecting the stories they accompanied. I remember one of them read, “This one goes along just fine for a while, then— blooey!” I guess the ending needed work.
Anyway, thanks for producing some fine reading material.
Friday June 5, 2009:
Art Widner: Many thanx 4 this. Ive been intending for a long time to look at eI & this led me into it. i enjoyd eI 44, but fraid i got tired of all the HPL sumaries & skimd the last qtr. Will b looking for #45. Yr sons quality of ryting may yet eclipse the Old Man.
Saturday August 1, 2009:
Lloyd Penney: There are so few survivors of the great artwork that graced the pulps, so it is good to see artwork I’ve never seen, and thank you for that. I saw a wonderful collection of pulp art at the one-day pulp show in Toronto some years back, beautiful stuff. I’d love to get that book on Norman Saunders and his artwork.
My loc…I have read something, perhaps wishful thinking that the Obama administration is looking into the atrocities of Bush and Cheney, and that if it can be proven that they broke American laws, they could be prosecuted. I will monitor the news for more about this…I am hoping this happens, and Obama will do all the things we’d hoped the World Court would do. I hope you can get that pardon you want. These days, you’d be considered an entrepreneur. Heck, some of the porn filmmakers in LA have had reality shows produced around them; why not you? Take the idea to a filmmaker, and perhaps pitch the idea to a lifestyle network, or perhaps Spike.
Thank you for more information about Arkham House, and August Derleth. I have few dark fantasy/horror books, but I do have a couple of Derleths, and I have wondered as I read more about them, what drove them to write what they did. This essay explains a few things to me, and many thanks for all of this. Such lengthy research will preserve all of this for us long after the paper has crumbled to nothing.
I’d like to go to a paperback collectibles show…there’s nothing like that here. There are plenty of us who would go, if it was held, but I have contact with few people who’d take tables and display their wares. I’d have to do some serious research… We haven’t seen Barbara Hambly for such a long time. Our local convention had Barbara and George Alec Effinger as guests one year…that might have been the weekend they met, and took their relationship further… I got to take George to a ball game here, bought him all the souvenirs he wanted, and treated him to his favorite kind of game, a defensive struggle. I think the Blue Jays lost 1-0 to the Twins that day. Yvonne gave Barbara some recipes for gluten-free cookies, and made some for her so she’d have something to snack on during the weekend. Good guests, and it’s a shame George left us.
Guess that’s all I have to say right now, Earl…I wish there was more interest in things literary around here, but that interest is usually dismissed in favour of craptacular movies and television shows. I stick with fanzines, too. I’m running the fanzine lounge at the Worldcon in Montréal in a few days, so wish me luck. Can’t wait for issue 45.
by John Baxter
If there’s nothing new under the sun, one would think there’s even less new between the sheets. A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh still a sigh, whether a generation goes by or a millennium. So what can have happened in human sexuality during the last hundred years that makes it worth writing a book about?
In one sense, the sceptic would be right. Many of our sexual habits and customs are traceable back not just a hundred years but thousands. “Peeping Tom”, the archetypal voyeur, lived—if he lived at all—about 1050. We still speak of teenage lovers in terms of Romeo and Juliet when the real couple first emerged on the page in the 13th century. Blinded Oedipus still stalks the world of incest as he did centuries before Christ, and modern lesbians have kept Sappho alive as an entity and a symbol well after most of her poems have been lost,
A pimp is still, as he was in the time of Elizabeth 1st, a pimp, and a bordello—whether or not Shakespeare called it a “nunnery”—is still a bordello. The function of a modern vibrator would be readily recognisable to Boccacio, author of The Decameron, as it would to Vatsyayana, who compiled the Kama Sutra. Nor, for all the talk of “sex workers”, are we unaware of what Thomas Ryder meant when, in 1715, he wrote, “I was very warm with drinking wine and had a mighty inclination to fill a whore’s commodity”.
Some things don’t change—but many do. And this book is about those things in the world of sexual sensation which the years since 1900 have transformed, rediscovered or renewed.
The 20th century brought us plastics and the movies, electronics and aircraft, cheap printing, the Internet, and automobiles —all of which had their impact on that universe of the mind and body we call “sex”.
Far more influential, however, than the technical advances of the last hundred years were those in the areas of society. The 20th century, rightly called “the century of the common man,” didn’t so much introduce new modes of sensual satisfaction as make available to everyone those pleasures which the rich had reserved for centuries to themselves. And with the decline in the social constraints imposed by organised religion, ordinary men and women were free of the guilt and public condemnation once regarded as the inevitable “wages of sin”.
Yet if this compilation has one lesson to teach, it is that, while sex changed in matters of detail and degree, in its essentials it remained very much the same. The song was right. The fundamental things apply as time goes by.
“I want to thank all the men in this business who’ve made it easy for me—and all the women who’ve made it hard for me.”
ADLER, PEARL “POLLY”. (1900-1962) US brothel owner. Adler emigrated from Russia as a teenager. By her early twenties, she was leasing Manhattan apartments and stocking them with girls, good liquor, even books. Clients didn’t just come for sex, but to talk, drink, play backgammon or cards, or join her all-night parties. Horny playwright George S. Kaufman ran a tab. Robert Benchley sometimes went there to write his reviews, and drink with Dorothy Parker. Both comic Milton Berle and actor John Garfield were clients. “The world knew Polly as a madam,” said Berle, “but her friends knew her as an intelligent woman, fun to be with, and a good cook.”
During the 1929 stock market crash, ruined brokers visited Polly’s establishment for a last fling before jumping out of their windows. In 1930, Adler refused to inform on her many mobster friends to the Seabury Commission on police and judicial corruption, and was put out of business. She retired to Los Angeles in 1943, won a college degree, and in 1953 published a best-selling ghostwritten memoir, A House Is Not a Home. Shelley Winters played her in a dismal 1964 film version.
AGE OF CONSENT. The age at which a person can legally consent to sex varies between countries. Some nations forbid sex completely outside marriage. Many Anglo Saxon countries choose 16, though there are variations—sometimes, as in Australia, between individual states. In certain countries, different ages apply for men and women, for gay sex, and for anal and vaginal intercourse, while Finland requires only that “there is no great difference in the ages or the mental and physical maturity of the persons involved.” Norway also demands that the couple be “about equal in age and development.” Germany allows sex at 14, provided the older partner is under 18 and not “exploiting a coercive situation” or paying. In Japan, the age of consent is technically 13, but individual prefectures often ignore this, preferring 18.
Songs and jokes of the 1920s and 1930s often turned on the attractions of very young women, frequently from rural societies; hence stories involving a Farmer’s Daughter, and the popularity of books like Erskine Caldwell’s God’s Little Acre about child brides in the Deep South. Since anyone having sex with a minor risked a charge of “statutory rape”, a nubile underage woman became known as “jail bait”. One song celebrated “The sweetest l’il gal to come from a cotton field/Rather make love than eat a decent meal/She’s jail bait….’
While it was far from unknown for older women to pleasure themselves with young men, such situations turned up far less in AngloSaxon literature than in more cosmopolitan France, where they became in particular a specialty of Colette, author of the Cheri series, about a middle-aged woman and her Toy Boy, and Le Ble en Herbe, in which a worldly mondaine on a summer holiday initiates a local 16 year old.
AIDS. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Health condition caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus HIV which lowers the body’s capacity to resist infection.
First officially recognized in 1981, AIDS has been traced back to the 1950s. Though its source is still contested, the virus may have migrated from certain West African primates. Responsibility may even lie with Serge Voronoff, who experimented in 1920s Paris with transplanting organs between monkeys and humans.
AIDS is most readily transmitted during anal sex, making the male gay community uniquely vulnerable. For some time before the virus was isolated, its existence fostered rumours of a “gay plague”, Subsequently, it became clear that all members of society were at risk. In January 2006, it was estimated that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people.
In developed countries, AIDS induced fundamental changes in sexual practice which favoured masturbation, voyeurism, bondage and other forms of non-penetrative intercourse. In particular, it hastened the rise of Internet and phone sex.
Most art dealing with or inspired by AIDS has concentrated on the gay community or emanated from it. It includes Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (1990) by Tony Kushner, comprising two plays, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, the two of which were conflated and filmed by Mike Nichols in 2003, Philadelphia (1993), directed by Jonathan Demme, in which Tom Hanks plays an AIDS-afflicted lawyer successfully fighting his wrongful dismissal, the AIDS Memorial Quilt, begun in 1987 and now comprising 40,000 panels, each memorialising a victim, and And the Band Played On: Politics, People,and the AIDS Epidemic, a 1987 book by Randy Shilts excoriating the sluggish social, medical and social response to the disease
AIRBRUSH. Illustrators’ tool which uses a compressor to distribute a fine mist of paint over precise areas.
AIRCRAFT. “The wish to fly,” wrote Sigmund Freud in 1910, “is a longing to be capable of sexual performance.” As soon as aircraft had room for passengers, aviators explored their sexual potential. The first authenticated case of sex in powered flight dates from November 1916. New York socialite Mrs Waldo Polk was enjoying a “flying lesson” with handsome aviator Lawrence Sperry when she spasmodically bumped the controls, and the Curtiss float-plane plunged 500 feet into South Bay. Though neither was harmed, duck hunters who dragged them from the wreck found them naked. Undeterred, Mrs. Polk continued lessons, and won her licence. Sperry, before his early death at 31, invented that crucial aid to airborne sex, the automatic pilot.
Post-World War I, ex-fighter pilots bought war surplus fighters and “barnstormed” across the US, giving shows by day and sheltering themselves and their planes in barns by night. Heroic figures to the girls who staggered away, weak-kneed, from their first aptly-named “joy ride”, these men coaxed some into becoming “wing walkers”, climbing out in flight to do gymnastics or even play musical instruments. The 1933 musical Flying Down to Rio culminates in an aerial leg show, with chorus girls dancing on wings and having their costumes whipped off by the slipstream. The main character in Arthur Kopit’s 1978 play Wings, is an ageing aviatrix who, after suffering a strike, remembers her exploits as a dancing singing wingwalker. The reality was shown more graphically in The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), where a girl trying a similar stunt loses her clothes and her life.
World War II offered few opportunities for airborne fornication, though in Steven Spielberg’s 1941 (1979) Nancy Allen plays a girl who finds flight aphrodisiac, a fact exploited by Tim Matheson as a horny captain. That sex was frequently on the minds of fliers, however, is evident from the pinups painted on the noses of USAF bombers. A widespread and false rumour suggested a sexy image of actress Rita Hayworth decorated the nose of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, or even the bomb itself. In fact, Hayworth’s likeness was pasted not on the Hiroshima bomb but on the first post-war weapon exploded at Bikini atoll in 1946.
The golden age of airborne sex arrived with CinemaScope in the mid-1950s. In 1963, Come Fly With Me showed most of the clichés already in place; horny or larcenous passengers dating up complaisant stewardesses eager for sex or marriage. In 1965, publicist Mary Wells, re-vamping struggling Braniff International, dressed its stewardesses in outfits by Emilio Pucci. “When a tired businessman gets on an airplane,” she explained, “we think he ought to be allowed to look at a pretty girl.” Overnight, women who’d been dismissed as little more than airborne waitresses were transformed into the figures of sexual legend celebrated in Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones’s 1967 book Coffee, Tea or Me? Braniff depicted one murmuring, “I’m Mandy. Fly me”. In the early 1970s, Southwest put theirs into hot pants and white go-go boots, and adopted the motto “Sex Sells Seats.”
Soon, passengers no longer had to delay sexual satisfaction until landing. In 1974, Sylvia Kristel enjoyed two lascivious interludes en route to Bangkok in Emmanuelle, parodied in the porn feature The Opening of Misty Beethoven, where passengers are offered “First Class with Sex” or “First Class Non-Sex”. In Bob Fosse’s 1979 All That Jazz, Roy Scheider’s pill-popping choreographer, creating a musical number about flight, drives his dancers into a frenzy of aerial erotica, making an aircraft resemble a flying brothel.
Flight crews weren’t slow to realise that the option of sailors to have “a girl in every port” now extended to them as well. The comic possibilities were thoroughly explored in Marc Camoletti’s play Boeing Boeing, about a Paris bachelor juggling three flying “fiancées”. In 1963’s Sunday in New York, pilot Cliff Robertson and his stewardess mistress chase one another around the country, never both in any city at the same time. Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can showed conman Leonardo DeCaprio impersonating a pilot and exploiting the sexual opportunities. However, the most poignant evocation of the emotional aridity of modern aviation remains Steven Sondheim’s song “Barcelona” for his musical Company, where a man coaxes his One Night Stand stewardess to skip her flight to the Spanish city and stay in his bed.
ALCOHOL. “Candy is dandy/But liquor is quicker,” wrote US poet Ogden Nash (He might have continued, “Though a pill or joint/Does not disappoint.”) The 20th century did not discover alcohol’s erotic effects —only invented new and more potent mixtures to disguise, delay or accelerate them. Alcoholic oblivion was widely exploited to excuse sexual lapses, both of performance and of control. Matt Crowley’s 1968 play The Boys in the Band attacked closeted gays who indulged their homoerotic inclinations, then protested, “I was so drunk last night.”
Despite claims as early as 1903 that “Absinthe Makes The Heart Grown Fonder”, this liquor, often associated with decadence, was actually, like its fashionable companion, opium, a sexual suppressant. Many seducers swore by the nose-tickling effects of champagne, and the British comedy duo of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann persuasively celebrated the aphrodisiac value of sweet dessert wines in their song Have Some Madeira, M’dear, but the preferred “leg opener” was, and remains, gin.
ANDERS ALS DIE ANDERN (Not Like the Others) (German film, 1919) Directed by Richard Oswald. The earliest film to deal with homosexuality, criminalized at the time in Germany under paragraph 175 of its Criminal Code. In one sequence, famous homosexuals from history parade past a banner reading “Paragraph 175”, each one shrinking from it.
In a plot similar to the film Victim, set in Britain half a century later, a concert violinist becomes the lover of a young student, and is blackmailed by another gay. Rather than pay, the musician publicly reveals his homosexuality, and, with his career ruined, kills himself.
Anders als die Andern was co-written by the director and sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (who also appears in an epilogue). Its many references to cross dressing reflect his theory that homosexuals were simply heterosexuals handicapped by an excess of female hormones. The blackmailer frequents a drag club, and there are documentary sequences on transvestism—a word coined by Hirschfeld—from his Berlin sexology institute. Bisexual dancer Anita Berber also has a small role.
To pre-empt censorship, Oswald made forty copies of Anders als die Andern, shipping them simultaneously all over Germany. The authorities quickly restricted the film to physicians and court-appointed lawyers. Subsequently, the Nazis destroyed most prints, and no complete copy survives.
ANGER, Kenneth. (1927- ) US filmmaker and author. Through his grandmother, a movie costume mistress, Anger was cast as the changeling boy in Max Reinhardt’s 1935 Midsummer Night’s Dream. However, despite actorish good looks, he preferred directing, claiming to have made his first movie at nine. He also discovered occultism via Aleister Crowley and, while living in San Francisco, Paris, London and Egypt, created a sporadic series of obscure but inspired short films, all displaying strong camp and mystical elements. They include Fireworks (1947), hailed by Jean Cocteau EAN as issuing “from that beautiful night from which emerge all true works,” Scorpio Rising (1964), Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965), Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1969), Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), and Lucifer Rising (1972). Anger also began a version of Hostpore d’O, but filmed only a few scenes. He is best known, however, as author/compiler of the book Hollywood Babylon.
APOLLINAIRE, Guillaume (Guillaume Albert Vladimir Apollinaire de Kostrowitzky). (1880-1918) French author. The illegitimate son of an Italian nobleman, Apollinaire kept his mother’s name when he moved from Rome to Paris and launched himself as poet, playwright, art critic, champion of the avant garde, and both scholar and writer of pornography.
Plump, with a slightly comic moustache and a pipe usually clamped between his teeth, Apollinaire, despite his placid exterior, was fascinated with the outrageous and forbidden. In 1917, he would label his play Les Mamelles de Tirésias “surrealist”, a term adopted by Andre Breton and his followers.
Rakehell, despite its flamboyant title, recounts a gently traditional story, probably autobiographical, of a boy’s sexual initiation in the family chateau, starting with erections in the bath, but graduating to sex with his sister and aunt. By contrast, Hospodar has been called “a brilliant fantasy in which all the demons of some insane, Sadeian hell are unleashed.” The hero, Mony Vibescu, is a horny Rumanian “Hospodar” or prince who fights and fornicates his way from Bucharest to Paris and finally Port Arthur in China, where, in 1904, he continues between battles in the Russo-Japanese war. Few sexual activities are left undescribed. Many are morbid; a Russian general sodomises a Chinese boy, and a medical orderly fellates a dying soldier whose legs and arms had been blown off.
Volunteering for the French Army, Apollinaire sustained a head wound in 1916, and never fully recovered. He supported himself with journalism, and by writing introductions, compiling bibliographies and sometimes discreetly expurgating the reprints of porn classics. He died of influenza in 1918. In 1953, the Olympia Press published a vigorous translation of Verges that skilfully showcased its comic violence. Credited to “Oscar Mole”, it was actually by the Scots Beat poet Alexander Trocchi.
ARBUCKLE, Roscoe “Fatty” (William Goodrich.) (1897-1933) US Actor/director. Despite weighing 300 pounds, Roscoe Arbuckle was a gifted physical comedian who turned his improbable athleticism into a $1 million-a-year movie career. On September 5, 1921, he drove with friends to San Francisco for the Labor Day weekend. They checked into the St. Francis Hotel, where Arbuckle’s friend Bambina Maude Delmont provided alcohol and put out a call for party girls. Those who responded included Virginia Rappe, a minor actress who’d worked with Arbuckle in Hollywood, but who blighted her career by spreading a sexual disease through the studio.
Hours later, with everyone drunk and partly undressed—Arbuckle wore pajamas and a robe—Rappe fled the party. She subsequently died of peritonitis from a ruptured bladder, probably related to her infection. Delmont, who had convictions for blackmail and extortion, saw the possibility of profit, and proposed to Arbuckle’s lawyers that she hush up the story in return for a bribe. They refused, since the coroner who autopsied Rapee was emphatic that he found “no marks of violence on the body…no evidence of a criminal assault, no signs that the girl had been attacked in any way.”
Delmont then offered to invent a crime if the price was right. District Attorney Matthew Brady, planning to run for governor, saw the news value of such a high-profile case, and paid up. Testifying before the Grand Jury, Delmont claimed that Arbuckle spent an hour alone with Rappe, who then fled, screaming of rape. Quickly leaked, the lie started new rumours that Arbuckle, too drunk to get an erection, had raped Rappe with a Coca-Cola bottle—or maybe a champagne bottle—or perhaps a piece of ice. Alternatively, his penis was so big that he did the damage himself. None were true, but on September 17, Brady arraigned Arbuckle on rape and murder charges.
Though studio head Adolph Zukor paid for the best defence, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, who backed Brady’s ambitions, pilloried Arbuckle. Hearst later boasted that the case “sold more newspapers than any event since the sinking of the Lusitania.”
Arbuckle endured three trials before he being acquitted of all charges. However, the public preferred to believe that the funny fat man had raped the poor starlet, and refused to watch him on screen, He found work as a comedy director under the name “William Goodrich”, and was set to make a comeback when he died of a heart attack at 46.
ARSAN, Emmanuelle, aka Rollet-Andriane, Maryat, aka Bibidh, Maryat (1932? - ) Every French literary season brings its sexual page-turner, but few had the impact of a pale green-covered paperback issued by Eric Losfeld in the spring of 1959, and called simply Emmanuelle. The novel was supposedly the fictionalised memoirs of Emmanuelle Arsan, a 20-year-old innocent who followed Jean, her older and more sexually experienced diplomat husband, to Bangkok, where she plunged into a life of group sex and lesbianism.
Even more exciting to readers than its echoes of France’s lost colonial empire was the revelation, carefully leaked by Losfeld, that a real French diplomatic wife wrote Emmanuelle. De Gaulle’s government banned it as yet another slur on a foreign service already battered by the gay confessions of Roger Peyrefitte in Les Ambassades. Although Grove Press’s US edition made it an international best-seller the novel remained illegal in France until 1992.
Losfeld let the public visualise Arsan as a pale white ingénue as embodied in the 1974 film by Dutch model Sylvia Kristel. Yet the real Emmanuelle was neither white nor European but Thai, the daughter of politician and diplomat Knun Bibidh Viregggakia. Married to Louis Andriane, a Bangkok-based official of the South East Asian Treaty Organisation, she’d had a brief movie career as “Marayet Andriane”, playing the Chinese slave/prostitute Mally opposite Richard Attenborough and Steve McQueen in Robert Wise’s 1966 The Sand Pebbles.
Once Arsan was “outed”, no exhibition of erotic art was complete without her patronage, no new piece of up-market porn lacked her introduction, or at least a cover quote. She published five volumes of essays on sexual subjects and went into film production, after which she and her husband retired to rural France. In her absence, the name “Emmanuelle” lived on, adopted by a French magazine of soft-core erotica, and attached to numerous films, many with no connection to the original.
AUDEN, Wystan Hugh. (1907-1973) UK poet. The reading of Funeral Blues by John Hannah at the memorial service for his lover in the 1994 film Four Weddings and a Funeral decisively confirmed the austere Auden as laureate of the gay community. Yet during his lifetime his sexual preference remained, to a large extent, “the love that dare not speak its name”. He was embarrassed enough about some of his homoerotic poems to change their “he” to “He”, suggesting that Christ and not some lover inspired them, and never acknowledged authorship of The Platonic Blow, a graphic 1948 evocation of a sexual encounter with one of the young working-class boys he favoured.
AUTO FELLATIO, Ability of some men to suck their own penises. French surrealist and cross-dresser Pierre Molinier practiced this fetish, documenting it in some of his photographs. American actor Ron Turner can claim the honour of first displaying the skill on film, followed shortly by Ron Jeremy in Inside Seka, Behind the Green Door: The Sequel and other films. By then, he had rivals, including gay performer “Doctor Infinity”, who performed the feat in the 1977 film The Double Exposure of Holly, and Philadelphia artist Albo Jeavons, aka “Al Eingang”, who, relates an admiring Jeremy, “devoted his entire career to the art of sucking of his own penis, putting out films like The Young Man From Nantucket * and Blown Alone.”
BAKER, Josephine. (Frida Josephine McDonald) (1906-1975) US entertainer. Daughter of a white or mixed-race father and an African-American laundress in St Louis, Missouri, Josephine left school as 12, was dancing in the chorus at 15, and married twice before she was 17, the second time to Pullman porter Willie Baker, whose name she retained.
Baker’s gangling movements and goofy grin won her spots in the chorus at Harlem’s Plantation Club, the Cotton Club’s 1924 show Chocolate Dandies., the Broadway revue Shuffle Along and, in October, 1925, a featured spot in the Revue Negre when it opened at Paris’s Theatre des Champs-Elysees. Her entrance, naked but for a skirt of feathers, slung over the shoulder of a brawny colleague, electrified the audience. Ernest Hemingway called her “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.” New Yorker columnist Janet Flanner, a lesbian, acknowledged she too was sexually stirred by Baker. “Her magnificent dark body, a new model to the French, proved for the first time that black was beautiful.”
When the rest of the troupe moved on to Germany, Baker stayed in Paris, where the Folies-Bergere starred her in their revues, dressed in what became her trademark skirt of phallic stuffed bananas (designed by couturier Paul Poiret). Not everyone loved her, Critics disparaged her dances, little more than comic variations on the Charleston and the Camel Walk. She was scorned by French “racial purists” who preferred Africans primitive and submissive. But the majority of Parisians, accustomed to simple tribal people from their African colonies, were enchanted by a wised-up black woman whose acrobatic semi-nude dances made a joke of sex yet were intensely provocative.
Although Baker took numerous lovers, among them the writer Georges Simenon and Paul Colin, who designed her exaggerated art deco posters, she married her manager, Sicilian ex-stone-mason but self-styled “Count” Giuseppe “Pepito” Abatino. He orchestrated her career, attaching her name to ghosted “memoirs” and “confessions”, and even a novel. She also improved her thin voice sufficiently to record six songs, including, “J’ai deux amours” (I have two loves/My country and Paris), which became a hit. and her lifelong signature tune.
Films like Zouzou (1934) and Princesse Tamtam (1935) widened her fame still further, though she lacked the discipline to develop as an actress. She habitually arrived on the set after a sleepless night, and accompanied by some of her private menagerie. This included a chimp, a piglet, a goat, a snake, multiple parakeets, fish, three cats, seven dogs, and a cheetah named Chiquita, which wore a diamond collar and sometimes escaped, causing panic among the crew.
Smarting from racial discrimination and hostile reviews during a US tour, Baker became a French citizen in 1936. Remaining in Europe during World War II, she was active as a courier in the Resistance. The French government recognised this with various awards, culminating in 1961 in the Legion d’Honneur.
BARA, Theda (Theodosia Burr Goodman) (1885-1955) US actress. According to S.J. Perelman, Bara “immortalised the vamp just as Little Egypt at the World’s Fair of 1893 had the Hoochie-Coochie.” Hollywood producer William Fox created Bara to compete with slinky European stars. For publicity photographs, she squatted amid snakes and skeletons, while the studio credited her with occult powers. Her name, they pointed out helpfully, was an anagram of “Arab Death”
Though Fox claimed Bara was the Sahara-born child of a French painter and an Egyptian princess, she actually came from Cincinnati, Ohio, where her father was a tailor. After a brief Broadway career as Theodosia de Coppett, the blonde Goodman dyed her hair black and plastered her face with make-up to star in Frank Powell A Fool There Was (1915) as a seductress who could transfix men with her murmured invitation “Kiss me, my fool”. Though Cleopatra, Camille (both 1917) and Salome (1918) followed, Bara lost ground to more skilled temptresses like Jetta Goudal and Nita Naldi. She effectively retired in 1921.
BARBARELLA. French comic strip. In 1962, French science fiction magazine V proposed an erotic strip about Tarzela, a female Tarzan. Artist Jean-Claude Forest (1930--1998), counter-suggested Barbarella, featuring a voluptuous but innocent space girl. Based in looks on Brigitte Bardot, Barbarella ricochets from one fantastic society to the next, most of which exploit her sexually. Her lovers include Diktor, a robot, Dildano, a revolutionary who introduces her to old-fashioned face-to-face fornication, and Pygar, a blinded angel. The villain Duran Duran tortures her by inducing extremes of pleasure with his Excessive Machine. Barbarella, though his most durable creation, backfired on Forest. “For two years, I couldn’t find any work,” he said. “I was considered a distinguished erotomaniac by the comics industry! They thought, ’If it’s Forest, there will be sex in it and we’ll be in trouble!’ ”
BARDOT, Brigitte. (1934-- ) French actress. Film history dates the nouvelle vague from 1960 and the films of Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, but credit for tapping the new young audience eager to see performers of their own age rightly belongs to Brigitte Bardot.
Bardot was 21 when her husband Roger Vadim starred her in Et...Dieu Crea La Femme. She’d already made 17 mediocre films, but this romance, set in the then-sleepy fishing village of St. Tropez showed her in a new light Trashy, pouting, half naked, she strutted round town, tossing her mane of golden hair and switching her rump while the matrons tut-tutted and her male co-stars Curt Jurgens, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Christian Marquand panted in her wake.
French film heroines had traditionally been either young and innocent or mature and knowing. This ”sex kitten” who, even though barely out of her teens, knew what she wanted and exploited her sexuality to get it, was something new, and the kids flocked to see her. “In her role of confused female, of homeless little slut,” wrote one critic, “BB seems to be available to everyone,” By 1962, she was the darling of the French intelligentsia. As Simone de Beauvoir wrote in her essay Brigitte Bardot and the Lolita Syndrome, “paradoxically, she is intimidating....(T)here is something stubborn in her sulky face, in her sturdy body....There is nothing coarse about her. She has a kind of spontaneous dignity...”
Almost overnight, “B.B” became the face of the new France. She posed for the bust of Marianne, the symbol of the Republic which occupies a place of honour in every town hall, divorced Vadim to have affairs with a succession of handsome young men, recorded a few songs in her frail little-girl voice, and made the occasional foray into serious cinema with roles as murderess and prostitute. Through all, however, she remained the archetypal tease, at her most effective when she could toss her head, pout and wiggle. Once she became too old for such gestures, she retired, devoting her energies to political causes, in particular animal rights.
BARNEY, Nathalie Clifford. (1876-1972) Hostess, writer. Wealthy Boston dilettante Barney turned up in Paris dressed as a boy, and seduced one of the most famous grandes horizontales of her day, Liane de Pougy. Subsequently she became the doyenne of Paris lesbian society between the wars. “I invented lesbianism,” she announced. Her home at 20 Rue Jacob acted as salon and court, where she and her companion, painter Romaine Brooks, entertained a succession of literary and artistic lesbians, including Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Djuna Barnes, Janet Flanner, Dolly Wilde and Radclyffe Hall, as well as “honorary” Sapphists like Truman Capote, Noel Coward, and Raymond Duncan, eccentric brother of the more famous Isadora. Her garden contained a Greek-style “Temple of Friendship”, where she conducted genteel celebrations of Sappho, complete with Hellenic robes and dances. Barney inspired the character of Valérie Seymour in The Well of Loneliness, and was parodied by Djuna Barnes in her comic fantasy The Ladies Almanack.
BARROWS, Sydney Biddle. (1952- ) Socialite and brothel keeper. Dubbed “The Mayflower Madam” because of her Social Register roots, Barrows, an out-of-work Manhattan fashion buyer, spotted the need in the newly affluent 1970s for an up-market call-girl service. Cachet (pronounced “Cash-ay”—French for a distinctive mark or style) opened in 1979. Her girls initially cost $125 an hour, half of it going to Barrows. Cachet boasted of employing only students and professional girls, supposedly earning a little on the side to keep themselves solvent in the Big Apple. Barrows fired one girl after discovering she’d appeared in porn films. “We couldn’t risk anyone finding out that we weren’t as sterling and as pure as we promised, and as we wanted to be.” Police closed her down in 1984, but the articulate and unrepentant Barrows wrote a best-selling autobiography, Mayflower Madam, filmed in 1987 with Candice Bergen as Barrows.
BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR (US film, 1972) Directed by James and Artie, the Mitchell Brothers). Needing product for their San Francisco cinema, the Mitchells, prolific producers of loops, turned to an anonymous pornographic booklet that circulated among American soldiers during World War II. Their title came from The Green Door, a #1 Billboard hit in 1956, in which the sleepless Jim Lowe frets about the wild party going on behind the green door of a nearby house. Impatient with scripts, the Mitchells improvised the action and dialogue, frequently consulting the original text, a few age-yellowed sheets of paper.
In a diner, a truck driver (George MacDonald), asked by the cook and a fellow driver to explain about “the green door”, describes a sex coven that preys on young girls. Gloria (Marilyn Chambers) is abducted from a hotel. After being “calmed” by lesbian caresses, she’s paraded before an audience wearing masks and evening dress. Though silent throughout, she submits enthusiastically to sex with African American Johnny Keyes, a trio on trapezes, and members of the audience. They include the truck driver who, at the climax of the orgy, runs on stage, snatches her up, and flees from the club. The film ends with an extended sex sequence between Macdonald and Chambers that uses psychedelic colour effects, including a cum shot with giant gouts of semen leaping in multi-coloured slow motion.
This sequence, inspired by the work of San Francisco experimental filmmakers like Jordan Belson, indicates the film’s hippie heritage. So does the casting of lesser roles, which run the gamut of physical variety. The orgy, soon to become a Mitchell trademark, includes a Fellini-esque cast of midgets and cross-dressers, middle-aged baldies and a few tattooed people, as well as the gargantuan V. Venus.
The Mitchells opened Green Door in New York City, and, with typical chutzpah, advertised in the trade press recommending the film to Academy members for consideration for the 1973 Oscars.
RAND, Sally, (Harriet Helen Gould Beck) (1904-1979) Exotic dancer. After a brief acting career from which she emerged only with her nom de plumes, coined by director Cecil B. DeMille, Rand gained notoriety at the 1933/34 Chicago Century of Progress Exposition, where young entrepreneur Mike Todd presented an attraction called The Streets of Paris, as part of which Rand performed her Fan Dance, apparently nude but for two sheaves of ostrich feathers and a pair of high-heeled pumps. Filming the show, Todd sold hundreds of prints as souvenirs. Her performance won Rand a part in the film Bolero (1934) opposite George Raft and Carole Lombard, where she danced in a nightclub setting, and even had a minor acting role. First with fans, then with balloons, Rand continued to perform into her sixties, when she appeared at a reception for the astronauts of the Apollo program, an event celebrated in the film The Right Stuff. Rand curtailed her activities during World War II when her body paint, without which she couldn’t perform, was reserved for use on fighting ships. College students who sat in the front row of her shows, shooting bent pins from elastic bands, also drove up the cost of her act by forcing her to buy industrial-strength balloons.
- - -
by Earl Kemp
I had a brother that I never knew. He was born about a year and a half before me, and then died. Every time I asked my parents to tell me his story, it was different. Finally I just gave up asking. That was representative of the things I encountered growing up in an unbelievably dysfunctional family. Missing the brother I never knew became an obsession to me as a small child, because I desperately felt the need of someone beside me to help me through the negative lessons of my childhood.
In his absence, it was necessary for me to improvise, and much to my sorrow I was frequently wrong in my interpretations of what life…the life I was living as contrasted with the life others around me were living…was really all about.
So I settled for best friends instead of siblings. There were a number of them during my childhood, neighbor children with whom I was forbidden to have any contact (“They’re all much too bad for you to be around. You are so much better than they are.”), but nevertheless still elected from among them a best friend. On again, off again, best friends.
In school I found others, some of whom I am still in contact with after all these years. There was Charles Boardman, my horror movie best friend and fellow Edgar Rice Burroughs fan. After he graduated and went away to college, my classmate Rob Roy MacGregor took his place for the last two years of my high school tenure. Rob and I still occasionally exchange email messages trying to avoid total senility.
When I moved to Chicago in the early 1950s and started growing up, I fell into a pit of science fiction fans and became trapped forever. And many of them became great friends: Ed Wood, Frank Robinson, Sidney Coleman, and too many others to name here but while I’m not naming them doesn’t mean they weren’t dear friends, then and now.
One local fan stood out from the pack. Jim O’Meara easily became my best friend forever. The two of us worked closely together, side by side, as fans…producing fanzines together, driving cross-country to fan parties and conventions, sharing cut-rate con rooms, pizzas, beer, striptease clubs, and root beer floats. Until that time I had never had such a friend as Jim. He was easily the brother I never knew. He still is.
During the 1950s I exerted myself to an agonizing degree and bulldozed my way into a leadership position, demanding that the local sf fans help me achieve my greatest ambition, becoming Chairman of a World sf convention. We worked on that project for several years, failing time and again to achieve the targeted goal. But that didn’t prevent us from continuing with the campaign.
And Jim was there fighting side by side with me every step of the way. When we finally succeeded in Seattle in 1961, Jim became Vice Chair of ChiCon III, my right-hand man and all-purpose backup.
And at the same time he left Chicago for his college career in Champaign, Illinois, many miles away.
So I wrote letters to Jim, once or twice a week, trying to keep him in constant update of all the things relating to ChiCon III that was necessary for him to know. At the same time I wrote many letters to other out-of-town Chicago fans who had similarly worked long and hard to bring that convention to Chicago. They were Ed Wood, Sidney Coleman who was already being a genius at Harvard, Vic Ryan, also away at college, Joe Sarno was in the Army, Jerry DeMuth doing conscientious objector slave labor, Howard DeVore (a Detroit sf fan) who was working very hard for ChiCon III, doing much of the petty printing, and other fans that I have probably forgotten. Writing letters…many letters…frequently….
And, then there was work. I was working for United Letter Service for years, an all-purpose graphics house, as a graphics artist. I got that job, knowing very little about the work involved, on the strength of the fanzines I had produced. I made arrangements with United Letter to use their equipment and have them print for me, at lovely discount prices, fanzines and numerous items related to ChiCon III. All this preparation was done on my own time of course, and off the clock at United Letter.
And them professionalism reared its ugly, sleazy head, and I was lured away to William Hamling’s raunchy paperback house, Blake Pharmaceuticals, publishers of such sterling products as Regency Books, Nightstand Books, Bedside Readers, etc. It was a wonderful opportunity for me, and quite an upward mobile position. There was no way I could refuse them and not accept the offer made to me by the editor-in-chief, Ajay Budrys.
In my spare time, I moonlighted at William Thorsen’s American Book Collector as a typesetter and sf book reviewer. I worked there several hours a week, after working all day at United Letter. As attractive as that job was, I had to resign in order to devote more time to convention matters. Between times I worked at being an sf fan and egotistical, hard-driving, nut-fringe whip-cracker….
My, where did all that time come from?
Jim O’Meara kept most of my letters to him and, at my request, returned them to me forty years later to blow me away with their contents. I never knew what a total asshole I was until I reread those letters. I never knew how much work I did, how much time I seemed to have, and the people I knew and loved….
I decided to share snips from many of those letters describing what was going on before, during, and after ChiCon III, ending with the publication, by Advent, of The Proceedings.
Enter the sordid world of Best Friends:
Undated Thursday PM
Got back from the funeral in Milwaukee at 1:30 AM. Went to work today, stayed after work to finish off two more pages of the Progress Report (finished off membership list at 279) with only one more to go. It is now 11:00 PM and I still have to drive over to Rosemary Hickey’s to pick up the copy Jon Stopa sent by her on Saturday to finish off the book. Plates are made on everything but the membership list and the Conklin intro of Sturgeon (that Rosemary has). Printing starts tomorrow with the whole run scheduled to be off the press by Thursday. Friday night shot assembling.
Undated Monday 10:10 PM
After work I walked over to the new Post Office, picked up the mail. Nothing important except the Asmiov manuscript from Doubleday for the convention auction. Then walked over to the old Post Office and picked up one order from American News Company then onto the subway.
Undated Tuesday 10:25 PM
After I wrote you last night I must have hit the mad letter writing streak because I wrote a dozen or more letters to various people. Mostly to movie studios trying to make a tie-in for the convention with sf and horror movies. Tonight I am not going to write any more after this; I’m too damned tired.
Undated Thursday 10:30 PM
Our Progress Reports came today. I hope everyone’s did, because they’re so late. Nothing of any interest in the mail today, just another issue of the German zine, still running Why Is A Fan?
February 26, 1962
I was working on the Progress Report, just finished up the last ad I can do until I get some more copy from Jon Stopa.
Undated Tuesday 11:30 PM
I went right home from work and started working on the Bloch book (Advent produced Robert Bloch’s Eighth Stage of Fandom as a special title for ChiCon III), worked until 8:30 PM on it. Then got ready to go out, left at 9:00, picked up Rosemary and Richard Hickey and drove to George Prices’ to drop off his mail.
We were auditioning the orchestra to play at the convention during the masquerade ball. They were playing for a dance that was supposed to start at 10:00 PM and we didn’t want to be too very late. We got there around 10:15 or so. We were the only people there, outside of bartenders and waitresses, until about 10:45 when the band started coming in. They sat up and started playing shortly after 11. They were magnificent, really good. During intermission I told them to send us their contract. There were probably a total of 50 people at the dance, including the band and all the help. We were the only whites. Hardly anyone danced. It was a drag. Richard slept throughout and Rosemary kept bitching because he didn’t dance at all. It was a swinging evening. At 1:30 AM or so there was a floorshow. A pure delight. Rose Marie, the world’s greatest tassel-tossing shake artist. And I believe she was, remind me to describe her act, it was a beaut, with tassels front and ass-end and lots of hair. After the show we left, went to Surf & Surry (50th and the lake motel) for food and got home a little after 3:00 AM after dropping them off. Sunday went to see Martha and Henry Beck and got back from Gary about 1:00 AM and went to bed.
Monday night, great evening spent on work on the Bloch book.
Undated Thursday noon Regency letterhead
Here I am at work reading what will probably be a forthcoming Regency book. It is a fictionalized version of the Cuban revolution. So far pretty good; but the manuscript will need lots of work. Anyway, I have been reading so much lately, like late into the night, that I’ve got eyestrain. Something like a persistent little headache. I haven’t yet got to the point where I’m taking anything for it.
Jon Stopa is coming over tomorrow night to make sure that I spent at least that evening working on the Progress Report. He is right of course, but I’d much rather just collapse over a few cold brews. And I haven’t touched the Bloch book for what must be a solid week already.
Undated Monday 6:10 PM
Friday night Jon came over and we worked on the Progress Report. They had called me from United Letter pleading that I come in and help Saturday (still have no replacement for me). So, using that as an excellent excuse, I went to work for them. I worked from 7:30AM until 8:30 for the convention, from 8:30 until 2:00 PM (less lunch) for the company and from 2:00 until 4:00 PM on the Progress Report. I was tired as hell. I went to the Post Office and straight home where I went to work again. I got up at 8:00 AM Sunday and started working again. At 6:00 PM I took a break and went out for a short walk then returned and went to work again…
I just got home from work today and am in the process of rushing through this letter so I can again go down to United Letter, and try to finish off the Progress Report and rush back home to start work again.
Undated Tuesday 7:50 PM
Because work is really getting piled up here, I’m looking at 50 convention letters in front of me. I know about all that Bloch book waiting to be done; the Progress Report that is overdue; and on top of everything else off, I’ve been reading so much utter shit in manuscript form (submitted to Regency by pros and agents) that I have an unexplainable urge to write again; better….
Today there was officially conferred upon me a title. I am now Managing Editor of Regency Books; my Editor-in-Chief has decreed. And in this capacity I have written nasty notes to three mainline agents and one magazine editor. It is fun, after a fashion
Undated Monday noon
I feel as if I actually haven’t had a day off to relax and be myself in two whole frigging months. The strain is telling a little too. I know because I’m letting important convention letters go unanswered. The Progress Report is way behind schedule. It would appear on the surface that I’m just fluffing off; I don’t know where the time does go. I have been working on the Bloch book rather regularly though. I like this work; because it is “no thought” work. I just throw the switch and slip into gear and type like mad—I don’t have to think about a damned thing then. Maybe that’s why I do it.
Undated Wednesday 11:30 PM
On the convention front, the Progress Report is printed and should be ready for pickup on Friday. I’ll pick it up at work and take it to Rosemary’s house Friday night….
We got a couple more manuscripts for the convention auction, but still no artwork. (One of the manuscripts was Sturgeon’s “Some of your Blood,” should do well with that one.)
I am having the convention letterhead reprinted, finally, so I now feel free to write on it again.
Undated Monday 11:30 PM
I worked from 7:15 AM until 6:00 PM. Punched out and went to the new Post Office to pick up the convention mail. Nothing of much importance except a package of artwork, five pieces of original art for Things to Come from the sf book club, some of it quite good as a matter of fact. And, miracle of miracles, a letter from Margaret Mead. And what a letter. It is most encouraging and non-committal. She doesn’t say no, but says, quote: “Thank you for your letter. I should very much enjoy attending the convention. It is a difficult date, however, and I can’t yet be certain” And she goes on to ask four important questions about the sf field in general and winds up by enclosing a copy of a book review she wrote of an sf book for The American Scholar. It is absolutely magnificent. It is not a book review, it is a plea for better understanding and better reception of sf. She said in part: “(science fiction)…should be an important part of literature today when our will to survive is at least as dependent upon the picture of the world we or our descendants will live in, as it is upon the contemplation of man’s great achievements in the past. But work in the category ‘science fiction’ has become isolated from the main stream of literature, and often dismissed as ‘not as interesting as a good murder,’ or with the avant garde comment, ‘Well, yes, of course I read Ray Bradbury.’”
Undated Tuesday 11:00 PM
I worked the clock around today, literally from 7:15 AM to 7:15 PM. Then I rushed home, ate and sat down at the typewriter. It is now some nine letters later and a few more to go after this….
A letter from Howard DeVore came today. George Willick is at it again, I told you, blasting at Dirce Archer. Well, he’s being jumped on (me and Pavlat abstaining for obvious reasons).
Undated Monday 8:05 PM
I went for a stroll to the new Post Office, nothing important, one letter bitching about Seacon having given money to Walt Willis and Ella Parker. A note from Frank Robinson saying he had some more artwork from Rogue ready to be picked up….
Tonight I will continue writing advertising pitch letters. I ran out of stamps last night so I stopped. I bought some more today though to keep me going tonight.
Undated Sunday 9:30 PM
Friday I came right home from work, went to the Post Office, right back here and went to work on the Bloch book, ending that work around 1:30 AM. Got up bright and early Saturday and went to work. I even took the train to make it drag more. It was a rainy, miserable day. I left work around 3:00 PM and went walking around. This is when the rain was the worst. I went to both Post Offices, Post Office News, K&B, all over; doing nothing, seeing nothing….
I finally got home on Saturday and picked up the Bloch book where I had left off, paging (measuring to see how many pages it would be).
Undated Wednesday 9:15 PM
I got to work late today, 7:30 AM, and quit at 5:30 PM. I went to both Post Offices before coming home. Four or five memberships for George Price and an answer to a letter I sent to all the movie studios from Disney Studios; they have nothing on tap except Moon Pilot and it’s out already. And another from American International who have about eight fantasies coming up that really look good, including When the Sleeper Wakes. I wrote them right back trying to make a tie-in to get it shown here for the convention.
Undated Friday 11:15 PM
At the new Post Office I got a letter from the Theatre Guild. I had written asking to borrow a script for The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon (formerly Flowers for Algernon). The script came with a request to return it as it was their only file copy. I read it and it was quite good. I wish I had seen the production. I will send it back tomorrow; wish I could keep it for the convention auction. They also sent some still pictures from the production that I might be able to use somewhere.
Also Ferman of F&SF sent a check for two memberships. It makes me wonder whatever happened to JWC? Not a word from that bastard. And got a letter from the Russian embassy about Yuri Gagarin being a guest of the convention, saying they’d try to put a little pressure on from this end, hope something comes of it….
Undated Sunday 8:30 PM
I got up early and started working at the typewriter. I made up a long list of mundane type people to hit up for ads for the Program Book. It took all morning to make this list up and still no work done on the Bloch book.
Undated Thursday 9:30 PM
It’s going to be one hell of a weekend. The only answer will be to work, and honestly I need time to work, damned near as much as you do. Unless there are lots of letters to answer tomorrow, I’ll let them slide and go right into the Bloch book on Saturday. I’ve got to do all kinds of introductory writing before I can even start to type for real on the book.
The mail at home brought a letter from Ed Wood bitching justly that I hadn’t written him, and a similar one from Dirce Archer because I was a day late with a round-table reply. And one from Ed Emsh saying that he had already mailed two cover paintings for the auction and the artwork for the Program Book cover.
Undated Tuesday 19:10 PM
I didn’t go to the Post Office tonight, just went straight home, tired as hell. At home I got the package from Emsh, two very nice cover paintings and the cover for the Program Book, an excellent job it is too….
Frank Robinson sent me a note (or did I tell you?) that he had some more artwork to be picked up. I’ll try to get them tomorrow night at club meeting.
Undated Wednesday 11:15 PM
I went to Frank Robinson’s to pick up the artwork he had for us. I took him the best copy of that Tales we had. Ajay Budrys was there; both of them were in a blue funk to end all blues…almost like I get at times. It seems that Harlan Ellison had pulled some particularly dirty deal that just came to light today and set the whole organization on end. Whatever it was it looks like a goodie, but they wouldn’t tell me about it….
The artwork that Frank had was not so hot, in my estimation. They were new Rogue illos, abstract, modern, ech! Only one good one in the lot (of about seven), an Emsh, two-collar wash painting, slightly fantastic.
Wednesday, a long dull day at work. Tension has started to rise regarding that interview tomorrow, sweating like a pig and stinking like two. That, plus Wednesday afternoon and no beer. I walked down Van Buren to State today, carefully looking the other way, away from #9. Made both Post Offices again. Galaxy finally came through with their ad for the Program Book. Nothing else of any major significance.
Undated Thursday 10:20 PM
Today was the usual hectic day at work, rush, push, rush…. With the added difference that I stayed after work, from 5:00 until 8:00 PM, working on ads and badges for the convention. It has been raining on and off since 4:00 PM and I got nice and wet. I got home limp, wet, and frozen.
I got about six or so ads done tonight, all that there was on hand to do, plus an Advent ad for the Program Book. I will stay a couple of nights next week, and do a little more advance work for the Program Book, plus set some headlining for the Bloch book.
I got a letter at home from Ross-McElroy (Norman Ross and David McElroy) asking for a list of the people who would appear at the convention for possible appearance on Off the Cuff. I felt duly flattered.
Undated Thursday 10:35 PM
It was raining a little when I left work (it later turned into half-assed snow) and walked to both Post Offices. I really didn’t need to go because I went yesterday. There was a letter from Warner Brothers that The Day of the Triffids would be out in June; nothing else of any interest either place.
Then I came home and started writing letters again.
Got a letter from Pavlat who says George Scithers told him (George just got back from New York) that Georgie Willick was shooting off his mouth about me and D. Bruce Berry all over New York fandom. Shudder!
Tuesday 8:30 PM
From the new Post Office, a package from F&SF containing color proofs for their covers, without logo or writing of any kind, really handsome, and ten copies of a limited edition of a Poe story they did many years ago….
I talked with Ajay today and he told me the bit about Harlan. It has to do, and this is confidential, with Harlan’s sale of Memoirs From Purgatory to Hitchcock for TV. He sold it without clearing Regency rights and withholding Regency’s share, and already took the advance from Hitch. Regency refuses to release the use of their 50% of the book without a signed statement from the network that the credit will read, “Based on the Regency Book….” and payment of $1.00. No further payment and Regency relinquishes its 50% share of the sale. The network refuses to list Regency in the credits and Harlan is faced with returning the advance to Hitch and he doesn’t have it.
Undated Wednesday 9:30 PM
In the mail today I got an ad from Richard Bergeron (I must remember to send him off his fanzines one of these days), a letter from G. Harry Stine that he will give a talk at the convention and nothing much else….
I’ve been typing out labels like mad for the direct mailing of “membership please” letters. They are being printed at work and should be ready Friday. Then as soon as I finish I’ll turn the whole works, labels, letters, etc. over to George.
I have a flock of nominations to turn over to George. They seem to have picked up a little recently. Memberships are sort of averaging 1½ a day, I think.
Undated Thursday 10:30 PM
Tonight I am going to put the finishing touches on the labels for the big direct pitch mailing. The letters are supposed to be ready tomorrow. It looks like we’re picking up quite a few con-members from Chicago, people I never heard of.
April 11, 1962
I’ve been writing a lot of letters in conjunction with the Convention, naturally. And I have found there are a lot of damn nice people in this world that I would have otherwise missed. Along with a few bastards that I could have spent the rest of my life not missing. I’m sure my attorney wouldn’t allow me to discuss any of them (the only times I’ve asked for permission he’s turned thumbs down) but I can mention some of the good guys.
There is, as an example, Rod Serling. I think he is a damn nice guy. He has been helpful, beyond the call of duty, to the Convention Committee. I feel that he has a sincere regard for the field and wishes to see it prosper.
There is Alfred Hitchcock, in the proxy of Joan Harrison of Revue, who has been most helpful too. And George Kondelf of the Theatre Guild; Mr. Koelle of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Mr. Morritz of American-International; Mr. Gud of Avalon Books; the whole crew at Doubleday and the Literary Guild of America.
Most of these people have no direct relation to the field of science fiction, yet they perform, or offer, considerable services in our behalf to insure a successful convention. It is very gratifying when these pseudo outsiders offer to help. It is only from within the field that the “gimme” is encountered.
To make a road test of our new used car, we drove Jim back to school last Sunday afternoon. We went via Bloomington and had a very delightful little visit with the great man Tucker.
Undated Wednesday/Thursday 12:05 AM
I figure there were four responses to the direct mail letter in the Post Office today, two at $3.00 each and two at $2.00 each, for $10.00 (yes, I know you can add), this just about clears the printing cost and the postage on the lot. If there are any more they are pure gravy memberships. Around 345 now, George told me tonight.
I even managed to get most of Advent’s business caught up tonight. Tomorrow evening I will stay at work and try to whip up some of the ads that are on hand while I still have facility, for soon I lose the ability, and me my desirability….
Undated Tuesday noon
I’m sitting here, now, in my private office at Regency, at my private typewriter desk (a separate thing from my private desk) at my private typewriter with my private air-conditioner grinding away at me.
This place is so incredibly, physically beautiful that I can hardly wait to show it to you, you won’t believe it. I’ve been putting in lots of reading time here too, and I can safely say that the work is interesting—some of the original version manuscripts go far out, if you know what I mean.
Following are a few letters making veiled references to the ongoing harassment, surveillance by a number of different law-enforcement agencies. Plus a comment about the almost daily 200-mile commute to Milwaukee just to drop off the office mail at their Post Office. This to explain the vagueness of the comments:
Undated Monday 6:30 PM
All ambiguous and anonymous:
It seems that in yesterday’s American (I did not see it) there was an opening column on a series. The second column appeared today.
Along with two policemen.
Enough said, do NOT write me there. A phone tap is suspected.
Undated Tuesday no time
Today was a double header with Kup (Irvin Kupcinet; Chicago Sun-Times) coming through too. Both being Kup plus Mabley. Was halfway exciting at work today, had the radio going all the time, Glenn’s trip I mean.
Tonight I have to do my rehearsing and note making for tomorrow, listen for me on the radio….
Undated no day no time
Everything, right now, is in one hell of a mixed-up mess. I hope you never have to go through anything as tense as this is. And no, it has nothing to do with you, or you and me, or Nancy and me. And I can’t even talk about it now if I were with you. Just believe me that it is, emotionally, rougher than words can describe.
Forgive me, but I’m too screwed up to carry this any further. Don’t ask me anything about the situation either by mail or phone.
Undated Monday 10:30 AM
We had lots of excitement around here last week, none of which is letterable, unfortunately. At any rate it meant I had to work yesterday which wound up with me getting home just around 2:00 AM. It wasn’t all work, naturally, it ended up with a ride to the Milwaukee Post Office (but forget that) to spot all the burlesque joints; we didn’t check any of them out though. That means there is still some virgin territory around here….
It was after 1:00 AM before I looked up long enough to discover I had better stop. Started again at 8:00 AM on Saturday, worked straight through until 4:00 PM then rushed back home to clean up for Rosemary’s party. It was a rather interesting affair. Coulsons, Briney, Sylvia Dees, and Fred Saberhagen all showed up to save the day. Broke up around 1:00 AM and then later I took Briney down to the Harrison. Got up Sunday morning, read the papers then directly to work then, as said, home around 2:00 AM this morning.
I have an invitation to pass on to you. It comes from Dean Grennell and the date Dean has set is Saturday, November 3rd. Just the usual bullshit session and target meet, with a difference. It seems Dean and Jean have gone hog wild with the invites and are inviting people from all over (Detroit, Minneapolis, etc. in addition to Economus and Stu). Anyway, it should be fun.
Undated Tuesday 11:00 PM
Monday morning I overslept and rushed off to work in a mad frenzy. Went into the restaurant at work and had my usual cup of coffee with Raye and Ajay and on my way out of the restaurant I discovered to my horror that I had exactly 27cents on me. And this was the day I’d more or less promised myself I’d make up to Sid Coleman some of my personal snide inward remarks by buying him a nice lunch. So we went on to work. And as soon as we got quiet in the office Ajay asked if he could borrow some money from me, beating me to asking him by about two minutes. So we were both broke. I called up Sid, explained the situation to him and he agreed to pick up the lunch check for the three of us. So, we went to the nicest restaurant around there, had a couple of cocktails, a nice lunch and 2-1/4 hours. Then we took Sid back to the office and chatted until 5:00 PM and I left him, Ajay, and Frank going for coffee.
Undated Tuesday 8:50 PM
There is a committee meeting Thursday night about Progress Report #2. I have an appointment at the American at 3:30 PM Thursday afternoon to be interviewed by Mabley’s assistant about the convention. They called in response to the mimeoed newssheet to the columnists.
Wednesday no time
Around here things are rough as hell. Things are still extremely rush-rush (Ajay is still sick, comes in about an hour a day), so much so that Larry Shaw called in sick this morning. I’m literally working my ass off here, and will tell you more about it when I see you next. Essentially it is just an extreme amount of work due out in an impossibly short time. I actually shouldn’t even be stealing the time to write you this letter.
The next installment of the Proceedings is now one day overdue from the transcriber, and I’m damned glad it is late. I am right up to date on it, and so is Briney with the first reading. Actually I’m almost five pages ahead of him, but that’s nothing.
Thursday March 7, 1963 11:00 AM
I have been working away like hell. Actually I shouldn’t be taking this time to write you at work, there is so much to do staring me in the face. But it is far better that I short the work here long enough to write you than to take the time away from the Proceedings. I am doing an average of 12 finished pages per night. I just talked to Ronald (the transcriber) on the phone and the final pages go into the mail to me on Saturday, which means I’ll have it on Monday. Whee!
I went right home and hit the work on the Proceedings again.
Tuesday 3:30 PM
I spent the whole weekend closeted with the Proceedings. I finally closed them out last night at 208 pages. Now all that is left is the corrections, proofreading, and final corrections. And I will be damned glad to get that over with.
Thursday 12:45 PM
Even though large gobs of the Proceedings are still missing, I started the final typing last night. Got through the first 15 pages or so. Very shortly though I will hit a block that I can’t go beyond. But I can work on it tonight anyway. Actually I look like hell. I was up so late last night working on it I overslept this morning. I have whiskers like yeah and am filled with much of your “it’s only in the mind” stinking sweat and etc.
Monday 3:15 PM
As soon as I finish this letter I’m rushing out to the Baskin and Robbins ice cream store, less than a block away. It is in the 40s, temperature wise, and we figure it’s time to hit the ice cream habit again. I’ve got a marshmallow hot fudge sundae made with French vanilla on order.
Tuesday May 14, 1963 9:00 PM
I have been working like hell, that’s the whole story, but I know that that is no new story. I did manage to finish off the Proceedings Saturday at United Letter, and Ajay mailed it today, so it is somewhere en route to the printer in Ann Arbor. What little non-company work I’ve managed to squeeze out besides that is to do just a little on the paperback index. I’ve also found a way to salvage those convention envelopes….
Undated no date no time
On the Proceedings, by working hard and diligently into the wee hours of each day I am now up with the transcriber on the pretype. I am waiting for more to arrive and have sent the pretype home with Briney to check names, etc. for accuracy.
Monday 10:30 AM
Sam Moskowitz came to visit by prearrangement. We sat around from 7:30 PM until midnight talking about his frozen food convention, his frozen food magazine, and advertising for magazines in general. We touched only very briefly on fandom, dropped it quickly and rushed on to editing and publishing in general.
It was a pleasant enough evening. Later I drove him back to his hotel and then came back to the house and went to bed.
Undated Friday 10:00 AM
Last night, Vincent Starrett (The) called me up to chat a while about science fiction, etc. He was very apologetic about calling me, I told him he shouldn’t have been. It was fun, after a fashion. Me, standing there, holding a drippy paintbrush in my hand, nauseated from the fumes of the paint, shaking in a cold room.
Undated Wednesday 10:30 AM
Noreen is screaming “panic” at Larry and is scared shitless about the world situation. She is on the phone to him about four times a day (yesterday and today) and is flying in to be with him this afternoon. I am picking them up at O’Hare.
Ajay is taking advantage of something, perhaps Larry’s presence. He came in yesterday at 11:00 AM, is not here now, but is expected before noon. He did call Playboy with the word, “I’m ready to talk turkey whenever you can set it up.”
Undated Thursday 9:30 AM
Monday night I got a lot of the pictures keyed into the Proceedings. Also wrote to the Life photographer asking for permission to use his pictures in it.
August 6, 1963 no time
The party for Fritz Leiber was hastily contrived, last minute thing. I invited a minimum of sf types and a minimum of office types. They mixed surprisingly well. (*Martha, John Jackson and girl friend, Richard and Rosemary Hickey, Ann Dinkleman* and date*, Pat Oswalt*, Louie Grant, Fran Schroeder, Lynn Hickman who happened to be in town, John and Joanie Stopa, Frank Robinson, M&M Elliott*, Ann Schuneman* and her brother* and her date*. Everything went along very nicely, not too much consumed. Then along around 3:00 AM the party started breaking up and nine of us who were left decided to go to the Stopas and swim naked in the moonlight. We did. I got back at 8:00 AM with a trunk full of sandy undies. We are the swimmers*.
It was a fine party.
by Fritz Leiber
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser were born of the Bankrupt Thirties, and like true depression children, they didn’t earn a cent for years and years—five, to be exact.
It was 1934. Five years earlier the market had crashed; the Wall Street chaps had jumped from their windows or lived for months and years in terror of red revolt by the apple-sellers and the bread-line men; one of them had gone haring off to lay the groundwork for Alcoholics Anonymous.
And in 1934 prosperity still seemed acrumble to those of us who were around, despite the small beginnings of social security; in the next year Congress would vote the president four billion dollars for plain unemployment relief—the WPA, PWA, and such: a desperate bribe to desperate men. Midwestern bank robbers were folk heroes.
Jobs seemed impossible to come by and were often rather odd: during the past two years I had been hiring out as an Episcopalian minister; my friend Harry Fischer had been putting on puppet shows featuring the chuckling murderer Punch and the grisly hangman Jack Ketch.
Twenty-five dollars a 48-hour week was a princely wage for college graduates. The Blue Eagle of the NRA was affrighting businessmen while giving them unconfessed hope. Fascism was gathering its final horrendous strength in Europe. Most extroverted brave young radicals were Marxists of some stripe; the introverted ones patched their lives together week by week, hunting work, jeered at the world, played chess or the newly invented contract bridge, read voraciously, and dreamed.
Despite need for escape, the pulp magazines were fading—the weekly pulps of the twenties were gone. The lavish movie houses from the same decade—Balaban & Katz baroque seemed haunted places. TV, using whirling metal Nipkov disks as scanners, was an experiment inside GE labs. Pee-wee golf had replaced the luxurious private links with their marble-lined locker rooms. H.G. Wells was predicting in The Shape of Things to Come an America with the clockwork all run down, and in very truth, fear and lethargy still gripped our land.
The two creators of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser shared this uneasy lethargy. In the summer of 1934 my friend Harry Fischer had written to me from Louisville, Kentucky: “I am static for fear that any motion would be fatal. The gods have laid my soul aside to molder for a time,” and I had written to him from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: “We still have those great foreknowledges of ourselves that you call adolescent fancies. But they will become moldy and rotten and the trolls will creep into them greedily if we do not act soon. Our dreams will become the nests of the little gray ones, unless.
“But there is much of strong hope,” I went on to say, and indeed this was true for that September I received from Harry a long letter in which was embedded this seminal fragment, which I quoted in full in the foreword to my Arkham House book, Night’s Black Agents:
“For all do fear the one known as the Gray Mouser. He walks with swagger ’mongst the bravos, though he’s but the stature of a child. His costume is all of gray, from gauntlets to boots and spurs of steel.”
Of Fafhrd, he wrote that he laughed merrily and was “full seven feet in height. His eyes, wide-set, were proud and of fearless mien. His wrist between gauntlet and mail was white as milk and thick as a hero’s ankle.”
They met “in the walled city of the Tuatha De Danann called Lankhmar, built on the edge of the Great Salt Marsh, and so the saga of the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd was begun.”
In a letter postmarked September 24, 1934, I replied:
“Last night I walked down by devious paths to the sea. And there I sat beside a congeries of silver gas tanks in the light of a veiled moon. I crouched upon a bulkhead and the sea lapped subtly at the rocks about my feet.
“And it came to pass then that a low black craft slid into my range of vision. In the back rose the ominous frame of Fafhrd, clad all in black. Ever and anon he would chance their course when a whisper floated back from the bow, where the grays of the Mouser’s garments hung over the sea like a ghost’s. Through a strange scopic instrument he was peering into the sea—only I noted that the instrument made no ripples where it entered the deeps: it was not into our local waters that the instrument peered.
“There came a swirl of waters on that calm night as if a whirlpool that lay at right angles to the boat had seized it. I caught a glimpse of the Mouser fighting an indistinct creature that held eight swords in as many writhing arms. Immediately afterward the dark sea was empty.”
Of these two fragments Harry’s has style and polish, a remarkable example of hitting the right tone on the first attempt. Mine is a reverie projected on the real world: I actually did go down by those oil tanks at night and sit by New York Bay and imagine things.
It is clear that Harry had been reading Irish myth and legend, for the Tuatha De Danann were the pagan gods of Ireland, children of Danu, the great goddess of fertility and death. They were later identified with the Aes Sidhe, or Little People.
This link with the world of Irish myth was soon dropped, however, and was not as great to start with as might appear. Lankhmar and the Great Salt Marsh are not to be found there, and while Fafhrd as first described is a rather typical Celtic hero, the Mouser certainly is not—he already sounds medieval, perhaps Mediterranean, a being of dark alleyways and docks rather than green forests and meads; a small handsome gray gargoyle come to life.
Incidentally, my vision of the Mouser and Fafhrd peering down into dark waters for hints of alien life—while I peer at them through the dark—is a very apt picture of the writer at his creative work. He peers into the black pool of his unconscious mind, glimpses a flash of green, notes down the exact shade of color and rhythm of disappearance—and then as much as a year later, in the course of actually writing a story, hooks and pulls out of that pool a seventy tentacled green monster as tall as a skyscraper.
Now, let us take a closer look at the two young men who penned and typed the fragments I’ve just quoted. Although sharing the general mood of the mid-thirties, they were anything but typical depression children.
I was born December 24, 1910, son of the Shakespearean actor and producer of the same name. I was deeply familiar from early childhood with the more commonly presented plays of Shakespeare. I went to the University of Chicago, where my interests, aside from writing, shifted from chemistry to physics to math to psychology to philosophy to theology—a quaintly precise trending from the material to the insubstantial. After a rather brief acting career with my father’s last touring company and an even briefer try at the movies, I became an encyclopedia writer, a magazine editor, and finally a freelance writer.
Harry Otto Fischer was born July 9, 1910, the same year but all the way across the zodiac from me—Cancer to my Capricorn. He early became a wide-ranging reader, soaking up everything from Weird Tales and Astounding and Edgar Rice Burroughs to Wassermann and Joyce and Proust, by way of Eric Linklater, Richard Aldington, and James Branch Cabell. In 1935 he married the artist Martha McElroy, who created the earliest pictorial representations of Fafhrd and the Mouser and drew the first full maps of Lankhmar and the world of Nehwon. Despite his early maturing literary ability, Harry went into the box business, where he is a designer and engineer specializing in corrugated packaging. The Scalpel scores pasteboard, Cat’s Claw staples it. I have never heard of any of his cartons turning out to contain poisonous eels of Lankhmar’s salt marsh, or giant spiders of Klesh, but I have my hopes.
Harry and I met about 1930. We had much in common: a great interest in fantasy and romantic literature such as H. Rider Haggard’s and Talbot Mundy’s; a liking for sardonic German wit; both fencers, chess and bridge enthusiasts too; there were strong dramatic streaks: my own Shakespeare and Ibsen, his puppet shows (which he and his wife created and produced jointly) and later his semi-professional ballet dancing (his wife designed sets).
Corresponding with Harry, my typical letters rather quickly jumped from ten lines to ten pages. Soon we were exchanging missives in which news, commentary, and talk about books were regularly spaced out with extemporized fragments of fantasy and poetry. We would often take up each other’s conceits and, tossing the literary ball (or literary bull) back and forth, produce series of loosely related fragments. We explored several other imaginary worlds before that of Lankhmar came dimly into view.
First there was the universe of the Elder Gods, shading into the realm of Loki and the trolls, which grew equally from the Elder Edda and Peer Gynt.
Next there was the philosophy of chaoticism: “The only God is Chaos, and Chaos is his prophet.”
Then there were the Wischmeiers, a prolific Central-European family of rogue geniuses—perhaps a little predictive of the brilliant Hungarians who have played so prominent a part in American scientific and intellectual life the last thirty years: Gamov, Wiener, Teller, Franz Alexander, Szilard, von Neumann, and their compatriots.
The first Wischmeiers were invented on the spur of the moment to confound a Louisville friend who by some almost unimaginable sleight had managed to read Spengler’s Decline of the West before Harry or I did. It seems that Adolf and Herman Wischmeier had written a five-volume commentary on that work, disproving the German cyclic historian’s theses at almost every point. They were students of Freud, a psycho-mythologist and mytho-psychologist respectively, and were currently engaged in psychoanalyzing the Norse gods, much as Freud had taken to pieces Hamlet, Oedipus, Moses, and Leonardo da Vinci.
A flesh-and-blood professor of psychology belittled their work to Harry, but never questioned their existence—minor students of Freud, he would say.
And then there was a Wischmeier who circumnavigated the cosmos in a fiery chariot (establishing incidentally that it was not saddle-shaped)—Elijah Wischmeier, I believe.
A Chicago friend of ours, Georg Mann, joined the game—I believe by inventing Ottocar Wischmeier, who falsified the entire history of the Middle Ages. Georg became more deeply interested than Harry or I in those rapscallion masterminds, those modern Cagliostros, those scarecrow profundities. Georg was another wide-ranging reader with a rat-trap memory—no, a memory that struck down and embalmed thousands of facts at once, like DDT. He was the first student to start from scratch and win a degree at the University of Chicago under Hutchin’s new plan for accelerated learning. He eventually published, in New Directions annuals, several long satiric and polemical biographical essays about members of the Wischmeier tribe. “Anselm Wischmeier” takes apart the neo-Thomists. “Azeff Wischmeier, the Bolshevik Bureaucrat” anticipated all of Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm—but unfortunately for Georg, at the peak of our wartime friendship with Russia.
He has recently returned to satiric writing with two contemporary-scene novels published by Macmillan: The Dollar Diploma, which tells all about the fund-raising drives of big private universities, and The Blind Ballots, which takes a bitterly humorous look at suburban school boards and politicking.
I have digressed here because the Wischmeiers are a good example of how contagious the game of imaginary worlds can be and of how a little heavy humor may lead someone to years of work behind the typewriter. Writers, be warned!
Now, what does this background material tell us about the origins of the Mouser and Fafhrd?
For one thing, that those origins were most diverse. Remember chaoticism!
For another, that we were using all our characters, including Fafhrd and the Mouser, to comment on life and the affairs of the world.
Fafhrd began as a somewhat regulation hero, though he has grown much less so. As for the Gray Mouser, one can point out faint similarities to Loki, Peer Gynt, François Villon, Etzel Andergast in Wassermann’s Kerkhoven trilogy, Spendius in Flaubert’s Salammbo, Jurgen himself and Horvendile in The Cream of the Jest, even the Pied Piper of Hamelin and Punch as a young man, but they are greatly outweighed by the differences—quite unconvincing. The Mouser stubbornly remains the Mouser alone.
Authors, of course, inevitably put much of themselves into their characters. So in a sense Harry Fischer is the Gray Mouser and I am Fafhrd.
Being Fafhrd to some degree has been, over the years, an interesting responsibility, which I have fulfilled more in imagination than reality.
I do fence with the three weapons and I have owned workaday sabers, both the fairly comfortable weapon of the Civil War and the ponderous straight blade issued to the U.S. Cavalry just before World War I, which I can liken only to a skewer suitable for broiling roast-size shish kebab. I have occasionally toyed with one of the latter weapons in the manner of Fafhrd, handling it as a foil rather than a broadsword, and I find it really is better for thrusting; if you swing it in a great swashing stroke, you’re apt to fall down.
And occasionally I look down at my unexercised frame and I think of Fafhrd and I go out and climb a fifty-foot mountain or scale a ten-foot rock wall. Or drive a mountain road just fast enough to make the tires start to squeak. Or sail a sailboat in a lagoon. Or plunge into a medium-size Pacific roller, but not one of the really big ones that come crashing in for three days every three years, all the way from Japan.
For a while I was handier at living up to Fafhrd’s reputation for wine-bibbing, but I discovered that this was incompatible with being the skald and scribe of the expedition. As the poet Peter Viereck puts it, “Art, like the bartender, is never drunk” —though he rightly stays in the midst of every wild party.
To find out more about the origins of Fafhrd and the Mouser than I’ve already told, you will have to consult Ningauble of the Seven Eyes.
Sheelba of the Eyeless Face, the balancing mystic-counselor figure to Ningauble in the stories, is perhaps the last clear trace of Irish-sounding invention in them.
Although 1934 ended with Fafhrd and the Mouser sharply crystallized, their background world or worlds was indeterminate.
In the autumn of 1935 I began a novella of the Twain, set in the misty period and empire of the Seleucids, and finished it early in 1936. This tale was rejected by several book publishers and by Farnsworth Wright of Weird Tales as being too full of stylistic novelties. It went through three or four recastings and rewritings, and was finally published in 1947 as “Adept’s Gambit” in my Arkham House collection, Night’s Black Agents.
At this point I want to state categorically that the cavern of Ningauble has obscure space-time linkages—perhaps some sort of seven-fold warps—which permit Fafhrd and the Mouser to adventure occasionally in other worlds than that of Nehwon.
In January 1936 I married Jonquil Stephens, one more super swift reader with interests ranging from the earliest British poets to the latest murder writers, from medieval manuscripts to the modern Russian novel. In the late summer of that year she put me (and a little later, Harry) in touch with H.P. Lovecraft, who criticized and circulated “Adept’s Gambit” —and incidentally engendered in me a larger respect for careful literary polishing and historical researching.
At about the same time I was working up a many-chaptered novel of the Mouser and Fafhrd, which had as a working title The Tale of the Grain Ships. In the written chapters of this novel Lankhmar became more real—a sort of dark counter-Rome, eventually “The City of the Black Toga” —but, perhaps more important, another country emerges into view. In a letter to Harry Fischer postmarked December 9, 1936, and sent from Los Angeles to Louisville, I say that I am planning a new story, “...set in a country that has just been sent by kind dreams: a land a little like Norway in its houses, but more like Thrace because of its city-states and empire.”
On the back of the envelope I have written in ink (along with a picture of trolls oozing from the windows of squat stone towers in a rocky landscape):
“And the king of the new country to be described in this letter was called: Movarl, Overlord of the Eight Cities and of the Northward Limit of Illik-Ving.”
Later, in the body of the same letter, I drew a rather blocky, yet moderately detailed, map of my new country, this Land .of the Eight Cities. Borders were left open, names incompletely listed. And while I seemed to want the world of Nehwon definitely linked to the real world of today, I didn’t want to specify exactly where it lies and whether in the past or the future.
In the following years the World of Nehwon, mapped in greater detail and artistry by Martha Fischer, became more definite and self-consistent, but its linkage with our reality has never been precisely determined. It seems to lie in an alternate universe.
Harry eventually elaborated this briefly noted imagining into the half-written beginnings of an adventure set in the subterranean city-kingdom of Quarmall, south of Lankhmar.
I wrote about 150 pages of The Tale of the Grain Ships, discovered one morning that I still had not introduced many of the main characters or really launched into the plot, and I gave up working on it—the problem of earning a day-to-day living had become too pressing.
It was not until January 1961 that, encouraged by Cele Goldsmith’s purchase of two new tales, I was able to sift seriously through the material again and write the finished tale of the rats and the grain ships, published in Fantastic as “Scylla’s Daughter.”
But I do not want to leave that golden period of 1936, that period of first massive imaginings, without one last quote from that serviceable Los Angeles letter of December 9, 1936—a quote which possibly tells more about the real origins of the intrigue-ridden, pleasure-sated, sorcery-working, thief-ruled city of Lankhmar, its fat merchants and cut-throat rogues, its gilded courtesans and shrewd mountebanks, and its linkages to a certain city in our own world, than perhaps even Sheelba knows:
“Last night we were at a cocktail party given by John Barrymore and the wife of his lately much publicized romance (Elaine Barry). It was at a huge place—at least it had one two-story room in which I could stretch without limit. There we did meet the following: Frederic March, James Cagney, Edward Arnold, Pat O’Brien, Johnny Weissmuller, Frank Shields, Alan Mowbray, Louella Parsons (Hearst’s Hungarian witch and all-powerful columnist), several directors, producers, and lesser fry.
“It amazed me greatly for a while, to see so many of America’s symbols all at once. However, then I got wedged between Mr. Barrymore and Mr. March and discovered, much to my surprise, that they have bottoms that wedge in much the same fashion as any other person’s.
“However, most of them seemed very good-natured, unassuming, and pleasant—who isn’t who’s making a lot of money? Mr. Barrymore is charmingly foul-mouthed, making up in roaring and gusto what he lacks in subtlety and studiousness. He was explaining (and impersonating) a certain gargoyle on Notre Dame at one time—how it sat and looked down at the city and said nothing but, ’Shit! Shit! All shit’ As I pointed out to him, it was likely for fear of what gargoyles themselves might do in that line that their makers often ended them off at the waist. And then he would roar and get maudlin and say, ’When you get up tonight, take a good long sweet piss and think of me, will you?’
“This would be a fine place for you, Gray Mouser. Everyone and everything is so confused; in fact, there is so much of chaos out here, chaos built on fear, suspicion, too much and too little bureaucracy, that a person with a knowledge of the whims and pettishnesses of the blind god Azathoth would have the upper hand.”
I’ll say no more about this quote than that it illustrates a creative point I firmly hold: Fantasy must be fertilized—yes, watered and manured—from the real world.
After this Los Angeles period, Fafhrd and the Mouser languished unpublished and largely unworked-on for two years. Then in 1939 the magazine Unknown appeared—a black bombshell in the fantasy world. I took the silver bit in my teeth, devised a somewhat choppier, more action-packed style of narrative than Harry and I had used in our letters, set up for myself the rule that my heroes should be not Conans or Troses but earthy characters with earthy weaknesses, winning in the end mostly by luck from villains and supernatural forces more powerful than themselves, and turned out the novelette, “Two Sought Adventure,” which appeared in the August issue of Unknown—a bit of fantasy guerrilla warfare before the real kind set in next month along the Vistula River.
When I used the same title for my Gnome Press collection of 1957, this novelette became “The Jewels in the Forest.”
Another year of languishing and I gave a touch of plot to a short mood-piece and made my second Fafhrd-Mouser sale to Unknown: “The Bleak Shore.”
There followed “The Howling Tower,” “The Sunken Land,” and “Thieves’ House.”
Oddly, no Fafhrd-Mouser story was ever published in Weird Tales, though more than one was submitted there, all but “Adept’s Gambit” in the period after Farnsworth Wright. My “oddly” was confirmed by John W. Campbell, Jr., who more than once remarked in accepting a story, “This is more of a Weird Tales piece than Unknown usually prints. However—”
After Unknown became Unknown Worlds and folded in 1943, the appearances of Fafhrd and the Mouser became infrequent. In 1951 Suspense took “Dark Vengeance,” which became “Claws from the Night” in the collection.
In 1953 Bea Mahaffey encouraged me to do, for Other Worlds, “The Seven Black Priests,” based on an off-trail chapter from the long story of the grain ships.
Then, in 1959, I did “Lean Times in Lankhmar,” purely from nostalgia, writing with freedom and not avoiding grotesqueries and humor—the title, by the way, was suggested by George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, another indication of the close back-door linkage between fantasy and realism. I was greatly enheartened when it was accepted for Fantastic by Cele Goldsmith, who subsequently bought “When the Sea King’s Away,” “Scylla’s Daughter,” and “The Unholy Grail.”
Over the years, through good times and bad, the Mouser and Fafhrd have become such good familiar friends to me, teasing or bullying me out of my discouraged moods when no one else could, that I have no doubt I will continue to solicit adventures from them.
- - -
By Will Murray
The praises of John W(ood) Campbell’s legendary fantasy pulp, Unknown, have been sung often before. Likewise, the Street & Smith magazine has been indexed several times, and one would suppose that there would be little more to say on the matter. After all, Unknown had only a thirty-nine issue run (the last thirteen of those under the title, Unknown Worlds), each one of which has been ransacked for uncounted anthologies and collections. What more could be said?
You’d be surprised. Through the courtesy of Paul H. Bonner, Jr. of the Conde Nast Publications, Inc., here is unquestionably the definitive Unknown/Unknown Worlds index, incorporating data culled from the Street & Smith payment records. It should shed some light into a few unexpectedly dark corners of the most renowned fantasy magazine ever.
This index is modeled after the contents pages of the Unknown issues, but it is expanded to include additional information such as authors’ original titles, authors’ names where pen names were employed, and submission dates for each story. (Serial submission dates are listed only once.) The stories are listed by published title, with the original titles following in parentheses; the bylines follow, with the presumed authors’ real names, where applicable, in parentheses after them. (Certain real names which are close to the pen names, such as Horace L. Gold, R. Alvarez-del Rey, etc., have been indicated only once in the index.) Lastly, the submission dates are placed in the extreme right-hand margin. In several instances, stories are designated by an asterisk as having been transferred from Astounding.. Unknown was created when John Campbell received Eric Frank Russell’s novel, Sinister Barrier, for Astounding, inspiring the editor to create an unusual magazine to house such an unusual story. Apparently other Astounding submissions were channeled into the new magazine at that time, and later as well.
The value of this index rests in its revelations of undisclosed collaborations and rewritten manuscripts, which we’ll leave for the reader to discover for himself. Most of these are self-explanatory. The one ambiguity is the repeated listings of A(lfred) E(lton) van Vogt as the author of several stories, which were run under the name of his wife, E(dna) Mayne Hull. Probably this only denotes that van Vogt submitted the manuscripts for his wife; however a memo from John W. Campbell referred to the Hull name as a pen name of van Vogt’s. Van Vogt might have led Campbell to believe this, of course. Whatever, these entries are preserved as the payment records list them.
The pattern of manuscript submission is also of interest in that it shows that stories for Unknown were heavily bought up in advance. Campbell purchased very few new stories during 1943, Unknown’s last year, as he had a backlog of stories going back to 1941.
In fact, his inventory was so overburdened with manuscripts that he channeled a number of Unknown stories over to Astounding. These included, “Not Only Dead Men” by A.E. van Vogt (November 1942); “Johnny Had a Gun” by Robert Moore Williams (December 1942); “Elsewhen” by Anthony Boucher [William Anthony Parker White] (January 1943); two stories by Anthony Boucher under one of his other pseudonyms, that of H.H. Holmes, “Q.U.R.” (March 1943) and “Sanctuary” (June 1943), and “Paradox Lost” by Fredric Brown (October 1943).
Perhaps of greater interest to the Unknown collector is the chronological list of inventory stories, which follows the index itself. This list of thirty-one manuscripts comprises the contents of never-to-be-published issues of Unknown Worlds, including what would have been the first appearances in Unknown Worlds of a number of authors.
When Unknown Worlds was suspended, Campbell immediately singled out six stories that he planned to run in Astounding, as well as two book reviews. Probably these manuscripts represented the contents of the unpublished November 1943 issue of Unknown Worlds, and they may have already been set in type necessitating publication.
The stories were:
“If You Can Get It-” was published in the November 1943 Astounding immediately and, in a memo dated that month, Campbell said of the remaining five stories:
In that, Campbell’s editorial judgment was for once not acute. He ran “We Print the Truth” in the December 1943 Astounding, along with a warning that the story was a fantasy and that he planned to run occasional fantasies in Astounding in the future.
Reader reaction was so vehement that Campbell was forced to release the remaining stories slowly over the next four years, and he did not try to run any of the manuscripts not set in type, not even “Author! Author!”
Of the remaining Unknown Worlds manuscripts, they have mostly become lost to history, except for a very few which were remarketed by their respective authors. Street & Smith, in their only other known attempt to use some of these stories, submitted three of them to one of their own magazines—Charm, of all things. “Housing Problem” by Henry Kuttner. “The Cats” by Jane Rice and “The Well Wisher” by E.M. Hull were transferred to Charm in June 1944. Only “Housing Problem” was considered fit to print, and it appeared in the issue dated October 1944.
The fate of the remaining stories—except where noted—is a mystery, as they do not exist in the Street & Smith files. As Campbell held out hopes of one day reviving the magazine, he may have held onto the stories, but this is unconfirmable.
Unknown Worlds, which had been cancelled by the World War II paper shortage, was revived briefly in a 1948 magazine anthology titled From Unknown Worlds, but only as a vehicle for reprinted stories. This has not been indexed for that reason.
Now what more can—or need—be said about that wonderful magazine, Unknown!
INDEX TO STREET & SMITH’S UNKNOWN
UNKNOWN WORLDS MANUSCRIPT INVENTORY
Another story, Ray Bradbury’s “Doodad” may have been an Unknown submission originally. It appeared in Astounding, September 1943. Also “Manuscript Found in a Mushroom Cave” by James Val Downie, The Shadow, November 1943.
1) Published in the first issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, Fall 1949.
Thanks to Daryl S. Herrick, William H. Desmond, and Kenneth R. Johnson for their help with this article.
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More Mack Reynolds
The Home of the Inquisitor
by Earl Kemp
eI43, in April, was a dedicated issue in memory of Mack and Jeanette Reynolds, my dear old friends from San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. For that issue I had a great deal of help from Mack’s son, Emil Reynolds.
In May, Emil emailed me and asked if I had ever read The Home of the Inquisitor, by Maxine Reynolds, the pseudonym that Mack used on four Gothic novels he wrote for Beagle Books in 1972. He went on to say that the novel was located in San Miguel de Allende and contained many things that I might know of personally. For that reason he was sending me a copy, inscribed “To Earl Kemp, one of Dad’s biggest fans!” and signed Emil Reynolds.
I knew that Mack had written those Gothic novels for Beagle but I had never had copies or read a one of them. With Emil’s recommendation and mention that the novel was set in San Miguel de Allende, I jumped into reading it with particular zeal.
Almost immediately we encounter George Washington Hughes, the protagonist with a very unhandy name, one she has grown accustomed to through the years. Throughout the book she is frequently called upon to explain her unusual name.
We meet George in “Maxine’s” fictional town of San Felipe de Hidalgo, patterned rather closely after San Miguel de Allende in all respects. Oddly enough, it also rather accurately depicts my own personal Mexican art colony, Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, and my experiences acquired while living there.
Then, without much delay, we encounter two of the really significant characters in the novel, the couple Clark and Jeanette McCord, described down to the “t”…and accurately, too. Jeanette is the local resident housewife with all the answers to all the questions and the best recipes in town. There is nothing she can’t do well or cook superbly.
Clark, her writer husband, does the local gossip column for the Mexico City Daily News, an English newspaper. And, need I say, he smokes a pipe…constantly. One is always in his mouth or his hand or his thoughts at all times. There are even comments like “does he take it out of his mouth to eat?” because he doesn’t need to do so to talk or do most anything else Mack liked to do between drinks and reloading of his pipe…(frequently in the novel as well). [This is significant, of course, in Mack’s fatal esophageal cancer.]
Mack/Clark also asks visitors from the US to please bring pipe tobacco to him so he has a continuously replenishing supply. Mack Reynolds’ first request….
Not only that, but Clark writes in the mornings, rigidly, without interruptions.
Not only that, but the McCords have a large red parrot [actually a scarlet macaw] named Pancho that stalks, attacks, and bites unsuspecting people.
The second male lead character, Ray Wilcock, hero hunk of the heroine, is also a pipe smoker. It reads very much as if Clark doesn’t know who he is in this book and because Clark and Ray have identical habits and mannerisms, he keeps switching positions with himself.
Jeanette is, as she was in life, the absolute queen of the local area…the person to go to with any question. As she would walk about the streets, she would be greeted continuously, as royalty, and she returned each salute in kind. She knew where to purchase the best of everything at the best possible price on the right day of the week.
In her own right, Jeanette was a superb photographer, and she was depicted that way in this novel, fully equipped and hard at work taking pictures for posterity.
Our heroine, George (Did she ever meet George Cogswell?), has inherited the House of the Inquisitor from her scoundrel brother she hadn’t seen in decades. George is portrayed as the most naive, simple, unsophisticated beautiful woman who ever lived. She finds herself surrounded by fanatical Catholic trappings from the actual Inquisition itself. She is just a simple little 9-year IBM cardpunch operator…the only job she has ever had or wanted. She couldn’t even speak Spanish, never lived in a mansion, never had servants…never had a life.
George’s brother, in his years-long occupation of the House of the Inquisitor, was always broke and in extreme need of funds. Toward that end, he sold the furniture right out of the house. Over time, the interior became very empty and disrespected. Her brother didn’t even bother with disposing of routine trash; he just let it accumulate inside the huge old mansion.
Yet there George was, abruptly right in the middle of one of the most active, glamorous art colonies in all the world, and being dragged along to the-party-of-the-week by total strangers who all turn out to be the A-List local expatriates with big easy bucks to play with who, for reasons unknown, adopt her instantly into their most inner circle of shakers and movers.
It is George’s intent to sell the house as quickly as reasonable and return to her job at IBM in the States. Only the house is in such poor shape physically it would need a great deal of attention before it could be offered for sale.
Plus there were all those frightening rumors surrounding the huge old mansion with its many floors and staircases, quite unique accommodations in the basement, secret staircases from bedroom to bedroom…things that go bomp in the night. George’s newfound friends took over totally and made all arrangements and decisions for her. It was their idea to refurbish the interior of the house and the elaborately landscaped gardens. And they set all their personal servants and routine contract associates to cleaning out the house, touching up the interior, furnishing it, and placing it on the market at $10,000 over the estimated true market value of $40,000.
In the interim, using the talents of the better-known artists of San Felipe de Hidalgo, to turn the interior of the house into an art gallery, selling the local artworks in exchange for a small commission for the gallery.
Clark and Jeanette McCord have the task of publicizing the effort, touting the glories of the house and what a great buy it would be, and Jeanette with photographing the finished rooms and the photographs being printed along with Clark’s articles in the newspaper.
In The House of the Inquisitor, Mack Reynolds managed to repeat most of his favorite stories about expatriates and how they live, and how art colonies evolve, thrive, and die. Much as Mack wrote about in his The Expatriates, published by Regency in 1962, along with a number of the reasons he usually rolls out regarding life in the USA. It is also obvious, to anyone that knows Mack, that he relied heavily on some of his world traveling experiences of living in far off exotic locations. It is interesting to note that while Mack mentions writing travel material for Holiday magazine, he did not mention his decades-long travel articles for Rogue magazine.
Another interesting and uniquely Reynolds thing was Mack’s rather extensive descriptions of the illegal problems associated with private collections of pre-Columbian artifacts. And in describing some of those collections, how they are handled, legally and otherwise, and then exported out of the country. Mexico is the legal owner of all pre-Columbian artifacts anywhere in the nation, and in charge of protecting them all for all.
Each night, as George tries to sleep alone, the eternal virgin, she would hear weird footsteps moving around the house and her own doorknob slowly turning, trying to open. It became quickly evident that someone or some thing didn’t want her living in that spooky, haunted house.
Within only a few days, the house is suitably cleansed and upgraded and furnished in a grand style, the pieces of furniture literally coming out of the best houses in town. As did the estate gardens. The borrowed gardeners and their crews had turned the ignored, stressed-out landscaping into glorious elegance. The walls were well covered with superb artwork and…much to George’s surprise…the paintings begin selling.
…and her ghost continues to taunt her and frighten her every evening.
There was nothing left for George to do except to confront her ghost head on, so she arranged for Ray to sneak into the house and help her set a trap to catch the overnight visitor red handed. Or was she really just setting a trap of her own, to capture Ray…?
The Anthem Series: Part VI Section Two
Copyrighted material removed at the request of the author.
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