Supernatural, science fiction, and fantasy collections
TRAVELS THROUGH LOST WORLDS: THE LIVING DEATH /
IN AMUNDSEN'S TENT / DROME
JOHN MARTIN LEAHY
John Martin Leahy is best known for his 1920s Lost World adventures, set in both the Antarctic and a subterranean world beneath the Pacific Northwest. This volume collects his two serial novels, The Living Death and Drome, as well as the short story “In Amundsen’s Tent.” All three tales share a foundational mythology that teases readers with glimpses of forgotten technologies and crumbled civilizations, giving the tales more depth than the average scientific romance of the time. (And for cryptofiction fans, there are tree-octopi, snake-cats, bear-men, and more!)
The Street of Queer Houses and Other Stories was published in New York in 1924. (Another volume, The Street of Queer Houses and Other Tales, was published in London in 1925, but only shared four stories in common with this book.) Vernon Knowles (1899-1968) was Australian, eventually moving to England. His fantasy stories share similarities to those of Lord Dunsany, with one reviewer noting that Knowles’ “best stories are amusing literary confections.”
Most of the stories here are short, some light, others dark in tone. Very imaginative, though not particularly deep. Those who like weird little fantasies will enjoy browsing over these tales.
The stories in this collection range from traditional ghost stories and strange tales to stories of murder and madness. There are a few light tales, but several dive right into the horrific. Neither of these authors (Richard Middleton and Barry Pain) is as well-known as they ought to be among supernatural story enthusiasts.
The Curse of the Lion (1922) includes twelve loosely connected Club Stories of vengeance, murder, and the supernatural from Darkest Africa. Ghosts, curses, and lost races mix with slave-traders, marauders, and “ape men.” Set in the era of British Imperialism, F. A. M. Webster explores the darkness within the human heart while his characters explore territories unknown.
SECRET WELLS: THE SPECULATIVE FICTION OF A. C.
A. C. BENSON
"All the best stories are but one story in reality—the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape."
Secret Wells collects 26 stories of fantasy and the supernatural from one of the three talented Benson brothers. Seven of these were originally published as by "B", and are terrific examples of the antiquarian ghost story in the M. R. Jamesian tradition.
It is not merely ghosts and demons that haunt the stories of E. F. Benson, but the darkness of the human soul. This text collects 36 stories of fantasy and the supernatural from another of the three talented Benson brothers.
M. P. Shiel is known for descriptively rich and layered stories. This collection includes twelve of his weirdly atmospheric speculative fiction tales.
The stories included are Huguenin’s Wife, The Spectre-Ship, Tulsah, Vaila, Xélucha, The Bride, A Shot at the Sun, The Bell of St. Sépulcre, The Great King, The Pale Ape, Dark Lot of One Saul, and The Place of Pain.
The Story of a Troll-Hunt is a classic light fantasy, the story of three young men who take a holiday vacation to Denmark in search of a live troll.
The story and sketches were published in 1904 as a memorial tribute after the early death of its author/artist, James McBryde. University scholar and ghost-story writer M. R. James (one of the trio of friends inspiring the story) provided the introduction.
McBryde's artistry is phenomenal, foreshadowing the loose humorous skill of Dr. Seuss. The story is handwritten, seemingly requiring the attention of a cryptographer, but this edition includes a translation of the whimsical writing.
Before King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, was the French king Charlemagne and his honorable (usually) knights. Several stories are interwoven in this fascinating narrative, involving Charlemagne's leadership, jousts and battles with the Saracens, political betrayal, the romance of knights (including Roland, and his lady), and a brave young girl, Mitaine, who faces a dark faceless enemy and becomes a page in Roland's service. The stories are well-illustrated by the famed Gustave Doré.
“[A] light-hearted whimsy laid in wartime England. . . . A nonsense tale which has its touch of commonsense, this is a warm and friendly fantasia.” Kirkus Review (1953)
[P]ure diversion, a kind of ectoplasmic farce. . . . Nonsense? Of course. But delight, too, a chuckling fantasy from a comic-strip imagination of superior inventiveness and wit.” The Saturday Review (1954)
Mrs. Searwood, a widow in wartime London, is certain that Hitler has a personal grudge against her, but her life takes a decidedly stranger twist when she finds companionship in a spirit, Chief White Feather, who has been passing the last 300 years educating himself at Britain’s institutions of higher learning. Moving to a small village to get away from the bombs, Mrs. Searwood finds more adventure, and romance, than she would have ever guessed.
THE ADVENTURES OF DARBY O'GILL AND OTHER TALES
OF SUPERNATURAL IRELAND
HERMINIE TEMPLETON KAVANAGH
While better known from the Disney movie adaptation, the original Darby O'Gill stories have delighted readers for almost a century. Darby and other townsfolk encounter fairies, ghosts, the devil, a banshee, and other creatures from Irish mythology. Poor Darby never gets his crock of gold, but this volume is a treasure trove of humor and adventure.
Stories were originally published in two volumes, Darby O'Gill and the Good People and The Ashes of Old Wishes.
BORDERCROSSINGS: THE FANTASY NOVELS OF
WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON
WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON
William Hope Hodgson's too short life still managed to create a fantasy world that continues to influence writers of fantasy and horror today. From fighting nautical terrors to battling evil at the end of time, his novels bring the fantastic imagination to life.
This volume includes four novels: The Boats of the "Glen Carrig," The House on the Borderland, The Ghost Pirates, and The Night Land.
Charles Loring Jackson (1847-1935) was integral to bringing organic chemistry to the United States. In addition to being a scientist and professor, however, he had a great love for theater and literature.
At almost 80 years of age, Jackson published a collection of twelve speculative fiction stories, filled with ghosts, dark magic, and strange science. There's no doubt that as a writer, Jackson was an enthusiastic amateur, but the ideas behind several of his stories were brilliant. In several instances, his stories were a prelude to themes that would later be explored by other fiction writers.
FANTASIES OF SCIENCE, ROMANCE, AND THE WEIRD:
ROBERT W. CHAMBERS
The 12 stories in this first volume are from Chambers' "zoo expedition" fantasy titles, In Search of the Unknown, and Police!!! The majority involve encounters with strange creatures, from the amphibious gill-man in "The Harbor-Master" to giant Alaskan minnows in "The Ladies of the Lake." The stories are light humorous fantasies, particularly of interest to cryptofiction enthusiasts.
The stories included in this volume are: The Harbor-Master, In Quest of the Dingue, Is the Ux Extinct?, The Sphyx, A Matter of Interest, The Man at the Next Table, The Third Eye, The Immortal, The Ladies of the Lake, One Over, Un Peu d’Amour, and The Eggs of the Silver Moon.
FANTASIES OF SCIENCE, ROMANCE, AND THE WEIRD:
ROBERT W. CHAMBERS
The 18 stories in this second volume are from Chambers' collections The King in Yellow, The Maker of Moons, The Mystery of Choice, and The Tree of Heaven. The stories range from light humorous fantasies, with an emphasis on romantic supernatural tales, to the darkly weird (as in the well-known stories from The King in Yellow).
The stories included in this volume are: The Repairer of Reputations, The Mask, In the Court of the Dragon, The Yellow Sign, The Demoiselle d’Ys, The Maker of Moons, A Pleasant Evening, The Purple Emperor, Pompe Funèbre, The Messenger, White Shadow, Passeur, The Key to Grief, The Sign of Venus, The Case of Mr. Helmer, The Bridal Pair, Out of the Depths, and The Swastika.
DARK CANON: 22 STORIES OF FANTASY AND FRIGHT BY M. R. JAMES
M. R. JAMES
22 stories from M. R. James, most of which are his typical (superlative) antiquarian ghost tales. The last is a children's fantasy that is quite good.
The stories included are: Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book, Lost Hearts, The Mezzotint, The Ash-Tree, Number 13, Count Magnus, “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad", The Treasure of Abbot Thomas, A School Story, The Rose Garden, The Tractate Middoth, Casting the Runes, The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral, Martin’s Close, Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance, The Residence at Whitminster, The Diary of Mr. Poynter, An Episode of Cathedral History, The Story of a Disappearance an Appearance, Two Doctors, The Uncommon Prayer-Book, and The Five Jars.
BIERCE AFTER DARK: 30 STRANGE TALES BY
30 stories from the pen of Ambrose Bierce, favoring dark fantasies and haunted tales. Many were originally written for newspapers.
The stories included are: The Night-Doings at Deadman’s, An Inhabitant of Carcosa, A Fruitless Assignment, Present at a Hanging, The Isle of Pines, The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, An Unfinished Race, Charles Ashmore’s Trail, A Cold Greeting, A Watcher by the Dead, The Spook House, The Suitable Surroundings, The Realm of the Unreal, The Middle Toe of the Right Foot, The Thing at Nolan, A Baby Tramp, The Secret of Macarger’s Gulch, The Damned Thing, A Jug of Sirup, Moxon’s Master, At Old Man Eckert’s, A Diagnosis of Death, A Vine on a House, A Wireless Message, An Arrest, John Mortonson’s Funeral, Staley Fleming’s Hallucination, Beyond the Wall, The Moonlit Road, and The Stranger.
HAWTHORNE AFTER DARK: 22 STRANGE STORIES BY
22 weird stories from one of the earliest American fantasy writers.
The stories included are: The Hollow of the Three Hills, An Old Woman’s Tale, Graves and Goblins, The Gray Champion, The Wedding Knell, The White Old Maid, Young Goodman Brown, The Prophetic Pictures, Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, The Great Carbuncle, The Man of Adamant, A Virtuoso’s Collection, The Birthmark, The Hall of Fantasy, The Artist of the Beautiful, Drowne’s Wooden Image, Rappaccini’s Daughter, P.’s Correspondence, Ethan Brand, The Snow-Image, Feathertop, The Ghost of Dr. Harris.
POE AFTER DARK: 18 TALES OF MYSTERY,
MADNESS, AND THE MACABRE
EDGAR ALLAN POE
18 stories (mostly prose, one poem) illustrate the development of Poe's darker writing, which had an extraordinary influence on speculative fiction as a genre. Poe's genius was his ability to develop not only the weird plot, but to show the internal struggles of the characters themselves.
The stories included are: Metzengerstein, Berenice, Morella, Shadow—A Parable, Ligeia, The Fall of the House of Usher, William Wilson, The Man of the Crowd, The Masque of the Red Death, The Oval Portrait, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Black Cat, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Premature Burial, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, The Imp of the Perverse, The Raven, and The Cask of Amontillado.
DAYS OF DOOM: APOCALYPTIC VISIONS &
Owen Oliver was an optimist with a dark imagination. Better known for his light romantic short stories, he occasionally turned his pen to what might happen after an unthinkable catastrophe: aliens, mad scientists, planetary disasters, bizarre creatures, and more. But dire as these backdrops are, Oliver's main interest is how humanity reacts, for better or worse. And sometimes, it is much, much worse . . . But in Oliver's stories, the horrific always meets hope.
Bernard Capes is not as well known as many other classic writers of speculative fiction, but he left behind a wide range of stories involving ghosts, werewolves, and other supernatural elements. He had a love for language, and for the craft of writing itself.
Dancing Shadows collects 41 stories of fantasy and the supernatural with elements of humor, mystery, romance, vengeance, and the weird. Capes is an author worth savoring, and will make an excellent addition to the speculative fiction bookshelf.
Five of Lewis Carroll's beloved classics are collected here: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, Phantasmagoria, The Hunting of the Snark, and the two-part Sylvie and Bruno.
While some argue that the Alice stories and much of his poetry were not so much fantasies as nonsense (from a genre perspective), there is no doubt on their influence on later speculative fiction and popular culture. Sylvie and Bruno is often overlooked as a fantasy, but it owes much to the writings of George MacDonald.
The Alice stories are accompanied here by the original black-and-white illustrations by John Tenniel.
THE HEROIC MILTON: PARADISE LOST, PARADISE
REGAINED, SAMSON AGONISTES
Three major poems, inspired by Biblical stories, are included here: Paradise Lost (the fall of man and Satan), Paradise Regained (Christ's work to regain fellowship with man), and Samson Agonistes (the death of Samson). John Milton was an English poet in the 1600s, but his work still stands as an important contribution to literature.