Sonntag, 11. März 2012

Shambleu & The Mask of Ctulhu

A Tale of two Covers!

Hey all!
I lucked out online this week and bought some great paperbacks from a small on-line dealer here in Germany. A few of them are great cover-wise, a few are great contents wise and a few are great contents and cover wise.
The two most interesting are/were from a UK paperback house called “Consul Books”. I’m speaking of “Shambleau” by Miss C.L. Moore and “The Mask of Cthulhu” by Mr. August Derleth. Both of which sport wonderful cover Illustrations by a great illustrator who is sadly unnamed
Shambleau” is a collection of “Northwest Smith” and “Jirel of Joiry” stories which first appeared in “Weird Tales” back in the 1930s. The Jirel stories are “Sword &Sorcery” adventures where the titular heroine is the ruler of a small French kingdom back during the middle ages. These are excellent adventure stories with a strong female lead that was very atypical for the time in which these stories were written. They are action packed with a strong undertone of “regret” and “unrequited love”.  “North West Smith” is the “proto-Hans Solo”. He is a rogue, smuggler and space ship pilot travelling through a future “habitable” solar system. I’m guessing that it’s the female influence, because these stories along with being great pulp fiction also have a very thoughtful and erotic style. These stories also,IMHO, have a good dose "Robert E. Howard"," H.P. Lovecraft" and "Clark Ashton Smith" without appering derivitive in any way what so ever.

“Smith had a strange dream that night. He thought he had awakened to a room full of darkness and moonlight and moving shadows, for the nearer moon of Mars was racing through the sky and everything on the planet below her was endued with a restless life in the dark. And something . . . some nameless, unthinkable thing . . . was coiled about his throat . . . something like a soft snake, wet and warm. It lay loose and light about his neck . . . and it was moving gently, very gently, with a soft, caressive pressure that sent little thrills of delight through every nerve and fiber of him, a perilous delight—beyond physical pleasure, deeper than joy of the mind. That warm softness was caressing the very roots of his soul and with a terrible intimacy. The ecstasy of it left him weak, and yet he knew—in a flash of knowledge born of this impossible dream—that the soul should not be handled . . . And with that knowledge a horror broke upon him, turning the pleasure into a rapture of revulsion, hateful, horrible—but still most foully sweet. He tried to lift his hands and tear the dream-monstrosity from his throat—tired but half-heartedly; for though his soul was revolted to its very deeps, yet the delight of his body was so great that his hands all but refused the attempt. But when at last he tried to lift his arms a cold shock went over him and he found that he could not stir . . . his body lay stony as marble beneath the blankets, a living marble that shuddered with a dreadful delight through every rigid vein.
The revulsion grew strong upon him as he struggled against the paralyzing dream—a struggle of soul against sluggish body—titanically, until the moving dark was streaked with blankness that clouded and closed about him at last and he sank back into the oblivion from which he had awakened.“

Yep! Death by ecstasy/orgasm! And it gets even better! And come to think about it. It’s not the worst way to go.

“She was unbinding her turban...
He watched, not breathing, a presentiment of something horrible stirring in his brain, inexplicably... The red folds loosened and — he knew then that he had not dreamed — again a scarlet lock swung down against her cheek... a hair, was it? A lock of hair?... thick as a thick worm it fell, plumply, against that smooth cheek... more scarlet than blood and thick as a crawling worm... and like a worm it crawled.”

Miss More ended up Marrying “Henry Kuttner”. They, together, wrote some of the best SFthat ever appeared in the magazines. Their stories were always thoughtful and entertaining. That’s not an easy combination!
PaizoPublishing” reprinted two volumes of C.L. Moore stories!

Northwestof Earth: The Complete Northwest Smith


BlackGods Kiss (The complete Jirel stories)

Both collections of part of Paizo’s “Planet Stories Library” series and well worth looking into!

Here is the e-text to “Shambleau” which will prove to you how wonderful a writer C.L. Moore was!



The 2nd Consul collection is “The Mask of Cthulhu” by Auguast Derleth. In my eyes Mr. Derleth was a world class writer of small horror stories in the “Weird Tales” vein, a God send of a Publisher and top editor. I just can’t stand his “Cthulhu Mythos” stories. I find them lame, un-inspired and total missing the point. I will never denigrate the man though for this since IMHO he is responsible for giving Lovecraft to the larger world. And I also love his “regular” stories and almost all of the amazing anthologies he edited. So God Bless the man!

You have to admit though, that this collection probably sold very well thanks to the stunning cover!

And now a word from your sponsor……..





And here are my Edgar Rice Burroughs "Geek Creds"

I went and watched Disney’s “John Carter” this past Thursday and came out happier than a flea at a Grateful Dead concert! This is a wonderful and amazing film. If I had to sum it up in one word that word would be “JOYOUS”!!! I’ve waited for this film since 1972. The Barsoom book entered my life at just the right time. Not even “The Lord of the Rings”, which I read for the first time in 1976, hit me as hard as “Edgar Rice Burroughs” Barsoom series did. As a hard core Burroughs fan I could very easily nit-pick this film to pieces, but that would be totally pointless. There have been some serious changes made in the story and some of the characters. Covering these changes alone would take another entire blog entry. The film though taken as a whole is a complete joy though. Director Stanton and scripter Chabon have nailed the soul of this series so perfectly that nothing else matters!! Even with the changes, this is 100% ERB, John Carter ,Dejah Thoris and Barsoom. I was actually sad when the film was over. I wanted it to never end. I even ready to go out and my my own pair of “Dejah Thoris” Underoos! They film is truly greater than the sum of its parts. And believe me even with its flaws these are some awesome parts! To me this is the “Anti-1941”. I don’t know how many of you remember this Steven Spielberg comedy from the very early 1980s. In 1941 you have dozens of wonderful little bits that when put together don’t add up to jack-$hit. I can’t get this film out of my head. I pray that it succeeds so we can soon be transported back to Barsoom.


Take care everybody and have a good week!






  1. It's kind of puzzling to me that nobody has produced a new space fantasy franchise to give the STAR WARS fans something new. I'm a huge STAR WARS fan myself and have been ever since I saw the first movie way back in 1977 but I'm ready for something new. And considering that Northwest Smith was Han Solo before there was Han Solo...a movie about him is a no-brainer.

    Can't adapt "Shambleau", tho...much as I would like to see that bad boy on screen.

  2. Hi Derrick,
    I’ve also been waiting for something new and was honestly hoping that John Carter would be it. I don’t have any high hopes for that happening anymore though. Northwest Smith would be a great film character even though God knows how many people out there would scream “Han Solo” rip-off! I would love to see a series set in an “inhabitable Solar System” like the all of those wonderful C.L. Moore and Leigh Brackett stories. Eric John Stark would make a great film character. N'Chaka, the "man without a tribe!” would look great on a Marquee. And as far as something new, why hasn’t anyone ever tried to do Imaro on the screen or TV? Or even rip-off the idea? I believe that such a series would be immensely popular. “An Africa that never was, but should have been” would be a money maker IMHO. I don’t know if Hollywood is just too stupid to recognize what quality is. Maybe you should write some “Dillon” stories set in his later years and sell the idea to Carl Weathers? I’d even be tickled pink to see a film version of “Voyage of the Space Beagle” I’ve sworn to keep all politics out of my Blog, but as progressive as Hollywood thinks they are and claim to be, they seem to have missed the train on so many great properties and ideas. People would eat this stuff up! They don’t seem to realize how hungry many fans of the genre are for something new and with quality. On the other hand I personally know many people who want nothing other than “Star Trek” “Star Wars” or some other “comfort” series.

    I think that “Shambleau” would maybe be filmable. Try to imagine it as an old “Night Gallery” episode! That would have been fun!

    Take care.

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