Donnerstag, 18. Juli 2013

Weird Tales and Worlds of Weird edited by Leo Margulies

Leo Margulies' Weird Tales Anthologies

Weird Tales
Pyramid Books. May 1964

Worlds of the Weird
Pramid Books , January1965
                                                 My copy

„Weird Tales“ Contents:

                                                                    My copy

„Worlds of Weird“ Contents:

It's „Weird Tales“ week here at the Bunker!

„Why“, do you ask, „Is it Weird Tales week?“

Well, I'll tell you.

Since last week I am the new „contributing editor“ over at Weird Tales Magazine!
It's true! The magazine that never dies is still alive and kicking and I'm officially part of it. And to celebrate this I figured that this would be “Weird Tales Week”!

Ok, and to be honest I needed to get off my lazy butt and provide some content here.

These two paperbacks first crossed paths with me during the early 70s. I was already aware of Weird Tales at the is time from the introductions and copyright pages of several other horror anthologies that I had read. So I new that the magazine must have been something special if it was home to H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard among many others. There was nothing that I loved more as a kid than to see the phrase “copyright Weird Tales Magazine 193*. Seeing that phrase guaranteed good time ahead.

Almost every major genre writer of the first half of the twentieth century appeared at one time or another between the covers of the Unique Magazine.

If I was to pick a definitive “WTs” collection from among the many that appeared since these, the first of many “WTs” tribute anthologies to be published, came out I would honestly say that to this day no one has topped the choice of Stories made by Mr. Margulies.

Leo Margulies was a master editor and anthologist. He reportedly edited 46 magazines. Among which were Startling Stories, Fantastic Universe, Thrilling Mystery and Thrilling Wonder Stories. Later on from the late 40s up to the middle 1960s he edited 12 paperback SF and Horror anthologies. Being from the pulp era gave him great familiarity with the writers and stories of that age. His choice of stories for these two anthologies were totally lacking in any pretensions other than picking stories that were well written, representative of the magazine and highly entertaining.
Another thing that I like about his choice of stories is that they are neither obscure Forgotten Treasures nor tales that had alredy been reprinted to death up to that time.

So if anyone ever asked me “what was Weird Tales about?” I would just hand them these to slim paperbacks.

Now let's take a look at some of those stories!

The Man who Returned by Edmond Hamilton

Even though Ed is most famous as a SF writer he was a heavy duty WTs contributor back in the 1920s and 30s. TMwR tells the story of some poor schmuck who wasn't quite dead when he was interred in the mausoleum. He wakes up an heads back to town where he does a bit of window peeping on his friends and family only to discover that even though he might not be better of dead,everyone else in his life is better off with him dead. The story ends with him returning to the mausoleum,climbing back in his casket and closing the lid on himself. This shook me up quite a bit when I read it back in 71 or so.

Spider Mansion by Fritz Leiber

Spider Mansion is so goofily bad that Mr. Leiber had to have been pulling a fast on and wrote this actually as a satire of Pulp Tropes without ever bothering to let anyone in on the joke. That just has to be the case here. Fritz Leiber never wrote a bad story in his entire career. Not a single one! So this piece of cheesy schlock just has to be on purpose.

A fellow gets invited out to an old school mates creepy Gothic mansion out in the boondocks. Upon arrival is seems that his old chum has been conducting some glandular experimentation. His friend isn't a insecure midget any more. It seems that he has some how become a muscle bound seven foot tall megalomaniac! Oh, and there's a spider the size of a Shetland pony running about the place eating people! This just has to be a non-self referential piece of satire. I just can't accept anything else.

Drifting Snow by August Derleth

I've probably mentioned this story half a dozen times since starting the blog. I'll say it again though. I love this story. It's one of the finest horror stories ever published and the 2nd best story that Auggie ever wrote.

A monied Wisconsin family is spending winter weekend t their country estate way out in the middle of no where. A blizzard come up and the men of the family are lured by a figure that they see out in the storm to their deaths. The end up being frozen solid and drained of blood. Yep, it's those pesky snow vampires. So what does the story teach us? Never go and kick out young servant girls during blizzard just because the are in a family way out of wedlock. Especially if you are the one who knocked them up. Brrrr! Good story!

Pigeons from Hell by Robert E. Howard

Old Two gun Bob shows us,that when he set his mind to it, that he could writing a genuinely chilling horror story with out having to resort to buckets “Blood and Thunder”.

What we get instead of Swords and Sorcery is two crazy old sisters and an ex-slave who turn out to be axe welding Zombies who love dispatching travelers who are foolish enough to spend the night in their decayed and seemingly deserted southern mansion. There's a lot more to it than that, I just don't feel like going into it at this time. Mr. Howard deliver with authentic seeming local color and history. An intriguing back story and suspenseful plotting. The story is a genuine classic and even got filmed on on the old Boris Karloff “Thriller” show.

Roads by Seabury Quinn

Well, it does qualify as Weird. A Roman soldier who was at Christ's crucifixion is cursed with immortality and becomes Santa Claus. This is what the creator of “ Jules de Grandin” considered lite fantasy circa 1938.

The Valley of the Worm by Robert E. Howard

That REH is he only author who appears in both volumes goes to show just how much impact he had on both the magazine and the genre itself.

Valley of the Worm is one of those stories that you will never forget if you read it a young enough age. Howard manages to unite his own Hyborian Age with HPL's Cthulhu Mythos. We get a world spanning migration of the Aryan race (no, not those Aryans!) as they seek a new home in a prehistoric world full of dangerous beasts and even more dangerous humanoids and their primeval Gods from beyond.
This is absolutely gorgeous story telling that only REH could write. Read it and you'll grok “Blood and Thunder”.

Mother of Toads by Clark Ashton Smith

Nobody did weird like CAS. His stories were so different from his contemporaries and so ahead of their time that it's no wonder (and a shame) that he's not nearly as adored today as his friends HPL and REH. If I wanted to be cynical, I'd say part of the problem with his lack of fame is that he didn't die young and tragically. He just lived to long to become a legend. His fantasy and horror stories have to be read to be believed. Imagine mixing REH and HPL together and then ad good doses of kinkiness and droll humor. That describes CAS in a nutshell.

Toads is one of his fantasies set in the imaginary medieval French province of Averroigne. A place of deep forests, magic, danger and kinky sex.

I'll sum the story up in one sentence. A young man gets tricked into carnally servicing a beautiful witch who turns out to be a ghastly frog woman.
Sadly this is the version that got butchered by, the at the time editor, Farnsworth Wright.

This is just the way I like them, weird and nasty.

The Thing in the Cellar by Dr. David H. Keller M.D.

This has to be one of the meanest f##king stories that I've ever read. It's been said by critics that Dr. Keller was a misanthrope. And after reading this story you will surely believe that yourself.

No one believes a little kids fear of the cellar and so as punishment his father forces the little boy sit sit alone evenings, alone in the kitchen ,in front of the cellar door. Well guess what! The little guy gets killed and eaten by what ever is in the cellar. This story completely blew my mind when I first read it. Stories aren't supposed to end that way. They should end with the little guy being saved by his repentant father. With lots of hugs, tears and forgiveness at the end. Well it sure a s shit doesn’t happen in this story. Thank you very much Dr. Keller you old bastard!

Seriously. This is a power house in only a few pages. One of the best genuine horror tales that I've ever read.

Well that's it this time around.

                                                 Weird Tales Issue 361 Front and Back covers

Take care and thanks for stopping by!



  1. Congratulations on the new job at WT. I agree these are two of the best collections from the first run of WT. An excellent selection of stories from some top writers.

  2. Thanks Keith, and I agree with you . These are two fine collections.

  3. These two collections were my first introduction to WT, too. I hope the current reincarnation of the magazine will start to reflect WT's roots soon, although my confidence in Marvin Kaye's promise that it will has been shattered by his decision to "pass" on two stories he accepted from me in 2011. Both were in the classic WT tradition, one being set in Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne and described by Kaye as "excellent." Because of Kaye's reversal of his decision, I have published the two stories in a very inexpensive Kindle ebook available from Amazon. The title is Witchery: A Duo of Weird Tales. You enjoyed Mother of Toads for all the good reasons you so rightly identified in your post. I think you would enjoy my CAS story, Black Art in Vyones, too!

  4. I'll immediately grab your rss feed as I cant find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.
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  5. Hi Jimi,
    at the very bottom of each post is a "subscibe" link.

    I'll look into the RSS Feed.