Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Stanley S. Schnetzler (1893-1955)

U.S. Navy Man, Author, Civic Worker, City Councilman
Born September 14, 1893, Toledo, Ohio
Died August 3, 1955, Corona Naval Hospital, Norco, California

Stanley Stolz Schnetzler was born on September 14, 1893, in Toledo, Ohio. He attended Stanford University and was a member of Phi Delta Theta. Schnetzler was to have graduated with the class of 1915. Instead he graduated in 1917 with a degree in pre-law. His address at the time of graduation was Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Schnetzler joined the U.S. Navy at around the time of World War I and served on active duty and in the naval reserve, eventually to attain the rank of lieutenant commander. An item from the Stanford Illustrated Review (Oct. 1921, p. 56) states that Schnetzler was "connected with the 'Quality Group' Corporation, which manages six of the leading magazines, Atlantic, Century, Scribner's, Harper's, World's Work, Review of Reviews." The item doesn't say what the connection was, but by the time it was printed, Schnetzler was already a published author. His stories include:
  • "Out of the Depths" in The Stanford Illustrated Review, Nov. 1918
  • "Tackline’s Adventure" in Adventure, Mid-Aug 1921
  • "The Turtle and the Jack-Rabbit" in Adventure, Mid-Sept. 1921
  • "The Deep-Sea Grin" in Boys' Life
  • "Seignior Vanna's Jest" in Weird Tales, May 1925
  • "Willie Barclay Goes on the Air" in The American Legion Weekly, June 11, 1926 
  • "Drowned—Almost!" in The Danger Trail, July 1926
  • "Pippa Passes Out" in McClure’s, July 1927
  • "Torpedoed" in Battle Stories, Sept. 1927
  • "The Parrot Who Talked in Its Sleep" in Sea Stories, Jan. 1929
  • "The Suicide Fleet" in Under Fire Magazine, June 1929
  • "Merry Christmas, Ha! Ha!" in Sea Stories, Jan. 1930
  • "Absent, W.O.C." in Sea Stories, Feb. 1930
  • "Modernized Quotations" in The Saturday Evening Post, Oct. 4, 1930
  • "A Warm Spot in Paris" in La Paree Stories, Apr. 1934
  • "Then You Were Married" in The Household Magazine, June 1935
  • "Drowning Death Clutched My Throat" in Personal Adventure Stories, Sept. 1937
  • "Devil Save the Hindmost" in Breezy Stories, Oct. 1937
  • "We Had to Let 100 Men Drown" in Personal Adventure, Feb. 1938
  • "The Wages of Sin" in 10 Story Book, Sept. 1938
  • "Oh, Love Shall Find Me!" in All-Story Love, June 15, 1941
Schnetzler served as president of the Palos Verdes Community Arts Association and was a city councilman in Redondo Beach, California, prior to World War II. From 1944 to 1954, he and his wife resided at what was once and would became La Venta Inn in Palos Verdes Estates, California. The inn was designated as a historic landmark by the Rancho de los Palos Verdes Historical Society in 1978. Stanley S. Schnetzler died on August 3, 1955, at Corona Naval Hospital in Norco, California. He was sixty-one years old. His grave is located at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.

Stanley S. Schnetzler's Story in Weird Tales
"Seignior Vanna's Jest" (May 1925)

Further Reading
"Out of the Depths" in The Stanford Illustrated Review, Nov. 1918, is available online.

Stanley S. Schnetzler in 1918.

La Venta Inn, Palos Verdes Estates, California. From 1944 to 1954, it was the home of Stanley S. Schnetzler and his family.

Text copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Crisis of Nihilism

The events of last week have me thinking again about our current situation and how it relates to and was foretold by people in the past. I'll begin with an aside that really isn't an aside and actually gets to the heart of the matter. Of all the gazillions of words written about the terrorist attacks in Belgium last week, no one seems to have considered the fact that they occurred in the week leading up to the holiest day in the Christian calendar. On Thursday--Holy Thursday--a Muslim man in Scotland was murdered by another Muslim man for wishing his Christian friends a Happy Easter. And on Friday--Good Friday--people from ISIS crucified a Catholic priest in Yemen. It's a strange world we live in when only Muslims know what Easter is or attach any significance to it.

* * *

The artist is of course a canary in the coal mine of human society. He or she foresees and foretells. It may not be entirely accurate to call the artist's foretelling "prediction." Nonetheless, we can extract predictions from the artist's work. As Peter Viereck in his book Conservatism (1956) pointed out, even the extreme conservative--the reactionary--"may become in his art the most profound psychologist, the most sensitive moralist." (p. 17) Contrast this with the leftist or progressive who, with his grand, abstruse, and Utopian theorizing about the world, is blind to human nature and consequently very poor at making predictions.

So what does all that have to do with the terrorist attacks in Belgium and the larger European problem of today? Just follow the trail of the artist.

* * *

I have been going to a discussion group about weird fiction, and in our second meeting, we talked about Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). Among the works we discussed is the poem "The Conqueror Worm," from 1843:

The Conqueror Worm
by Edgar Allan Poe

Lo! 't is a gala night
   Within the lonesome latter years!   
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
   In veils, and drowned in tears,   
Sit in a theatre, to see
   A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully   
   The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,   
   Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly--
   Mere puppets they, who come and go   
At bidding of vast formless things
   That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
   Invisible Wo!

That motley drama--oh, be sure   
   It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore   
   By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in   
   To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,   
   And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout,
   A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out   
   The scenic solitude!
It writhes!--it writhes!--with mortal pangs   
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
   In human gore imbued.

Out--out are the lights--out all!   
   And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
   Comes down with the rush of a storm,   
While the angels, all pallid and wan,   
   Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"  
   And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.

The metaphor of human existence as an absurd drama or performance made me think of a similar poem from a century later:

The End of the World
by Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982)

Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb
Quite unexpectedly the top blew off:

And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark, the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing--nothing at all. (1)

That same idea leads back to Shakespeare (1564-1616):

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

from Macbeth (1611)

Note the recurring words and imagery, for example, "Out--out are the lights--out all!" from Poe and "Out, out, brief candle!" from Shakespeare. (2) More to the point: "There in the sudden blackness the black pall/Of nothing, nothing, nothing--nothing at all" from MacLeish and "It is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing" from Shakespeare. Hold on to that word, nothing.

* * *

I don't see predictions in these works so much as descriptions or views of the human condition or predicament. Here are a couple of quotes (both from conservatives, by the way) that, taken together, get at the same ideas as in the preceding works:

"Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament."
George Santayana (1863-1952)

"Life is a predicament which precedes death."
Henry James (1843-1916)

Note that these two men describe life as a predicament rather than an absurdity or that it means nothing at all, suggesting that there is still some cause for hope.

* * *

So if Poe, MacLeish, and Shakespeare weren't exactly making predictions, can we find an artist who did? Yes, easily enough. Dostoevsky was one of course, but I came here to talk about Nietzsche (1844-1900), who predicted not only the catastrophes of the twentieth century, but also the crisis in which we now find ourselves. And not only did he predict it, he accurately foresaw it for our time.

I am not a philosopher and have barely studied philosophy. Although I have read some philosophical works, I haven't read deeply into the thought of any particular philosopher. (3) And it has been only within the past week that I have encountered Nietzsche's prediction of what is called a crisis of nihilism. But if we aren't currently in such a crisis, I don't know how better to describe our situation.

* * *

This morning, as I began writing, I also began playing music by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), who was born into the old Europe and died in a new one. He witnessed firsthand the catastrophe of the Great War (and wrote Le tombeau de Couperin in remembrance of some of the men killed). Neither he nor any of the men or women of his generation could easily have foreseen what would become of Europe, a place that is now pretty thoroughly demoralized, de-Christianized, and completely lacking in self-confidence and vigor. Filled instead with ennui and self-loathing, Europeans have ceased reproducing themselves or defending themselves against outside threats. They are essentially atheists, socialists, materialists, and hedonists, but without any great passion or conviction. When they are attacked by people who are not lacking in passion or conviction, they respond with candles, flowers, and songs rather than resolve or righteous vengeance. They speak of the "tragedy" of their countrymen's deaths, as if an accident has occurred or a natural disaster has struck. They stand in so-called "solidarity" with the dead, as if such a thing were a possibility rather than an absurdity. They fail to name the enemy. Worse yet, they excuse the enemy, essentially saying that Western civilization deserves what it gets from the terrorists. Another thing they do is play or sing the song "Imagine" by John Lennon (1940-1980). Here are the lyrics:

Imagine
by John Lennon
(1971)

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today . . .

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace . . .

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world . . .

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Europe is living the lyrics of "Imagine," which are of course Utopian (and because they are Utopian, they are also necessarily Dystopian). In Europe today, "there's no heaven" because its people have given up on belief in God. There are also "no countries" because they have given up on the ideas of nationhood, national sovereignty, national identity, and national borders. Additionally, Europeans live only "for today" because, being leftists, they have severed themselves from the past, while at the same time severing themselves from the future by throwing away family and the bearing and rearing of children. (4) And--although there are still possessions--private property, personal striving and attainment, and personal freedoms are diminished because of the European embrace of socialism. (Prudhon, one of the heroes of European intellectualism, proclaimed after all, "Property is theft!") In his lyrics, though, John Lennon used a word we have seen before, i.e., nothing:

"Nothing to kill or die for"

That makes me wonder: Is that a commutative expression? Does "nothing to kill or die for" equal "to kill or die"--and by implication, also to live--"for nothing"? It seems to me that Europeans have lost their will to live. They seem to have given up on the idea of there being any significance or meaning in life. In other words, they are deep into a crisis of nihilism, as Nietzsche so accurately predicted. And not only have they lost the will to live, they have lost their instinct for survival. Like Colette de Montpellier in The Day of the Jackal, they have welcomed into their homes the people who will do what they seemingly hope to be done. Proper nihilists that they are, they have invited in their own murderers.

Notes
(1) I haven't been able to find the date of publication of "The End of the World." By the way, MacLeish was not a conservative, although I doubt that he would find much in common with what are today called liberals or progressives.
(2) I sensed in our discussion group how much of Shakespeare there is in Poe. That would make a worthwhile research project.
(3) I have read Camus more than any other. In "The Myth of Sisyphus," Camus asked the question, Is life worth living? His answer was yes. I suppose the nihilist would struggle over that question and likely answer no.
(4) Angela Merkel, for instance, does not have any children and thus has nothing personal at stake in the future of her country. What does she care if it is overrun by non-Europeans? Those weren't her daughters being raped in Cologne at the start of the New Year.

"The Triumph of Death" by  Pieter Breughel the Elder (b. 1526 to 1530; d. 1569).

"The End of the World" José Gutiérrez Solana (1886-1945).

Copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Wilford Allen (1897-1965)

Update (Jan. 8, 2017): I hear from Weird Tales scholar Randal A. Everts that I have the wrong Wilford Allen, as I suspected I might when I first wrote this article. I will work on a further update when I can.

Author, Newspaperman
Born May 16, 1897
Died April 10, 1965

Printer's ink ran in the veins of Wilford C. Allen, Jr. His father and two uncles were in the newspaper business. He followed them, even while writing stories for Weird Tales in the 1920s. Nicknamed "Pete," he was born on May 16, 1897, to Wilford C. Allen, Sr., and Frances M. Allen (1872-1960). Pete's grandfather, King Prince Allen (1841-1917), was a proud veteran of the Union Army during the Civil War and a pioneer in the city of Pullman, Washington, now the location of Washington State University (WSU). Pete's father, Wilford C. Allen, Sr. (Oct. 4, 1968-Feb. 1, 1942), was born in Homer, Michigan. He, too, was called a "pioneer in Pullman" and was associated with the Pullman Herald from 1888 to 1909. (1) That paper was established in 1888 by Allen's brother-in-law, Thomas Neill (1861-1938). Born in Ireland, Neill arrived in Pullman by way of Indiana and the Dakota Territory. Neill Hall on the WSU campus is named for him. Karl P. Allen (1885-1941), brother of Wilford Allen, Sr., was the longtime editor of the Pullman Herald.

In 1911, Wilford Allen, Sr., purchased a nine-acre fruit farm in Grants Pass, Oregon, and moved his young family there. He had two sons in school at the time, Niel Richardson Allen (1894-1959) and Wilford C. Allen, Jr. (1897-1965). From 1912 to 1917 and again from 1919 to 1920, the senior Allen was editor of the Rogue River (later Grants Pass) Courier. (2) A former member of the Washington State legislature, he also served as president of the Commercial Club in Grants Pass; Commissioner of the Oregon State Industrial Accident Commission; president of the Izaak Walton League of America in Grants Pass; and with the Southern Oregon Development Company.

Wilford and Frances Allen sent both of their sons to college and to war. Niel R. Allen attended Stanford University and served as an officer in the U.S. Army during World War I. Wilford Allen, Jr., attended the University of Oregon and served in the U.S. Naval Reserve, also during the war. He worked at the same newspaper as his father. In 1922, he left the University of Oregon School of Journalism as a senior "to take over his old position as head of news department at the Grants Pass Courier." Like his father before him, Wilford "Pete" Allen was editor of the paper, from 1926 to 1929. He was also a sheriff's deputy.

Wilford Allen wrote seven stories for Weird Tales. He also had two letters in "The Eyrie." I would like to see the return address on those letters, as I'm not sure the Wilford Allen I have been talking about all this time was the same man who wrote for "The Unique Magazine." I have to admit I have made an assumption based on Pete Allen's involvement in the newspaper business. In any event, "The Hate," from Weird Tales, June 1928, is a story of trench warfare in World War I. I wonder if the idea could have come to the author by his talking to his brother about the war. I have not read Allen's other stories. There may be other clues as to his identity contained therein. I should note that "The Arctic Death" (June 1927) and "On a Far World" (July 1928) are two of a series featuring the character Charles Breinbar.  

Wilford C. Allen, Jr., died on April 10, 1965, and was buried at Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Notes
(1) "Wilford Allen Was Pioneer in Pullman," Spokane Daily Chronicle, February 2, 1912, page 5, here.
(2) Established in 1885, the Rogue River Courier was renamed the Grants Pass Courier in 1919, then merged with the Observer in 1928. The publisher was Amos E. "Boss" Voorhies.

Wilford Allen's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Arctic Death" (June 1927)
"The Swooping Wind" (Dec. 1927)
"On a Far World" (July 1928)
"The Bone-Grinder" (Jan. 1928)
"The Hate" (June 1928)
"Night-Thing" (July 1929)
"The Planet of Horror" (June 1930)
Letters to "The Eyrie"
April 1928
Aug. 1931

Further Reading
"The Hate" was reprinted in 100 Wild Little Weird Tales edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, and Martin H. Greenberg (1994).


Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Leslie Gordon Barnard (1890-1961)

Author, Editor
Born 1890, Montréal, Québec, Canada
Died October 28, 1961, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Leslie Gordon Barnard was a prolific author of short stories from the pulp days of 1920 to the era of men's magazines of the early 1960s. He was born in 1890 in Montréal, Canada, and began writing at an early age. Barnard served as an officer in the Canadian military during World War I and was editor of The War Pictorial: The Leading Pictorial Souvenir of the Great War (three volumes, Montreal: Dodd-Simpson Press, 1914-1915). He had stories in leading Canadian magazines, including Canadian Home JournalThe Canadian MagazineFamily HeraldMacLean's, and National Home MonthlyThe FictionMags Index lists scores more published in Adventure, The American Magazine, Argosy All-Story Weekly, Detective Story Magazine, Manhunt, Munsey's, Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine, Street & Smith's Western Story Magazine, Suspense, 20-Story Magazine, Weird Tales, and one of my favorite magazine titles, The Modern Priscilla, among others. His character Mr. Philibus ran in Detective Fiction Weekly and Detective Story Magazine from 1928 to 1935. 

Barnard was the author of three books, One Generation Away (1931), Jancis (1935), and So Near is Grandeur (1945). His stories were adapted to television on 1958 General Electric Theater ("At Miss Minner's," 1958) and The Loretta Young Show ("Woodlot," 1961). In addition, he served as president of the Canadian Authors Association and of the Montréal branch of the international PEN Club. Leslie Gordon Barnard died on October 28, 1961, in Toronto and was buried at Mount Royal Cemetery in Montréal.

Leslie Gordon Barnard's Story in Weird Tales
"The Man in the Taxi" (Nov. 1937)

Further Reading
"Authorship Joys and Sorrows Told," Montréal Gazette, October 29, 1930, page 6, here.
Obituary, New York Times, October 31, 1961.

Leslie Gordon Barnard was editor of the three-volume War Pictorial published during the Great War.

In happier times, he contributed to pulp magazines. (Cover by John A. Coughlin [1885-1943].)

Barnard's career was long and fruitful. He continued having his stories published into the digest era and even in foreign-language editions.

His stories were also published in British magazines, such as The Strand.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Don't Mind the Explosions

Every terrorist attack is followed by predictable statements of "This is a wakeup call" or "This time it's different" or "This means war." And in the aftermath of every attack, we return quickly to ignoring--or I should say facilitating--the problem.

Science fiction is extrapolative. It has predictive power, as in John Wyndham's novel The Midwich Cuckoos, about which I wrote yesterday. Our current situation reminds me of another memorable scene from science fiction, though. In the movie Brazil (1985), the main character, a Winston Smith type, is dining with his mother and her friends. There is an explosion in the kitchen. People are killed, maimed, and burned. Half of the restaurant is destroyed. But the music plays on and the restauranteur places a screen between the diners and the chaotic and horrifying scene in the background. They continue as if nothing has happened.

We are of course the diners.

I don't provide many links, but here is one to the video:


Image result for brazil movie restaurant scene

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Change of Seasons

     "One has, for some time, seen this coming, as inevitably as the change of seasons . . . ."
* * *
     "We are presented with a moral dilemma of some niceness. On the one hand, it is our duty to our race and culture to liquidate the Children, for it is clear that if we do not we shall, at best, be completely dominated by them, and that their culture, whatever it may turn out to be, will extinguish ours.
     "On the other hand, it is our culture that gives us scruples about the ruthless liquidation of unarmed minorities, not to mention the practical obstacles to such a solution."
* * *
"In a quandary where every course is immoral there remains the ability to act for the greatest good of the greatest number. Ergo, the Children ought to be eliminated at the least possible cost, with the least possible delay . . . . It is the right step . . . . But, of course, our authorities will not be able to bring themselves to take it . . . . Humanitarianism will triumph over biological duty--is that probity, would you say? Or is it decadence? But so the evil day will be put off--for how long, I wonder?"
* * *
Today, Islamic terrorists attacked soft targets in Brussels, killing more than two dozen people. This morning, in the first article I read about the attacks, Reuters shrank from using the words Islam, Islamist, or Muslim except for in the proper noun Islamic State. The author of the article also referred to the attackers as militants rather than terroristsYou can't blame Reuters too much--all of Europe and much of America is also afraid to name the enemy. If we can't name him, how do we expect to defeat him? We can't, of course, but defeating him doesn't seem to be part of the plan. John Wyndham, about whom I wrote recently, saw that more than half a century ago in The Midwich Cuckoos, from which the opening quotes are taken.* His words demonstrate Wyndham's prescience, but I doubt that he foresaw that it would be Islam to arrive within the gates of Europe, threatening its destruction. That doesn't really matter, for if it were not Islam, it would be something else. The key passage, I think, is the question: Is it humanitarian probity or is it decadence that keeps us from defending ourselves? In true Irish fashion, I'll answer a question with a question: If you are filled with self-loathing and loathe what you have come from, why should you defend yourself, your culture, or your civilization? Shouldn't you actually invite your own destruction? John Wyndham foresaw the dilemma in which we find ourselves. He foresaw also that "our authorities will not be able to bring themselves to take" the steps necessary to defend us from outside threats. What he did not foresee, however, is that we would wish ourselves to be destroyed--call it suicide by jihad--or that those same authorities would actually throw open the gates to the people who will gladly oblige us in that desire.

*The Midwich Cuckoos (New York: Ballantine Books, 1973), pp. 180-181

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (1973 edition), with cover art, once again, by Mati Klarwein (1932-2002).

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

LeRoy Ernest Fess (1896-1958)

Poet, Author, Journalist, Hobbyist
Born September 20, 1896, Darien, New York
Died April 9, 1958, Buffalo, New York?

LeRoy Ernest Fess was born on September 20, 1896, in Darien, a small town in western New York State. As a student at Alfred University, also in the western part of the state, he was listed as a resident of Crittenden. Fess paid his way through Alfred University in part with a state scholarship. He matriculated in 1913 but didn't graduate until 1919; induction into the U.S. Army Infantry interrupted his schooling. In 1920, his poem "All" won a place as a poem of distinction in The Poets of the Future: A College Anthology for 1918-1920, edited by Henry T. Schnittkind (Boston: The Stratford Company, 1920).

Leroy E. Fess made his living as a reporter, news photographer, feature writer, and columnist at newspapers in Buffalo, including the Buffalo Evening News and the Buffalo Courier Express, for which he wrote "The Farm Picture" column. He also worked for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and the Syracuse Post-Standard. As a lover of dogs, Fess served as editor of The Saint Fancier (1932, about Saint Bernard dogs), president of the Dog Writers Association of America (1954), and compiler and editor of Fifty Years of Irish Wolfhound Registrations in America, 1897-1955. He wrote other non-fiction as well, including "Data Treasure of Past Uncovered" in the newsletter Early Settlers of New York State, Their Ancestors and Descendants (Sept. 1936). His only known work in the genres of fantasy, horror, and science fiction is "The Dream Chair" in Weird Tales, October 1928. He also wrote two letters published in "The Eyrie," the letters column of Weird Tales.

Leroy Fess died on April 9, 1958, at age sixty-three. He was survived by his wife, Margaret Richmond Fess, a 1929 graduate of the University of North Dakota and like her husband a reporter and writer of features for various New York newspapers.

Leroy Ernest Fess' Story in Weird Tales
"The Dream Chair" (Oct. 1928)

Letters to "The Eyrie"
Jan. 1929
July 1941

Further Reading
"LeRoy E. Fess, 61, Dead; Farm Editor Specialized in Dog Articles for 40 Years," New York Times, Apr. 10, 1958.
Note: I have not read this article. It may include information not given here.

Dog lover Leroy Ernest Fess
(1896-1958)
Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Science Fiction Authors in the Bellerophon Weird Tales-Part Three

Brinke Stevens
Charlene Elizabeth Brinkman
Born September 20, 1954, San Diego, California

For Weird Tales
"The Pandora Principle" with A.E. van Vogt (serial, Fall 1984)

If Brinke Stevens were not a real person, she could be a sidekick to Doc Savage or Buckaroo Banzai. Actress, model, screenwriter, and author, Brinke has degrees in psychology and marine biology, has studied foreign languages, including Esperanto, and is or was a member of Mensa. Known as a scream queen, she has appeared in dozens of horror movies. Her first was Necromancy (1972), starring Orson Welles, but it isn't clear to me whether she was in the original, the 1983 reissue--in which she was billed as Berinka Stevens--or both. In 1980, Brinke married artist Dave Stevens (1955-2008). Their marriage lasted less than a year, but she continued to model for him and other artists. Her only story for Weird Tales was the first part of a serial, "The Pandora Principle," with A.E. van Vogt. Her only other credit for fiction in the Internet Speculative Fiction Database is the novelette "Jacking In," published in Stranger by Night (1995).

I can't say for sure, but that looks a lot like Brinke Stevens on the cover of the first Bellerophon Weird Tales, Fall 1984. The artist was the rare and elusive Ro H. Kim.

Here she is again in Dave Stevens' heading for "The Pandora Principle" in the same issue. With these two illustrations, she joined Edgar Allan Poe, Virgil Finlay, and Hannes Bok as writers who also appeared in illustrations on the cover or in the interior of Weird Tales.

Larry Tritten
Born August 7, 1938, Iowa
Died April 6, 2011

For Weird Tales

"Flecks of Gold" (short story, Fall 1984)

Born in Iowa, Larry Eugene Tritten grew up in Idaho, served in the U.S. Army for two years, and attended North Idaho Junior College. He studied creative writing at San Francisco State University on a scholarship and lived most of his life in San Francisco, minus his frequent travels overseas. Tritten wrote science fiction stories and travel articles, movie reviews, humorous pieces, and more, over 1,500 articles in his lifetime. His first published science fiction story was "West Is West" in If, August 1968. He contributed to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago TribuneHouston Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as magazines, including Harpers, HustlerThe New Yorker, Playboy, Rolling StoneTravel and Leisure, and Vanity Fair. Like so many of the writers on this list, Tritten had a personal connection to Harlan Ellison, who wrote of him, "I was enormously fond of Larry, of his humor, his goodwill and sense of being proudly, as I am, a simple 'blue collar' artisan."

Larry Tritten's story "Late Night in the Rusty Tiara" was in the third and final issue of the British magazine Beyond Science Fiction & Fantasy in September/October 1995. The cover artists were Boris Vallejo (b. 1941) and Les Edwards (b. 1949).

A.E. van Vogt
Alfred Elton van Vogt
Born April 26, 1912, Gretna, Manitoba, Canada
Died  January 26, 2000, Los Angeles, California

For Weird Tales

"The Pandora Principle" with Brinke Stevens (serial, Fall 1984)
"The Brain" (short story, Winter 1985)

A.E. van Vogt is considered a giant among science fiction authors of the Golden Age and was among the last to appear in Weird Tales. He enjoyed a long and productive career writing short stories, novels, poems, and essays. His first published science fiction story was "Black Destroyer" in John W. Campbell's Astounding Science-Fiction, July 1939. His series include Null-A, Rull, Slan, the Space Beagle, and the Weapons Shop of Isher. Like Campbell and others in his circle, van Vogt fell for Dianetics and was an associate of L. Ron Hubbard for more than a decade.

Born in Canada, van Vogt moved around as a child, remembering in adulthood:
Childhood was a terrible period for me. I was like a ship without anchor being swept along through darkness in a storm. Again and again I sought shelter, only to be forced out of it by something new. (Quoted in "Man Beyond Man: The Early Stories of A. E. van Vogt" by Alexei Panshin, here.)
On van Vogt's novelette The Mixed Men, Darrell Schweitzer (an editor of Weird Tales) wrote:
This is the realism, and logic, of a small boy playing with toy soldiers in a sandbox. I'm tougher than you. I’ve got a billion spaceships! They’re brand-new. They only took 800 years to develop. . . . There is no intersection with adult reality at any point, for all van Vogt was able to write was that small boy's sandbox game with an adult level of intensity. (From "Letters of Comment," The New York Review of Science Fiction, May 1999.)
Others have had different opinions, of course, but if the facts of biography bear upon an author's work, then Mr. Schweitzer seems to have picked up on something of significance, something that might lead to an understanding not only of van Vogt's writing but also of his interest in Dianetics. In any case, van Vogt wrote two stories for the Bellerophon Weird Tales, part one of a serial, "The Pandora Principle," co-authored with Brinke Stevens and never completed in print (Fall 1984), and "The Brain" (Winter 1985). If I read the Internet Speculative Fiction Database correctly (always a problem with its cumbersome system of cataloguing), "The Brain" was his second to last magazine story.

J. N. Williamson
Gerald "Jerry" Neal Williamson
Born April 17, 1932, Indianapolis, Indiana
Died  December 8, 2005, Noblesville, Indiana

For Weird Tales

"The Bus People" (short story, Winter 1985)

J.N. Williamson was primarily a writer of horror stories and novels. He also wrote non-fiction. Williamson authored more than forty novels and collections and more than 100 short stories. "The Bus People," his only story for Weird Tales (of which I am aware), came near the beginning of his career. Williamson received a lifetime achievement award from the Horror Writers of America in 2003. He was born in my native city of Indianapolis; graduated from Shortridge High School, as did Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007); and attended Butler University, as did James Alexander Thom (b. 1933), who, like Williamson, majored in journalism. I wonder if they knew each other, or if my uncle, who sat next to Mr. Thom in English class at Butler, also knew the man who would later become a writer of horror stories.

I always like to show foreign-language editions of writers in English. Here is the cover of the Spanish-language edition of Horrors 7, by "Stephen King y otros," and selected by J.N. Williamson. The illustration, by Michael Whelan, was also published on the front of The Year's Best Horror Stories, Series V, in 1977. I'm not sure how that worked exactly, as Gerald W. Page was the editor of the English-language version.

John Wyndham
John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris
Aka John Beynon, Lucas Parkes
Born July 10, 1903, Dorridge, Warwickshire, England
Died  March 11, 1969, Petersfield, Hampshire, England

For Weird Tales

"Vengeance by Proxy" (short story, Winter 1985; originally in Strange Stories, Feb. 1940)

Although Bellerophon was not the miner of old stories that Sam Moskowitz was in the Weird Tales of the 1970s, it nonetheless uncovered works from long-gone authors, including "Vengeance by Proxy" by John Wyndham, originally in Strange Stories in February 1940. Born before the Great War, Wyndham,  Harris, was shaped by that conflict and its sequel, in which he took part as a public servant and a soldier who landed at Normandy after the first wave. By then he had already been contributing to American science fiction and fantasy magazines for more than a decade, his first story, "Worlds to Barter," having been published in Wonder Stories in May 1931. Readers of today might best remember him as the author of The Day of the Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), filmed as The Village of the Damned (1960). The first book has had some influence, consciously or not, on our current mythology of zombies. (Like The Walking Dead, it opens in a hospital when an unaffected man awakes to a post-apocalyptic world.) The second speaks presciently about a current and very real invasion of Europe and the inadequacy of Western liberalism in defending itself against threats from the outside.

Originally published in 1935, John Beynon Harris' novel The Secret People was reprinted by Lancer in the 1960s. Here is the cover to the second Lancer printing (1967), with an illustration by Frank Frazetta.

Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley