Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Good Embalmer - Clark Ashton Smith

Rival morticians criticise each other. One has the misfortune to die first.

3.5 out of 5

Prince Alcouz and the Magician - Clark Ashton Smith

A ruler instructs his magician that he doesn't want his useless son inheriting his rule.

3 out of 5

Told in the Desert - Clark Ashton Smith

A man regrets leaving an oasis.

2.5 out of 5

Symposium of the Gorgon - Clark Ashton Smith

A drunken encounter with Medusa leads to a trip via Pegasus, and some cannibals are left severely disappointed.

4 out of 5

The Theft of the Thirty-Nine Girdles - Clark Ashton Smith

Satampra Zeios is back, with a scam to divest a whole lot of temple girls of their girdles, by robbery and the aid of a concoction.

4 out of 5

An Offering to the Moon - Clark Ashton Smith

An explorer investigates the ancient temples of Mu.

3 out of 5

Morthylla - Clark Ashton Smith

A man has a thing for a lamia, first an impostor, then the real thing.

3.5 out of 5

The Root of Ampoi - Clark Ashton Smith

A circus giant recounts how he got to be that way, via a society of very large women.

3.5 out of 5

Last Enemy - H. Beam Piper

Dalla Hadron has been doing a little bit more scientific meddling than she should. As such, she has blown a fair holes in a certain society's theory of Statistical Reincarnation. i.e. that it all balances out in the end.

Given that this culture has a Society of Assassins as part of normal business practices she has a few problems.

Luckily Verkon Vall comes back, and is pretty handy with the old weapons himself.

Politics and action, quite entertaining.

3.5 out of 5

Police Operation - H. Beam Piper

A couple of the Paratime top guys have to go back to track down a Venusian Nighthound. The beast has escaped to a timeline that seems quite suspiciously like our own, and the mystery carnage it has caused leaves local law enforcement perplexed.

3.5 out of 5

He Walked Around the Horses - H. Beam Piper

A English diplomat in Prussia, in 1809, performs the titular action and disappears. The story is told in documentation about the event.

3 out of 5

Time Crime - H. Beam Piper

The Paratime Police have a tougher job than The Time Patrol types in other books, in that there are other realities they have to worry about, as well as other times.

Chasing down miscreants into other possible pasts is just a bit more problematic. Here, the Paratime Police are given their reason for being, as they have to solve a case.

3 out of 5

Crossroads of Destiny - H. Beam Piper

Ruminations on the mutability oftime.

3 out of 5

Flight From Tomorrow - H. Beam Piper

A crazed leader type escapes to the past, to meet a foreordained fate.

3.5 out of 5

The Answer - H. Beam Piper

Negamatter weapons.

3 out of 5

Time and Time Again - H. Beam Piper

A man ends up back in the body of his younger self, decides to change history.

3 out of 5

Operation R.S.V.P. - H. Beam Piper

A little written diplomacy, with guided missiles.

3.5 out of 5

The Coming of the White Worm - Clark Ashton Smith

A fancy sword is needed to get rid of a polar bear heart-eating monstrosity, once human.

3 out of 5

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Story of Doctor Dolittle - Hugh Lofting

A book designed for young kids, in general.

A doctor discovers how to talk to his animals, thanks to his rather intelligent parrot. This leads him to giving away the boring old mundane practice of human medicine and going to work on something that is a lot more suited to his pretty unique talents.

He ends up in Africa, along with some other adventures.

3 out of 5

White Fang - Jack London

White Fang is a pup born a hybrid, part wolf and part dog. The other dogs, therefore, are not big fans of his. He ends up a tough super-dog as a result, and as such, attracts the attention of dog fighters, and keeps winning until he is rescused from a fight.

He ends up helping out his new owners, and getting to relax and enjoy his golden years.

3.5 out of 5

The Call of the Wild - Jack London

Buck is a big beefy cross dog living a happy life. A dognapper gets him, and sells him into a life of work and sled pulling. The dog endures a bunch of harsh treatment until he finds an owner who really likes him and treats him well.

That ends badly, and the dog follows his violent and atavasitic instincts in the end.

3.5 out of 5

The Double Shadow - Clark Ashton Smith

Sorcerers, summonings and some nasty transmogrifications.

2.5 out of 5

The Garden of Adompha - Clark Ashton Smith

A king and his magician know where the bodies are buried, literally. They have made a garden out of them. Highly grotesque.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, February 26, 2007

Long Odds - H. Rider Haggard

If you are stuck in a wagon, surrounded by a pride of lions, with a cub licking at the exposed skin of your leg, that is about when you realise that taking on a lion pride by yourself was really, really, really stupid.

As the man in question says in the story, you chances are then really pretty 'long odds'. Not an activity that is to be advised for any sensible individual. Overconfidence can mean you are dinner.

4 out of 5

The Death of Ilalotha - Clark Ashton Smith

A queen that dies for love summons the one who caused her demise. Trystys Necrotis.

3 out of 5

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Tale of Three Lions - H. Rider Haggard

When a lioness takes Jim for later snacks, tracking her down gives them a lot more than they bargained for.

3 out of 5

Necromancy In Naat - Clark Ashton Smith

A man is enlisted to help a younger generation of Necromancers get rid of the older.

2.5 out of 5

The Black Abbot of Puthuumm - Clark Ashton Smith

Magic arrows are needed for some adventurers to dispose of an immortal evil priest and retinue.

3.5 out of 5

The Treader of the Dust - Clark Ashton Smith

A man gets lost in 'The Testaments of Carnamagos'. Not a good idea to accidentally read incantations you are not sure of. Poof.

4 out of 5

The Flower-Women - Clark Ashton Smith

A sorcerer is bored with his self-styled omnipotence. Wandering off lacking in aids, some flower-sirens and reptile magician do more than relieve his tedium.

3 out of 5

The Dark Eidolon - Clark Ashton Smith

You should not be mean to boys that grow up to be all powerful necromancers. Especially when they invite you to dinners inhabited by untold monsters.

4 out of 5

Xeethra - Clark Ashton Smith

Xeethra should have listend to his uncle Pornos (he who should be careful with pronunciation) and behaved himself and not run off to make a deal with a demon for a soul.

2.5 out of 5

Reign of the Superman - Herbert S. Pine

A scientist has a chemical that gives a man immense mental powers. Seeing it works, he decides to use it on himself, bringing the two men into conflict. A cameo by Forrest Ackerman.

2.5 out of 5

Le Morte D'Arthur - Thomas Malory

I have to say it took me quite a few sausage roll lunch hours to get through this one as a kid. There is no doubt it is very interesting and important for the whole Arthur thing.

Those interested should definitely check it out from that point of view, even if only having a browse, it is well worth the time to see the origins of a lot of this.

4 out of 5

The Seven Geases - Clark Ashton Smith

A cocky adventurer runs into Tsaggothua and others, who give him a few mandated directions on what he must do.

4 out of 5

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Desolator - Simon Haynes

A band of fantasy adventurers want to stop a dragon in this parody. Imagine Joe Pesci as a hobbit and you get the idea.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Parity Check - Dirk Flinthart

The wealthy have scanning and reimplanting options that others do not, when old age encroaches.

3.5 out of 5

Tragedy - Chuck McKenzie

The problems with being Captain Invisible.

3 out of 5

Not Like it Used to Be - Barbara Robson

From Antipodena SF magazine, a very short piece about a superhero busker.

3 out of 5

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Los Angeles Women's Auxiliary Superhero League - Elana Frink

Three women discover they have powers, and set out to use them, and get PR. The most awesome power of the trio is that of 'nice'.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Tomb-Spawn - Clark Ashton Smith

A couple of jewelers on a treasure hunting expedition discover a statue is a lot uglier, more realistic and animate than they would expect.

4 out of 5

The Death of Malygris - Clark Ashton Smith

Some sorcerers mess with a now dead necromancer who was just that bit much more clever than they are.

4 out of 5

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Charnel House - Clark Ashton Smith

A man looks for a woman who has a sleeping sickness. She is abducted and taken to the death god Mordiggian. It seems he only wants dead people though, to her abductors dismay. His priests are also easy to annoy.

3 out of 5

The Ghoul - Clark Ashton Smith

A murderer encounters a graveyard inhabitant.

2.5 out of 5

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Weaver in the Vault - Clark Ashton Smith

Two men are sent to retrieve a mummy of a wizard by their king. Dutch courage is definitely required as they can't work out whether it is worse to obey or disobey.

4 out of 5

Escape Clause - Simon Haynes

Even if your boss is the nicest guy in the world, people will still bitch about him.

3.5 out of 5

Friday, February 16, 2007

Loss Leader - Simon Haynes

The crew of first colony ship from earth discovers some serious flaws. Corporate repercussions to follow, as those who sent them's decision to scrimp comes back to bite them.

4 out of 5

The Seed From the Sepulcher - Clark Ashton Smith

A discovery leads a man to have a bad Swamp Thing type experience.

4 out of 5

The Kiss of Zoraida - Clark Ashton Smith

A man caught in a harem gets his choice of demise, goes for the Romeo and Juliet variety.

3 out of 5

Ubbo-Sathala - Clark Ashton Smith

A man, through a strange crystal and knowledge from the Book of Eibon communes with an ancient Hyperborean sorcerer.

4 out of 5

Genius Loci - Clark Ashton Smith

A particular pastoral location draws artistic types, to their cost.

2.5 out of 5

How to be a Fairy Godmother - Tansy Rayner Roberts

Podcast version here :-

How to be a fairy godmother, with style tips for all people.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Beast of Averoigne - Clark Ashton Smith

A monster kills some religious types, and a man experienced with supernatural matters is asked to assist. They are surprised at its true nature.

3 out of 5

The Isle of the Torturers - Clark Ashton Smith

A group does bad things to a powerful man they don't like too much. They make a deadly serious mistake with some mystical objects in the process.

2.5 out of 5

The Hunters From Beyond - Clark Ashton Smith

A habitue of bookshops and writer of the supernatural meets a gargoyle there. In what presumably is taking the piss out of himself, the owner of the shop berates him for knowing nothing about which he writes, whereas he has firsthand information.

This bloke is a sculptor, and he tells him how he gets his models.

Not such a nice end.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Empire of the Necromancers - Clark Ashton Smith

A pair of Necromancers, exiled from one city because of their practices, make themselves and empire of the undead.

They grow lax and redolent, and one of their raisings himself was a sorcerer with some necromantic knowledge.


3 out of 5

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Nameless Offspring - Clark Ashton Smith

A man on motorcycle gets lost in the mist. He seeks shelter at a large house. A strange old man lives there, who is almost never seen. Bad things happened to his wife. Ghoulish offspring.

2.5 out of 5

The Thing on the Roof - Robert E. Howard

A book collector acquires a copy of Nameless Cults. It motivates the man he got it for to go back to the temple of the Toad Goad.

The amulet he acquires there has very unfortunate consequences.

3 out of 5

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan - Clark Ashton Smith

A beggar prophecies that man's greed will be his undoing. More to the point, some emeralds, and he meant it literally.

3 out of 5

The Alchemist - H. P. Lovecraft

A man discovers, while living in the ancient castle he can't afford the upkeep on, of an ancient curse on his family by a 13th century sorcerer.

He reminisces at 90 about the curse that was supposed to destroy him by 32, and a meeting with a strange figure.

3.5 out of 5

Pigeons From Hell - Robert E. Howard

A man is murdered, and in no ordinary fashion. When law enforcement investigates this is the story he gets from a witness:

"and my God, sir, he was dead! His head had been split open. I saw brains and clotted blood oozing down his face, and his face,,,"

It appears there is a zuvembie in town, the long awaited aftermatch of a property that had white women mistreating their black slaves, badly.

4 out of 5

The Gorgon - Clark Ashton Smith

A 20th century man is offered a chance to see the head of Medusa, by a man claiming to have both it and time travel powers.

He agrees, but is horrified by all the statues that were once men, and trying to flee, ends in a confrontation.

3.5 out of 5

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sea Curse - Robert E. Howard

A group of local seamen and basically criminals, and when they cause the death of a girl, a woman curses them, quite impressively :-

"I curse you by sea and
by land, by earth and by air, by the demons of the swamplands, the
fiends of the forest and the goblins of the hills! And you"--her lean
finger stabbed at Lie-lip Canool and he started backward, his face
paling--"you shall be the death of John Kulrek and he shall be the
death of you! You shall bring John Kulrek to the doors of hell and
John Kulrek shall bring you to the gallows-tree! I set the seal of
death upon your brow, John Kulrek! You shall live in terror and die in
horror far out upon the cold grey sea! But the sea that took the soul
of innocence to her bosom shall not take you, but shall fling forth
your vile carcass to the sands!"

This is what she causes them to run into :-

"From the hell of lost craft Satan sent a ship of bygone ages!"

Needless to say, not good for them.

3 out of 5

The Nameless City - H. P. Lovecraft

A traveller finds a city under the sand, and exploring, a doorway into it. He explores for a time, but strange noises start coming close:

"I fell babbling over and over that unexplainable couplet of the mad
Arab Alhazred, who dreamed of the nameless city:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die."

He eventually makes it out.

4 out of 5

The Door to Saturn - Clark Ashton Smith

A sorcerer of the god worshipping sort escapes a sorcerer of the burn the heretics sort by using a magic door of last resort back to the planet Saturn, thanks to the god Zhothaqquah.

One follows the other, and both are stranded, but make the best of the situation with the natives and some amusing misunderstandings.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Tale of Satampra Zeiros - Clark Ashton Smith

Two not too bright thieves and brigands think that an easy way to some money, given that they are broke, is a temple of the Elder God Tsathoggua.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Return of the Sorcerer - Clark Ashton Smith

A man in need of a job takes one his wishes he hadn't. Pretty much the first request he gets, because of his skills in Arabic, is to translate some part of Abdul Alhazred's Necronomicon.

It appears he has become embroiled in a mortal dispute between two sorcerers, brothers, and one of them ain't alive anymore.

3.5 out of 5

A Rendezvous in Averoigne - Clark Ashton Smith

A wandering minstrel has finally organised a tryst. He doesn't expect to get lost on the way there through a forest of ill repute. Nor does he expect do do any vampire slaying in a sorcerous castle.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Last Incantation - Clark Ashton Smith

A master magician reminisces about an old girlfriend, and realises that necromancy cannot return his innocence, even if it can the girl.

4 out of 5

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Mother of Toads - Clark Ashton Smith

Toads are gross. A large witch that looks like a toad and has toad powers, and seduces people is much grosser.

4 out of 5

The Ninth Skeleton - Clark Ashton Smith

A man daydreaming about his fiancee gets a bit lost in thought. Nine skeletons of women with infants is a bit more than he can take. Luckily, the one with a bit more meat on her bones finds him.

3 out of 5

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Abominations of Yondo - Clark Ashton Smith

A man trying to get away from an unpleasant bureaucray runs into a monster, a skeleton of royalty, and a lich. He prefers the bureaucracy, to this.

3.5 out of 5