Monday, October 12, 2015

recent read; STRANGE TALES, Jan. 1932

Time for a retro review!

I've picked up a few Girasol pulp replicas in the past year. This Strange Tales Jan 1932 issue jumped out at me both for its cover and for the authors listed in the contents. It's October, so I decided to read the entire content rather than cherry pick this one.

"Dead Legs" by Edmond Hamilton
Thugs meet mad surgeon story. In this case, a crippled mob boss forces a brilliant doctor to graft new legs onto his body. The legs are those of the mob boss's murdered rival. The cursed legs try to get the mob boss killed. Entertaining but a bit of a stretch and certainly not classic.

"Wolves of Darkness" by Jack Williamson
Classic horror novella that turns the werewolf story on its ear. What starts out in the usual fashion - a lone man called to a remote destination where strange thing are afoot - soon changes tracks. For, not only do the wolves and people of this story seem preternatural, it is eventually revealed that strange alien life forces - not lyncathropy - are at work.

"The Moon-Dial" by Henry S. Whitehead
This one falls under light fantasy as a young man falls under the spell of the moon. He recalls past lives - all with a connection of scrying scenes under the light of the moon. Robert E. Howard fans might enjoy the passage from a Roman soldier's point-of-view, as they abandon Hadrian's Wall to the amassing Picts.

"The Black Laugh" by William J. Makin
Good horror story set in Boer Africa. A young man woos a woman who teases him into scaling a plateau. But the hapless lover cannot find his way back down. Madness ensues. I swear I've read this one before. I'll need to check some of my anthologies.

"The Shadow on the Sky" by August Derleth
A haunted house and a curse. A non-Lovecraftian story. Nothing wrong but nothing memorable, either.

"The Door To Saturn" by Clark Ashton Smith
A sword-&-sorcery entry involving a blasphemous sorcerer who flees through a portal to Saturn, and his arch rival who gets trapped there with him. Entertaining story and Smith has a great way of imparting cyclopean landscapes. It is a story on the light side, though. No clashing barbarians here.

"The Smell" by Francis Flagg
A ghost story where instead of the ghost being only seen or only heard by one person, a certain odor accompanies the spirit's presence. Again, serviceable albeit not overly memorable.

"The Door of Doom" by Hugh B. Cave
A ruined mansion, a strange Oriental servant, and four daring survivors of World War I who thrill themselves with occult challenges. This one went places I wasn't expecting. I assumed a weird/yellow menace story but it is, in fact, a tale of the supernatural. It reads like a series, yet some main characters die. So, it does a real good job of feinting the reader. This reader, anyway.

All in all,  a strong issue with justifiable classics. I'm glad I grabbed it.

(and who doesn't love all the old advertisements?)


  1. I read "Wolves of Darkness" years ago but don't recall much of it. I haven't read any of the other stories AFAIK, but most of the authors are names I enjoy. I'll have to track this one down.

  2. oh this sounds awesome. Love those titles.