Phil Strong (ed.) - The Other Worlds: 25 Modern Stories Of Mystery & Imagination (Garden City, 1942)
Foreword - Phil Strong
Part 1: Strange Ideas
Thorpe McClusky - The Considerate Hosts Michael Fessler - The Man In The Black Hat Mindret Lord - Naked Lady Ralph Milne Farley - The House Of Ecstasy Paul Ernst - Escape John Jessel - The Adaptive Ultimate Walker G. Everett - The Woman In Grey Lester del Rey - The Pipes Of Pan Virginia Swain - Aunt Cassie
Part 2: Fresh Variants
Notes - Phil Strong
Theodore Sturgeon - A God In A Garden Donald Bern - The Man Who Knew All The Answers Eando Binder - Adam Link's Vengeance Donald Wright O'Brien - Truth Is A Plague Murray Leinster - The Fourth-Dimensional Demonstrator Harry Bates - Alas, All Thinking! Kelvin Kent (Henry Kuttner) - A Comedy Of Eras Mindret Lord - A Problem For Biographers
Part 3: Horrors
Notes - Phil Strong
H. P. Lovecraft - In The Vault Manly Wade Wellman - School For The Unspeakable Seabury Quinn - The House Where Time Stood Still John Flanders (Jean Ray) - The Mystery Of The Last Guest Manly Wade Wellman - Song Of The Slaves August Derleth - The Panelled Room Henry Kuttner - The Graveyard Rats August Derleth & MarK Schorer - The Return Of Andrew Bentley
Eclectic selection from Weird Tales, Astounding Stories, Amazing, Thrilling Wonder & Co. with entertaining commentary by Strong throughout. Despite the assurance that these are "even better than Frankenstein, The Horla and The Mask Of Red Death", Strong spends several sentences moaning about how awful Seabury Quinn's stories are, with The House Where Time Stood Still selected for the book as "it is one of [his] best stories and one of his worst: It is one of the ugliest and most ingenious: and on the other hand it demonstrates to an exaggerated degree his deplorable determination to have everything turn out right up to, and unhappily beyond, the point of using definitely farcial devices."
This is, of course, entirely spot on, and it is to be hoped that, if he is still with us, Mr. Strong has managed to steer clear of the works of Dennis Wheatley, Guy N. Smith and Robert Lory.
Ralph Milne Farley - The House Of Ecstasy: A wretched dwarf can only enjoy his pleasures vicariously. Using his considerable hypnotic powers, he entices his victims to a room where a girl is held captive and watches the results through a two-way mirror ...
In her introduction to the erotic horror anthology I Shudder At Your Touch, Michele Slung name-checks The House Of Ecstasy ("a crude but still nightmarish pulp teaser about sexual slavery") as an early personal favourite. To my mind it could well be the most depraved story Weird Tales ever published. Maybe he intended it for Spicy Mystery but sent it to the wrong address.
Seabury Quinn - The House Where Time Stood Still: Reminiscent of his other surgical shocker, The House Of Horror. De Grandin and Trowbridge investigate the disappearance of Southerby, an English diplomat who has gone missing en route to Washington. During a rainstorm, they discover his car in a river, and Trowbridge wanders off to a nearby mansion to request a tow-rope. This is the home of the brilliant German surgeon Friedrich Friedrichsohn and his assistant in infamy Mishkin. Trowbridge is taken prisoner and the sadist takes huge delight in parading the wretched victims of his horrific experiments, the most appalling attrocities having been inflicted on that which was once Viki Boehm, the Viennese colorata, whose crime was to spurn the evil Friedrichsohn. She is now a toad-like, pear-shaped monster with neither arms nor legs, held captive in a roomful of mirrors so she remains constantly conscious of her mutilation.
Manly Wade Wellman - School For The Unspeakable: Bart Setwick alights at Carrington, eagerly contemplating his first term at the famous school. He starts to get worried when the hazing he's heard so much about takes the form of his being held down and cut by a trio of old lags during a Satanic sing-a-long ...
John Flanders - The Mystery Of The Last Guest: Mr. Buttercup is stalked by an invisible being - possibly Death personified - who drives him up onto the roof of a snowbound tavern, leaving terrible footprints to mark his passing. Dr. Hellermund later informs Buttercup of his similar experience when he was resident physician in a ward for the terminally ill.
August Derleth - The Panelled Room: Mrs. Lydia Grant moves into the house on Main St. against all advice. Seventeen years previous, Peter Mason killed his wife then hung himself in the panelled room, and successive residents have been troubled by their ghosts. Her sister, Irma, is delighted when Lydia sees the ghastly apparitions - she stands to inherit the property on the elder woman's death - but comes unstuck when Mrs. Grant is strangled by unseen hands. One of Derleth's best - horrible ending!
Henry Kuttner - The Graveyard Rats: Salem. old Masson, the cemetery caretaker, supplements his income by robbing the dead of their gold teeth and jewellery. Comes the rainy night when he digs up a grave to find the rats have gnawed a hole in it and dragged the corpse off along one of they innumerable tunnels. He crawls in after them ..
An incredibly busy plot - Kuttner even drags an animated, festering corpse into the proceedings - in it’s day this was probably as ghastly a full-on horror story as had ever been written.
H. P. Lovecraft - In The Vault: George Birch, the village undertaker of Peck Valley is locked in the vault overnight. He stacks coffins one atop the other with a view to climbing to freedom but, unfortunately the uppermost one houses the carcass of old Aspath Sawyer, a singularly vindictive character with "a tenacious memory for wrongs real or fancied". The less than diligent Birch has given him just cause for retribution ...
H. R. Hammond, Weird Tales, Sept. 1934.
Mindret Lord - Naked Lady: Jeremiah Von Orton, aging millionaire and art collector, commissions the talented but unknown Michael Bonze to paint a nude portrait of his faithless, gold-digging young wife, using Gilda Ransome as the model as she is a dead ringer for Mrs. Von Orton. In the paint he must agree to mix samples of her hair, nail-clippings & co., as, unknown to Bonze, the portrait is to serve the purpose of a voodoo doll.
Virginia Swain - Aunt Cassie: The old girl has lived with nephew Edward Alden and his family for twelve years, an absolute dear but with one grating habit - she will insist on seeing the ghosts of her dead at inopportune moments and passing on their (usually critical) observations. When she upsets his wife and daughter with some alarming faux pas, even Edward thinks maybe it’s time she made other arrangements. Besides, one of the spooks keeps going on about his drinking. But he has a business arrangement tonight and the roads are icy. Best be very careful, especially as he knows the brakes to be faulty. Perhaps another shot of whiskey to keep off the chill …. ….
Thorp McClusky - The Considerate Hosts: (Weird Tales, Dec 1939) On the way to Rock Falls, Marvin's car breaks down at midnight during a dreadful storm. He chances upon an isolated house and is ushered in by an odd couple, John and Grace Reed. They're ghosts. Reed fried in the electric chair 21 years ago for a murder he didn't commit, and his wife took her own life shortly afterward. Now they're intent on destroying Governor Lyons who framed John. Marvin, initially believing himself to be in the company of maniacs, talks them out of taking their revenge. When next he drives past the house it is a ruin, obviously not having been lived in these past two decades.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.