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Shipwrecks, Labyrinths, and Sentient Islands: The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy by Francis Stevens

Monday, April 15th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy-small The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy-back-small

The Bison Frontiers of Imagination line has reprinted dozens of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Clark Ashton Smith, Philip Wylie, E.E. “Doc” Smith, A. Merritt, Jack London, Ray Cummings, Hugo Gernsback, Robert Silverberg, and many others, in handsome and affordable trade paperback editions. We’ve reviewed several of them here at Black Gate including:

The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney, reviewed by Thomas Parker
Perfect Murders by Horace L. Gold, reviewed by Bill Ward

I’ve been accumulating them for over ten years, starting with the Clark Ashton Smith volumes Lost World and Out of Space and Time, which are among my favorite Smith reprints. But recently I’ve been a little more experimental with my Bison purchases, and so far I haven’t been disappointed. Last week I bought a copy of The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy by Francis Stevens, a pseudonym for Gertrude Barrows Bennett (1883 – 1948), author of The Citadel of Fear and The Heads of Cerberus. Her work appeared in many horror anthologies I’ve enjoyed over the years, including Jonathan E. Lewis’s Strange Island Stories (2018), and Sam Moskowitz’s Horrors Unknown (1971) and Under the Moons of Mars (1970). Here’s a snippet from the back cover to demonstrate her range.

In a future where women rule the world, a sentient island becomes murderously jealous of a shipwrecked couple. Dire consequences await a human swept into the dark, magical world of elves. A deadly labyrinth coils around the dark heart of a picturesque landscape garden. Within an Egyptian sarcophagus lies the horrifying price of infidelity. Swirling unseen around us are loathsome creatures giving form to our basest desires and fears…

Sounds like just what I’m in the mood for. The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy was edited and introduced by Gary Hoppenstand, and published by Bison Books on October 1, 2004. It is 404 pages, priced at $21.95. There is no digital edition. The cover is by R.W. Boeche.

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