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Weird Tales Deep Read: October 1934

Sunday, June 14th, 2020 | Posted by John Miller

Weird Tales October 1934-small

Cover by Margaret Brundage

This third installment of the Weird Tales deep read covers the eleven stories in the October 1934 issue, including the first Jirel of Joiry story by C. L. Moore. Her flame didn’t burn as long in the Unique Magazine as the Lovecraft-Howard-Smith trinity’s did, but it did burn as brightly. Moore had sixteen stories in Weird Tales between 1933-1939, twelve in an incredible burst of creativity in the years 1934-1936.

This issue had three stories set in the U.S. (27%) and one each in France, Hyperborea, the U. K., Hyboria, Africa, Serbia, Italy, and an unknown locale (9%). Six had a contemporary setting (55%) and five were set in the past (45%). All in all a decent issue, with the stories averaging 2.27, the score being dragged down by some of the shorter pieces, which were largely undistinguished.

Notable authors include Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, with one of his longest and most ambitious stories, the aforementioned C. L. Moore, and fairly reliable veterans Paul Ernst and H. Bedford-Jones, and Manly Wade Wellman. The Ernst and Eadie offerings could be considered science fiction, the rest fantasy.

Black God 2

Moore, C. L. [Jirel of Joiry] (1) “Black God’s Kiss, The.” [France, Joiry (fictitious realm), Past, Early Middle Ages] Jirel is bought before Guillaume, who’d just conquered her realm. He kisses her, inflaming strong passion in her as well as a desire for vengeance. She quickly escapes the dungeon in which she’s imprisoned, entering a strange realm where she accepts a gift from a demon, a kiss from the statue of an alien deity. She returns to the keep and passes the kiss on to Guillaume, killing him, as she realizes that the emotion she’d felt was love, not hate [Battle, lost. Death, by occult spell. Dimensional travel, by queer curves and angles. Gift, unwanted consequences. Labyrinth, underground. Love lost. Mental compulsion. Occult artifact, crucifix. Occult creature, demon. Occult deity, statue. Vengeance, regretted.]

Tsath3

Smith, Clark Ashton. (1) [Hyperborea, Cthulhu Mythos] “Seven Geases, The.” [Commoriom (fictitious city), Past, Hyperborean Age (fictitious)] While hunting Voormis, a “sub-human” race considered Hyperborea’s most dangerous game, Ralibor Vooz comes across a solitude-seeking sorcerer who, annoyed, lays a geas on him to seek Tsathoggua and offer himself as a blood sacrifice. Tsathoggua rejects him, sending him to a lesser god, Atlacha-Nacha. He’s passed on to other pre-human entities and is always rejected, ultimately falling into an endless void. An oblique commentary on his attitude toward the Voormis, vis-a-vis humanity. [Occult deity, Tsathoggua (Old One, Cthulhu Mythos), Atlacha-Natcha. Ante-human race, Serpent People. Familiar, bird. Mental compulsion, by spell. Sorcerer. Underground labyrinth.]

Ernst, Paul. (2) “Old Sledge” [Urban US, Contemporary] An inventor constructs a machine that enables him to see into the future. It causes a fire that kills him and gives the narrator a vision of his own death in the upcoming month. [SF. Mad scientist, good intentioned. Time machine. Vision, prophetic, from device.]

Sleeper

Bedford-Jones, H. (2) “ Sleeper, The.” [US, Contemporary] Ranjit Singh, serial womanizer, had a “sleeper act” of being buried for a long period, which he’d miraculously survive. His manager tells the narrator he’d retired to India, but the narrator realizes that the supposed Egyptian mummy in the manager’s collection looks like Singh. The manager’s wife is in an asylum because of an unexplained breakdown. [Love triangle. Trance state. Revenge, justified. Insanity.]

Gordon Gurwit, S. (4) “ Pistol, The.” [US, Georgia, NYC; Contemporary]. Over-wrought and convoluted, though entirely predictable. After the death of the only man she could love a southern belle becomes a nurse in NYC. Among her patients is a gangster who’s on his death bed. He wants to do good, so convinces her to marry him so she can give his money to charity. Naturally he lives and reverts back to type. She scorns him and, due to plot purposes, quits her job and returns to Georgia. He follows and begs her to be his real wife, but she’s repulsed. Fortunately, she has an antique pistol which magically protects her family line. She tries to shoot him. It misfires, but the ghost of her dead love appears (backed up by generations of familial male ghosts) and he shoots the miscreant, so she lives happily ever after, presumably alone. [Return From Dead, ghost, helpful. Magic item, pistol. Love triangle.]

Eadie, Arlton. (2) “Trail of the Cloven Hoof, The.” (iv/vii) (UK, Exmoor, Contemporary) Doctor on a hiking tour runs into mystery on the moor as he finds a man who’d been attacked by a creature that left a trail of cloven hoof prints. This leads to an (under-utilized) sanitarium of dubious propriety, murder, a powerful secret weapon (gas that causes people to explode), love at first sight, and medical experiments that culminate in a human/stag centaur. Fairly interesting, but an over-reliance on a capture/release plot combined with long conversations grinds down the narrative. [SF. Asylum, faux. Secret lab. Mad scientist, medical doctor. Super weapon, explosive gas. Foreign spy, German. Scientist, chemist. Murder. Medical experiment, human/animal transplant, stag. Love at first sight.]

Long, Julius.(-/4) “Supper for Thirteen.” [?, Contemporary] A man known for throwing extravagant dinners hosts one in a room resembling a prison’s death chamber. He “artistically” murders his guests, also killing himself. [Mass murder, electrocution. Suicide, electrocution]

People2

Howard, Robert E. (1) [Conan] “People of the Black Circle, The.” (ii/iii) [Vendhya (fictitious realm), Peshkhanri (fictitious city), Afghulistan (fictitious realm), Past, Hyborean Age (fictitious)] A sprawling plot turning on political intrigue between the realms of Vendhya and Turan that Conan, chief of Afghuli hillmen gets drawn into after he kidnaps the Devi of Vendhya to use as a bargaining chip to free captive men. To complicate things a spy has hired a cabal of sorcerers to aid Turanian interests, one of whom is seduced into furthering his own worldly ends. One of Howard’s most ambitious stories. [Political intrigue, between nations. Spy. Sorcerers, evil. Mercy killing. Kidnapping, political. Occult spells, death, flying, mind control, telepathy, telekinesis, matter transmutation. Sword fight. Magic items, charm, girdle (belt). Vision, past lives. Death by occult animals, hawk and serpent. Assault, on castle. Battle, armies.]

Wellman, Manly Wade. (3) “At the Bend of the Trail” [Africa, Contemporary] Safari attacked by motile plan. Very slight. [Flora, dangerous]

Kayser, Ronal. (3) “White Prince, The.” [Serbia, Past] Serbs attack a castle manned by occupying Turks in WW I. They’re losing until the legendary White Prince drives the Turks away. [WW1. Battle. Myth, Serbian. Return of Hero.]

Magherini-Graziani, Giovanni. (2) “Fioraccio.” (Rpt. 1886) [Italy, past (1830s)] The corpse of an atheist thief will not stay buried. [Folktale, Italian. RFD, animated corpse.]

The previous articles in this series are:

Weird Tales Deep Read: March, 1933
Weird Tales Deep Read: July 1933

Next up: 19 Movies Visits The Land Of The Rising Sun.


John Jos. Miller’s latest publication is:  “An Annotated Long Night at the Palmer House” at https://www.wildcardsworld.com/the-annotated-a-long-night-at-the-palmer-house/.  Next up: Death Draws Five (Tor, January 2021).  See: www.facebook.com/john.j.miller

1 Comment »

  1. […] Magazines (Black Gate): This third installment of the Weird Tales deep read covers the eleven stories in the October 1934 […]

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