Weird and Occult 1/- Library # 2 (Gerald G. Swan)

w-and-o-2

…let’s now continue the second of three blogs on Weird and Occult 1/- Library, as published by Gerald G. Swan, my favorite wartime British publisher. As noted, Swan had acquired and filed numerous short stories during and shortly after the war years. Come 1960, they re-opened their files and compiled three 64-page books, with original cover art.

The contents:

  • (1-12) The Voice of Amalzzar by Henry Rawle
  • (12-13) Skulls That Cannot Be Shifted by A. C. Bailey (article)
  • (14-18) His Second Chance by A. C. Bailey
  • (19) The Cat and the Occult by F. Thomas (article)
  • (20-29) Death Mates by Hugh J. Gallagher
  • (30-37) Come Brother, Come! by Dallas Kirby
  • (37) A Court Martialled Ghost by A. C. Bailey (article)
  • (38-43) “Where That Dark Water Is…” by Chas. H. Bradford
  • (44-52) Beneath the Mountain by Christine Gittings
  • (53-63) Judgment Bell by John Russell Fearn
  • (63-64) Made of Sand by M. E. Orman

The Voice of Amalzzar begins in the usual introductory fashion. Chums haven’t met in many years and the one suffering with weird situations requests the assistance of their old friend, writes him, and he, like a good buddy, appears on the scene, to record the event for the reader. In this one, a mummy’s essence is tapped and they bring back its entire life story. Thankfully, the mummy speaks perfect English (or, rather, the scientist’s mechanism does). One of the electron tubes suddenly blow as the orator begins foretelling the future. A stale, well-dated tale.

His Second Chance is somewhat amusing, if cliché. A man is struck by a bus, dead, and his ghost wanders about eventually learning the truth and that the world will get by just fine without him. The ghost also learns that his wife had been having an affair, his daughter now intends to pursue her own interests against his wishes, his job and friends found him a scoundrel, and only his dog seems aware of his presence after he whistles. He eventually imposes the shell of his soul upon a newborn baby….

Death Mates is an adventure tale. Not weird. Perhaps gruesome, in its time? A wealthy man in the jungles of South America over the years places ads around the globe for certain sorts of female employees. The current boat-load arrives and they are sent to their rooms. The self-proclaimed trapeze artist manipulates her room’s window to access and enter another girl’s room at night and reveals that she is in fact a man, in disguise. He’s secretly on a mission to discover the whereabouts of his missing sister. While talking, the pair sneak out and discover that the resident is a madman whom enjoys hunting “skilled” women. His trophy room consists of their heads! The trapeze artist does battle with the man and his weekend-warriors (killers) and blows up the mansion. A fun tale, but ill-placed to this volume.

Come Brother, Come is another of those cliché tales, in which a fisherman whom murdered his brother long ago is drawn again out to sea during a tumultuous storm, rowing for his life, as his rotting corpse of a brother pulls himself out of the ocean and drags his killer down with him….

“Where that Dark Water Is…” is from poet Walter de la Mare. It is aptly re-utilized here, involving deadly sea sirens. A lighthouse is investigated, only to discover a knife in the back of one man, and another tethered, equally dead, by a pool of water.

Beneath the Mountain involves a typical discovery of a lost sea monster, being tended to by a zoologist, of sorts. The trapped cave-dwelling beast kills the man feeding it, and the narrator leads others to the location, but the beast has already escaped.

Now, this next story, by John Russell Fearn, is well-worth the purchase of this book, alone. Judgment Bell, while yet another typical story of its sort tackling a well-worn plot, is so adroitly told that it kept me plodding along wondering just how this particular version would end. Two lovers picnicking are caught in an uncanny storm and take shelter in a church in which her uncle, a dozen years earlier, had died, from a bizarre lightning strike. The lady is strong-willed, independent and intelligent, to the point that she does not believe in the occult. However, when she finds a variant of her surname in the monk’s books, retelling an old local legend, the eerie setting rattles her nerves and shakes her to the core. Legend holds that an ancestor [of hers] assassinated the church’s monk, but he set a curse upon the family, to hold through the centuries until each could be drawn to this very church and vengeance exacted upon each one. Realizing that she may be victim to an unknown family curse, she frantically seeks to escape, but the storm keeps them inside. Losing sanity, she “sees” the ghostly monk, loses her mind, and is struck by a bolt of lightning, charring half her body. Her lover is maddened and discovers a real live monk on the premises, and is certain he is the man she saw. The monk explains the old tale, and that he is aware of who [in family name] she is, and then shows that the legendary “Judgment Bell” that they both heard, in fact, does not exist!

The digest wraps up with a bizarre short, in the form of Made of Sand. An odd child builds a figure out of beach sand and that night, it takes form on the beach and the girl wakes up and dies. A worthless little tale….

Weird and Occult 1/- Library # 2 (Gerald G. Swan)

Weird Shorts: First Selection (Gerald G Swan, 1944)

Weird Shorts

Weird Shorts: First Selection was published by Gerald G. Swan in 1944 and priced at 7d. This 36-page stapled pamphlet contains 7 short stories. It is actually the only edition.

Up first is “In Alien Valleys” by Henry Rawle.
Typical social gathering at the local pub, one of those fire-side chats, discussing ghosts and psychical phenomenon and the traditional naysayers that take control of the conversation until the ‘silent-looker-on’ off to the side coughs their way into the discussion. This person is usually another noted scientist or doctor or, just some bloke that knew to attend one of these gatherings. In any case, his morbid tale is of his own mind suffering astral projection but the effects are proven by his awakening and the marks left behind by a giant taloned bird are upon his very body. Naturally, anyone can scoff at this conclusion. While the tale of being projected onto another planet was a fun read, the freshly made scars could be readily faked from a variety of sources. The tale has a very “dated” feel to it.

Henry Rawle has contributed many weird tales to the
British mags of old, including the following:

  • Armand’s Return, (ss) Ghosts & Goblins, 1938
  • The Bride of Yum-Chac, (ss) Occult #1 ’45
  • Dr. Gabrielle’s Chair, (ss) Space Fact and Fiction # 2 ’54
  • Fiorello (ss) New Acorn Jun/Jul 1949
  • Flashback, (ss) Occult #2 ’46
  • Gruenaldo, (vi) Weird Story Magazine #1 ’46
  • The Head of Ekillon, (ss) Ghosts & Goblins, 1938
  • In Alien Valleys, (ss) Weird Shorts #1 ’44
  • The Intruder, (vi) Weird and Occult Miscellany, 1949
  • Marley’s Masterpiece, (ss) Mystery Stories #18 ’39
  • Revanoff’s Fantasia, (ss) Tales of Ghosts and Haunted Houses, 1939
  • Silvester’s Oasis, (ss) Weird and Occult Library #3 ’60
  • The Voice of Amalzzar, (ss) Weird and Occult Library #2 ’60

Next is Trevor Dudley-Smith’s “The Immortal Guardian,” which also treads upon the usual. A woman’s long-suffering brother is dying, and, commits suicide. Before dying, he surrenders onto her his ring to wear, and promises to watch over her throughout life. Much time has past since his departure, and, while she and her husband are driving away to catch a flight, she is horror-stricken to note the ring is missing! They return to the hotel and learn that a maid found it in the shower drain. How did it fall off? It had never come off or been removed prior. They miss their flight, and next morning, while reading the newspaper, the husband is in awe to learn that the plane crashed. Was it fate, luck, coincidence, or … her brother?

The former name of Elleston Trevor, he obtained greater
fame later as Adam Hall with his “Quiller” crime novels.

Sigrid’s House” by Dallas Kirby is a tale of demoniacal possession.
Long ago, a lovely lady married a preacher and then tried to corrupt his soul and sell it to the devil. He fought her and the house exploded from within, after he fought her off with his silver cross. Every seven years, a stranger happens along and is stranded in the vicinity and happens upon the house and is never seen or heard from again. Enter our hero, a detective on assignment, headed off to investigate illegal transportation of drugs. He never makes his destination, for his wheels become stuck in the mud during a torrential downpour. Seeing a light in the distance, he decides to make a break for it and finds himself at a desolate mansion of sorts. Entering, a servant brings him to his master, a stunningly beautiful girl. Whether his drink was doped or she worked black magic upon him is unclear, but, he becomes aware dreamily that he has told her of his entire assignment, etc., and then jerks fully awake as a spark from the fireplace burns him. Shucking the evil power holding him, he’s now fully coherent and in perfect control of his faculties. Midnight is drawing near and he realizes that he is in the evilly rumored Sigrid’s House. He goes down to the basement, and finds the girl in a trance calling out to the devil himself, and an evil THING does manifest. Realizing that he is to be the final sacrifice to bring her Self back to life (and the demon, too) he lunges forward upon the preacher’s old silver cross, performs some brief battle with cadaverous creature from hell using the cross, and the home and explodes. He awakens in Hoyt, where he was to perform his duties. He is battered and bruised from his ordeal, but is being aptly cared for by a woman, whose husband found him dazed and near death, clutching in his hands a branch of wood in the form of a crucifix…

Dallas Kirby is the alias of David J. Gammon; he contributed two
other odd bits, both to the publisher Gerald G. Swan, being:

  • Come Brother, Come!, (ss) Weird and Occult Library #2 ’60
  • The Incredible Solution, (ss) Yankee Science Fiction #21 ’42

Night of Terror!” by E. A. Cross is more a crime story than a weird one.
Your typical fat, bloated, rich asshole is driving through the countryside when his car fails him. Walking to a home in the remote region during a storm, he is welcomed by an older man, whom turns out to be a scientist. While left alone, the visitor stumbles into the laboratory and discovers that the man is insanely carving upon brains of missing “other” visitors and leaving them alive as brainless halfwits. Scared out of his mind, the portly man tries in vain to escape but is captured, tied to a bench, and commits suicide rather than be operated upon. The joke is on him. The intent WAS to scare him to death, as a prank. The asshole, turns out, had stolen another man’s woman and she died. The scientist was the father, and the halfwit running around? the woman’s original betrayed lover, also in on the gag.

Elizabeth Anne Cross contributed at least two more shorts, both
to Swan, being general fiction stories. 

David Alun presents us with an awfully good tongue-in-cheek sinister spoof on Adolph Hitler as Udolph Litter. In “The Demon and the Dictator,” a lesser demon is sent to earth to corrupt a tiny country’s tyrant into committing flagrant atrocities. The dictator is repulsed by Melite, the ugly little demon, so it changes form to a fuckably cute little girl in a dancer outfit. We are led to believe that Udolph kisses the girl (and is zapped) and they might even have intercourse over the years. Melite convinces him to sign off on a form to provide Melite with a “ball” and in exchange, Melite gives him the world (sort of). Many many years pass and Udolph is conquering the world but is not ready to die just yet, each time becoming more and more wretched and evil. Melite suggests killing the Jews (I’m surprised this made it into the text). Tired of waiting, Melite uses his demon abilities to coerce Udolph to blow his brains out, and Melite collects an evilly hardened little ball, being Udolph’s soul. Melite was assigned to obtain a solidly functional soul-ball for the upper demons to play Rugby with, incidentally…. It’s a damn good story, despite the spoof being chillingly close to reality.

This author’s identity has never been cemented, however,
I suspect that this is David William Alun Llewellyn. Who?
Yeah, that’s what I said, too. Check out the following link.
If you read it and concur, let me know. I’m fairly confident this is our man.
http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/llewellyn_alun

In “The Revenge of Arnul,” author W. P. Cockroft presents a man whom has been wronged and robbed his whole life by a man that competed with and bettered him in all tasks and assignments and goals throughout childhood and later years, even going so far as to claim the woman he loved. Tired of the constant suffering, he went on to pursue a career in the sciences, an area the other had zero interest. Many years, decades perhaps, pass. The scientist sends a letter of invite to his one-time competitor, and he accepts, but brings a gun with him. He realizes that something is afoot, and is prepared to defend himself. The scientist informs him that he has created a time machine and he has succeeded in sending a motion camera into the future and recorded certain events. He shows him one such reel, indicating the wife’s great sorrow. And then he shows him his own death, being hanged for the murder of the scientist! Angered and frightened, he attacks the scientist and threatens to destroy the machines, believing the scenes are faked. While fighting, he fatally shoots the scientists, whom laughs to death, proclaiming his own death was what was needed to solidify the future’s reality, otherwise, it was just one of many such futures. With his dying breath, he tells his killer to play one last reel. The man plays the reel, which shows HIM entering the house, going into the library, talking to the scientist, and plays on through to the final kill scene. In a fit of utter insanity, he destroys everything and is arrested for murder. His lawyer can’t fathom why he won’t plead to self-defense, but, he’s seen the future, and knows that the hangman’s noose is unavoidable….

I wrote up another Wilfred P. Cockroft tale many months ago
(see: They Came From Mars) but never discussed the man himself.
He contributed to SF and Weird fandom alike from
1934 through 1954, appearing earliest in the world’s
first science fiction newspaper (Scoops), made a couple sales to
American pulps, appeared in Britain’s debut issue of Tales of Wonder, etc.

I. O. Evans presents a ghoulish Norse revival of “The Kraken.” Bringing in a geologist to investigate seaside phenomenon of the sea floor seeming to rise, Jarvis is gobsmacked to learn that the sea does indeed appear to have risen several dozen feet, making the bottom quite visible in places. Numerous tourists have come to the beach to take pictures, boats aplenty are adrift, anchored and watching, and the British navy is on the scene, when, inexplicably, the whole of the ocean floor suddenly rises and bubbles to the surface, becoming a rubbery gelatinous mass. The situation worsens when tentacled claws shoot out and begin grasping sea-goers and dragging them under for nourishment. Jarvis, our geologist, immediately realizes that they are dealing with the historically fantastic Kraken of Norse mythology, but, hasn’t a clue how to defeat the creature. The navy does battle with the beast, and the beast retaliates by pulling an entire warship under. Depth charges are unleashed, and the Kraken drops and creates a whirlpool that drags every ship under to a watery grave. Nothing seems to kill or permanently injure the beast. Bombs fail. Cannonballs bounce off the rubbery body. Anti-aircraft fire penetrates but really does nothing else, other than annoy the creature. In the end, it is the English weather that sends the critter swimming away to the deeper and COLDER recesses of the Atlantic depths.

Idrisyn Oliver Evans contributed only the one known weird story,
one science fiction tale involving a robot-boxer
(The Passing Show, 15 Jan 1938), and translated
two of Jules Verne’s tales (“Frritt-Flacc” and “Gil Braltar”)
both for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author_talk:Idrisyn_Oliver_Evans
For further interest, here is a link detailing his books:
https://www.librarything.com/author/evansio

In conclusion, below are the publication’s specs:

Weird Shorts: First Selection [#1, 1944]
(London: Gerald G Swan, 7d, 36-pages, 4.75 x 7.5 inches, stapled pamphlet, cover art: unknown)
2 * In Alien Valleys * Henry Rawle
5 * The Immortal Guardian * Trevor Dudley-Smith
8 * Sigrid’s House * Dallas Kirby
15 * Night of Terror! * E. A. Cross
21 * The Demon and the Dictator * David Alun
25 * The Revenge of Arnul * W. P. Cockcroft (sic)
30 * The Kraken * I. O. Evans

Weird Shorts: First Selection (Gerald G Swan, 1944)