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Journal of No. 118


November 21st, 2015

Who Goes There? / The Dolphins' Bell / Dunsany @ 04:50 pm


A couple scores from that estate sale the other week.

Who Goes There? is a collection of John Campbell stories (alas I don't have the dust jacket) from Shasta Press, one of the many boutique SF presses that sprouted up in the shadow of Arkham House, but didn't stay the course as well.

The titular story is notable, as it provides the bridge that connects Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" to John Carpenter's The Thing. Carpenter's film hews close enough to it that it's hard for me not to see the film in my eyes. Spoiler Alert! As in the film, Blair figures things out and decides to protect the world by destroying the magnetos in the airplanes. The film maybe has a stronger angle in that Blair is alone in his self-sacrifice. But the book's take is also interesting. One of the pilots goes out and comes back and says something along the lines of, "I didn't trust a biologist to do it right, so I destroyed the spares." Fatalistic Depression Era fucks!

All fairly good stories, though creaky with age, and a certain amount of "I, a man, must solve this problem with my man brain and my man science." Although the revelation and denouement is a little unbelievable, I did like the feel and mood of the first three quarters of "Dead Knowledge". As a spoileriffic (and less positive) link has it: "Three human star travelers have arrived at a new world 27 light years from earth, only to find that it once harbored intelligent, highly developed, humanoid civilization that is now dead. And, curiously, it's long dead residents have their bodies well preserved & they all apparently committed suicide!!"

The eerie sense of a dead world comes across nicely in Campbell's prose.


The Dolphins' Bell, by Anne McCaffrey

Set on Pern in the early days of human colonization, this short story tells of the evacuation of the Southern Continent, as dolphineers communicate with their dolphins to transport some of the material across the sea. And there's a love story. Um, between humans. It's sort of a by-the-numbers competent infilling of a lacuna in Pern history.

But the book itself is a lovely affair, published by Wildside Press with full art borders, and a couple full page illos by Pat Morrissey. Signed by McCaffrey. #386/400.



So.... it may be off to ebay with this one. Fortunately, I still have the signed Dragonsinger that I got at WorldCon, passing through a gauntlet of chaff from Prime and others.




In other news, I also won a nice auction of three Dunsany books from the 1920s. A first of Chronicles of Rodriguez, and reprints of The King of Elfland's Daughter, and Time and the Gods, all by Putnam in signed numbered editions (signed by both the Baron and Sidney Sime). It looks like all ten plates (and frontispiece) in Time and the Gods are signed by Sime.

 
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Journal of No. 118