Tag Archives: birthday

A Quartet of Birthdays

Today, November 24, marks the birth of four individuals who had an impact on the field.  They are, in the order of their births, T. O’Connor Sloane, E. R. Eddison, Evangeline Walton, and Forrest J. Ackerman.

Of the four listed in the above paragraph, Sloane (1851-1940) is almost certainly the most unfamiliar to modern readers.  The reason for that is because he was an editor, not a writer.  Sloane’s involvement in the science fiction field began as an assistant editor at Amazing Stories under Hugo Gernsback.

Sloane had a Ph. D. in electrical engineering and for a time was the editor of Scientific American.  His son married Thomas Edison’s daughter.  Sloane became the editor of Amazing Stories in 1929.  He held the position until 1938, when Ziff-Davis moved the magazine to Chicago from New York and replaced Sloane with Ray Palmer.  This would prove to not be a good move, although sales went up when Palmer began publishing Richard Shaver’s tripe.

Sloane published the first stories of Jack Williamson, John W. Campbell, Jr., Clifford Simak, and E. E. “Doc” Smith.  Not too shabby a track record.

Next up is Eric Rucker Eddison (1882-1945).  Eddison is still remembered today, although he is not widely known outside of fans of classic fantasy.  Eddison is best known for his novel The Worm Ouroboros.  I read this one decades years ago when I was  in college.  It’s definitely due a reread.  Eddison also wrote what has come to be called The Zimiamvian Trilogy, although it was not intended to be a trilogy.  It was a work left uncompleted at Eddison’s death.  The volumes include Mistress of Mistresses, A Fish Dinner in Memison, and The Mezentian Gate (unfinished).  Eddison’s work was respected by both J. R. R. Tolkein and C. S. Lewis.

Evangeline Walton (1907-1996) is best known today as the author of the Mabinogian Tetralogy.  The first book, The Island of the Mighty, was published in 1936 under the title The Virgin and the Swine.  It sold poorly, and the other titles weren’t published until the 1970s.  Lin Carter brought out the first volume for the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, and the other volumes soon followed.  They are The Children of Llyr, The Song of Rhiannon, and Prince of Annwn.

Walton’s other works include Witch House and The Sword is Forged.  The latter is the first volume of a trilogy featuring Theseus.  The other two volumes are complete but remain unpublished.  There are several unpublished novels in her papers, and it would be nice if the executors of her estate would bring them out.

Forrest J. Ackerman (1916-2008) rounds out the four birthdays we’re recognizing today.  Ackerman has been many things in the field: fan, literary agent, anthologist, and publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland.  He even collaborated on a Northwest Smith story with C. L. Moore.  (“Nymph of Darkness”; I intend to review it at some point as part of my posts on Northwest Smith.)

It’s primarily as an anthologist that I’m familiar with Ackerman’s work.  While I’ve picked up a copy of FMF, I’ve never been a regular reader.  Ackerman had an encyclopedic knowledge of the field, especially the early days before WWII.  When I read one of his anthologies, I knew I would find some lost treasure he had rediscovered.  And while the writing in those stories might not have met the highest literary standards, they would be entertaining.

You can find works by these authors online in electronic editions, so if you need a break from Black Friday, there is plenty of relaxing reading to choose from.

William Hope Hodgson Turns 140

William Hope Hodgson was born 140 years ago today, on November 15, 1877.  He was killed by an artillery shell in 1918 while fighting for the British in WWI.

Hodgson wrote in a number of related genres, including science fiction, fantasy, and horror, as well as straight nautical adventure.

The novels The House on the Borderland and The Night Land are among his best known works, although they are not considered easy reading as they were deliberately written in an archaic style.

Perhaps currently the most popular of Hodgson’s works are the stories of Carnacki the Ghost-Finder.  These are slightly different than the typical occult detective story in that not all the of cases Carnacki investigates turn out to be due to supernatural causes.  Sometimes the solutions are more mundane.  To my mind, this makes them more interesting.

Carnacki is popular enough that new stories about the character are still being written.

A Plethora of Birthdays of Giants

There are a number of birthdays today in the fields of the fantastic, including but not limited to C. J. Cherryh (1942), Timothy Zahn (1951), and S. Andrew Swann (1966).  But there are two writers born on this date (September 1) against whom all others with birthdays today pale in comparison. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury

Bradbury as a young man

Douglas Ray Bradbury was born on this date, August 22, in the year 1920. He passed away on June 5, 2102. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years already.

Bradbury was one of the first science fiction and fantasy writers I ever read, back when I was in grade school. It was a life changing experience.

I’ve always preferred his fiction from the 1940s and early 1950s, the stuff published in Weird Tales and Thrilling Wonder Stories, to his later works, However, it’s been a few years since I read some of his later fiction. It’s about time I returned to it. I’m older now and my tastes have changed.

I’ve got a little bit of time free this evening, and I can’t think of a better way to spend it than with a few Bradbury short stories.

Rather than say anymore about him, I’ll leave you with this quote:


Another Lovecraft Birthday

Another year has passed, and it’s Lovecraft’s birthday again. (It’s also my mother-in-law’s but that’s beyond the scope of this post.) I’ve been planning a post on Lovecraft (yes, Dave H., the one we discussed at Howard Days and Armadillcon), but it’s not the right time for it. It’ll piss people off. Trust me.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island. He was one of the most influential writers of the weird and fantastic of the 20th Century.

I was thinking the other day about my own writing, and I realized that I have written more fiction with lovecraftian themes in the last year than I have in all other years combined. No, you can’t read these stories. They haven’t been published, although not for lack of trying. Two are under consideration and one isn’t quite finished.

I’ve seen more anthologies devoted to Lovecraft’s works this year. Maybe I’m just paying more attention, but it seems like there’s not going to be a decline in interest in his works.

I will make this observation, though. I don’t see a lot of middle ground with Lovecraft these days. Among the people who are familiar with his work, and by familiar I mean have actually read his stories as opposed to hearing about them from others, people seem to either love him or hate him.

That is influence.

This Isn’t Really Turning into a Birthday Site, but…

F. Marion Crawford

…there was another birthday I wanted to mention.  Francis Marion Crawford was born on this August 2, 1854 and died on April 9, 1909.

Crawford wrote in a number of genres, but he’s remembered today for two stories that are considered classics of the macabre.

“The Upper Berth” is a ghost story that can be found in many anthologies, while “For the Blood is the Life” is a vampire tale.  Both are worth seeking out.  It’s been a number of years since I read them, and a reread of both is overdue.  Maybe this evening, after everyone has gone to bed and the lights grow dim…

Crawford only wrote one volume’s worth of weird fiction.  The definitive edition is Uncanny Tales, edited by Richard Dalby and published by Tartarus Press.

I’m really not planning on making Adventures Fantastic a birthday tribute site, in spite of the number that have popped up lately.  I’ve noticed the birthdays and have dashed the posts out over lunch or when I have a few minutes free.  They’ve kept the blog fresh, but I am going to be doing some other posts soon.

Four Greats Share a Birthday

There are a number of writers and artists who share a birthday today, July 24.  I’m going to focus on four of them, although there are others such as Alexandre Dumas, Barry Malzberg, Gordon Eklund, or Travis S. Taylor, whose work has either been significant to the field or work that I enjoy (or both).

I want to focus on these four because they’ve had a major impact on my reading and writing habits and/or have had lasting influence.  I”ll discuss them in the order of their births. Continue reading

Birthday Reading: Manly Wade Wellman

Manly Wade Wellman was born, this day, May 21, in 1903 in Portuguese West Africa.  He was one of the greatest writers of horror and dark fantasy of the 20th Century, although he’s not as well known today as he should be.  His best known literary creation was John the Balladeer, and wandering minstrel of the Appalachian mountains.  Wellman began writing in the 1920s, and sold a number of stories to Weird Tales.  He was still writing in the 1970s and 1980s, and a number of his short stories were published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

In honor of his birthday, I’m going to look at two short stories.  Both were published in the pulps in the late 1930s.  I read both of them in Sin’s Doorway and Other Ominous Entrances, published by Night Shade Books in 2003.  It’s volume 4 of the 5 volume The Selected Stories of Manly Wade Wellman. Continue reading

Breaking the Bough on Kuttner’s Birthday

“When the Bough Breaks”
as by Lewis Padgett
originally published in Astounding Science Fiction November 1944

Henry Kuttner was born on April 7, 1915.  Anyone who has read much of this blog knows that Kuttner is probably my favorite author, at least on days ending in “y”.  After his marriage to C. L. Moore, everything he and Moore wrote was a collaboration to one degree or another.

Both authors were masters of fantasy, science fiction, and and everything in between, including horror.  Much of their best work was published in Astounding in the mid-1940s.  Almost all of these stories have been collected in at least one of Kuttner’s collections, either in his lifetime or in the years since.  There are a few that haven’t, which I’ll address at another time.  Continue reading