Tag Archives: Forrest J. Ackerman

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  The other two volumes are complete but remain unpublished.  There are several unpublished novels in her papers, and it would be nice if the executors of her estate would bring them out.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.

Blogging Northwest Smith: Nymph of Darkness

Gosh Wow“Nymph of Darkkness”
C. L. Moore

For years, “Nymph of Darkness” was one of the rarest Northwest Smith stories. The reason was because C. L. Moore refused to give permission for the story, first published in 1935, to be reprinted. It wasn’t until the 1981 Worldcon that she relented. The first book reprinting occurred the following year in Gosh! Wow! Sense of Wonder, edited by Forrest J. Ackerman.

Ackerman, it turns out co-wrote the story with Moore, although she retained 75% of the rights, meaning it wouldn’t be reprinted without her permission. A technicality in the copyright for the story actually allowed it to be reprinted once against her wishes.

“Nymph of Darkness” first appeared in Fantasy Magazine in April 1935 and was later reprinted in Weird Tales in the December 1939 issue. It wasn’t included when most of the other stories were published in the 1950s by Gnome Press.

I’m not sure why Moore didn’t allow for its reprinting. The story, in my mind at least, is a good story. It’s not as long as most of the others, but still, it’s solid. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, C. L. Moore

C L Moore chin on handWhile it’s not quite January 24 where I am just yet, it is a few times zones east of here, and that’s good enough for me.  Especially since tomorrow is going to be a pretty full day.

Fantasy and science fiction author C. L. Moore was born this day in 1911.  After her marriage, her writing was overshadowed by that of her husband Henry Kuttner.  This was in part because Kuttner’s byline got a higher word rate that hers.

Even so, Moore had a major impact on the field.  Her Jirel of Joiry was one of the first women fighters in the field of sword and sorcery, a direct forerunner of Red Sonja.  And Northwest Smith was clearly one of the models for Han Solo.

I started a series of posts last year taking an in-depth look at the Northwest Smith stories.  I stopped when I got to “Nymph of Darkness”.  This was co-written with Forrest J. Ackerman.  I have a book in which Ackerman discusses the story.  Unfortunately, it was not on  the shelf.  I finally found the book in a box that hadn’t been unpacked from when we moved in 2012.  Look for more Northwest Smith posts soon.

Decades Years ago, when I was in college, I saw an autograph book that contained pictures of science fiction and fantasy writers, one per page.  The page for C. L. Moore had a picture of her sitting on what appeared to be the back steps of a house.  I’ve not seen that picture since.  It doesn’t appear to be online anywhere.  If anyone has a copy of that picture, I would appreciate your sending it to me.

For those who are interested, as well as the morbidly curious, here are the Northwest Smith posts I’ve done so far:

“Black Thirst”
“Scarlet Dream”
“Dust of Gods”