|About the Book|
3 1/2 stars This collection of supernatural stories was first published in 1961. What caught my eye was that every one of the 11 stories was first published in the magazine Weird Tales between 1939 and 1951. The authors are almost all top notch talent with a couple obscure but excellent ones such as Margaret St. Clair. Overall this was a very good batch of tales. The stories are:Introduction • (1961) • essay by Leo MarguliesThe Professors Teddy Bear • (1948) • shortstory by Theodore SturgeonLegal Rites • (1950) • novelette by Isaac Asimov and Frederik PohlThe Strange Island of Dr. Nork • (1949) • novelette by Robert BlochMrs. Hawk • (1950) • shortstory by Margaret St. ClairThe Handler • (1947) • shortstory by Ray BradburyThe Automatic Pistol • (1940) • shortstory by Fritz LeiberThe Unwanted • (1951) • shortstory by Mary Elizabeth CounselmanThe Valley Was Still • (1939) • shortstory by Manly Wade WellmanThe Scrawny One • (1949) • shortstory by Anthony BoucherCome and Go Mad • (1949) • novelette by Fredric BrownThe Big Shot • (1949) • shortstory by Eric Frank RussellThe blurbs on the cover and inside the book promise the unexpected. The stories are over 60 years old and they show their age in the way the stories are told and their settings, but otherwise hold up well to time. One thing they share is a propensity to drop really big and often rather obscure or uncommon words here and there. It must have been an art in its day. But this time something made him turn slowly from the window, almost as though he never again expected to see that chiaroscuro of an early afternoon. Ha! I will give lectures to young things about human destiny and the metempsychosis of Plato.I thought the first story by Sturgeon The Professors Teddy Bear was genuinely creepy and got this collection off to a good start . Unfortunately the long short story that followed, Legal Rites seemed too drawn out and told unevenly as it plodded along to a clever ending. It sort of beat a clever idea to death. The remaining stories varied, with the creepy ones I think holding up the best. Block disappointed. Mrs. Hawk by St. Clair is a well done short but disturbing modern retelling of the Circe myth. Bradburys creepy The Handler about a creepy little man who ran a mortuary might make your skin crawl but it suffered from a wonky ending. Leibers The Automatic Pistol set in the days of Prohibition is a nice little piece about a gun having its revenge. I was reminded of how much I enjoyed Leibers stories earlier in my life. Of the remaining stories The Unwanted was one of my favorite stories in the collection, about a census taker in the Alabama hills. Touching in a nice way, and like most all of these stories, with a little spooky or creepy twist. I also liked Manly Wade Wellmans tale set during the Civil War. My favorite story in the collection was also the longest, Come and Go Mad by Frederic Brown. Cant describe it without giving too much away, but it starts with a reporter asked to consider a tough assignment that becomes very personal.