Thursday, January 11, 2007

Fantastic! And Famous, Too.

Famous Fantastic Mysteries was created to reprint stories from the Munsey line of magazines such as Argosy. These included stories by some of the best authors of the era like Talbot Mundy. The author I have been reading most lately is A. Merritt. Thanks to Famous Fantastic Mysteries and its sister title Fantastic Novels I have been able to read "Seven Footprints To Satan", "Dwellers In The Mirage", "Burn Witch Burn" and, currently, "The Metal Monster".
Merritt created a truly alien life form in "The Metal Monster". A specialist in the "Lost Race" genre, Merritt certainly outdid himself in this novel. Sentient, metal based life forms in geometric shapes are the Metal Monster of this title. They can act singly or join together to create a gigantic creature. The appear to share a common intelligence like the Borg of Star Trek fame.
A bonus to these titles is the art. Most of the covers and interiors are by Virgil Finlay and Lawrence, an excellent Finlay clone. As a result Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Fantastic Novels have some of the best art of the era which make these magazines well worth collecting.
This issue is dated August, 1941, just a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The letters in this issue reflect oblivion to the world situation. Olon F. Wiggins, Lew Martin and Roy Hunt present a report on the upcoming World Con, Denvention, to be held July 4-6. (As a bi-monthly this issue probably streeted in June). The guest of honor was Robert A. Heinlein. (There were giants in the earth in those days.) Other letters are full of praise for A. Merritt, including a letter from one of the most infamous fans of the decade, Claude Degler.
The pulps make a good time capsule of the period through stories, letters and the various advertisements scattered through their pages. So, if you will excuse me, I'll go back to time traveling.


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