Down Memory Lane (Authors & Events)

Memories Revisited: We Remember Seabury Quinn

Seabury Quinn

Who were the most popular writers of Weird Tales magazine? Most readers would name Robert E. Howard, H.P Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. But we keep forgetting Seabury Quinn — the creator of the once incredibly popular occult detective Jules de Grandin.

Seabury Quinn The Devils BrideQuinn, a resident of Washington D.C., was a law graduate. He served in World War I and subsequently started his writing career as a pulp fiction writer. His early stories include Demons of the Night (published in Detective Story Magazine), Was She Mad, The Stone Image, and The Phantom Farmhouse. Quinn also worked as a government lawyer during World War II.

Quinn’s main claim to fame was, of course, Jules de Grandin. Interestingly, he was not the first to develop the concept of occult detective. Notable examples from the past include Sax Rohmer’s Morris Klaw (check out The Dream Detective), and Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence: Physician Extraordinary. However, Grandin simply smoked his predecessors to ashes in terms of popularity. Right from their first adventure together on Weird Tales — The Horror on the Links — Grandin and Trowbridge was a blockbuster hit with the readers. The occult detective turned out to be one of the most popular attractions of Weird Tales and this led to Quinn’s lifelong association with the magazine.

seabury quinn the adventures of jules de grandinQuinn’s work was even more popular than his iconic competitors like Howard and Lovecraft. He knew exactly what the readers wanted and dished out something unapologetically pulp and surprisingly non-repetitive with the right dose of sensuality. Also, he was Weird Tales’ most prolific writer by far.

You might try out The Complete Adventures of Jules de Grandin (Battered Box edition), but there is also a comprehensive 6 volume paperback series from Popular Library:

• The Adventures of Jules de Grandin,
• The Casebook of Jules de Grandin,
• The Hellfire Files of Jules de Grandin,
• The Horror Chambers of Jules de Grandin,
• The Skeleton Closet of Jules de Grandin.
• The Devil’s Bride (only Jules de Grandin novel)
The skeleton closet of Jules de Grandin Seabury Quinn
Quinn’s last pulp story was Master Nicholas (1965) published in The Magazine of Horror. He died in 1969, just a week before his 80th Birthday.

Unlike Lovecraft and Howard, Quinn has faded away from public memory. Jules de Grandin brought him fame and fortune, but he was also panned by the critics, who described his works as “undistinguished”, and “stereotyped”. Nonetheless, Quinn was enormously popular, and he is still a guilty pleasure for old school readers. His works are delightfully pulpish, but as Robert Weinberg points out, they are “best when taken in moderate doses.”

Seabury Quinn ebook free:

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Down Memory Lane (Authors & Events)

Memories Revisited: Oriental Stories/The Magic Carpet Magazine

Oriental stories magazine coverOriental stories magazine cover

Did you know that the legendary Weird Tales had an offshoot called Oriental Stories/The Magic Carpet? Unlike Weird Tales, its companion magazine had a short run, but like its parent it reached a cult status among fans of pulp fiction.

The magazine was edited by Farnsworth Wright who was also in charge of Weird Tales. It was backed by the awesome writing force of WT, which included Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard. The main focus of the magazine, as the name suggests, was fantasy and adventure tales of the east.

Oriental Stories, right from the beginning, struggled financially. It started as a bi-monthly magazine in 1930, but monetary issues made its publication highly irregular. At one point, it was revamped and launched with a new name — The Magic Carpet. However, the sales figures were still dismal and finally it became defunct in 1934. There were total nine issues of Oriental Stories and five issues of The Magic Carpet. Facsimile reprints of the magazine (Wildside Press) are available from Amazon.

Oriental Stories/The Magic Carpet has become old man’s nostalgia.

The magic carpet magazine coverThe magic carpet magazine cover
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Horror / Fantasy / SF / Reviews

Book Review: The Fantastic Pulps by Peter Haining (Editor)

Peter Haining, who was widely considered as a leading authority on horror, edited some of the best pulp anthologies of our time. One thing was common in all Haining collections — the often repeated stale stories never made their way into his books. Our favorite editor loved to surprise the readers with obscure and rare gems. The Fantastic Pulps (Victor Gollancz, 1975) is a typical Haining work, reflecting the brilliant and atypical qualities of its editor.

This is one book you badly want on your bookshelf. It seems to have stories starting from the very inception of pulps. (which means you have stories starting from 1800’s). Each story is accompanied by editor’s note, which throws light on the contemporary situation in pulp industry.  This book is an amazing combination of living history and sensational stories from the golden age of pulp fiction.

Haining lived in a 15th century house, which was said to be haunted. No wonder he would come up with such fascinating collections of horror, adventure, and fantasy.

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