Rediscovered: A Bit More on Unique Legacy

And how about another new Guest Blogger dipping his toes into the Mean Streets waters?

Today we feature Kevin Cook with a brief review of the academic litcrit collection The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales, which originally ran in his zine Sons of the Blue Wolf (V1n90, February 2016) for PEAPS, the pulp a.p.a. that our resident expert on The Midget Bandit, Warren Harris, belongs to.

Yesterday Tom Krabacher provided a review of the book, from a zine he does for REHupa — know that Tom is enough of an a.p.a. hack he also zines away in PEAPS, too. And in both those a.p.a.s you’ll find one of the editors for the book, Jeffrey Shanks.

I think Shanks may have been trying to gin up some publicity by asking for reviews in the mailings — perhaps for some reason he thought they would be positive. . . .

In any case, when Kevin mentions “Jeffrey,” that’s the in-house reference.

I think I first became aware of Kevin during the five-year run of The Cimmerian, when he sometimes contributed letters to The Lion’s Den. Lately we’ve been back in touch, mostly with email discussions of Manchette and noir. I got to meet him when I went to NoirCon in 2008. Nothing better than hanging at the bar talking noir.

And here is Kevin Cook:


Unfortunately, I got off to a very bad start with The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales as the book opens with its weakest essay, “Something That Swayed as If in Unison” by Jason Ray Carney. He seems to be stating that Weird Tales was a pulp magazine that published literature in addition to “mere entertainment” for the simple reason that Weird Tales claimed to be a magazine that published literature in addition to “mere entertainment.” His evidence to support this thesis is all editorial and advertising material for the magazine itself. He does not cite a single story in support of his thesis about literary publishing. A magazine can claim anything it wants about itself; you have to examine the contents to see if it achieved its claim.

The second essay picks up again on the early issues of Weird Tales. If replicas have taught readers anything about Weird Tales, it has to be that most of the fiction in the magazine from 1923-1925 is unreadably bad. The legacy of the magazine is based almost entirely on the fiction published in the 1930s, especially the five-year period between 1931-1936, the magazine’s peak.

Jeffrey, your own essay was “good,” but you have previously written much better essays about Robert E. Howard. I do not agree with Justin’s ideas about eugenics in the work of Robert E. Howard. Morgan’s essay was good as well, but he too has written better essays before. Scott Connors, though, did an excellent job with his Clark Ashton Smith overview.

Why did you have to fall into the same cliché as every other editor and print an article about C.L. Moore that stresses the fact that she was a woman author rather than the quality of her writing? I suppose that I will never live to see a Moore article that is not from a feminist point of view. Too bad so many of today’s scholars never had the privilege of speaking with C.L. Moore themselves; she would have been laughing at their conclusions about her writing.

Sorry, but my overall grade would be a “C.”

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