The Top of the Volcano, the Award-Winning Stories of Harlan Ellison

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Dust Jacket Art by Michael Whelan.

A beautiful book. And a must-read for Ellison fans!

We’re pleased to announce a volume that may well be considered The Best of Harlan Ellison, which will be printed as an oversize 7*10 inch volume.

Firebrand, Touchstone, Trailblazer, Risk-Taker!

“Only connect,” E.M. Forster famously said, and Harlan Ellison was canny enough to make that the lifeblood of his achievement from the get-go.

New, fresh and different is tricky in the storytelling business, as rare as diamonds, but, as a born storyteller, Harlan made story brave, daring, surprising again, brought an edge of the gritty and the strange, the erudite and the street-smart, found ways to make words truly come alive again in an over-worded world.

From the watershed of the ’50s and ’60s when the world found its dynamic new identity, to a self-imitating, sadly all too derivative present, he has kept storytelling cool and hip, exhilarating, unexpected yet always vital, able to get under your skin and change your life.

And now we have it. The Top of the Volcano is the collection we hoped would come along eventually, twenty-three of Harlan’s very best stories, award-winners every one, brought together in a single volume at last. There’s the unforgettable power of “’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” and “Mefisto in Onyx,” the heart-rending pathos of “Jeffty Is Five” and “Paladin of the Lost Hour”, the chilling terror of “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,” the ingenuity and startling intimacy of “Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans…”

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Night Monsters—Four Horror Stories by Fritz Leiber

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Artwork by David L. Fletcher , from the cover of Night’s Dark Agents by Fritz Leiber, A Rare Hardcover Edition Published in 1975 by the Small British Press of Neville Spearman.

Night Monsters—Four Horror Stories

Fritz Leiber, 19xx

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Introductory

I was leafing through an issue of The Journal of the A.M.A. when I ran across an article about emergencies that arise in treating people for allergies. The good doctor was explaining about those one-in-a-million mishaps that occur despite the most careful precautions, and how the alert physician meets the danger successfully.

But I found myself wondering, what if the efficient, white-coated physician came up against an emergency that he didn’t know how to meet, that made even his competent fingers tremble, because it was part of the black, shivery outside?

There’s still a black, shivery outside, you know—a weird realm from which men shrink in terror. Science hasn’t done away with it. Nothing will ever do away with it.

The cold goose-flesh has always risen pricklingly on man’s neck when he thinks he glimpses something out of the corner of his eye, something standing a little behind him, something that vanishes when he whirls around—but returns later in the evening.

All that science has done is given man a dozen new sets of eyes—and that makes it a great deal worse. For instance, there’s the germ (if it is a germ) that is always swimming just outside the edge of the brightly lighted field of the microscope, that eludes even the electronic microscope. There’s the planet (if it is a planet and not some vast black sentient thing poised above the earth) that is seen out of the corner of the telescope’s eye. There’s the radar echo that doesn’t seem to be coming quite from the moon, but somewhere else. There are the atomic glows that aren’t just what the nuclear physicist expected. There’s the buried thought that the psychologist can never quite reach, not even when he employs the hypno-analytic technique which can dredge up memories of events that occurred when the patient was six months old. (And is the buried thought a human thought, or a demon’s?)

– Fritz Leiber, Weird Tales, September 1946

Contents & Acknowledgements

  1. The Black Gondolier (“The Black Gondolier” originally appeared in Over the Edge, ed. August Derleth, 1964)
  2. Midnight in the Mirror World (“Midnight in the Mirror World” originally appeared in Fantastic, Ziff-Davis, 1964)
  3. I’m Looking for Jeff (“I’m Looking for Jeff“ originally appeared in Fantastic, Ziff-Davis, 1952)
  4. The Casket Demon (“The Casket Demon” originally appeared in Fantastic, Ziff-Davis, 1963)

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The Black Gondolier

Daloway lived alone in a broken-down trailer beside an oil well on the bank of a canal in Venice near the cafe La Gondola Negra on the Grand Canal not five blocks from St. Mark’s Plaza.

I mean, he lived there until after the fashion of intellectual lone wolves he got the wander-urge and took himself off, abruptly and irresponsibly, to parts unknown. That is the theory of the police, who refuse to take seriously my story of Daloway’s strange dreads and my hints at the weird world-spanning power which was menacing him. The police even make light of the very material clues which I pointed out to them.

Or else Daloway was taken off, grimly and against his will, to parts utterly unknown and blackly horrible. That is my own theory, especially on lonely nights when I remember the dreams he told me of the Black Gondolier.

Of course the canal is a rather small one, showing much of its rough gravel bottom strewn with rusted cans and blackened paper, except when it is briefly filled by one of our big winter rains. But gondolas did travel it in the illusion-packed old days and it is still spanned by a little sharply humped concrete bridge wide enough for only one car. I used to cross that bridge coming to visit Daloway and I remember how I’d slow down and tap my horn to warn a possible car coming the other way, and the momentary roller-coaster illusion I’d get as my car heaved to the top and poised there and then hurtled down the opposite dusty slope for all of a breathless second. From the top of the little bridge I’d get my first glimpse of the crowded bungalows and Daloway’s weed-footed trailer and close beside it the black hunch-shouldered oil well which figured so strangely in his dreads. “Their closest listening post,” he sometimes called it during the final week, when he felt positively besieged.

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“The Lady’s Maid’s Bell”, a Chilling Vintage Ghost Story by Edith Wharton (Restless Spirits: Ghost Stories by Women 1872 – 1926)

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Antique Austrian “Tereszczuk” Lady’s bell crafted of ivory and bronze. (Pinterest)

The Lady’s Maid’s Bell

Edith Wharton, 1905
(1862 – 1936)

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“The Lady’s Maid’s Bell” originally appeared in a 1902 issue of Scribner’s Magazine.

0CC7EADF-B75C-4738-A503-D37EBCC19C47The author of novels, novellas, short stories, poetry, and travel books, Edith Wharton achieved both popular and critical acclaim during her lifetime. Born Edith Newbold Jones into the most exclusive New York society, she was educated at home by governesses. At age twenty-three she made a proper society marriage to Edward Wharton, scion of a prominent Boston family. Although she had early displayed writing talent, it had been discouraged, and her career did not get fully underway until she was thirty. Wharton’s marriage was never happy, and after her divorce in 1913 she took up permanent residence in France. A devotee of the ghost story, she claimed that “till I was twenty-seven or eight, I could not sleep in the room with a book containing a ghost-story,” and that “I have frequently had to burn books of this kind, because it frightened me to know that they were downstairs in the library!” Wharton’s ghost stories, among the finest of her time, provide chilling investigations of gender roles and relations. “The Lady’s Maid’s Bell” made its debut in Scribner’s Magazine in 1902. It most recently appeared in The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1985).

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It was the autumn after I had the typhoid. I’d been three months in hospital, and when I came out I looked so weak and tottery that the two or three ladies I applied to were afraid to engage me. Most of my money was gone, and after I’d boarded for two months, hanging about the employment agencies, and answering any advertisement that looked any way respectable, I pretty nearly lost heart, for fretting hadn’t made me fatter, and I didn’t see why my luck should ever turn. It did thoughor I thought so at the time. A Mrs. Railton, a friend of the lady that first brought me out to the States, met me one day and stopped to speak to me: she was one that had always a friendly way with her. She asked me what ailed me to look so white, and when I told her, “Why, Hartley,” says she, “I believe I’ve got the very place for you. Come in tomorrow and we’ll talk about it.”

The next day, when I called, she told me the lady she’d in mind was a niece of hers, a Mrs. Brympton, a youngish lady, but something of an invalid, who lived all the year round at her country-place on the Hudson, owing to not being able to stand the fatigue of town life.

“Now, Hartley,” Mrs. Railton said, in that cheery way that always made me feel things must be going to take a turn for the better; “now understand me, it’s not a cheerful place I’m sending you to. The house is big and gloomy; my niece is nervous, vapourish; her husbandwell, he’s generally away; and the two children are dead. A year ago I would as soon have thought of shutting a rosy active girl like you into a vault, but you’re not particularly brisk yourself just now, are you? and a quiet place, with country air and wholesome food and early hours, ought to be the very thing for you. Don’t mistake me,” she added, for I suppose I looked a trifle downcast; “you may find it dull but you won’t be unhappy. My niece is an angel. Her former maid, who died last spring, had been with her twenty years and worshipped the ground she walked on. She’s a kind mistress to all, and where the mistress is kind, as you know, the servants are generally good-humoured, so you’ll probably get on well enough with the rest of the household. And you’re the very woman I want for my niece: quiet, well-mannered, and educated above your station. You read aloud well, I think? That’s a good thing; my niece likes to be read to. She wants a maid that can be something of a companion: her last was, and I can’t say how she misses her. It’s a lonely life . . . Well, have you decided?”

“Why, ma’am,” I said, “I’m not afraid of solitude.”

“Well, then, go; my niece will take you on my recommendation. I’ll telegraph her at once and you can take the afternoon train. She has no one to wait on her at present, and I don’t want you to lose any time.”

I was ready enough to start, yet something in me hung back; and to gain time I asked, “And the gentleman, ma’am?”

“The gentleman’s almost always away, I tell you,” said Mrs. Railton, quick-like”and when he’s there,” says she suddenly, “you’ve only to keep out of his way.”

I took the afternoon train and got out at D station at about four o’clock. A groom in a dog-cart was waiting, and we drove off at a smart pace.”

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I Am Your Brother — The Return of a 1930s Classic of Gothic Horror Novel by C. S. Marlowe, Introduction & Links…

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Introduction

Briefly a sensation, fêted for the lush gothic fantasy you hold in your hands, G.S. Marlowe is one of the forgotten men of the Thirties. For some years he was only rescued from total oblivion by a brief, enigmatic account in the recollections of Julian Maclaren-Ross, a Soho and Fitzrovia character who was to become the model for X. Trapnel, the desperate man of letters in Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time.

Maclaren-Ross gives him a tantalising couple of pages in his Memoirs of the Forties, a decade by which Marlowe had already disappeared, in a more than usually literal sense. Maclaren-Ross wrote to Marlowe in the hope of adapting I Am Your Brother for the wireless, and was invited to call and meet him. He had formed a mental picture of the writer—as well you might, from the highly-strung and nuanced world of the book—as a small, waspish Englishman, so he was taken aback to find Marlowe was in fact a genial, bear-like foreigner, possibly Scandinavian, with tortoise-shell spectacles and an air of mystery. Marlowe’s flat was lit only by a single desk lamp behind him, creating a halo effect around his head, and it was warm, with the curtains drawn against the world outside. An attractive woman whom he introduced as his secretary poured large whiskies, and the conversation flowed. Marlowe praised the cinematic qualities of Dickens—with the foggy opening of Bleak House—then talked about his own work in Hollywood, his meeting with Greta Garbo (he seemed to know everyone, from bestselling author Hugh Walpole to modernist composer Arthur Bliss) and the genesis of the present book in a bedtime story he composed for the children of Enid Bagnold (heroin-addicted writer of the much loved British children’s book National Velvet), to whom the novel is dedicated.

Marlowe was a tactful and considerate host, sensing that his guest had no money: as he helped the departing Maclaren-Ross on with his coat he stroked the material lovingly and said “A magnificent coat. How I wish I had a coat like this myself”—“thus,” says Maclaren-Ross, “sending me out into the cold and rain with the illusion that I owned one enviable possession at least”.

Marlowe moved in due course to a larger and more Thirties-modern flat near Chelsea Barracks, where Maclaren-Ross continued to visit him. On one occasion he managed to get a dinner invitation for himself and his friend C.K. Jaeger, another fan of I Am Your Brother, whose 1940 novel Angels on Horseback is influenced by it. They turned up on the appointed night, only to have Marlowe pour drinks for them and vanish. After half an hour or so they were wondering if they should leave, when Marlowe made a triumphant reappearance and ushered them into the dining room. There, at the long, highly polished dining table were three place settings, and on each plate sat a paper-wrapped parcel of fish and chips.

Marlowe appeared to be living the life of a successful writer, in what Maclaren-Ross describes as “an Edgar Wallace-like opulence, surrounded by dictaphones, telephones, and typewriters,” and with a new secretary “even better-looking than the last.” But it was here that Maclaren-Ross realised things were not quite as they seemed, with the arrival of a laundry-man who refused to release Marlowe’s clothes until his bill was paid (and from whom, after digging about for money, Marlowe managed to ransom only a single shirt).

Writer and filmmaker Chris Petit rakes over this relationship in his highly atmospheric essay-story ‘Newman Passage or J. Maclaren-Ross & The Case of the Vanishing Writers’, and manages to find something indefinably sinister in it, right from the first visit: “curtains drawn against daylight; the plying of whisky; the soporific central heating; the odd stroking of Maclaren-Ross’s coat and Marlowe’s announcement that he wished he had a coat like it.”

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Zombies, Encounters with the Hungry Dead, ed. and with Commentary by John Skip, 2009

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Table of Contents

9 • Introduction: The Long and Shambling Trail to the Top of the Undead Monster Heap • essay by John Skipp
19 • Lazarus • (1921) • short story by Леонид Андреев? (trans. of Елеазар? 1906) [as by Leonid Andreyev]
39 • “… Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields” • (1929) • short story by William B. Seabrook [as by W. B. Seabrook]
51 • The Return of Timmy Baterman • (1983) • short fiction by Stephen King
65 • The Emissary • (1947) • short story by Ray Bradbury
75 • A Case of the Stubborns • (1976) • short story by Robert Bloch
95 • It • (1940) • novelette by Theodore Sturgeon
121 • Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed • (2007) • short story by Steve Duffy
155 • Bitter Grounds • (2003) • novelette by Neil Gaiman
177 • Sea Oak • (1998) • novelette by George Saunders
203 • The Late Shift • (1980) • short story by Dennis Etchison
221 • A Zombie’s Lament • short fiction by S. G. Browne
227 • Best Served Cold • short fiction by Justine Musk
249 • The Dead Gather on the Bridge to Seattle • (2008) • short fiction by Adam Golaski
271 • The Quarantine Act • short fiction by Mehitobel Wilson
289 • The Good Parts • (1989) • short story by Les Daniels
295 • Bodies and Heads • (1989) • short story by Steve Rasnic Tem
315 • On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks • (1989) • novelette by Joe R. Lansdale
359 • Like Pavlov’s Dogs • (1989) • novella by Steven R. Boyett
423 • Jerry’s Kids Meet Wormboy • (1989) • novelette by David J. Schow
465 • The Visitor • (1998) • short story by Jack Ketchum
473 • The Prince of Nox • (1992) • short story by Kathe Koja
485 • Call Me Doctor • short fiction by Eric Shapiro
491 • The Great Wall: A Story from the Zombie War • (2007) • short story by Max Brooks
499 • Calcutta, Lord of Nerves • (1992) • short story by Poppy Z. Brite
515 • God Save the Queen • (2006) • short fiction by John Skipp and Marc Levinthal
541 • Eat Me • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
555 • We Will Rebuild • short story by Cody Goodfellow
571 • Sparks Fly Upward • (2005) • short story by Lisa Morton
583 • Lemon Knives ‘N’ Cockroaches • short fiction by Carlton Mellick, III
601 • Zaambi • (2006) • short fiction by Terry Morgan and Christopher Morgan
629 • The Zombies of Madison County • (1997) • novella by Douglas E. Winter
665 • Dead Like Me • (2000) • short story by Adam-Troy Castro
675 • Zombie Roots: A Historic Perspective • (2009) • essay by Anthony Gambol and Christopher Kampe
685 • They’re Us and We’re Are Them: Zombies in Popular Culture • (2009) • essay by Cody Goodfellow and John Skipp

“Long Lamkin” —- a Folk Murder Ballad Collected by Francis J. Child (Child Murder Ballad)

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Art by Aranda Dill for Folk Song, “Long Lamkin”. (Arandadill/Tumblr)

Long Lamkin

IT’S Lamkin was a mason good
As ever built wi stane;
He built Lord Wearie’s castle,
But payment got he nane.

‘O pay me, Lord Wearie,
come, pay me my fee:’
‘I canna pay you, Lamkin,
For I maun gang oer the sea.’

‘O pay me now, Lord Wearie,
Come, pay me out o hand:’
‘I canna pay you, Lamkin,
Unless I sell my land.’

‘O gin ye winna pay me,
I here sall mak a vow,
Before that ye come hame again,
ye sall hae cause to rue.’

Lord Wearie got a bonny ship,
to sail the saut sea faem;
Bade his lady weel the castle keep,
ay till he should come hame.

But the nourice was a fause limmer
as eer hung on a tree;
She laid a plot wi Lamkin,
whan her lord was oer the sea.

She laid a plot wi Lamkin,
when the servants were awa,
Loot him in at a little shot-window,
and brought him to the ha.

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Bradbury Stories, 100 of Ray Bradbury’s Most Celebrated Tales, 2003, TOC

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Table of Contents

xi • Introduction (Bradbury Stories) • (2003) • essay by Ray Bradbury
1 • The Whole Town’s Sleeping • [Dandelion Wine] • (1950) • short story by Ray Bradbury
16 • The Rocket • (1950) • short story by Ray Bradbury
25 • Season of Disbelief • [Dandelion Wine] • (1950) • short story by Ray Bradbury
33 • And the Rock Cried Out • (1953) • short story by Ray Bradbury
54 • The Drummer Boy of Shiloh • (1960) • short story by Ray Bradbury
59 • The Beggar on O’Connell Bridge • [The Irish Stories] • (1961) • short story by Ray Bradbury
73 • The Flying Machine • (1953) • short story by Ray Bradbury
78 • Heavy-Set • (1964) • short story by Ray Bradbury
86 • The First Night of Lent • [The Irish Stories] • (1956) • short story by Ray Bradbury
92 • Lafayette, Farewell • (1988) • short story by Ray Bradbury
100 • Remember Sascha? • (1996) • short story by Ray Bradbury
107 • Junior • (1988) • short story by Ray Bradbury
113 • That Woman on the Lawn • (1996) • short story by Ray Bradbury
125 • February 1999: Ylla • [The Martian Chronicles] • (1950) • short story by Ray Bradbury (variant of Ylla)
136 • Banshee • [The Irish Stories] • (1984) • short story by Ray Bradbury
148 • One for His Lordship, and One for the Road! • [The Irish Stories] • (1985) • short story by Ray Bradbury

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