Houdini Connections
Tellers of Weird Tales
by Terence E. Hanley
1d ago
I began writing about Harry Houdini and his association with Weird Tales nearly six months ago, on January 30, 2024. The occasion was the one-hundred-year anniversary of the Houdini issues of "The Unique Magazine." There were three Houdini issues. The first came along in March 1924. The last was the first-anniversary number of May/June/July 1924. So, even though nearly half a year has gone by since I first wrote on this topic, we're still in the Houdini-issue centenary. Although Houdini's byline was attached to three stories in Weird Tales, he almost certainly did not write any of them. T ..read more
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The Return of Tolkien the Progressive Bugaboo
Tellers of Weird Tales
by Terence E. Hanley
3d ago
Two years ago I wrote about a progressive moral panic prompted by the election of Giorgia Meloni to the premiership of Italy. Progressives thought that she is a fascist and the return of Mussolini. They were able to trace her fascistic leanings to an interest she has in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, also to her attendance of at least one Hobbit Camp in her native country. Tolkien will come up again before the end of this article, so be on the lookout for him. Now here it is two years later, and though times have changed, times have also not changed. Signora Meloni has been in office for a ..read more
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Shelley Duvall (1949-2024)
Tellers of Weird Tales
by Terence E. Hanley
1w ago
Actress Shelley Duvall died today, July 11, 2024. She was seventy-five years and four days old. Most people remember her as the female lead in The Shining (1980). I remember her for her performance in one of the most powerful and touching episodes of The Twilight Zone, broadcast on September 27, 1986, entitled "A Saucer of Loneliness." "A Saucer of Loneliness" was adapted by David Gerrold from an original story by Theodore Sturgeon, published in Galaxy Science Fiction in February 1953. Sturgeon's story has been reprinted many times since, and you can understand why once you have read it. Inspi ..read more
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Freedom & Unfreedom
Tellers of Weird Tales
by Terence E. Hanley
2w ago
Independence Day was last week. For the benighted of the world--a growing group by the way, judging from recent events--that was the day in 1776 that we declared we would throw off the yoke of British and kingly tyranny and would be a free people and an independent nation. On July 4, 2024, we in America celebrated. On that same day in the country of our old colonial masters, the people threw off the so-called Conservatives of the United Kingdom and put a new yoke around there necks by electing a lot of leftists and socialists to Parliament. I'm not sure that anybody can defend the Conservative ..read more
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Harry Houdini & Psychical Research
Tellers of Weird Tales
by Terence E. Hanley
3w ago
"The Thing of a Thousand Shapes," written by Otis Adelbert Kline, was the first serial to appear in Weird Tales. Part one was in the first issue, dated March 1923. Part two followed in April of that year. At the opening of part one, the narrator learns that his uncle has died. That would make "The Thing of a Thousand Shapes" the first "Uncle story" in Weird Tales. You might question whether the "Uncle story" was or is actually a thing, but I'm pretty sure that it is. I remember when we were kids watching and enjoying a movie called Let's Kill Uncle (1966), with Nigel Green in the title role. A ..read more
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Weird Fiction versus Spiritualism
Tellers of Weird Tales
by Terence E. Hanley
1M ago
I have written before that Weird Tales was the first magazine in America devoted to fantasy fiction. Now that I have read whole issues and many individual stories from the first year and more of the magazine, I find that not to be true. Or if it is true, it wasn't true until there was an entire issue of Weird Tales devoted exclusively to fantasy fiction. In other words, every story in a given issue would have to be a fantasy of one kind or another for Weird Tales to have been the first fantasy magazine in America. And when did that happen? I'm not sure. I would have to keep reading. As we hav ..read more
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Houdini on Ice
Tellers of Weird Tales
by Terence E. Hanley
1M ago
Today is Flying Saucer Day, but I'm still writing about the Great Houdini. Flying saucers can always come for a visit on another day. As I have been reading and writing about Harry Houdini, I came across the following lobby card or poster and stills from The Man From Beyond, a science fiction/mystery/adventure film released in 1922 and starring Houdini as a man frozen in ice for a century before he is found and revived: The pictures are from Houdini: His Life and Art by The Amazing Randi and Bert Randolph Sugar (Grosset & Dunlap, 1976, p. 120). The man (or monster) frozen in ice and ..read more
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Weird Tales: The Houdini Issues-Part Seven
Tellers of Weird Tales
by Terence E. Hanley
1M ago
"Ask Houdini" There were three Houdini issues of Weird Tales magazine and three Houdini stories. Each was a cover story and each the lead story in the issue in which it appeared. Two of the covers have depictions of the great escapist himself. The third shows the Great Sphinx of Egypt, illustrating "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs," which was ghost-written by H.P. Lovecraft. Pictures of Houdini are also inside each of the three issues. The cover illustrations were by R.M. Mally, the interiors by William F. Heitman. There is also nonfictional content about Houdini in each issue. In the March 1924 ..read more
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Weird Tales: The Houdini Issues-Part Six
Tellers of Weird Tales
by Terence E. Hanley
1M ago
"The Hoax of the Spirit Lover" "The Hoax of the Spirit Lover" by Houdini is the cover story and the lead story in the April 1924 issue of Weird Tales. At just three pages, it's the shortest of Houdini's three stories in "The Unique Magazine" and the one most like a non-fiction article rather than a work of fiction. It reads almost like a transcription of a spoken narrative. Maybe it's the one closest to Houdini's actual and original words. The story is set in Montana but has a Chicago connection. It involves a séance and all of the trappings of Spiritualism. Approached by three men suspec ..read more
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Weird Tales: The Houdini Issues-Part Five
Tellers of Weird Tales
by Terence E. Hanley
1M ago
The Séance at Castle D--- "The Spirit Fakers of Hermannstadt" was Houdini's second story for Weird Tales. It came in the form of a two-part serial. Part one was in the issue of March 1924. In part two, having escaped from the oubliette in the lower recesses of Castle D---, Houdini returns to the castle so as to rescue the Countess D--- and her sister Rosicka from the clutches of the villainous Popkens. As he explores the castle, Houdini hears the sound of a weird voice and finds that a séance is underway. Popkens is acting as medium. He's trying to convince Rosicka to reveal secrets that ..read more
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