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1926 - Year in SF&F



THE WONDER TIMELINE: SF&F RETROSPECTIVE - 1926

Read other issues here

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Infancy of Science Fiction, but - some may argue - the truly Golden Age of Weird Fantasy:




H. P. Lovecraft
"The Dream-Quest of
Unknown Kadath" (nv)
© 1926, original
Arkham Sampler, 1948
Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, 1943
At The Mountains Of Madness, 1968
--/ FIRST place f novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award
--/ awesome scale


Reading this novella was a peculiar experience - a dream, or rather a trance, with sights floating by, wonder upon wonder, written in ornate, intensely descriptive prose; a narrative that - if you let it - will draw you in and leave you stranded inside this very dream. Which is exactly what happened to me. Can you believe it, I've never been able to finish reading it... Somewhere half-way along the quest the sheer weird beauty and the awe of thousands of wonders reached a critical mass in my head and prevented me from going further, prompting me rather to stop, to savour at length and to reflect on what I've read up to this point. Maybe one day I will try to read this book again, approaching it in a more jaded and indifferent way, and thus escaping a bizarre dream-like effect... But for now, all I can say is that nothing I have ever read before (not even Tolkien) produced such vivid images of strange worlds and stupendous exploration in my head.

H. P. Lovecraft modelled this novel upon Lord Dunsany's magical tales, and it ended up to be perhaps the ultimate in "high imaginative calorie" food. It has a minimal plot, and fulfills exactly the promise of the title: it's "a Dream Quest in a Mysterious and Haunted Land" with elements of dark and high fantasy intermingled. A painting, perhaps? A symphony? Any of these things, but not a novel per se, rather - a haunting poetry.
review by Avi Abrams: 13-Jul-06 (read in 1986)

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H. P. Lovecraft
"The Strange High House In The Mist"
© written in 1926
Weird Tales, Oct 1931

Dagon & Others, 1965
--/ fourth place f story
--/ wonder award
--/ emotion award


This is the mother of all "haunted house on a seashore" tales. Just try this short quote for size:

"And when tales fly thick in the grottoes of tritons, and conches in seaweed cities blow wild tunes learned from the Elder Ones, then great eager vapours flock to heaven laden with lore; and Kingsport, nestling uneasy on its lesser cliffs below that awesome hanging sentinel of rock, sees oceanward only a mystic whiteness, as if the cliff's rim were the rim of all earth, and the solemn bells of the buoys tolled free in the aether of faery".

As you can see, the wonder and mystery in this story are not confined to a singular "strange house" alone. In a most insidious way Lovecraftian tales will stay with you for hours, infusing your reality with a faery glow, and (in an even bigger measure) enhancing the shadows, till they grow to be sentient and grimly intent, bound to coalesce around you, if you do not swiftly flee into reality.

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H. P. Lovecraft
"The Terrible Old Man"
© Weird Tales, Aug 1926
also in - 1921, The Tryout
The Lurking Fear, 1947
--/ cool f story

The fear of old age and eccentricities that go along with it, combined with a simple "robbery" plot and supernatural surprise at the end make for passable dark fantasy. There was a movie based on this tale; also it's the first story to make use of Lovecraft's imaginary New England setting, introducing the fictional town of Kingsport.
review: 31-Jul-06 (read in 1999)

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Edmond Hamilton
"The Monster-God of Mamurth"
© Weird Tales, Aug 1926
Weird Tales, Sep 1935

Horror on the Asteroid, 1936
Magazine of Horror, Win 1967
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ rare find


Not "science fiction" per se, this was Edmond Hamilton's first published story, and it has color and excitement aplenty. It is somber, exotic, "Clark-Ashton-Smith"-esque, baroque and morbid in a most delicious ways. Desert landscapes with unspeakable monsters hiding in grandiose mysterious structures, a dread and a trembling for an amateur adventurer and a professional curiosity for Sean Connery-like types. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece, and - just think - it's only the beginning of a Universe-spanning career!
review: 31-Jul-06 (read in 1995)

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Francis Flagg
"The Machine Man Of Ardathia"
© Amazing Stories, Nov 1926
Tales Of Wonder, 1940
Avon Fantasy Reader # 8, 1947

--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find


A story about the 4th dimension in 30000 years time. Good stuff.
review: 01-Jul-06 (read in 2001)

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EXPLANATION OF THE RATING SYSTEM:

"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.


All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

Our PERSONAL AWARDS (ratings) are highlighted in RED and PURPLE:
--/ first place :
--/ second place :
--/ third place :

--/ fourth place :

--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)
ALL "BEST OF" LISTS ARE LOCATED HERE

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
- series :
- novella :
- story :
- collection :

Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
sense-of-wonder, "visual intensity" and inventiveness

--/ idea award
originality of idea / concept

--/ adventure award
exhilarating plot, excitement / action

--/ style award
outstanding literary qualities, inimitable style

--/ romance award
intense and beautiful love / relationships

--/ humour award
funny and cool

--/ emotion award
touching, lasting impression, sensitivity

--/ shock value
altogether wild

--/ awesome scale
mind-boggling; further enhances sense-of-wonder

--/ rare find
very hard to locate, mostly from old pulps, never reprinted, etc.

Again, please feel free to leave your own review or comment under every writer's entry; also recommend us other stories you liked.