Monday, February 4, 2019

The Blazing World

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THE
DESCRIPTION
OF A NEW
WORLD
CALLED
The Blazing-World.
WRITTEN
By The Thrice Noble, Illustrious, and Excellent
PRINCESSE
THE
Duchess of Newcastle
Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year M.DC.LX.VIII.

Public Domain

A very early Science Fiction/Fantasy story by Margaret Cavendish published in 1666.

The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World.

A Merchant travelling into a foreign Country, fell extreamly in Love with a young Lady; but being a stranger in that Nation, and beneath her, both in Birth and Wealth, he could have but little hopes of obtaining his desire; however his Love growing more and more vehement upon him, even to the slighting of all difficulties, he resolved at last to Steal her away; which he had the better opportunity to do, because her Father’s house was not far from the Sea, and she often using to gather shells upon the shore accompanied not with above two to three of her servants it encouraged him the more to execute his design. Thus coming one time with a little leight Vessel, not unlike a Packet-boat, mann’d with some few Sea-men, and well victualled, for fear of some accidents, which might perhaps retard their journey, to the place where she used to repair; he forced her away: But when he fancied himself the happiest man of the World, he proved to be the most unfortunate; for Heaven frowning at his Theft, raised such a Tempest, as they knew not what to do, or whither to steer their course; so that the Vessel, both by its own leightness, and the violent motion of the Wind, was carried as swift as an Arrow out of a Bow, towards the North-pole, and in a short time reached the Icy Sea, where the wind forced it amongst huge pieces of Ice; but being little, and leight, it did by the assistance and favour of the gods to this virtuous Lady, so turn and wind through those precipices, as if it had been guided by some experienced Pilot, and skilful Mariner: But alas! Those few men which were in it, not knowing whither they went, nor what was to be done in so strange an Adventure, and not being provided for so cold a Voyage, were all frozen to death; the young Lady onely, by the light of her Beauty, the heat of her Youth, and Protection of the Gods, remaining alive: Neither was it a wonder that the men did freeze to death; for they were not onely driven to the very end or point of the Pole of that World, but even to another Pole of another World, which joined close to it; so that the cold having a double strength at the conjunction of those two Poles, was insupportable: At last, the Boat still passing on, was forced into another World; for it is impossible to round this Worlds Globe from Pole to Pole, so as we do from East to West; because the Poles of the other World, joining to the Poles of this, do not allow any further passage to surround the World that way; but if any one arrives to either of these Poles, he is either forced to return, or to enter into another World: and lest you should scruple at it, and think, if it were thus, those that live at the Poles would either see two Suns at one time, or else they would never want the Sun’s light for six months together, as it is commonly believed: You must know, that each of these Worlds having its own Sun to enlighten it, they move each one in their peculiar Circles; which motion is so just and exact, that neither can hinder or obstruct the other; for they do not exceed their Tropicks: and although they should meet, yet we in this World cannot so well perceive them, by reason of the brightness of our Sun, which being nearer to us, obstructs the splendor of the Sun of the other World, they being too far off to be discerned by our optick perception, except we use very good Telescopes; by which, skilful Astronomers have often observed two or three Suns at once. But to return to the wandering Boat, and the distressed Lady; she seeing all the Men dead, found small comfort in life; their Bodies which were preserved all that while from putrefaction and stench, by the extremity of cold, began now to thaw, and corrupt; whereupon she having not strength enough to fling them over-board, was forced to remove out of her small Cabine, upon the deck, to avoid the nauseous smell; and finding the Boat swim between two plains of Ice, as a stream that runs betwixt two shores, at last perceived land, but covered all with Snow: from which came, walking upon the Ice, strange Creatures, in shape like Bears, only they went upright as men; those Creatures coming near the Boat, catched hold of it with their Paws, that served them instead of hands; some two or three of them entred first; and when they came out, the rest went in one after another; at last having viewed and observed all that was in the Boat, they spake to each other in a language which the Lady did not understand; and having carried her out of the Boat, sunk it, together with the dead men.

The Lady now finding her self in so strange a place, and amongst such wonderful kind of Creatures, was extreamly strucken with fear, and could entertain no other Thoughts, but that every moment her life was to be a sacrifice to their cruelty; but those Bear-like Creatures, how terrible soever they appear’d to her sight, yet were they so far from exercising any cruelty upon her, that rather they shewed her all civility and kindness imaginable; for she being not able to go upon the Ice, by reason of its slipperiness, they took her up in their rough arms, and carried her into their City, where instead of Houses, they had Caves under ground; and as soon as they enter’d the City, both Males and Females, young and old, flockt together to see this Lady, holding up their Paws in admiration; at last having brought her into a certain large and spacious Cave, which they intended for her reception, they left her to the custody of the Females, who entertained her with all kindness and respect, and gave her such victuals as they used to eat; but seeing her Constitution neither agreed with the temper of that Climate, nor their Diet, they were resolved to carry her into another Island of a warmer temper; in which were men like Foxes, onely walking in an upright shape, who received their neighbours the Bear-men with great civility and Courtship, very much admiring this beauteous Lady; and having discoursed some while together, agreed at last to make her a Present to the Emperor of their World; to which end, after she had made some short stay in the same place, they brought her cross that Island to a large River, whose stream run smooth and clear, like Chrystal; in which were numerous Boats, much like our Fox-traps; in one whereof she was carried, some of the Bear- and Fox-men waiting on her; and as soon as they had crossed the River, they came into an Island where there were Men which had heads, beaks and feathers, like wild-Geese, onely they went in an upright shape, like the Bear-men and Fox-men: their rumps they carried between their legs, their wings were of the same length with their Bodies, and their tails of an indifferent size, trailing after them like a Ladie’s Garment; and after the Bear- and Fox-men had declared their intention and design to their Neighbours, the Geese- or Bird-men, some of them joined to the rest, and attended the Lady through that Island, till they came to another great and large River, where there was a preparation made of many Boats, much like Birds nests, onely of a bigger size; and having crost that River, they arrived into another Island, which was of a pleasant and mild temper, full of Woods and the Inhabitants thereof were Satyrs, who received both the Bear- Fox- and Bird men, with all respect and civility; and after some conferences (for they all understood each others language) some chief of the Satyrs joining to them, accompanied the Lady out of that Island to another River, wherein were many handsome and commodious Barges; and having crost that River, they entered into a large and spacious Kingdom, the men whereof were of a Grass-Green Complexion, who entertained them very kindly, and provided all conveniences for their further voyage: hitherto they had onely crost Rivers, but now they could not avoid the open Seas any longer; wherefore they made their Ships and tacklings ready to sail over into the Island, where the Emperor of the Blazing- world (for so it was call’d) kept his residence. Very good Navigators they were; and though they had no knowledg of the Load-stone, or Needle or pendulous Watches, yet (which was as serviceable to them) they had subtile observations, and great practice; in so much that they could not onely tell the depth of the Sea in every place, but where there were shelves of Sand, Rocks, and other obstructions to be avoided by skilful and experienced Sea-men: Besides, they were excellent Augurers, which skill they counted more necessary and beneficial then the use of Compasses, Cards, Watches, and the like; but, above the rest, they had an extraordinary Art, much to be taken notice of by Experimental Philosophers, and that was a certain Engin, which would draw in a great quantity of Air, and shoot forth Wind with a great force; this Engine in a calm, they placed behind their Ships, and in a storm, before; for it served against the raging waves, like Cannons against an hostile Army, or besieged Town; it would batter and beat the waves in pieces, were they as high as Steeples; and as soon as a breach was made, they forced their passage through, in spight even of the most furious wind, using two of those Engins at every Ship, one before, to beat off the waves, and another behind to drive it on; so that the artificial wind had the better of the natural; for, it had a greater advantage of the waves, then the natural of the Ships: the natural being above the face of the Water, could not without a down right motion enter or press into the Ships; whereas the artificial with a sideward-motion, did pierce into the bowels of the Waves: Moreover, it is to be observed, that in a great Tempest they would join their Ships in battel-aray: and when they feared Wind and Waves would be too strong for them, if they divided their Ships; they joined as many together as the compass or advantage of the places of the Liquid Element would give them leave. For, their Ships were so ingeniously contrived, that they could fasten them together as close as a Honey-comb, without waste of place; and being thus united, no Wind nor Waves were able to separate them. The Emperor’s Ships, were all of Gold; but the Merchants and Skippers, of Leather; the Golden Ships were not much heavier then ours of Wood, by reason they were neatly made, and required not such thickness, neither were they troubled with Pitch, Tar, Pumps, Guns, and the like, which make our Woodden-Ships very heavy; for though they were not all of a piece, yet they were so well sodder’d, that there was no fear of Leaks, Chinks, or Clefts; and as for Guns, there was no use of them, because they had no other enemies but the Winds: But the Leather Ships were not altogether so sure, although much leighter; besides, they were pitched to keep out Water.

Continued on Project Gutenberg

Here’s an essay about this work by Emily Lord Fransee on the Public Domain Review.

Mistress of a New World: Early Science Fiction in Europe’s “Age of Discovery”

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Seventeen Haikus

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Basho by Hokusai - public domain

Seventeen Haikus
by Larry Heyl

The first haiku was
the last one written. A glimpse
into the future.

Honored instructor,

I know this is not my assignment but I have just completed the most remarkable work. Against all dicta I was overtaken by a creative impulse. Three days ago seventeen haikus poured out as if written by the hand of God. Of course it was my hand and my brain so these haikus were quite flawed in form and substance. I have spent the last three days perfecting this work, still under the direction of the divine, and I can find no further way to improve them.

They are a masterwork, short as they may be. I know this in my soul. Although I know we are tasked with studying the work of our ancestors and we are foresworn against the production of new art I could not stop myself. It was as if I was possessed by angels. The words came alive. They forced my hand to write and revise. Now I am done.

I would like to read my work to you. I feel that is the best way to unfold it. The seventeen haikus are meant to be read aloud.

I feel I must include at least one. So here is the seventeenth haiku, about silence.

Silence permeates
the ethos. This is not death.
Still, this is silence.

As soon as I sent this message I had second thoughts. What if instead of allowing me to read to him he turned me in. He was a full professor after all. The Stasis could come down on him as well as me.

I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I was not worried about the enforcers. I was not afraid of death. But the seventeen haikus had to live. That was most important.

So I made a file, seventeenhaikus.txt, and I posted it to every group I was part of. Scholars all over the world would share this burden. It was the best I could do.

Three hours later the enforcers came. They were too late.

300 years later schools of the New Renaissance covered the planet teaching the seventeen haikus as their core curricula. They were a revered text but they could not be taught as revered. For as soon as they were read aloud all who heard them knew they too had to create. Some wrote haikus, some novels. Some played music. Some painted, danced, or sculpted. But it was all new art. The Stasis had ended.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Men Like Gods

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First US edition cover

Serialised in The Westminster Gazette, Dec 1922-Feb 1923
First book edition: Cassell & Co., London, 1923
First US edition: The Macmillan Company, New York, 1923
public domain

Men Like Gods is one of H.G. Wells utopian novels. Because it was published in 1923 it is now public domain in the United States.

Here’s a link to the entire text.

And here’s the first chapter.

Mr. Barnstaple found himself in urgent need of a holiday, and he had no one to go with and nowhere to go. He was overworked. And he was tired of home.

He was a man of strong natural affections; he loved his family extremely so that he knew it by heart, and when he was in these jaded moods it bored him acutely. His three sons, who were all growing up, seemed to get leggier and larger every day; they sat down in the chairs he was just going to sit down in; they played him off his own pianola; they filled the house with hoarse, vast laughter at jokes that one couldn’t demand to be told; they cut in on the elderly harmless flirtations that had hitherto been one of his chief consolations in this vale; they beat him at tennis; they fought playfully on the landings, and fell downstairs by twos and threes with an enormous racket. Their hats were everywhere. They were late for breakfast. They went to bed every night in a storm of uproar: “Haw, Haw, Haw—bump!” and their mother seemed to like it. They all cost money, with a cheerful disregard of the fact that everything had gone up except Mr. Barnstaple’s earning power. And when he said a few plain truths about Mr. Lloyd George at meal-times, or made the slightest attempt to raise the tone of the table-talk above the level of the silliest persiflage, their attention wandered ostentatiously…

At any rate it seemed ostentatiously.

He wanted badly to get away from his family to some place where he could think of its various members with quiet pride and affection, and otherwise not be disturbed by them…

And also he wanted to get away for a time from Mr. Peeve. The very streets were becoming a torment to him, he wanted never to see a newspaper or a newspaper placard again. He was obsessed by apprehensions of some sort of financial and economic smash that would make the Great War seem a mere incidental catastrophe. This was because he was sub-editor and general factotum of the Liberal, that well-known organ of the more depressing aspects of advanced thought, and the unvarying pessimism of Mr. Peeve, his chief, was infecting him more and more. Formerly it had been possible to put up a sort of resistance to Mr. Peeve by joking furtively about his gloom with the other members of the staff, but now there were no other members of the staff: they had all been retrenched by Mr. Peeve in a mood of financial despondency. Practically, now, nobody wrote regularly for the Liberal except Mr. Barnstaple and Mr. Peeve. So Mr. Peeve had it all his own way with Mr. Barnstaple. He would sit hunched up in the editorial chair, with his hands deep in his trouser pockets, taking a gloomy view of everything, sometimes for two hours together. Mr. Barnstaple’s natural tendency was towards a modest hopefulness and a belief in progress, but Mr. Peeve held very strongly that a belief in progress was at least six years out of date, and that the brightest hope that remained to Liberalism was for a good Day of Judgment soon. And having finished the copy of what the staff, when there was a staff, used to call his weekly indigest, Mr. Peeve would depart and leave Mr. Barnstaple to get the rest of the paper together for the next week.

Even in ordinary times Mr. Peeve would have been hard enough to live with; but the times were not ordinary, they were full of disagreeable occurrences that made his melancholy anticipations all too plausible. The great coal lock-out had been going on for a month and seemed to foreshadow the commercial ruin of England; every morning brought intelligence of fresh outrages from Ireland, unforgivable and unforgettable outrages; a prolonged drought threatened the harvests of the world; the League of Nations, of which Mr. Barnstaple had hoped enormous things in the great days of President Wilson, was a melancholy and self-satisfied futility; everywhere there was conflict, everywhere unreason; seven-eighths of the world seemed to be sinking down towards chronic disorder and social dissolution. Even without Mr. Peeve it would have been difficult enough to have made headway against the facts.

Mr. Barnstaple was, indeed, ceasing to secrete hope, and for such types as he, hope is the essential solvent without which there is no digesting life. His hope had always been in liberalism and generous liberal effort, but he was beginning to think that liberalism would never do anything more for ever than sit hunched up with its hands in its pockets grumbling and peeving at the activities of baser but more energetic men. Whose scrambling activities would inevitably wreck the world.

Night and day now, Mr. Barnstaple was worrying about the world at large. By night even more than by day, for sleep was leaving him. And he was haunted by a dreadful craving to bring out a number of the Liberal of his very own —to alter it all after Mr. Peeve had gone away, to cut out all the dyspeptic stuff, the miserable, empty girding at this wrong and that, the gloating on cruel and unhappy things, the exaggeration of the simple, natural, human misdeeds of Mr. Lloyd George, the appeals to Lord Grey, Lord Robert Cecil, Lord Lansdowne, the Pope, Queen Anne, or the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (it varied from week to week), to arise and give voice and form to the young aspirations of a world reborn, and, instead, to fill the number with —Utopia! to say to the amazed readers of the Liberal: Here are things that have to be done! Here are the things we are going to do! What a blow it would be for Mr. Peeve at his Sunday breakfast! For once, too astonished to secrete abnormally, he might even digest that meal!

But this was the most foolish of dreaming. There were the three young Barnstaples at home and their need for a decent start in life to consider. And beautiful as the thing was as a dream, Mr. Barnstaple had a very unpleasant conviction that he was not really clever enough to pull such a thing off. He would make a mess of it somehow…

One might jump from the frying-pan into the fire. The Liberal was a dreary, discouraging, ungenerous paper, but anyhow it was not a base and wicked paper.

Still, if there was to be no such disastrous outbreak it was imperative that Mr. Barnstaple should rest from Mr. Peeve for a time. Once or twice already he had contradicted him. A row might occur anywhen. And the first step towards resting from Mr. Peeve was evidently to see a doctor. So Mr. Barnstaple went to a doctor.

“My nerves are getting out of control,” said Mr. Barnstaple. “I feel horribly neurasthenic.”

“You are suffering from neurasthenia,” said the doctor. “I dread my daily work.”

“You want a holiday.”

“You think I need a change?”

“As complete a change as you can manage.”

“Can you recommend any place where I could go?”

“Where do you want to go?”

“Nowhere definite. I thought you could recommend—”

“Let some place attract you—and go there. Do nothing to force your inclinations at the present time.”

Mr. Barnstaple paid the doctor the sum of one guinea, and armed with these instructions prepared to break the news of his illness and his necessary absence to Mr. Peeve whenever the occasion seemed ripe for doing so.


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Men Like Gods first edition. Click to continue reading.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hegel, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein

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Photo by PhotoVision on pixabay - public domain

Hegel, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein
by Larry Heyl

It was my brother Jeff who was the doer. Always making things, working on this or that, good at math and physics in school.

I was the thinker. Always gazing off into the distance pondering the big questions. What is life? What is death? What is man? What is woman?

It’s that last one that really puzzled me. Jeff got married, started his own business, got rich. I got tongue tied around girls, took a philosophy degree, and had an income commensurate with my degree. I check the want ads daily. Never have I seen Philosopher Needed - Top Dollar.

So I never understood why the aliens abducted me. It was Jeff they wanted. They must have got their wires crossed.

Now I’m not gay but I didn’t mind the anal probe so much. Learning the alien language wasn’t too bad either. They put a silver disc on my forehead and I started talking to them. It was the interview that really got them.

They kept asking about stuff I didn’t know, technology, armaments, rocket ships, manufacturing. I wasn’t much help. But I gave them a good dose of Hegel, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. I don’t think they were ready for that. They started babbling. They sent me up the ladder. I kept expounding and their confusion deepened. Evidently philosophy wasn’t their strong suit. Like I said they got the wrong guy.

They could only deal with me for so long. Before I knew it they had beamed me back home and departed Earth post haste. And that’s how I saved the world with philosophy.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sweet Mary

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Artwork by Arthur Rackham - public domain

Sweet Mary
by Larry Heyl

Sweet Mary was born in the spring. Her parents were well off and unconventional. Which in itself was strange because Mary was quite conventional. She occupied herself with being a very normal baby until Christmas. Even though she was only nine months old when Kris Kringle came she got a big sparkle in her eye and you could see joy radiate from her and light the room. She was brighter than the tree.

As she grew she remained very conventional. She would read, draw, and walk in the forest. And when Christmas came each year Kris Kringle brought her books, paper, charcoal, crayons, and walking boots. It wasn’t the presents that made her glow. She just loved Christmas in an extraordinary way. It is normal for children to love Christmas but for Sweet Mary her joy of Christmas was unconventionally exuberant.

And so Mary would walk in the woods, reading and drawing, and the years drifted by. Until one fall, at the top of the hill, she found a fairy circle of big beautiful mushrooms and unknowingly she walked through it. She made friends in Feyland, Puck, Took, and Willow. For fairies they were still young and the four of them would romp through the woods playing fairy games almost as if Sweet Mary belonged there. But she loved her parents very much and after a few hours she would always go home. She was still conventional enough not to eat between meals so she could always find the fairy circle and the path back to her house. When she greeted her parents she had that sparkle in her eye they had only seen at Christmas and they very much approved. They quickly grew used to her radiating joy after returning from her walks in the woods.

Then one year she grew up, as girls do, and in the fall when she found the fairy circle she was a maid, even though she didn’t really know what that meant yet. Puck, Took, and Willow knew what it meant and since they were in Feyland it wasn’t long before they were enjoying themselves as fairies do for fairies have no thought for the future and no concerns about morality, they live and love in the presnt moment only concerned about their own pleasure and enjoyment.

And Mary in Feyland was the same. Conventional no more she also lived for pleasure in the present and greatly enjoyed Puck, Took, and Willow.

When she came home for supper her glow would light the room. Here parents could see she had changed but they were unconventional and left Mary to her pursuits. Mary said nothing of her time in Feyland to her parents. It was her secret.

But when winter came and the fairy circle was gone and her belly began to swell it could be a secret no more. Her mother loved her very much and took her into her confidence explaining the ways of the world to Sweet Mary. But she did not ask after the father because she feared if they found the father he would soon become a husband and take Sweet Mary away. And Mary did not talk about the father either, whether Puck or Took she did not know, and she certainly did not know how do explain her time in Feyland.

In early summer the babe was born and it was a good thing Mary’s parents were unconventional because little Pookie was clearly fey. Her parents were well aware of the dangers of raising a fey child and so they set up all night, every night, taking watches, so the fairies could not steal the babe away. And Sweet Mary, with a babe at her breast forego her trips through the fairy circle, perhaps Puck, Took, and Willow missed her, perhaps not.

In fact, her parents were well pleased with their grandchild. They were unconventional and aware of the fey blood in their own ancestry, weak as it was. They married each other to preserve their heritage and were glad for the fresh infusion of fey blood into their family line. And they were overjoyed when they set up the tree and the babe just smiled and giggled, loving the Christmas spectacle.

So when little Pookie was three and safe from abduction they encouraged Mary to go back to the woods where she once again walked through the fairy circle. Puck, Took, and Willow were most pleased to see her and Sweet Mary once more enjoyed afternoons full of pleasure and companionship. But she said nothing of little Pookie. She had learned, in her life, to keep secrets.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Fredric Brown - Experiment

fredric_brown-two_timer-img1.png

Illustrated by STONE

Experiment
By FREDRIC BROWN

“The first time machine, gentlemen,” Professor Johnson proudly informed
his two colleagues. “True, it is a small-scale experimental model. It
will operate only on objects weighing less than three pounds, five
ounces and for distances into the past and future of twelve minutes or
less. But it works.”

The small-scale model looked like a small scale–a postage scale–except
for two dials in the part under the platform.

Professor Johnson held up a small metal cube. “Our experimental object,”
he said, “is a brass cube weighing one pound, two point three ounces.
First, I shall send it five minutes into the future.”

He leaned forward and set one of the dials on the time machine. “Look at
your watches,” he said.

They looked at their watches. Professor Johnson placed the cube gently
on the machine’s platform. It vanished.

Five minutes later, to the second, it reappeared.

Professor Johnson picked it up. “Now five minutes into the past.” He set
the other dial. Holding the cube in his hand he looked at his watch. “It
is six minutes before three o’clock. I shall now activate the
mechanism–by placing the cube on the platform–at exactly three
o’clock. Therefore, the cube should, at five minutes before three,
vanish from my hand and appear on the platform, five minutes before I
place it there.”

“How can you place it there, then?” asked one of his colleagues.

“It will, as my hand approaches, vanish from the platform and appear in
my hand to be placed there. Three o’clock. Notice, please.”

The cube vanished from his hand.

It appeared on the platform of the time machine.

“See? Five minutes before I shall place it there, it _is_ there!”

His other colleague frowned at the cube. “But,” he said, “what if, now
that it has already appeared five minutes before you place it there, you
should change your mind about doing so and _not_ place it there at three
o’clock? Wouldn’t there be a paradox of some sort involved?”

“An interesting idea,” Professor Johnson said. “I had not thought of it,
and it will be interesting to try. Very well, I shall _not_ …”

There was no paradox at all. The cube remained.

But the entire rest of the Universe, professors and all, vanished.

Included in “Two Timer”, public domain. Available on Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Dark Dungeons and Darker Dungeons

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Dark Dungeons Cover Art

These are both retro clones made possible by the Wizards of The Coast Open Game License. So both games play like an older version of D&D. The Dark Dungeons version is a close copy rulewise. Darker Dungeons retains the same feel and probabilities with a streamlined rule set.

Here’s a quote from the Darker Dungeons pdf.

Darker Dungeons uses several terms and names that are Copyright 2000-2003 Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

These terms are used under the terms of the Open Game License v1.0a, and are designated as Open Content by that license. Other than those terms and names, all original text in Darker Dungeons is hereby placed in the Public Domain.

All artwork found in Darker Dungeons is copyright by the original artists, and may not be reproduced.

Downloads

Dark Dungeons

Darker Dungeons

Personally I’m interested in Darker Dungeons. Looks very similar to the RPGs I learned on but with better dice rolls and fewer tables. I’ve been wanting to find a rule set I can use to DM some games and I think this is it.

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Skeleton pic courtesy of kalhh at pixabay - public domain

Crossposted at MixRemix.cc

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Hashish Eater -or- the Apocalypse of Evil by Clark Ashton Smith

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Weird Tales cover art is public domain. Available on Wikimedia Commons.

The Hashish Eater -or- the Apocalypse of Evil
Clark Ashton Smith

Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-colored sun
Of secret worlds incredible, and take
Their trailing skies for vestment when I soar,
Throned on the mounting zenith, and illume
The spaceward-flown horizons infinite.
Like rampant monsters roaring for their glut,
The fiery-crested oceans rise and rise,
By jealous moons maleficently urged
To follow me for ever; mountains horned
With peaks of sharpest adamant, and mawed
With sulphur-lit volcanoes lava-langued,
Usurp the skies with thunder, but in vain;
And continents of serpent-shapen trees,
With slimy trunks that lengthen league by league,
Pursue my light through ages spurned to fire
By that supreme ascendance; sorcerers,
And evil kings, predominanthly armed
With scrolls of fulvous dragon-skin whereon
Are worm-like runes of ever-twisting flame,
Would stay me; and the sirens of the stars,
With foam-like songs from silver fragrance wrought,
Would lure me to their crystal reefs; and moons
Where viper-eyed, senescent devils dwell,
With antic gnomes abominably wise,
Heave up their icy horns across my way.
But naught deters me from the goal ordained
By suns and eons and immortal wars,
And sung by moons and motes; the goal whose name
Is all the secret of forgotten glyphs
By sinful gods in torrid rubies writ
For ending of a brazen book; the goal
Whereat my soaring ecstasy may stand
In amplest heavens multiplied to hold
My hordes of thunder-vested avatars,
And Promethèan armies of my thought,
That brandish claspèd levins. There I call
My memories, intolerably clad
In light the peaks of paradise may wear,
And lead the Armageddon of my dreams
Whose instant shout of triumph is become
Immensity’s own music: for their feet
Are founded on innumerable worlds,
Remote in alien epochs, and their arms
Upraised, are columns potent to exalt
With ease ineffable the countless thrones
Of all the gods that are or gods to be,
And bear the seats of Asmodai and Set
Above the seventh paradise.

Supreme
In culminant omniscience manifold,
And served by senses multitudinous,
Far-posted on the shifting walls of time,
With eyes that roam the star-unwinnowed fields
Of utter night and chaos, I convoke
The Babel of their visions, and attend
At once their myriad witness. I behold
In Ombos, where the fallen Titans dwell,
With mountain-builded walls, and gulfs for moat,
The secret cleft that cunning dwarves have dug
Beneath an alp-like buttress; and I list,
Too late, the clam of adamantine gongs
Dinned by their drowsy guardians, whose feet
Have fell the wasp-like sting of little knives
Embrued With slobber of the basilisk
Or the pail Juice of wounded upas. In
Some red Antarean garden-world, I see
The sacred flower with lips of purple flesh,
And silver-Lashed, vermilion-lidded eyes
Of torpid azure; whom his furtive priests
At moonless eve in terror seek to slay
With bubbling grails of sacrificial blood
That hide a hueless poison. And I read
Upon the tongue of a forgotten sphinx,
The annulling word a spiteful demon wrote
In gall of slain chimeras; and I know
What pentacles the lunar wizards use,
That once allured the gulf-returning roc,
With ten great wings of furlèd storm, to pause
Midmost an alabaster mount; and there,
With boulder-weighted webs of dragons’ gut
Uplift by cranes a captive giant built,
They wound the monstrous, moonquake-throbbing bird,
And plucked from off his saber-taloned feet
Uranian sapphires fast in frozen blood,
And amethysts from Mars. I lean to read
With slant-lipped mages, in an evil star,
The monstrous archives of a war that ran
Through wasted eons, and the prophecy
Of wars renewed, which shall commemorate
Some enmity of wivern-headed kings
Even to the brink of time. I know the blooms
Of bluish fungus, freaked with mercury,
That bloat within the creators of the moon,
And in one still, selenic and fetor; and I know
What clammy blossoms, blanched and cavern-grown,
Are proffered to their gods in Uranus
By mole-eyed peoples; and the livid seed
Of some black fruit a king in Saturn ate,
Which, cast upon his tinkling palace-floor,
Took root between the burnished flags, and now
Hath mounted and become a hellish tree,
Whose lithe and hairy branches, lined with mouths,
Net like a hundred ropes his lurching throne,
And strain at starting pillars. I behold
The slowly-thronging corals that usurp
Some harbour of a million-masted sea,
And sun them on the league-long wharves of gold—
Bulks of enormous crimson, kraken-limbed
And kraken-headed, lifting up as crowns
The octiremes of perished emperors,
And galleys fraught with royal gems, that sailed
From a sea-fled haven.

Swifter and stranger grow
The visions: now a mighty city looms,
Hewn from a hill of purest cinnabar
To domes and turrets like a sunrise thronged
With tier on tier of captive moons, half-drowned
In shifting erubescence. But whose hands
Were sculptors of its doors, and columns wrought
To semblance of prodigious blooms of old,
No eremite hath lingered there to say,
And no man comes to learn: for long ago
A prophet came, warning its timid king
Against the plague of lichens that had crept
Across subverted empires, and the sand
Of wastes that cyclopean mountains ward;
Which, slow and ineluctable, would come
To take his fiery bastions and his fanes,
And quench his domes with greenish tetter. Now
I see a host of naked gents, armed
With horns of behemoth and unicorn,
Who wander, blinded by the clinging spells
O hostile wizardry, and stagger on
To forests where the very leaves have eyes,
And ebonies like wrathful dragons roar
To teaks a-chuckle in the loathly gloom;
Where coiled lianas lean, with serried fangs,
From writhing palms with swollen boles that moan;
Where leeches of a scarlet moss have sucked
The eyes of some dead monster, and have crawled
To bask upon his azure-spotted spine;
Where hydra-throated blossoms hiss and sing,
Or yawn with mouths that drip a sluggish dew
Whose touch is death and slow corrosion. Then
I watch a war of pygmies, met by night,
With pitter of their drums of parrot’s hide,
On plains with no horizon, where a god
Might lose his way for centuries; and there,
In wreathèd light and fulgors all convolved,
A rout of green, enormous moons ascend,
With rays that like a shivering venom run
On inch-long swords of lizard-fang.

Surveyed
From this my throne, as from a central sun,
The pageantries of worlds and cycles pass;
Forgotten splendors, dream by dream, unfold
Like tapestry, and vanish; violet suns,
Or suns of changeful iridescence, bring
Their rays about me like the colored lights
Imploring priests might lift to glorify
The face of some averted god; the songs
Of mystic poets in a purple world
Ascend to me in music that is made
From unconceivèd perfumes and the pulse
Of love ineffable; the lute-players
Whose lutes are strung with gold of the utmost moon,
Call forth delicious languors, never known
Save to their golden kings; the sorcerers
Of hooded stars inscrutable to God,
Surrender me their demon-wrested scrolls,
lnscribed with lore of monstrous alchemies
And awful transformations.

If I will
I am at once the vision and the seer,
And mingle with my ever-streaming pomps,
And still abide their suzerain: I am
The neophyte who serves a nameless god,
Within whose fane the fanes of Hecatompylos
Were arks the Titan worshippers might bear,
Or flags to pave the threshold; or I am
The god himself, who calls the fleeing clouds
Into the nave where suns might congregate
And veils the darkling mountain of his face
With fold on solemn fold; for whom the priests
Amass their monthly hecatomb of gems
Opals that are a camel-cumbering load,
And monstrous alabraundines, won from war
With realms of hostile serpents; which arise,
Combustible, in vapors many-hued
And myrrh-excelling perfumes. It is I,
The king, who holds with scepter-dropping hand
The helm of some great barge of orichalchum,
Sailing upon an amethystine sea
To isles of timeless summer: for the snows
Of Hyperborean winter, and their winds,
Sleep in his jewel-builded capital,
Nor any charm of flame-wrought wizardry,
Nor conjured suns may rout them; so he fees,
With captive kings to urge his serried oars,
Hopeful of dales where amaranthine dawn
Hath never left the faintly sighing lote
And lisping moly. Firm of heart, I fare
Impanoplied with azure diamond,
As hero of a quest Achernar lights,
To deserts filled with ever-wandering flames
That feed upon the sullen marl, and soar
To wrap the slopes of mountains, and to leap
With tongues intolerably lengthening
That lick the blenchèd heavens. But there lives
(Secure as in a garden walled from wind)
A lonely flower by a placid well,
Midmost the flaring tumult of the flames,
That roar as roars a storm-possessed sea,
Impacable for ever; and within
That simple grail the blossom lifts, there lies
One drop of an incomparable dew
Which heals the parchèd weariness of kings,
And cures the wound of wisdom. I am page
To an emperor who reigns ten thousand years,
And through his labyrinthine palace-rooms,
Through courts and colonnades and balconies
Wherein immensity itself is mazed,
I seek the golden gorget he hath lost,
On which, in sapphires fine as orris-seed,
Are writ the names of his conniving stars
And friendly planets. Roaming thus, I hear
Like demon tears incessant, through dark ages,
The drip of sullen clepsydrae; and once
In every lustrum, hear the brazen clocks
Innumerably clang with such a sound
As brazen hammers make, by devils dinned
On tombs of all the dead; and nevermore
I find the gorget, but at length I find
A sealèd room whose nameless prisoner
Moans with a nameless torture, and would turn
To hell’s red rack as to a lilied couch
From that whereon they stretched him; and I find,
Prostrate upon a lotus-painted floor,
The loveliest of all beloved slaves
My emperor hath, and from her pulseless side
A serpent rises, whiter than the root
Of some venefic bloom in darkness grown,
And gazes up with green-lit eyes that seem
Like drops of cold, congealing poison.

Hark!
What word was whispered in a tongue unknown,
In crypts of some impenetrable world?
Whose is the dark, dethroning secrecy
I cannot share, though I am king of suns,
And king therewith of strong eternity,
Whose gnomons with their swords of shadow guard
My gates, and slay the intruder? Silence loads
The wind of ether, and the worlds are still
To hear the word that flees mine audience.
In simultaneous ruin, al my dreams
Fall like a rack of fuming vapors raised
To semblance by a necromant, and leave
Spirit and sense unthinkably alone
Above a universe of shrouded stars
And suns that wander, cowled with sullen gloom,
Like witches to a Sabbath. . . . Fear is born
In crypts below the nadir, and hath crawled
Reaching the floor of space, and waits for wings
To lift it upward like a hellish worm
Fain for the flesh of cherubim. Red orbs
And eyes that gleam remotely as the stars,
But are not eyes of suns or galaxies,
Gather and throng to the base of darkness; flame
Behind some black, abysmal curtain burns,
Implacable, and fanned to whitest wrath
By raisèd wings that flail the whiffled gloom,
And make a brief and broken wind that moans
As one who rides a throbbing rack. There is
A Thing that crouches, worlds and years remote,
Whose horns a demon sharpens, rasping forth
A note to shatter the donjon-keeps of time,
Or crack the sphere of crystal. All is dark
For ages, and my toiling heart-suspends
Its clamor as within the clutch of death
Tightening with tense, hermetic rigors. Then,
In one enormous, million-flashing flame,
The stars unveil, the suns remove their cowls,
And beam to their responding planets; time
Is mine once more, and armies of its dreams
Rally to that insuperable throne
Firmed on the zenith.

Once again I seek
The meads of shining moly I had found
In some anterior vision, by a stream
No cloud hath ever tarnished; where the sun,
A gold Narcissus, loiters evermore
Above his golden image. But I find
A corpse the ebbing water will not keep,
With eyes like sapphires that have lain in hell|
And felt the hissing coals; and all the flowers
About me turn to hooded serpents, swayed
By flutes of devils in lascivious dance
Meet for the nod of Satan, when he reigns
Above the raging Sabbath, and is wooed
By sarabands of witches. But I turn
To mountains guarding with their horns of snow
The source of that befoulèd rill, and seek
A pinnacle where none but eagles climb,
And they with failing pennons. But in vain
I flee, for on that pylon of the sky
Some curse hath turned the unprinted snow to flame—
Red fires that curl and cluster to my tread,
Trying the summit’s narrow cirque. And now
I see a silver python far beneath-
Vast as a river that a fiend hath witched
And forced to flow reverted in its course
To mountains whence it issued. Rapidly
It winds from slope to crumbling slope, and fills
Ravines and chasmal gorges, till the crags
Totter with coil on coil incumbent. Soon
It hath entwined the pinnacle I keep,
And gapes with a fanged, unfathomable maw
Wherein Great Typhon and Enceladus
Were orts of daily glut. But I am gone,
For at my call a hippogriff hath come,
And firm between his thunder-beating wings
I mount the sheer cerulean walls of noon
And see the earth, a spurnèd pebble, fall—
Lost in the fields of nether stars—and seek
A planet where the outwearied wings of time
Might pause and furl for respite, or the plumes
Of death be stayed, and loiter in reprieve
Above some deathless lily: for therein
Beauty hath found an avatar of flowers-
Blossoms that clothe it as a colored flame
From peak to peak, from pole to sullen pole,
And turn the skies to perfume. There I find
A lonely castle, calm, and unbeset
Save by the purple spears of amaranth,
And leafing iris tender-sworded. Walls
Of flushèd marble, wonderful with rose,
And domes like golden bubbles, and minarets
That take the clouds as coronal-these are mine,
For voiceless looms the peaceful barbican,
And the heavy-teethed portcullis hangs aloft
To grin a welcome. So I leave awhile
My hippogriff to crop the magic meads,
And pass into a court the lilies hold,
And tread them to a fragrance that pursues
To win the portico, whose columns, carved
Of lazuli and amber, mock the palms
Of bright Aidennic forests-capitalled
With fronds of stone fretted to airy lace,
Enfolding drupes that seem as tawny clusters
Of breasts of unknown houris; and convolved
With vines of shut and shadowy-leavèd flowers
Like the dropt lids of women that endure
Some loin-dissolving ecstasy. Through doors
Enlaid with lilies twined luxuriously,
I enter, dazed and blinded with the sun,
And hear, in gloom that changing colors cloud,
A chuckle sharp as crepitating ice
Upheaved and cloven by shoulders of the damned
Who strive in Antenora. When my eyes
Undazzle, and the cloud of color fades,
I find me in a monster-guarded room,
Where marble apes with wings of griffins crowd
On walls an evil sculptor wrought, and beasts
Wherein the sloth and vampire-bat unite,
Pendulous by their toes of tarnished bronze,
Usurp the shadowy interval of lamps
That hang from ebon arches. Like a ripple
Borne by the wind from pool to sluggish pool
In fields where wide Cocytus flows his bound,
A crackling smile around that circle runs,
And all the stone-wrought gibbons stare at me
With eyes that turn to glowing coals. A fear
That found no name in Babel, flings me on,
Breathless and faint with horror, to a hall
Within whose weary, self-reverting round,
The languid curtains, heavier than palls,
Unnumerably depict a weary king
Who fain would cool his jewel-crusted hands
In lakes of emerald evening, or the field
Of dreamless poppies pure with rain. I flee
Onward, and all the shadowy curtains shake
With tremors of a silken-sighing mirth,
And whispers of the innumerable king,
Breathing a tale of ancient pestilence
Whose very words are vile contagion. Then
I reach a room where caryatids,
Carved in the form of voluptuous Titan women,
Surround a throne flowering ebony
Where creeps a vine of crystal. On the throne
There lolls a wan, enormous Worm, whose bulk,
Tumid with all the rottenness of kings,
Overflows its arms with fold on creasèd fold
Obscenely bloating. Open-mouthed he leans,
And from his fulvous throat a score of tongues,
Depending like to wreaths of torpid vipers,
Drivel with phosphorescent slime, that runs
Down all his length of soft and monstrous folds,
And creeping among the flowers of ebony,
Lends them the life of tiny serpents. Now,
Ere the Horror ope those red and lashless slits
Of eyes that draw the gnat and midge, I turn
And follow down a dusty hall, whose gloom,
Lined by the statues with their mighty limbs,
Ends in golden-roofèd balcony
Sphering the flowered horizon.

Ere my heart
Hath hushed the panic tumult of its pulses,
I listen, from beyond the horizon’s rim,
A mutter faint as when the far simoom,
Mounting from unknown deserts, opens forth,
Wide as the waste, those wings of torrid night
That shake the doom of cities from their folds,
And musters in its van a thousand winds
That, with disrooted palms for besoms, rise,
And sweep the sands to fury. As the storm,
Approaching, mounts and loudens to the ears
Of them that toil in fields of sesame,
So grows the mutter, and a shadow creeps
Above the gold horizon like a dawn
Of darkness climbing zenith-ward. They come,
The Sabaoth of retribution, drawn
From all dread spheres that knew my trespassing,
And led by vengeful fiends and dire alastors
That owned my sway aforetime! Cockatrice,
Chimera, martichoras, behemoth,
Geryon, and sphinx, and hydra, on my ken
Arise as might some Afrit-builded city
Consummate in the lifting of a lash
With thunderous domes and sounding obelisks
And towers of night and fire alternate! Wings
Of white-hot stone along the hissing wind
Bear up the huge and furnace-hearted beasts
Of hells beyond Rutilicus; and things
Whose lightless length would mete the gyre of moons—
Born from the caverns of a dying sun
Uncoil to the very zenith, half-disclosed
From gulfs below the horizon; octopi
Like blazing moons with countless arms of fire,
Climb from the seas of ever-surging flame
That roll and roar through planets unconsumed,
Beating on coasts of unknown metals; beasts
That range the mighty worlds of Alioth rise,
Afforesting the heavens with mulitudinous horns
Amid whose maze the winds are lost; and borne
On cliff-like brows of plunging scolopendras,
The shell-wrought towers of ocean-witches loom;
And griffin-mounted gods, and demons throned
On-sable dragons, and the cockodrills
That bear the spleenful pygmies on their backs;
And blue-faced wizards from the worlds of Saiph,
On whom Titanic scorpions fawn; and armies
That move with fronts reverted from the foe,
And strike athwart their shoulders at the shapes
The shields reflect in crystal; and eidola
Fashioned within unfathomable caves
By hands of eyeless peoples; and the blind
Worm-shapen monsters of a sunless world,
With krakens from the ultimate abyss,
And Demogorgons of the outer dark,
Arising, shout with dire multisonous clamors,
And threatening me with dooms ineffable
In words whereat the heavens leap to flame,
Advance upon the enchanted palace. Falling
For league on league before, their shadows light
And eat like fire the arnaranthine meads,
Leaving an ashen desert. In the palace
I hear the apes of marble shriek and howl,
And all the women-shapen columns moan,
Babbling with terror. In my tenfold fear,
A monstrous dread unnamed in any hall,
I rise, and flee with the fleeing wind for wings,
And in a trice the wizard palace reefs,
And spring to a single tower of flame,
Goes out, and leaves nor shard nor ember! Flown
Beyond the world upon that fleeing wind
I reach the gulf’s irrespirable verge,
Where fads the strongest storm for breath, and fall,
Supportless, through the nadir-plungèd gloom,
Beyond the scope and vision of the sun,
To other skies and systems.

In a world
Deep-wooded with the multi-colored fungi
That soar to semblance of fantastic palms,
I fall as falls the meteor-stone, and break
A score of trunks to atom powder. Unharmed
I rise, and through the illimitable woods,
Among the trees of flimsy opal, roam,
And see their tops that clamber hour by hour
To touch the suns of iris. Things unseen,
Whose charnel breath informs the tideless air
With spreading pools of fetor, follow me,
Elusive past the ever-changing palms;
And pittering moths with wide and ashen wings
Flit on before, and insects ember-hued,
Descending, hurtle through the gorgeous gloom
And quench themselves in crumbling thickets. Heard
Far off, the gong-like roar of beasts unknown
Resounds at measured intervals of time,
Shaking the riper trees to dust, that falls
In clouds of acrid perfume, stifling me
Beneath an irised pall.

Now the palmettoes
Grow far apart, and lessen momently
To shrubs a dwarf might topple. Over them
I see an empty desert, all ablaze
With ametrysts and rubies, and the dust
Of garnets or carnelians. On I roam,
Treading the gorgeous grit, that dazzles me
With leaping waves of endless rutilance,
Whereby the air is turned to a crimson gloom
Through which I wander blind as any Kobold;
Till underfoot the grinding sands give place
To stone or metal, with a massive ring
More welcome to mine ears than golden bells
Or tinkle of silver fountains. When the gloom
Of crimson lifts, I stand upon the edge
Of a broad black plain of adamant that reaches,
Level as windless water, to the verge
Of all the world; and through the sable plain
A hundred streams of shattered marble run,
And streams of broken steel, and streams of bronze,
Like to the ruin of all the wars of time,
To plunge with clangor of timeless cataracts
Adown the gulfs eternal.

So I follow
Between a river of steel and a river of bronze,
With ripples loud and tuneless as the clash
Of a million lutes; and come to the precipice
From which they fall, and make the mighty sound
Of a million swords that meet a million shields,
Or din of spears and armour in the wars
Of half the worlds and eons. Far beneath
They fall, through gulfs and cycles of the void,
And vanish like a stream of broken stars
into the nether darkness; nor the gods
Of any sun, nor demons of the gulf,
Will dare to know what everlasting sea
Is fed thereby, and mounts forevermore
In one unebbing tide.

What nimbus-cloud
Or night of sudden and supreme eclipse,
Is on the suns opal? At my side
The rivers run with a wan and ghostly gleam
Through darkness falling as the night that falls
From spheres extinguished. Turning, I behold
Betwixt the sable desert and the suns,
The poisèd wings of all the dragon-rout,
Far-flown in black occlusion thousand-fold
Through stars, and deeps, and devastated worlds,
Upon my trail of terror! Griffins, rocs,
And sluggish, dark chimeras, heavy-winged
After the ravin of dispeopled lands,
And harpies, and the vulture-birds of hell,
Hot from abominable feasts, and fain
To cool their beaks and talons in my blood—
All, all have gathered, and the wingless rear,
With rank on rank of foul, colossal Worms,
Makes horrent now the horizon. From the wan
I hear the shriek of wyvers, loud and shrill
As tempests in a broken fane, and roar
Of sphinxes, like relentless toll of bells
From towers infernal. Cloud on hellish cloud
They arch the zenith, and a dreadful wind
Falls from them like the wind before the storm,
And in the wind my riven garment streams
And flutters in the face of all the void,
Even as flows a flaffing spirit, lost
On the pit s undying tempest. Louder grows
The thunder of the streams of stone and bronze—
Redoubled with the roar of torrent wings
Inseparable mingled. Scarce I keep
My footing in the gulfward winds of fear,
And mighty thunders beating to the void
In sea-like waves incessant; and would flee
With them, and prove the nadir-founded night
Where fall the streams of ruin. But when I reach
The verge, and seek through sun-defeating gloom
To measure with my gaze the dread descent,
I see a tiny star within the depths-
A light that stays me while the wings of doom
Convene their thickening thousands: for the star
increases, taking to its hueless orb,
With all the speed of horror-changèd dreams,
The light as of a million million moons;
And floating up through gulfs and glooms eclipsed
It grows and grows, a huge white eyeless Face
That fills the void and fills the universe,
And bloats against the limits of the world
With lips of flame that open . . .


Ebony and Crystal, Auburn Journal (1922)

This famous poem is in the public domain as it was originally published in 1922.

Most of Clark Ashton Smith’s stories are not public domain but they are available on eldritchdark.com posted with the permission of his estate.

Permission has been granted for the non-profit use of Clark Ashton Smith material on The Eldritch Dark website by - CASiana (the Estate of Clark Ashton Smith) and Arkham House.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Space Viking

A great new novel by H. Beam Piper

space_viking.jpg
This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact—Science Fiction November 1962, December 1962, January 1963, and February 1963. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the copyright on this publication was renewed.

Read the whole novel at Project Gutenberg.

Space Viking

Vengeance is a strange human motivation—
it can drive a man to do things
which he neither would nor could achieve without it …
and because of that it lies behind some of the
greatest sagas of human literature!

by H. Beam Piper

Illustrated by Schoenherr

sword_planets.jpg

They stood together at the parapet, their arms about each other’s waists, her head against his cheek. Behind, the broad leaved shrubbery gossiped softly with the wind, and from the lower main terrace came music and laughing voices. The city of Wardshaven spread in front of them, white buildings rising from the wide spaces of green treetops, under a shimmer of sun-reflecting aircars above. Far away, the mountains were violet in the afternoon haze, and the huge red sun hung in a sky as yellow as a ripe peach.

His eye caught a twinkle ten miles to the southwest, and for an instant he was puzzled. Then he frowned. The sunlight on the two thousand-foot globe of Duke Angus’ new ship, the Enterprise, back at the Gorram shipyards after her final trial cruise. He didn’t want to think about that, now.

Instead, he pressed the girl closer and whispered her name, “Elaine,” and then, caressing every syllable, “Lady Elaine Trask of Traskon.”

“Oh, no, Lucas!” Her protest was half joking and half apprehensive. “It’s bad luck to be called by your married name before the wedding.”

“I’ve been calling you that in my mind since the night of the Duke’s ball, when you were just home from school on Excalibur.”

She looked up from the corner of her eye.

“That was when I started calling me that, too,” she confessed.

“There’s a terrace to the west at Traskon New House,” he told her. “Tomorrow, we’ll have our dinner there, and watch the sunset together.”

“I know. I thought that was to be our sunset-watching place.”

“You have been peeking,” he accused. “Traskon New House was to be your surprise.”

“I always was a present-peeker, New Year’s and my birthdays. But I only saw it from the air. I’ll be very surprised at everything inside,” she promised. “And very delighted.”

And when she’d seen everything and Traskon New House wasn’t a surprise any more, they’d take a long space trip. He hadn’t mentioned that to her, yet. To some of the other Sword-Worlds—Excalibur, of course, and Morglay and Flamberge and Durendal. No, not Durendal; the war had started there again. But they’d have so much fun. And she would see clear blue skies again, and stars at night. The cloud-veil hid the stars from Gram, and Elaine had missed them, since coming home from Excalibur.

The shadow of an aircar fell briefly upon them and they looked up and turned their heads, in time to see it sink with graceful dignity toward the landing-stage of Karval House, and he glimpsed its blazonry—sword and atom-symbol, the badge of the ducal house of Ward. He wondered if it were Duke Angus himself, or just some of his people come ahead of him. They should get back to their guests, he supposed. Then he took her in his arms and kissed her, and she responded ardently. It must have been all of five minutes since they’d done that before.

Read the whole novel at Project Gutenberg.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Public Domain Book Art From The Internet Archive On Flickr

I found the spider art for “Little Miss Tuffet” with a google search and then I clicked from there to a gallery where I found the wizard from the same book and these two color fantasy art prints from “Rabbi Ben Ezra and other poems” (1915).

Link to Gallery. All Public Domain

wizard.jpg

angel.jpg

sword.jpg

Monday, February 26, 2018

I Dreamed That I Woke Up

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Artwork by Dieterich01 available on Pixabay. Public domain.

I Dreamed That I Woke Up
by Larry Heyl CC-BY

I dreamed that I woke up and walked into the living room and sat down at my computer. Then, when I woke up I was afraid to walk into the living room because I thought I might find myself sitting there. “This is silly.”, I said to myself, and I went ahead and walked right in and sat at my computer. But then I thought maybe I already left while I was still sleeping. So I got up and locked the door to keep myself from coming in.

When I heard a knock on the door I was worried that I had returned home. But I unlocked it anyway and it was only my friend Fred. I told him what was going on in my head and we both had a big laugh.

Then I heard a knock at the door. I was worried it might be me but it wasn’t. When I went to open the door it was Fred.

I guess he dreamed that he woke up too.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. Dick

planet_stories_july_1952.jpg

Planet Stories Cover Art, July 1952 - Public Domain
commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Planet_Stories_July_1952_front_cover.jpg

Beyond Lies The Wub

By Philip K. Dick

The slovenly wub might well have said: Many men
talk like philosophers and live like fools.

They had almost finished with the loading. Outside stood the Optus, his arms folded, his face sunk in gloom. Captain Franco walked leisurely down the gangplank, grinning.

“What’s the matter?” he said. “You’re getting paid for all this.”

The Optus said nothing. He turned away, collecting his robes. The Captain put his boot on the hem of the robe.

“Just a minute. Don’t go off. I’m not finished.”

“Oh?” The Optus turned with dignity. “I am going back to the village.” He looked toward the animals and birds being driven up the gangplank into the spaceship. “I must organize new hunts.”

Franco lit a cigarette. “Why not? You people can go out into the veldt and track it all down again. But when we run out halfway between Mars and Earth—”

The Optus went off, wordless. Franco joined the first mate at the bottom of the gangplank.

“How’s it coming?” he said. He looked at his watch. “We got a good bargain here.”

The mate glanced at him sourly. “How do you explain that?”

“What’s the matter with you? We need it more than they do.”

“I’ll see you later, Captain.” The mate threaded his way up the plank, between the long-legged Martian go-birds, into the ship. Franco watched him disappear. He was just starting up after him, up the plank toward the port, when he saw it.

“My God!” He stood staring, his hands on his hips. Peterson was walking along the path, his face red, leading it by a string.

“I’m sorry, Captain,” he said, tugging at the string. Franco walked toward him.

“What is it?”

The wub stood sagging, its great body settling slowly. It was sitting down, its eyes half shut. A few flies buzzed about its flank, and it switched its tail.

It sat. There was silence.

“It’s a wub,” Peterson said. “I got it from a native for fifty cents. He said it was a very unusual animal. Very respected.”

“This?” Franco poked the great sloping side of the wub. “It’s a pig! A huge dirty pig!”

“Yes sir, it’s a pig. The natives call it a wub.”

“A huge pig. It must weigh four hundred pounds.” Franco grabbed a tuft of the rough hair. The wub gasped. Its eyes opened, small and moist. Then its great mouth twitched.

A tear rolled down the wub’s cheek and splashed on the floor.

“Maybe it’s good to eat,” Peterson said nervously.

“We’ll soon find out,” Franco said.

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