Wandering Through the Public Domain #16

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: This week I found a likely forgotten gem that might be of use for anyone interested in tracking down and reading or collecting stories published in old magazines: An Index on the Weird and Fantastica in Magazines. This is an index and checklist on weird fiction published in magazines from the beginning of the pulp era in the late 19th century through the date of publication (1953).

Bradford Day compiled this index, though his introduction acknowledges several earlier indexers whose lists he incorporated into this work.

In addition to thoroughly covering Weird Tales from its beginnings in 1923 through the then-present day, there are partial listings for a bunch of other magazines. Even more valuable, I think, are the listings of “fantastic fiction” stories that appeared in mostly mainstream story magazines like Argosy, Blue Book, Munsey’s and others. This saves the weird fiction fan from having to sift through the western, adventure, mystery, and romance tales that were the main material in those magazines.

Although many of the stories are likely still under copyright, there are plenty that were published before 1924, which puts them solidly in the public domain. This index provides a lovely treasure map for anyone interested in seeking them out. Plenty of the issues are collected on Internet Archive as well, so you can easily end up spending an afternoon flipping through the index and then seeing what you can find right there on the same site (ask me how I know this)!

Bradford M. Day (1916-2004), the creator of this index, also compiled a number of indexes and guides to early science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories and novels at a time when almost no one was cataloging publications in the field as a whole. In fact, the Science Fiction Encylopedia describes him as “US sf collector and book-dealer whose bibliographical work was one of the foundations on which modern sf scholarship has been built.” 

Day published An Index on Weird and Fantastica and several other checklists in the early 1950s, and then updated and republished them periodically into the 1990s. The early editions all appear to be hand typed and mimeographed or photocopied, so these were truly labors of love. 

In addition to the overall indexes, Day also compiled and published bibliographies for some of the early individual authors, including H. Rider Haggard, Talbot Mundy, Sax Rohmer, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and others. 

Internet Archive also has Day’s Complete Checklist of Science Fiction Magazines, though this may not be of much interest to modern fans since it simply lists magazine titles and issue numbers rather than contents. The Science Fiction Index website does the same, and is complete through the present day.

James E. Gunn (1923- ) is one of just a handful of authors I have written about here who is still alive, and he celebrated his 96th birthday on July 12th. In addition to his own fiction writing, he was one of the first academics to specialize in teaching science fiction. He founded the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. The Center is the home base for the Speculative Fiction Writer’s Workshop, the Campbell Conference (an annual academic conference on science fiction), and the Campbell and Sturgeon awards. Gunn is a past president of SFWA and was named a Grand Master in 2007.

A novella and a short story are in the public domain:

Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) shares a birthday with James E. Gunn. Though best known for his crime fiction, he wrote some SF stories as well. Three are available on Project Gutenberg:

All three stories have been recorded in short science  fiction collections at Librivox.

Cordwainer Smith (1913-1966) was a pseudonym for Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, who in his “day job” was a scholar on East Asia and an expert on psychological warfare. Only one of his science fiction stories is available through Project Gutenberg, but several of his nonfiction scholarly works are also available. His book on psychological warfare looks particularly interesting.

The science fiction story is The Game of Rat and Dragon (Galaxy, October 1955). There are three versions available on Librivox.

Librivox recently passed the 13,000 milestone — 13,000 free public domain audiobooks available, all recorded by volunteers! Among the recent releases:

  • Five Continental Op Stories by Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)

    Before Sam Spade chased the black bird in The Maltese Falcon and Nick and Nora Charles stirred their first martinis in The Thin Man, the Continental Op walked early twentieth century San Francisco’s mean streets for the Continental Detective Agency. Dashiell Hammett used his own experiences as a Pinkerton operative to lend realistic detail to this creation. These first five stories were published in Black Mask magazine in 1923.

    (Note: I know that this falls outside the SFF arena, but Hammett has a lot of fans and it’s exciting to see some of his earliest works becoming available! I was the prooflistener for this project and I can attest that the stories are fun and the reader is very good.)


  • The Golden Maiden and Other Folk and Fairy Stories Told in Armenia by A. G. Seklemian (?? – 1920)

    Armenians trace their history back to before the time of the Babylonians and earliest recorded history – in fact, to Togarmah, a grandson of Japhet, Noah’s son, who settled in Armenia after the Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. Armenia was also the first State in the world to adopt Christianity as their official religion, around the 3rd Century AD. This book contains many wonderful folk and fairy tales culled from this long history of the Armenian country people, to whom all nature is full of stories, by the scholar and storyteller Mr. A. G. Seklemian.


  • Four Science Fiction Stories by Alan E. Nourse (1928-1992)

    Four Science Fiction stories published in Science Fiction Adventures Magazine and Galaxy Science Fiction, written by Alan Edward Nourse. He was an American science fiction writer and physician. He wrote both juvenile and adult science fiction, as well as nonfiction works about medicine and science. His SF works sometimes focused on medicine and/or psionics.

About the Big Heart Award

By John Hertz:  Thanks to Colleen McMahon for taking note, in a recent post, of E. Everett Evans “Triple-E” and the Big Heart Award.

Triple- E was great.

The Big Heart is the highest service award in the SF community, as the Hugos are the highest achievement award.

It is given annually, at the World Science Fiction Convention, for good work and great spirit long contributed.  McMahon quoted that phrase from Fancyclopedia III, which correctly says it is “the words of one recent recipient”.  That recipient is myself.

The Big Heart should not be thought a fan award (a point on which Fancy 3 is mistaken).

The Science Fiction Awards Database, maintained by Mark Kelly and the Locus magazine Science Fiction Foundation, correctly says

The Big Heart Award, highest service award in the SF community … one of few presented during the preliminaries of the annual Hugo Awards ceremony…. may go to a fan or a pro – as has been noted, some people are both.

Recognition for something else is not a disqualification for the Big Heart.  For example, two of the recipients McMahon named, Robert Silverberg and Our Gracious Host, have won Hugos.  Mike Glyer has chaired a Worldcon, and at another was Fan Guest of Honour (so spelled, it was in Canada). They were given the Big Heart neither because of, nor in spite of, their recognition for other things.

It shouldn’t be surprising that many who have earned the Big Heart have been fans.  The heart of fandom is participation.

Wandering Through the Public Domain #15

Avery Templates

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon:  E. Everett Evans (1893-1958) is one of those names I had never heard of before getting involved with Librivox. Based in the Los Angeles area, he was a long-time science fiction fan and minor author with a handful of short stories and novels to his name.

I stumbled onto him because one of Librivox’s current recording projects is The Planet Mappers, a YA novel from 1955. In this story, a family of space explorers (mom, dad and two teenage sons) are out in the galaxy attempting to independently map and explore a newly discovered solar system. Dad has taken loans to finance the expedition, so failure is potentially ruinous. Unfortunately, he takes a bad fall on the journey and his injuries put him out of commission. The two boys have to take the lead and complete their mission (Mom, of course, isn’t much use for anything but worrying and making hot meals).

The bits that I skimmed made me curious about Evans’ other public domain books available through Project Gutenberg. It turns out that there are three other novels. Man of Many Minds and Alien Minds star the same protagonist, a psychic secret agent taking part in interplanetary intrigue for the unfortunately-abbreviated S.S. (Secret Service!).

Masters of Space is probably Evan’s best known book, as it was co-written with E.E. “Doc” Smith. Masters of Space is the only Evans book available through Librivox, but The Planet Mappers should wrap up in the next couple of months.

Evans’ writing career only spanned the last decade or so of his life, but he was well-established in fandom through that period. After his death in 1958, Forrest J. Ackerman established the Big Heart award in Evans’ memory. The award is given annually at Worldcon to a fan who “embodies ‘good work and great spirit long contributed’” according to the Fancyclopedia website. Over the years the Big Heart award has been renamed twice, in 2006 in memory of Ackerman and in 2018 in memory of David A. Kyle.

Although it’s an award for fans rather than authors or SFF “celebrities”, there are some well-known names on the list of recipients over the years, including Robert Bloch, Bjo Trimble, and Julius Schwartz. And of course, our own Mike Glyer was recognized with the award in 2018!

Favorite fun fact I discovered while reading up on Mr. Evans: based on his initials, his nickname was Triple-E, or Tripoli. It speaks to my nerdiness that I think that is pretty cool.

Some recent birthday celebrants:

John Russell Fearn (1908-1960) was a British pulp writer who was one of the first to cross over to U.S. publications. He wrote under his own name and various pseudonyms. Most of his stories appeared between the late 1930s and mid 1950s. Unfortunately, Project Gutenberg does not have any of his works, but The Faded Page, based in Canada, has several of Fearn’s stories available through its site. As they note, public domain status outside of Canada is not confirmed. Internet Archive’s Pulp Magazine Archive also has several magazines containing Fearn’s writings, but again, public domain status is uncertain. It’s worth a click just to take a peek at the insanely awesome cover art in this selection, however!

Tom Godwin (1915-1980) has one novel and six stories available on Project Gutenberg:

The last two weeks have produced a bumper crop of new Librivox releases in the realms of science fiction and fantasy:

  • Snowball by Poul Anderson (1926-2001)

    Simon’s new source of power promised a new era for Mankind. But what happens to world economy when anyone can manufacture it in the kitchen oven?… Here’s one answer!


  • Korean Fairy Tales by William Elliot Griffis (1843-1928)

    Everywhere on earth the fairy world of each country is older and perhaps more enduring than the one we see and feel and tread upon. So I tell in this book the folk lore of the Korean people, and of the behavior of the particular kind of fairies that inhabit the Land of Morning Splendor.



  • Studies in Love and in Terror by Marie Belloc Lowndes (1868-1947)

    This is a collection of five stories by Marie Belloc Lowndes. The stories are neither love stories nor ghost and horror stories but they each combine elements of both.


  • The Goddess of Atvatabar by William Richard Bradshaw (1851-1927)

    An accident during a polar expedition leads the crew of the Polar King to the discovery of an entire world within the earth. Within the interior realm lies a vast ocean with continents and civilisations unknown to the outside world. The societies within possess new technologies and magics unknown to the outside world and these are lovingly described in great detail by the author. The crew proceed to explore and in true Victorian fashion then conquer the new world. An extraordinary feat of imagination and inventiveness by this obscure author.


  • The Magic Wand by Tudor Jenks (1857-1922)

    Three short children’s fantasy stories. The stories are light and humorous and can spark a child’s imagination.

Wandering Through the Public Domain #14

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: I recently saw Tolkien, a fictionalized telling of the early life of that author. I enjoyed the movie, which was pretty standard biopic fare. It hits all the tropes — childhood trauma, close friends, inspiring mentors, war experiences, and young love, ending just as he began writing his most famous works.

The heart of the story is the friendship between Tolkien and four school friends, one of whom is Geoffrey Bache Smith. Smith was at Oxford with Tolkien, and both left the university to serve in the Great War. Smith died at the Somme in 1916. After the war, Tolkien worked with Smith’s mother to publish a book of his poetry. He also wrote the introduction to the book.

DB at Kalimac’s Corner wrote a post with more information about Smith, the book’s publication, and Smith’s actual poems, including some details that the movie changed for narrative purposes:

If you’ve seen the new bio-pic Tolkien, you’ll have noticed a fair amount of attention devoted to the poetry of Tolkien’s friend Geoffrey Bache Smith, one of his school fellowship the T.C.B.S., who died on duty in World War I in December 1916. There’s a scene in which Tolkien tries to persuade Smith’s mother to allow a collection of his poems to be published.

In fact, Mrs. Smith initiated the idea of the collection, asking Tolkien to gather up any poems of her son’s that he had copies of, and the book was actually published, with a brief introduction by Tolkien, in June 1918.

I had mentioned this here several months ago when I wrote about public domain Tolkien works, but as the film has raised interest in Smith and his poetry, I thought I’d mention it again. If you are curious about it, A Spring Harvest by Geoffrey Bache Smith (1894-1916) is on Project Gutenberg here.

The film’s lovely images of the spires of Oxford also reminded me of a poem that I read for a Librivox Short Poetry Collection last year. It’s from Great Poems of the World War — “The Gentlemen of Oxford” by Norah M. Holland:

The sunny streets of Oxford
Are lying still and bare.
No sound of voice or laughter
Rings through the golden air;
And, chiming from her belfry,
No longer Christchurch calls
The eager, boyish faces
To gather in her halls.

The colleges are empty.
Only the sun and wind
Make merry in the places
The lads have left behind.
But, when the trooping shadows
Have put the day to flight,
The Gentlemen of Oxford
Come homing through the night.

From France they come, and Flanders,
From Mons, and Marne and Aisne.
From Greece and from Gallipoli
They come to her again;
From the North Sea’s grey waters,
From many a grave unknown,
The Gentlemen of Oxford
Come back to claim their own.

The dark is full of laughter,
Boy laughter, glad and young.
They tell the old-time stories,
The old-time songs are sung;
They linger in her cloisters,
They throng her dewy meads,
Till Isis hears their calling
And laughs among her reeds.

But, when the east is whitening
To greet the rising sun,
And slowly, over Carfax,
The stars fade, one by one,
Then, when the dawn-wind whispers
Along the Isis shore,
The Gentlemen of Oxford
Must seek their graves once more.

Turning to more firmly genre material, several authors with recent birthdays turn up on Project Gutenberg. Ed Earl Repp (1901-1979) has one story, “The Day Time Stopped Moving”, originally published in Amazing Stories in 1940. It’s been recorded twice for Librivox.

Charles D. Hornig (1916-1999) published a zine in the 1930s called Fantasy Fan. As Cat Eldridge wrote in the birthday feature recently, Fantasy Fan included

…first publication of works by Bloch, Lovecraft, Smith, Howard and Derleth. It also had a LOC called ‘The Boiling Point’ which quickly became angry exchanges between several of the magazine’s regular contributors, including Ackerman, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith.

Project Gutenberg has 8 issues of Fantasy Fan from 1933-34. As far as I can tell, no one has recorded anything from these yet, but it might be a fun project to put together a set of dramatic readings from the angry letters columns — I’ll add it to my ever-growing list of “Librivox projects I want to get around to one day”!

Recent Librivox releases:

This is a short booklet on science fact commissioned by the U. S. Energy Research and Development Administration (Office of Public Affairs). It tells the story of the origins of nuclear physics in terms understandable to an audience with minimal technical background. What were the steps through history – the discoveries that built upon one another – from alchemy to chemistry, physics, astronomy, mathematics, and quantum mechanics, that led to our understanding and harnessing nuclear energy? Asimov was a great writer of both science fact and fiction who wrote or edited more than 500 books, published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.

In any status-hungry culture, the level a man is assigned depends on what people think he is—not on what he is. And that, of course, means that only the deliberately phony has real status!

A collection of twenty stories featuring ghoulies, ghosties, long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night. Expect shivers up your spine, the stench of human flesh, and the occasional touch of wonder. You may also feel more jumpy tonight than usual. This collection has a LOT of H.P. Lovecraft, plus some Poe, M.R. James, and some more obscure authors.

Wandering Through the Public Domain #13

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: Serendipity strikes again…I started this edition thinking that I didn’t have any feature topic that I wanted to write about, so I would instead just do a roundup of a bunch of authors whose birthdays I missed in April.

First up was Stanley G. Weinbaum (1902-1935), who, it turns out, is an author who made an enormous impact on the science fiction field in a tragically short life. Reading about Weinbaum was so interesting that he immediately took over and became the feature topic!

Stanley Weinbaum was born in 1902 and died of lung cancer just 33 years later, publishing only a handful of short stories (and one pseudonymous romance novel) in his lifetime. But his few stories formed an important basis for the full development of the science fiction genre.

His very first science fiction tale, “A Martian Odyssey”, appeared in Wonder Stories in 1934, and set a new standard for stories that to this point had existed on the far (and often nonsensical) fringe of adventure fiction. The story tells of the encounter between astronauts exploring Mars and an intelligent alien. They gradually learn to communicate with “Tweel” who then accompanies the explorers and helps explain several other Martian life forms they discover.

While “A Martian Odyssey” includes some typical-for-the-time encounters with dangerous aliens, complete with chases and hairsbreadth escapes, the real excitement of the plot revolves around the trial-and-error process of the humans and Martian figuring out how to communicate and understand the information Tweel is providing about the other species on Mars.

Isaac Asimov saw “A Martian Odyssey” as a turning point for science fiction, one that changed the parameters of the field for the writers who came after. He called it

a perfect Campbellian science fiction story, before John W. Campbell. Indeed, Tweel may be the first creature in science fiction to fulfil Campbell’s dictum, ‘write me a creature who thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man’. (from Asimov on Science Fiction, via Wikipedia).

In 2017, Alan Brown wrote about Stanley Weinbaum:

Weinbaum’s stories immediately stood out as different. His characters felt real and acted realistically. There was romance, but the women did not exist only as objects to be captured and/or rescued. The science was rooted in the latest developments, and thoughtfully applied. And most of all, the aliens were not simply bug-eyed monsters existing to invade the planet or threaten humanity. They felt real in the same way the human characters did—and yet seemed anything but human in the way they thought and acted.

In Weinbaum’s hands, a genre that was known for immaturity had grown up, but in a way that didn’t sacrifice any of the humor, fun, and adventure. You could read the stories for the sense of thrilling adventure alone, but those who wanted more found that as well.

Weinbaum published thirteen stories in Wonder Stories and Astounding between July 1934 and December 1935, and several more appeared posthumously over the next few years. His impact on the genre was recognized by writers and fans alike, as “A Martian Odyssey” was overwhelmingly voted into the first Science Fiction Hall of Fame collection. He was recognized with the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in 2008.

Project Gutenberg has seven works by Weinbaum, six short stories and a posthumously-published novel:

All of these works are available on Librivox:

A few more authors who had birthdays back in April:

Robert Bloch (1917-1994) has one novel on Project Gutenberg, This Crowded Earth (1958), which has also been recorded for Librivox.

Henry Kuttner (1915-1958) is represented by three stories at Project Gutenberg:

All have been recorded at Librivox, along with an additional novel, The Creature From Beyond Infinity.

Howard Browne (1908-1999) has six stories on Project Gutenberg (though at least two are really novel-length, but were serialized in pulp magazines):

Recent Librivox releases:

  • Short Science Fiction Collection 065 by Various

    Includes stories by Gordon R. Dickson, Frederic Brown, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Lester Del Rey, Ben Bova and more!

  • Tarzan and the Golden Lion by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950)

    Tarzan’s amazing ability to establish kinship with some of the most dangerous animals in the jungle serves him well in this exciting story of his adventures with the Golden Lion, Jad-bal-ja, when the great and lordly animal becomes his ally and protector. Tarzan learns from the High Priestess, La, of a country north of Opar which is held in dread by the Oparians. It is peopled by a strange race of gorilla-men with the intelligence of humans and the strength of gorillas. From time to time they attack Opar, carrying off prisoners for use as slaves in the jewel-studded Temple where they worship a great black-maned lion. Accompanied by the faithful Jad-bal-ja, Tarzan invades the dread country in an attempt to win freedom for the hundreds of people held in slavery there…

  • The Year When Stardust Fell by Raymond Fisher Jones (1915-1994)

    The story of The Year When Stardust Fell is not a story of the distant future or of the remote past. It is not a story of a never-never land where fantastic happenings take place daily. It is a story of my town and yours, of people like you and me and the mayor in townhall, his sheriff on the corner, and the professor in the university—a story that happens no later than tomorrow. It is the portrayal of the unending conflict between ignorance and superstition on one hand, and knowledge and cultural enlightenment on the other as they come into conflict with each other during an unprecedented disaster brought on by the forces of nature.

  • The Cartels Jungle by Irving E. Cox Jr. (1915-2001)

    In most ideally conceived Utopias the world as it exists is depicted as a mushrooming horror of maladjustment, cruelty and crime. In this startlingly original short novel that basic premise is granted, but only to pave the way for an approach to Utopia over a highway of the mind so daringly unusual we predict you’ll forget completely that you’re embarking on a fictional excursion into the future by one of the most gifted writers in the field. And that forgetfulness will be accompanied by the startling realization that Irving E. Cox has a great deal more than a storyteller’s magic to impart.

Wandering Through the Public Domain #12

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon:I was looking up some authors recently mentioned in the birthday lists when things took a fascinating turn and I ended up discovering an author who wasn’t on the birthday lists at all, nor had I ever heard of him. But what a fascinating life he led!

This all began because author Peter O’Donnell’s birthdate was noted on April 11th. Off to Project Gutenberg to see if he had anything available. He did not — but that’s how I stumbled into the weird world of Elliott O’Donnell (1872-1965), celebrity “ghost hunter” and probable charlatan, but quite well known in the early decades of the 20th century, when ghost hunters wrote books instead of filming reality TV shows.

Before he emerged as a writer, he had a wildly varied career, with stints as a ranch hand in Oregon, a strike-breaking policeman in Chicago, and a schoolmaster and stage actor in England. His true calling was as a writer and storyteller. From 1906 on, he wrote prolifically, publishing novels, short fiction, hundreds of periodical articles, and ended up with over 60 books to his credit. Many of them dealt with topics of the paranormal and supernatural, but he freely mixed fact and fiction and it’s difficult to tell whether he took any of it truly seriously or if he had just found a good schtick.

His Wikipedia profile notes that when he died in 1965 at the age of 93, he left an estate of only 2,579 pounds, but in 2016 his personal papers sold at auction for 25,000 pounds.

Project Gutenberg has a nice assortment of his earlier works that have fallen into the public domain, including:

In addition to the above linked complete audiobooks, O’Donnell has stories in several of the ghost and horror story compilations, including one that might be my favorite ghost story title ever: “The Phantom Daschund of W— Street, London, W.

I’m heading out tomorrow on a trip to visit family in New Jersey, which involves a 15-hour drive from Georgia. I have a feeling that some of my drive will be spent listening to the Animal Ghosts audiobook!

Recent Librivox releases:

  • Ancient Tales and Folklore of Japan by Richard Gordon Smith (1858-1918)

    This volume is a collection of ancient Japanese tales. We hear of ordinary mortals interacting with the spirit world, sometimes to their benefit, sometimes to their doom, we hear of love and hate, and of war and peace.
    Note: I enjoyed reading two rather bloody tales in this collection!


  • The Red Hell of Jupiter by Paul Ernst (1899-1985)

    What is the mystery centered in Jupiter’s famous “Red Spot”? Two fighting Earthmen, caught by the “Pipe-men” like their vanished comrades, soon find out!


  • Here and Hereafter by Barry Pain (1864-1928)

    This is a collection of stories by Barry Pain. While not all of these fall squarely into the genre of ghost and horror story, for which the author is so well-known until today, many of them will send chills down the spines of reader and listeners, and all of them are well-crafted and enjoyable.


  • Sentry of the Sky by Evelyn E. Smith (1927-2000)

    There had to be a way for Sub-Archivist Clarey to get up in the world—but this way was right out of the tri-di dramas.


  • Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process by Edward Bellamy (1850-1898)

    Henry Burr’s fiance, Madeline, is seduced by another man. The guilt and painful memories she has as a result cause him to refer her to Dr. Heidenhoff, who has developed a method to remove such memories from people’s brains so that they can live happy lives.

Wandering Through the Public Domain #11

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: Andrew Lang (1844-1912) showed up on the birthday list for March 31, reminding me that I wanted to write about him here. Lang was a Scottish author and professor and had an astonishingly voluminous and broad output of work over his career. His academic areas of interest were in folklore and classics, but his writings ranged far beyond those, and aimed for different audiences, from fellow academics, to the general public, to children. Many of his works are completely outside or only tangential to the fantasy and science fiction field, so I will focus on Lang’s books that are of most potential interest to us here.

He is probably best known for having his name on a series of fairy tale books for children that collected stories from all over the world and had different colors in their titles — The Red Fairy Book, The Grey Fairy Book, The Green Fairy Book, etc. for a total of 12 in all. Chances are good that you have seen an edition of one or more of these books on your own childhood bookshelves or those of a relative, and they are still frequently republished today.

In addition to appealing to childhood nostalgia, it’s good as readers to know about these books because they have been a wellspring of inspiration for other authors. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and J.R.R. Tolkien both praised Lang’s books. They have been a youthful formative influence and a source of tales to retell or transform for many authors since, including Aimee Bender and Margaret Atwood.

I made two new-to-me discoveries as I began reading up on these books by Andrew Lang. First, there were a LOT more books in the series than the 12 best-known fairy tale books, and encompassed poetry, history and biography, and mythology as well. There were 25 books all together, published between 1889 through 1913 and were usually published to coincide with the Christmas gift-giving season. Wikipedia has a good run-down of the titles in the complete series.

Second, while Lang worked with his wife Leonora “Nora” Blanche Alleyne Lang (1851-1933) closely on the first book, The Blue Fairy Book, the other volumes were almost entirely the work of Nora Lang and several other uncredited female authors. Nora Lang and her other collaborators sourced, translated, and rewrote the tales to be appropriate for Victorian/Edwardian children.  Most of the books in the series were published under Andrew Lang’s name alone, although he credits her in the introduction to one of the books as having done the majority of the writing, and later books in the series listed “Mrs. Lang” as the author.

Author, editor, and children’s literature critic Anita Silvey wrote of the Langs in her 1995 book, Children’s Books and Their Creators:

The irony of [Andrew] Lang’s life and work is that although he wrote for a profession — literary criticism; fiction; poems; books and articles on anthropology, mythology, history, and travel […] he is best recognized for the works he did not write.

There are over 150 works listed under Andrew Lang’s name on Project Gutenberg, including translations of Greek classics like the Iliad and the Odyssey, collaborations with other authors, and books by other authors where he wrote an introduction. PG also has four books attributed to Mrs. Lang. Librivox has 28 books by Andrew Lang so far (with one in progress) as well as numerous versions of short stories and poems in various compilations, and two books and several essays by Leonora Blanche Lang.

This brief overview doesn’t come close to doing justice to the output of Andrew Lang, Nora Lang, and their various collaborators, and as I continue to explore their works myself, I am sure I will be back with more suggestions in the future!

If you haven’t heard of the Langs before and are interested in exploring some of their work, Project Gutenberg’s The Fairy Books of Andrew Lang is a great place to start. It’s an index work compiled by PG volunteers that has a linked index to all of the tales included in the twelve “color” fairy books.

Two more interesting recent finds:

  • “Mars is Heaven”  by Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) was adapted for the radio show X Minus One in 1955 and is a fun listen. There are a lot of old-time radio shows on Internet Archive and I’ve begun exploring them a bit, so watch for more radio recommendations to come in the future.
  • R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel ?apek (1890-1938)has been in the public domain in the original Czech for years, but an English translation came out in 1923, so it has just turned up on Project Gutenberg in the last month. There is also a version of the play on Librivox that was created in 2014, so I’m not sure if this relies on the same translation (it says 1922).

Recent Librivox releases:

  • City of Endless Night by Milo Hastings (1884-1957)

    An example of early dystopian science fiction written shortly after World War I, “City of Endless Night” imagines a future with a very different ending to the Great War. Set in 2151 and in an underground Berlin, our protagonist is Lyman De Forrest, an American chemist who enters the city to discover the hidden truths of a forbidden metropolis. The subterranean world hosts a highly-regimented society of 300,000,000 sun-starved humans. As the first outsider to enter, he’s horrified by what he finds, but will he accomplish his mission and escape the living tomb?
  • Coffee Break Collection 18 – Pirates by Various

    This is the eighteenth Coffee Break Collection, in which Librivox readers select English language public domain works of about 15 minutes or less in duration — perfect to listen to during commutes, workouts or coffee breaks. The topic for this collection is pirates… a rich source of material. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, essays… the romance of a life on the ocean waves and the danger posed by the ‘bad boys (and girls)’; but sometimes the law catches up with them.

  • Finnish Legends by R. Eivand (??-??)

    One dark winter’s day in the north of Finland, Father Mikko seeks shelter in an isolated cabin till a storm abates. After dinner the family sit around the fire, and the daughter asks him to tell them “all the stories he had ever heard from the very beginning of the world all the way down”, and so the book begins. In the words of the author “If this little volume may in any degree awake some interest in the Finnish people its author will be amply satisfied, and its end will have been attained.”

Wandering Through the Public Domain #10

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: I have two things to share today that are a bit afield from my usual areas, but both will lead you to internet rabbit holes that are a lot of fun to explore.

The first is involves gaming, and I was led to it by an email from Jason Corley, forwarded to me by OGH:

While participating in the #1923GameJam at itch.io to celebrate the expansion of the public domain, I discovered an unproduced science fiction silent film screenplay by Nobel laureate Romaine Rolland, Man, Lord of Machinery, published in Vanity Fair in 1923.  I adapted it into an interactive fiction game for the jam and people can play it for free in a browser here:

https://jdcorley.itch.io/man-lord-of-machinery

They can also download a PDF version of the original publication there too.

Man, Lord of Machinery has a lot of the same themes as Metropolis, but predates it!

“Gaming Like It’s 1923” was a contest/challenge that ran in January, 2019. The challenge was to design a game in some way inspired by a 1923 work that had just entered the public domain. You can find the site for the completed game jam, with all 34 games and a list of the winners, here.

I haven’t had a chance to really explore the games, but I was particularly taken with the transformation of a Robert Frost poem into a typical game scenario in Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening To Steal Treasure!

The second is a treasure trove of images at the Magazine Art Collection at the Internet Archive. This collection was started pretty recently, in December 2018, and it’s unclear if it has been uploaded in its entirety or if there is more to come. It currently contains over 15,000 images, mostly magazine covers but also including some advertising and interior illustrations from magazines.

Only some of it is SFF related, and it’s likely that not all of it is in the public domain, as it contains pieces from well beyond 1923, but it’s a feast of eye candy and fun to explore.

If you have spent any time exploring fannish things, especially pre-internet, you have probably heard of APAs, self-published small magazines that circulated among fans. APA stands for Amateur Press Association, and it turns out that SF-related APAs are a subset of a wider phenomenon that began in the latter 19th-century and embraced “amateur journalism” around a wide variety of topics.

The United Amateur Press Association was founded in 1895, and H.P. Lovecraft became heavily involved with the organization beginning in the 1910s. He published nonfiction essays and critical pieces as well as early short stories in the United Amateur, the organization’s official magazine.

Writings in the United Amateur, 1915-1922 collects these early Lovecraft pieces. Lovecraft continued writing and publishing with the UAPA well past 1922, but the later pieces are not in the public domain. There are commercially published books that collect all of the pieces, but this collection provides a good sampling of his developing fiction style as well as his eccentric (and sometimes offensive) opinions.

While the United Amateur writings have not been recorded for Librivox, virtually all of his other public domain works have been, most multiple times. You can find them here.

Among the recent birthday notices was Joe L. Hensley (1926-2007), who is represented at Project Gutenberg by one story, “Now We Are Three”, which has been recorded at Librivox as part of Short Science Fiction Collection 22.

April 1 marked the birthday of Samuel R. Delany (b. 1942), who has two novels at Project Gutenberg:

Both are also available as audiobooks at Librivox.

Periodically, the volunteers at Librivox declare a month to focus on finishing off languishing projects, and March was one of those months. The “March Toward the Finish Line” ended with an impressive 122 books added to the catalog, including some that may be of interest to folks here:

  • Dracula (Version 4) by Bram Stoker (1847-1912)

    Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. It introduced Count Dracula, and established many conventions of subsequent vampire fantasy. The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and a woman led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.


  • Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873)

    Laura grew up on a castle in the Austrian mountains with her father, slightly lonely as there are no potential companions around. Her loneliness is at an end when a carriage accindent close by their castle brings a mysterious visitor: Carmilla was injured in the accident, and remains at the castle to heal. But there is something dark about Carmilla. Is Laura in danger?


  • The Fates of the Princes of Dyfed by Cenydd Morus (1879-1937)

    Cenydd Morus’s (Kenneth Morris) imaginative retelling of tales from the Mabinogion, the great work of Welsh literature first recorded in the 12th-13th century. Written while he was working for the Theosophical Society in California, Morris’s version restores the Gods that he believed had disappeared from the written record but must have been present in the oral tradition of the Druid bards.


  • Pursuit by Lester Del Rey (1915-1993)

    Wilbur Hawkes wakes with no memory of the last seven months. He knows he’s in danger, but he doesn’t know why. No sooner does he leave his apartment than it explodes in flames, and, to escape, he must run through New York, not knowing where to run, or who he is running from. With heat rays, disintegrating men, and exploding cats, how can this not involve aliens? What other explanation can there be?

Wandering Through the Public Domain #9

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: I’ve had some upheaval in my personal life in the last month, and I haven’t been keeping up with this column or with some of the older comments. So I’ll start by taking an opportunity to clarify a couple of things which may have been misunderstood, based on some of the comments on older entries.

First, when I mention a work here, it’s generally because it’s either one that I have come across in my own “wanderings”, or because it has some tie to something recently discussed, such as when an author’s birthday comes up in the daily listing, and it turns out that they have some public domain books or stories available.

It’s not meant to imply that a book is just now entering the public domain (unless otherwise stated, as in the recent discussion of the 1923 copyright expirations) or that it is in any way a new discovery to anyone but me. So, for example, Flatland by Abbott has indeed been in the public domain for many years, and only came up here because a new audiobook recording of it was recently released.

Second, someone apparently took offense at my passing observation that John W. Campbell is better known nowadays for his role as an editor as a writer. That is no judgement on Campbell as a writer, or any of the other forgotten or less-remembered names that come up. It’s just a general impression of the overall collective memory or focus of 2019 fandom and who tends to be well-known and who does not. If I’m off base on my estimation of how well-known any particular writer is at this point, I welcome correction.

Most stories and novels pass out of popular notice in a few decades, no matter how worthwhile they are. There’s no point in hand-wringing about this or decrying the crappiness of modern fandom for not being sufficiently aware of certain writers. I prefer to look at it as a vast realm of potential buried treasures, and poke about looking for some forgotten books that are worth unearthing. I started writing this series merely to share some of these finds.

On that note, let’s turn to some of the recent diggings:

In Cat Rambo’s introduction to this month’s StoryBundle featuring contemporary female speculative fiction authors, she mentions four names as examples of women authors who have largely faded away. This, as usual, sent me off to see if anything by those authors is available on my favorite sites.

Miriam DeFord was already covered in a previous installment. I could not find any public domain works by Zenna Henderson, alas. However, the other two authors that Rambo mentioned, Judith Merril and Katherine MacLean, are each represented by several short stories on Project Gutenberg.

Judith Merril (1923-1997):

To date, neither story has been recorded for Librivox.

Katherine MacLean (1925- )

All of these stories have been recorded at least once for Librivox.

Speaking of women authors, Andre Norton (1912-2005) had a February birthday. She has short stories as well as several full-length novels available on Project Gutenberg:

In addition to her science fiction, Norton has a YA adventure novel (Ralestone Luck) and two Westerns (Ride Proud, Rebel! and Rebel Spurs) on PG. All of her works have been recorded, most in multiple versions, for Librivox.

Staying on the topic of women authors, Leigh Brackett’s (1915-1978) name is probably most recognizable as one of the credited screenwriters of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. She was well-known enough as a screenwriter in the 1940s that Howard Hawks is said to have once demanded, “Get me that guy, Brackett” to help William Faulkner finish the script for The Big Sleep. Brackett is also notable as the first woman author to receive a Hugo nomination, for her 1956 post-nuclear-war novel The Long Tomorrow.

The Long Tomorrow does not appear to be in the public domain, but two stories by Brackett are available on Project Gutenberg:

Both stories have been recorded for Librivox.

Recent Librivox releases:

  • The Mermaid’s Message and Other Stories by Various

    This is a collection of fairy tales and fables compiled in 1919. The stories contain original but old-fashioned tales which modern children and grown-ups will enjoy.
  • Master of Life and Death by Robert Silverberg (1935- )

    When Roy Walton becomes the new director of the UN division of population control, after the director is assassinated, he becomes the most hated man in the world. Being Director involved him in not only population control, but a terra-forming project on Venus, and negotiations with aliens. Not only that, but some people were trying to kill him. To stay alive, he had to become The Master of Life and Death.

Wandering Through the Public Domain #8

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: I stumbled onto a fun book on Project Gutenberg today while I was looking for something completely different — as so often happens with me. I was checking to see if an 1835 book about Georgia was available on PG, and the author’s name was Longstreet. I couldn’t remember the first name, so I was checking all the authors named Longstreet. When I got to Hattie Longstreet, I found this eye-catching cover:

I never did find that Georgia book — at least, not today — but after skimming the first section of The Little Match Man, I downloaded it to read in its entirety, and perhaps organize a Librivox project to record it.

The narrator of the story is a foreign correspondent based in Japan. One day, he is bored and entertains himself by making a tiny man out of matchsticks, as he used to do when he was a child. Then, ready to smoke a cigarette, he tells the match man that he is going to strike his head. And then this happens:

But I got no further. The little man moved, and falling on his knees held out his hands as if in prayer.

I was very much surprised, and examined him carefully on every side. I had made a great many little men just like him, but I had never seen any one of them move by himself. I looked to see if there was anywhere a bit of string that I had pulled without meaning to. But no, I found nothing. The little man remained quite still in his new position, until at last I was reassured. I thought the jar of some one passing outside, or a puff of air had thrown him from the box, he was so slim and light. I sat him up again and watched him closely.

After a few minutes I saw distinctly that he moved himself. For some time he trembled very slightly, then he held out his arms, and slowly rose to his feet. I could hear a tiny voice, which seemed to come from him, but it was so feeble that compared with it the voice of a cricket would sound like a trombone.

There follows a series of stories, each with several charming illustrations by Hattie Longstreet, of their adventures together for the next few months.

I next looked up the author, and that’s where things got a bit dark. The author’s name is Luigi Barzini (1874-1947) and he was an Italian journalist. Among other assignments, he was embedded in the Japanese army in Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. He wrote several non-fiction books, but The Little Match Man appears to be the only fiction he ever published. The English translation came out in 1917.

In the 1920s, Barzini became a Fascist and was one of the 250 signatories to the Manifesto of Fascist Intellectuals in 1925. In the 1930s he joined Mussolini’s government and served on various high-level commissions, culminating with his heading of the official press agency of the Italian Social Republic (the puppet state maintained in Italy after the Germans took over in 1943). After the war, he was charged and convicted for his role in Mussolini’s regime and banned from journalism. He died in poverty in 1947.

His politics also tore apart his family. One of his sons, Ettore, joined the Italian resistance, was captured, and died in a German concentration camp. His namesake, Luigi Barzini Jr., also went into journalism and was a foreign correspondent in Asia, covering the rape of Nanking among other momentous events in Japan’s war in China. Back in Italy in 1940, Barzini Jr. was charged with leaking information to the enemy and disparaging Il Duce, and was confined under house arrest and forbidden to write. The war’s end allowed Barzini Jr. to resume his career even as his father’s was ended, and he went on to become an influential writer in both Italian and English in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as a political mover and shaker.

The senior Barzini’s later career may explain why The Little Match Man is so thoroughly forgotten, but it does seem to be a fun little story.

The Pixel Scroll birthday list recently surprised me with the inclusion of Victorian scholar and art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900), someone I never thought had any connection to the science fiction or fantasy worlds. It turns out that he wrote a kind of fairy tale, a short novel called The King of the Golden River, also available as a Librivox audiobook. Here’s the description from Librivox:

When three brothers mortally offend Mr. Southwest Wind, Esquire, their farm is laid waste and their riches lost. Desperate for money, the brothers become goldsmiths and melt down their remaining treasures . . . only to find that the spirit of the King of the Golden River resides with a molded tankard, and knows the secret of the riches of the Golden River.

Sounds downright whimsical for someone remembered as a Very Serious Intellectual in the high Victorian age!

Recent Librivox releases:

  • Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (1858-1924)

    The book follows the journey of five children who discover a mysterious creature (called by them as It) who grants them their wishes. Join in as they ask for the craziest of wishes, which are granted true for a day!

A collection of poetry about ghosts, hauntings and other spooky topics, including poems by Kipling, Longfellow, Yeats, Rosetti and many others.

A Deal with the Devil is a classic tale with a humorous twist. We find that on the night preceeding his 100th birthday Grandpapa, a cantankerous yet loveable sort, has made a deal with the devil, which his granddaughter, in part, will pay.

  • Wolfbane by Frederik Pohl (1919-2013) and C.M. Kornbluth (1923-1958)

A rogue planet, populated by strange machines known as Pyramids, has stolen the Earth from the Solar system, taking it off into interstellar space. The moon has been ‘ignited’ by alien technology to serve as a miniature sun around which both planets orbit. This new sun is rekindled every 5 years, though as the book opens, the rekindling is nearly overdue and there is fear among the populace that it may never happen again.