Futuria Fantasia, Fall 1939

by Ray Bradbury

Tags: Science Fiction, Novel-Classic,

Desc: Science Fiction Story: A Few Short Stories edited by Ray Bradbury!

Preface

A newer, plumper Futuria Fantasia greets you, with more articles, more value and less Technocracy! The reason for the scanty garb of our summer issue was TIME, that villain who holds his sword over all humanity. I didn’t have time to contact various authors and fans--and there was little time for mimeographing, since the Angel expedition to New York was fast approaching, and ye editor was wandering around in a daze waiting for the day when his bus would sweep him off to Manhattan. The trip to New York was a happily successful thing. Futuria Fantasia would like to toss an orchid to the editors who contributed so generously to the convention, and at the same time blare forth with a juicy razzberry for a certain trio of fans who made fools of themselves at the Conv. (and u know who we meen).

But enuf of this boring fan quarreling action should have been taken at the convention and there’s no use bawling over fused rockets. This issue we bring you another cover by Hans Bok. We sincerely believe his work is superior to any work done in fan mags for a long time. He has to be good for he is a protegee of no less a person than Maxfield Parrish, whose paintings have, at one time or another in the past decades, made more than one home beautiful. If you haven’t had a Maxfield Parrish painting in yur home, it ain’t a home. And, we feel proud of Hans becuz we acted as agent to Weird Tales while conventioneering in New York. Latest report is that Hans is doing an Illustration for Weird Tales. Here’s luck, Hans, and may you keep up the good work while staying in Manhattan.

With this issue we introduce two new fans, and two new authors. They are Anthony Corvais, who makes his part-time home in Tucson, Arizona, and Guy Amory of Phoenix. Corvais, twenty-two years old, has done a neat job with his RETURN FROM THE DEAD. In the winter edition he will let go with another original SYMPHONIC ABDUCTION. Guy Amory, after sum few hours of hard labor, finally got an interview out of Hankuttner, which is work in any man’s lingo. Both boys were in L.A. for two weeks about a month back, and gave their promise to support FuFa from now to TDWACOH (the day when astounding comes out hourly).

Ron Reynolds, whose satire on Technocracy received favorable comment, comes back with his views and news about the Convention ** and Corrinne Ellsworth, gracious female fan of L.A. presents us with something that is distasteful to me, THE CASE OF THE VANISHING CAFETERIA. I protest against her grossly horrid insinuations about my Ghoul’s Broths. Manhattaneers will tell you that it is only at the full moon that I can concoct one ... tho a cafeteria or Automat atmosphere does work wonders with my ego--specially if there are enuf people watching to make it profitable.

As you will notice there is not a great deal to be sed about Technocracy in this issue ** mainly becuz I am tired of talking and the response we get is vury, vury funny, if not childish. If someone cares to challenge us on Technocracy we shall be only too glad to answer all questions, but when a bunch of crackpots start dragging in their own theories, relatives and human nature then we give up the ghost. We take this occasion to challenge the so-far-silent John W. Campbell to a duel of words on this subject. How’s about it, Campbell?


The Galapurred Forsendyke

A Tale of the Indies - By H.V.B.

He remembered--but never dreamed its source--the old poem which began, “A swibosh is an Indian,” and as he leaned back in his chair puffing on a pipe, his lean bronzed face darkly serious against the moonglow, a little echo hooted from the hills as if an owl’d cried.

Then Edris called. At the alarmant tingle of the bell, like a tinnient tang of a rattlesnake’s tremor, he ran to the telephone and shouted eagerly, “Edris! My darling.” Then he remembered to take receiver off the hook. He was answered by dead silence. Then, to his amazement and utter horror, a long damp tongue swished out of the mouthpiece, lapped his cheek and disappeared in a puff of acrid steam. “The Martians!” was his first thot, as he tremblingly buttered his toast. Then he heard Edris’ voice. It floated easily from the ceiling as if it were inverted steam. He looked up, and discovered overhead that the planet India had vanished from the map. It had peeled itself loose and inched over the wallpaper and was now wrapping itself like a second skin around a baked potato. “But that’s impossible!” he breathed, “There aren’t any potatoes in August, and especially in bathtubs.” Again Edris’ voice reached him. What was she saying? “Go with the pretty men, dear, they’ll feed you an orange.” But that sounded crazy. He was worried, and clung to a red-hot radiator which melted into a puddle at his touch, burning a round red hole in the rug.

Seventeen puffs of black vapor--he counted them--whiffed up winsomely from the charred circle. “Around and around,” he said, dreamily, remembering the second line of the poem, “When Fifthly is perplexed.” Edris oozed out of the shadows to him, longlike and snaky, with fearthy fettles adorning her foresome, and a blaze in her eyes like the hurmwurst of Whidby. Island, island, he repeated to himself, thrusting an negatory hand thru the farthing of her wrabdy--and her mouth parted to disclose another mouth, from which issued visible words like ticker tape of steam in chilly air, so surprising him that he could only stand rooted, like a tree. It was then that he noticed the snakes in her hair, as the leaves sprouted from his cheeks end from every simple vascicle of his tubular perpendages sometimes cursorily applellated, eyebreams.

Among the amiderie of her fascinating fingers, which she waved before his face like the shimmer of phosphorescence on a salty sea on hot midsummer moonlight, took shape an elegant form, something reminiscent of a redchief. Within his sore heart a black thot grew, spurred by the excess of his agonized birdtwitters, bidding him to slay and do so quickly. He reached for a weapon. There was nothing at hand but a slug. He groaned. A slug against snakes? What chance of victory? As tho she’d read his thot, she moved nearer, her laffter lifting and lowering like a fragile boat on waves of honey. One by one her eyes--390 of them--popped out with hollow slaps like corks from bottles, while within the dull draperies of scarlet which adorned the farthest lamp-post stirred an unnameable bloody something which sent forth a thrill of foreboding into his anguished heart, and he remembered the 4th and last lines of the poem “He who dines alone is hexed.” He uttered a gurgling scream as she leaped upon him, and her snales torn and the steam of her bare eye-sockets scalded him--then the ensanguined thing crawled limply over the face of the blinding desert and the vacant sun stared sitelessly at nothing.


I’m Through!

BY Foo E Onya

The editor of this magazine, under the impression that I am still one of that queer tribe known as science-fiction fans, has asked me to write an article. I am no longer a science-fiction fan. I’M THROUGH! However, I have decided to do the article and explain with my chin leading just why I am through. Here goes.

As to science-fiction; the trouble with me, I think, is that I have outgrown the stuff mentally--and that’s not a boast, seeing the type of minds modern science-fiction is dished up for. I’ll admit there are a few exceptions, but on the whole, s.f. fans are as arrogant, self-satisfied, conspicuously blind, and critically moronic a group as the good Lord has allowed to people the Earth. I don’t blush that I was once a s.f. fan, starting back in ‘26--I merely thank my personal gods that somewhere along the route I woke up and began to see s.f. as it really is. The superiority complex found in group known as science fiction fans is probably unequalled anywhere. Their certitude in their superiority, as readers of s.f., over all other fiction, is representative of an absolutely incredibly stupid complacence. Facing the business squarely, we can see why s.f. lays CLAIM to such superiority: for no other obvious reason than that such fiction is the bastard child of science and the romantic temperament. But NOT, good lord, because it is INSTRUCTIVE! This has too long been preached, until s.f. readers actually believe it! The amazing naivette of these readers who think their literature is superior merely because they think it teaches--this simple moves me to despair. The fact is, any literature whose function it is to teach, ceases to be literature as such; it becomes didactic literature, which is the color of another horse. When literature becomes obsessed by ideas as such, it is no longer literature. Just how the delusion could have arisen that writing, because invested with scientific symbols, automatically became possessed of new and more precious values, is beyond me to explain. Ideas are out of place in literature unless they are subordinate to the spirit of the story--but s.f. readers have never perceived this. “Give us SCIENCE!” they shriek, running with clenched fists uprisen to the stars. “We want SCIENCE! Give us the Great God!” Well, they are given science, and what does it turn out to be? For the most part the off-scourings of the lunatic fringe. Talk about scientists being inspired by s.f. stories--WHEW! Why, not one s.f. writer in fifty has the remotest idea of what he is talking about--he just picks up some elementary idea and kicks hell out of it. I’ll wager that no scientist is going to produce very spectacularly on the basis of any ideas provided by s.f. It’s possible, but wholly improbable. Scientists don’t tick that way.

Another amusing fallacy: this well-known business of Wells and Verne doing some predicting. It’s one of the biggest laffs of all. They made a flock of predictions, a few of which were realized, and some only in ways most vaguely related to the original conception. How many ideas did they have that never have been realized and never will? Give them credit for being good and often logical guessers, perhaps--but don’t claim that as a merit for their WRITING! And how many other good guessers must there have been who never got around to setting down their predictions in print?

There is but one affectation about Wells’ “scientific” stories which he published before he discovered his capability at characterization, and this is the affectation of imagination. There is no genuine imagination in beating out cleverness of the s.f. type; the point of view, the inventive quality necessary for their construction, is the same as with the widely circulated tales of Nick Carter. Science-fiction stories are not struck forth with a creative hand, they are manufactured products put together piece-meal--none of them being written in any but the calmest and most conscious mood. They are lacking in that important element of all really GREAT works of the imagination: inspiration. And what is inspiration? It is essentially the soaring of one’s soul without the knowledge of the mind. In the gleaming moment the mind becomes the slave of the spirit. Read Wells’ EXPERIMENT IN AUTOBIOGRAPHY and see why and what he thinks of his early writings of s.f. He admits that they were only a means to an end, a preparation for his more serious writing that was to come later--Plato’s REPUBLIC and More’s UTOPIA also serving largely to hasten Wells’ Utopian proclivities. When he really began to take his predictions seriously, he began to turn out the important stuff which now bores the average s.f. enthusiast silly--or should I say sillier!

As for Verne, his stuff has never been literature except for boys. It is innocuous adventure--stuff that will not pervert morals. It is not too badly written, and the language is so simple that Verne is readily to be read in the original French, in fact some of his stuff serves as textbooks in French classes in American schools.

But in the main, what I am speaking about now is s.f. as it is constituted today. All of this modern s.f. is worthless except in perhaps one minor respect, and I’m not even sure of that. It CAN open the minds of boys and girls reaching puberty, giving them a more catholic attitude toward startling new ideas. However, it is so very often fatal at the same time, in that these boys and girls become obsessed with it--it enmeshes them until, as I said, they become incredibly blind to all else, so certain are they of the superiority of their hobby over all other fiction. There are exceptions, but my experience has proven that the exceptions are by far a minority.

Also I will admit that s.f. can on occasion provide escapist flights of imagination--in fact, it can be admirable for this; but this type of s.f. has become exceedingly rare because this crazy superstructure of SCIENCE, and even more so ADVENTURE, has become such a fetish that sound writing concerning people is rarely to be found. In pulp science-fiction, never.

And the frightful smugness fostered by the modern s.f. magazines is simply appalling. It seems that not only the readers, but the editors and writers as well, cannot or will not see anything beyond their own perverted models. Just as one example which I remember very well, look how BRAVE NEW WORLD, the admirable and really important novel by Huxley, was received a few years ago. It was Clark Ashton Smith, I believe, who mentioned it as embodying some of Huxley’s “habitual pornography”--simply, stunning P. Schyler Miller; whom, I might mention, I consider as one of the most intellectual authors and fans. And, reviewing the book, C.A. Brandt also decried its preoccupation with sex, but said complacently that it might, at least, bring to the attention of people that there was such a thing as the science-fictionists and their so-called literature. Of all the damned nonsense! BRAVE NEW WORLD was, as a matter of fact, a satire on sex, and of FAR MORE IMPORTANCE than to “bring to the attention of people that there is such a thing as sci-fiction.” Huxley conceived a future world in which Ford’s mechanistic contributions had become so emphatic as to deprive the people of all but an animal interest in sex; he projects a more normal man into such a civilization for no other reason than to characterize present-day tendencies with searing satire. But Brandt--he evidently would demolish this to set up in its stead a “Space-wrecked On Mars” atrocity.

To get back to the subject, it is my honest opinion that no person of very conspicuous intelligence can subsist very considerably on s.f. after he begins to mature intellectually. There is simply not enuf to it to provide intellectual or spiritual nourishment. He may string along with it for a few years out of habit or some mental quirk--but stuff aimed at juvenile minds cannot very long sustain a person of mature years, unless that person is himself a mental adolescent. The way the fans flocked to the S.F. League, indulged in “tests” to prove their “superiority” over other readers, the silly letters in the mags, the petty internal strife, and many other things, have served to widen the gulf between me and s.f.

The most important thing, however, is that I have discovered that there’s been too much else of importance, REAL importance, that has been said and written in this world (and is being and will be), for me to desire to give much attention to such a petty thing as s.f. any more. I shall read on the fringe of it, but increasingly less frequently I’m afraid.

I might have summed this entire thing up by saying, “I’m satiated,” but that wouldn’t be the entire truth. The entire truth would be: “I am satiated and much wiser.” In conclusion let me point out that this is only one man’s opinion. I have intentionally been harsh in my estimates, maybe some points are in need of qualification or elucidation, but by and large, I stand back of what I have written here. AMEN.


Satan’s Mistress - by Doug Rogers

Where flames of purgatory twist, and Earth’s transgressors dwell,
She dances swathed in heated mist, before the gates of Hell.
Her gleaming naked body flees before the Demon fires,
Along the shores of molten seas--ridged high by fuming pyres.
Her hair, a liquid cape of flame, whips hot about her breasts,
A strumpet in the Devil’s name, which he alone invests,
Gives power to a woman born of brimstone, steam and smoke,
Her soul, a spark in early morn, flares up to share the yoke
Of evil Mephistopheles upon his throne of death,
Unheeding shrieks and doleful pleas choked out by dying breath.
The Devil’s Mistress dances down thru dungeons carved from bone,
Upon her head the sinner’s crown, each jewel a sigh, a moan.
Before the wailing souls in caves, tossed down from earthly things,
To charred and cindered minds of slaves her dancing passion brings.
Then, tired of her evil joke, and laughing at her games,
She draws about her fiery cloak to vanish in the flames.


Lost Soul - by Henry Hasse

From far across the desolate moor I heard
The echo of a wild and anguished cry--
A tortured voice that shrieked aloud a word,
A name, that shivered ‘cross the leaden sky.
I stopped--stared ‘round--I knew that voice did sound
A faint, familiar note within my brain.
I fled across that dark and desolate ground
Seeking out the direction whence it came.
Forebodingly, that voice kept echoing
Within a brain that did not seem my own...
A vague remembrance of a recent thing
I could not grasp ... I was a lost and lone
Forsaken soul that sped I knew not where,
Wondering frightenedly what I did seek...
At last I found it, there beside a bare
And lonely road, when trembling and weak,
I gazed upon a gallows-tree where hung
A corpse, the very site of which did freeze
The blood within my veins; a corpse that swung
Grotesquely to and fro upon the breeze.
And then, through rising panic, closer still
I peered--then saw!--and knew! Again that cry
That shrieked a name--the cry that issued shrill
From my own throat, and shivered to the sky!


The name I shriek beneath the gallows-tree
Was mine. The dead thing swinging there was me!


The Truth About Goldfish - KUTTNER

For some time I have been wondering what the world is coming to. More than once I have got up in the middle of the nite, padded toward the bureau, and, peering into the mirror, exclaimed, “Stinky, what is the world coming to?” The responses I have thus obtained I am not at liberty to reveal; but I am coming to believe that either I have a most mysterious mirror or something is wrong somewhere. I am intrigued by my mirror.

It came into my possession under extraordinary and eerie circumstances, being borne into my bedroom one Midsummer’s Eve by a procession of cats dressed oddly in bright-colored sunsuits and carrying parasols. I was asleep at the time, but awoke just as the last tail whisked out the door, and immediately I sprang out of bed and cut my left big toe rather badly on the edge of the mirror. I remember that as I first looked into the fathomless, glassy depths, a curious thot came into my mind. “What,” I said to myself, “is the world coming to? And what is science-fiction coming to?”

It is quite evident that a logical and critical analysis of science-fictional trends is a desideratum today. The whole trouble, I feel, can be laid to velleity. (I have wanted to use that word for years. Unfortunately I have now forgotten exactly what it means, but one can safely attribute trouble to it. Where was I?)

Today science-fiction is split by schisms and impaled on the trylon of bad thots. The fans, I mean, not the writers. The writers have been split and impaled for years, but nothing can be done about that. In a way, it’s a good thing. Look at Jules Verne, Victor Hugo, and, for that matter, the late unfortunate Tobias J. Koot.

I put flowers on his grave only yesterday. He lies at rest, tho his ghastly fate pursued him even to the grave. And I attribute Mr. Koot’s fate to nothing less than the schisms of fandom. For Koot was a hard working young man, serious, earnest, with promise of becoming a first-class writer. He took life very solemnly--almost grimly. “My job,” he told me once, “is to give people what they want.”

“I want a drink,” I said to him. “Give me one.”

But Koot couldn’t be turned from his rash course. He began to write science-fiction. That was where the trouble started. “Is it science?” he pondered. “Or is it fiction?” Already the cleavage--the split--had begun.

It was a matter of logical progression toward ultimate division. Koot got in the habit of typing the science into his stories with his left hand, and the fiction with his right. He began to twitch and worry. He got up nites. He was troubled, uneasy. “I have one thing left to cling to,” he muttered desperately, “Fandom! I can point to that and say: It is real. It exists. It is dependable.”

When fandom had its schism, Koot immediately developed a split personality. It was rather horrible. His left side--the scientific side--grew cold and hard and keen. He grew a Van Dyke on the left side of his face and his left hand was stained with acids and chemicals. But the right side of his face became dissipated and disreputable, with a leer in the eye end a scornful, sneering curve to the lip. He grew a tiny moustache on the right side, waxed it, and twirled it continually. It was rather horrid, but worse was yet to come.

One day the inevitable happened. Tobias J. Koot split in half, with a faint ripping sound and a despairing wail. He was, of course, buried in two coffins and in two graves, the wretched man’s fate pursuing him even beyond death.

Well, you can understand how I feel, what with the mirror, the cats in sunsuits and the weasel. Or haven’t I mentioned the weasel? I mean the brown one, of course, and he is, perhaps, worst of all. It isn’t what he says so much as his sneering, ironic tone. The other weasels, who live in the spare bedroom with the colt, were happy enuf till HE arrived, but now THEY are arranging a schism. As you will readily see, something must be done about it before science-fiction collapses and the standard falls trailing into the dust.

I suggest that we mobilize, and, to avoid dissension, give everybody the rank of general. Then, first of all, we can march to my house and get rid of that weasel.

The Brown One, of course. The others are welcome to stay as long as they like. I feel that they are weak rather than wicked, and need only a good excuse, or should I say example, in order to brace themselves up.

Contributions to the fund for the mobilization of science-fiction and the extermination of brown weasels may be sent to me in care of this magazine. Do not delay. Each moment you wait brings us closer to doom, and, besides, I need a new piano.

H.K.


God Busters - By Erick Freyor

Mark Twain, in his mysterious stranger, makes no bones about his sentiments towards Christianity and the God illusion. Speaking of Christian progress he says, “It is a remarkable progress. In five or six thousand years five or six high civilizations have risen, flourished, commanded the wonder of the world, then faded out and disappeared; and not one of them except the latest ever invented any sweeping and adequate way to kill people. They all did their best--to kill being the chiefest ambition of the human race and the earliest incident in its history--but only the Christian civilization has scored a triumph to be proud of. Two or three centuries from now it will be recognized that all the competent killers are Christians; then the pagan world will go to school to the Christian, not to acquire his religion, but his guns. The turk and the chinaman will buy these to kill missionaries and converts with.”

Again, in speaking of God, comparing the God conception to an impossible dream, he continues, “Strange, because they are so frankly and hysterically insane--like all dreams: a God who could have made good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice and invented hell--mouths mercy and invented hell; mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!”

One wonders what the Christian Ethiopians thot when the Christian Italians playfully, and undoubtedly with the sanction of the Holy Mother Church, began to spray them with liquid fire, blast their cities, and mutilate their children with the newest Christian improvements on the Christian weapons of war. They probably couldn’t quite understand the logic or the fairness of it, but we must not blame the Ethiopians for failing to comprehend, as they haven’t had the benefits of Christian civilization for as long a time as the Italians.

Let’s put a stop to this shilly-shallying. Let’s put these destructive Atheists in their place. The Christians KNOW that God DOES exist. That God is all powerfull. So it would be only a simple matter to arrange an appointment with God, (we don’t exactly know what his office hours are, ) and prevail upon him to write a message in fire saying, “YOU BET, GOD IS THE REAL MCCOY” or something similar, and spread it all over the sky. That’ll convince even the most reluctant Atheists, and it should be a rather simple trick for a God who once stopped the sun (sic!), created a universe in 6 days, and engineered an immaculate conception.

Clarence Darrow, world famous criminal lawyer, the man who made the Silver-Tongued and Godly Bryant appear the verbose addlepate he was, beneath his platitudinous phrases, during the Scopes trial, said, to an interviewer, “All my life I’ve been an Agnostic. But I am no longer an Agnostic, I am now an Atheist.”


The Pendulum

Up and down, back and forth, up and down. First the quick flite skyward, gradually slowing, reaching the pinnacle of the curve, poising a moment, then flashing earthward again, faster and faster at a nauseating speed, reaching the bottom and hurtling aloft on the opposite side. Up and down. Back and forth. Up and down.

How long it had continued this way Layeville didn’t know. It might have been millions of years he’d spent sitting here in the massive glass pendulum watching the world tip one way and another, up and down, dizzily before his eyes until they ached. Since first they had locked him in the pendulum’s round glass head and set if swinging it had never stopped or changed. Continuous, monotonous movements over and above the ground. So huge was this pendulum that it shadowed one hundred feet or more with every majestic sweep of its gleaming shape, dangling from the metal intestines of the shining machine overhead. It took three or four seconds for it to traverse the one hundred feet one way, three or four seconds to come back.

THE PRISONER OF TIME! That’s what they called him now! Now, fettered to the very machine he had planned and constructed. A pri--son--er--of--time! A--pris--on--er--of--Time! With every swing of the pendulum it echoed in his thoughts. For ever like this until he went insane. He tried to focus his eyes on the arching hotness of the earth as it swept past beneath him.

They had laughed at him a few days before. Or was it a week? A month? A year? He didn’t know. This ceaseless pitching had filled him with an aching confusion. They had laughed at him when he said, some time before all this, he could bridge time gaps and travel into futurity. He had designed a huge machine to warp space, invited thirty of the worlds most gifted scientists to help him finish his colossal attempt to scratch the future wall of time.

The hour of the accident spun back to him now thru misted memory. The display of the time machine to the public. The exact moment when he stood on the platform with the thirty scientists and pulled the main switch! The scientists, all of them, blasted into ashes from wild electrical flames! Before the eyes of two million witnesses who had come to the laboratory or were tuned in by television at home! He had slain the world’s greatest scientists!

He recalled the moment of shocked horror that followed. Something radically wrong had happened to the machine. He, Layeville, the inventor of the machine, had staggered backward, his clothes flaming and eating up about him. No time for explanations. Then he had collapsed in the blackness of pain and numbing defeat.

Swept to a hasty trial, Layeville faced jeering throngs calling out for his death. “Destroy the Time Machine!” they cried. “And destroy this MURDERER with it!”

Murderer! And he had tried to help humanity. This was his reward.

One man had leaped onto the tribunal platform at the trial, crying, “No! Don’t destroy the machine! I have a better plan! A revenge for this--this man!” His finger pointed at Layeville where the inventor sat unshaven and haggard, his eyes failure glazed. “We shall rebuild his machine, take his precious metals, and put up a monument to his slaughtering! We’ll put him on exhibition for life within his executioning device!” The crowd roared approval like thunder shaking the tribunal hall.

Then, pushing hands, days in prison, months. Finally, led forth into the hot sunshine, he was carried in a small rocket car to the center of the city. The shock of what he saw brought him back to reality. THEY had rebuilt his machine into a towering timepiece with a pendulum. He stumbled forward, urged on by thrusting hands, listening to the roar of thousands of voices damning him. Into the transparent pendulum head they pushed him and clamped it tight with weldings.

Then they set the pendulum swinging and stood back. Slowly, very slowly, it rocked back and forth, increasing in speed. Layeville had pounded futilely at the glass, screaming. The faces became blurred, were only tearing pink blobs before him.

On and on like this--for how long?

He hadn’t minded it so much at first, that first nite. He couldn’t sleep, but it was not uncomfortable. The lites of the city were comets with tails that pelted from rite to left like foaming fireworks. But as the nite wore on he felt a gnawing in his stomach, that grew worse. He got very sick and vomited. The next day he couldn’t eat anything.

They never stopped the pendulum, not once. Instead of letting him eat quietly, they slid the food down the stem of the pendulum in a special tube, in little round parcels that plunked at his feet. The first time he attempted eating he was unsuccessful, it wouldn’t stay down. In desperation he hammered against the cold glass with his fists until they bled, crying hoarsely, but he heard nothing but his own weak, fear-wracked words muffled in his ears.

After some time had elapsed he got so that he could eat, even sleep while travelling back and forth this way. They allowed him small glass loops on the floor and leather thongs with which he tied himself down at nite and slept a soundless slumber without sliding.

People came to look at him. He accustomed his eyes to the swift flite and followed their curiosity-etched faces, first close by in the middle, then far away to the right, middle again, and to the left.

He saw the faces gaping, speaking soundless words, laughing and pointing at the prisoner of time traveling forever nowhere. But after awhile the town people vanished and it was only tourists who came and read the sign that said: THIS IS THE PRISONER OF TIME--JOHN LAYEVILLE--WHO KILLED THIRTY OF THE WORLDS FINEST SCIENTISTS! The school children, on the electrical moving sidewalk stopped to stare in childish awe. THE PRISONER OF TIME!

Often he thot of that title. God, but it was ironic, that he should invent a time machine and have it converted into a clock, and that he, in its pendulum, should mete out the years--traveling with Time.

He couldn’t remember how long it had been. The days and nites ran together in his memory. His unshaven checks had developed a short beard and then ceased growing. How long a time? How long?

Once a day they sent down a tube after he ate and vacuumed up the cell, disposing of any wastes. Once in a great while they sent him a book, but that was all.


The robots took care of him now. Evidently the humans thot it a waste of time to bother over their prisoner. The robots brot the food, cleaned the pendulum cell, oiled the machinery, worked tirelessly from dawn until the sun crimsoned westward. At this rate it could keep on for centuries.

But one day as Layeville stared at the city and its people in the blur of ascent and descent, he perceived a swarming darkness that extended in the heavens. The city rocket ships that crossed the sky on pillars of scarlet flame darted helplessly, frightenedly for shelter. The people ran like water splashed on tiles, screaming soundlessly. Alien creatures fluttered down, great gelatinous masses of black that sucked out the life of all. They clustered thickly over everything, glistened momentarily upon the pendulum and its body above, over the whirling wheels and roaring bowels of the metal creature once a Time Machine. An hour later they dwindled away over the horizon and never came back. The city was dead.

Up and down, Layeville went on his journey to nowhere, in his prison, a strange smile etched on his lips. In a week or more, he knew, he would be the only man alive on earth.

Elation flamed within him. This was his victory! Where the other men had planned the pendulum as a prison it had been an asylum against annihilation now!

Day after day the robots still came, worked, unabated by the visitation of the black horde. They came every week, brot food, tinkered, checked, oiled, cleaned. Up and down, back and forth--THE PENDULUM!

... a thousand years must have passed before the sky again showed life over the dead Earth. A silvery bullet of space dropped from the clouds, steaming, and hovered over the dead city where now only a few solitary robots performed their tasks. In the gathering dusk the lites of the metropolis glimmered on. Other automatons appeared on the rampways like spiders on twisting webs, scurrying about, checking, oiling, working in their crisp mechanical manner.

And the creatures in the alien projectile found the time mechanism, the pendulum swinging up and down, back and forth, up and down. The robots still cared for it, oiled it, tinkering.

A thousand years this pendulum had swung. Made of glass the round disk at the bottom was, but now when food was lowered by the robots through the tube it lay untouched. Later, when the vacuum tube came down and cleaned out the cell it took that very food with it.

Back and forth--up and down.

The visitors saw something inside the pendulum. Pressed closely to the glass side of the cell was the face of a whitened skull--a skeleton visage that stared out over the city with empty sockets and an enigmatical smile wreathing its lipless teeth.

Back and forth--up and down.

The strangers from the void stopped the pendulum in its course, ceased its swinging and cracked open the glass cell, exposing the skeleton to view. And in the gleaming light of the stars the skull face continued its weird grinning as if it knew that it had conquered something. Had conquered time.

The Prisoner Of Time, Layeville, had indeed travelled along the centuries.

And the journey was at an end.


Is It True What They Say About Kuttner?

Or The Man With the Weird Tale

by GUY AMORY

The extremely interesting specimen to your right is not a head from a formaldehyde jar, though at times we have seen it, or him, pickled. It is I, Henry Kuttner, the laziest man who ever punched a typewriter and got paid for it. Like several other L.A. natives he is too busy living to do much worrying--and besides--what does it get him? (a check from Weird Tales) Henry has just sold them a 20,000 word yarn about Elak of Atlantis. At present he has finished a story headed for STARTLING, fifty thousand words or more, and been working with C. L. Moore on a new chiller.

Hank’s first story for Astounding was a disappointment, but he fully made up for that by turning in a sockerooo to Unknown called the misguided halo, written after the fashion of his most highly cherished author THORNE SMITH. What the fans don’t know is that this little tale had a different ending than the one used by Campbell. Kuttner’s finis to the halo was hysterically funny, but John W. thought otherwise and tagged a new finish on it--spoiling it as far as this author is concerned.

Kuttner is 24 years old. He’s been writing most of his life--learned how to type at the age of eight and hasn’t left it alone since. Was born with a type-bar in his mouth. Lives in a quiet catacomb called Beverly Hills, the first cemetery I’ve ever seen with street lamps. At present, though I have broached the subject on numerous occasions, Hank steadfastly refuses to write for slick magazines. His best excuse being his laziness.

Hanks is quiet-speaking, sincere. But he has a sense of humor, the kind that hits you amidriff abruptly. He is the perfect dead-pan jokester. His digs many times being too subtle for your correspondent to catch until several moments have passed, Kuttner is always ready to rush in mildly and put the immature fans to route. It is only when you see the ghastly pictures that he takes out at his charnal cave that you realize his true sense of comedy. He and Hodgkins and Shroyer, the fiends, get together in outre garb, in horrifying pose, and bring forth films that would shake the mind of even such a horror as Robert Bloch.

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