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Decent addition to the Megapack series
on 30 June 2016
Hard to fault these Megapacks as they offer a wide range of genres showcasing the talents of many authors who might otherwise be lost to obscurity.
Here then is a collection of stories from 'Weird Tales' - most of which date from the twenties and thirties. As such, you will get werewolves, witches, vampires and cursed objects (there are an awful lot of cursed objects). You will also get plenty of moustache twirling (usually foreign) villains facing off against dashing all-American heroes. But hey, sometimes, it's just good to wallow in simple old-fashioned story telling and not have to worry about layers, subtexts or socio-political commentary.
Granted, few of the tales transcend their rather generic pulp origins (I suppose that's kind of the point) and while perfectly entertaining in their own right don't really live long in the memory. There are a few exceptions. Darrell Schweitzer's epic novella 'To Become A Sorcerer' is bursting with enough ideas to put many a full length novel to shame. Manly Wade Wellman's 'The Golgotha Dancers' is a genuinely creepy tale of a painting with a sinister life of its own. We also get two stories by Clark Ashton Smith - both of which demonstrate that author's particular talent for combining lush, lyrical prose with palpable atmospheres of foreboding.
Oddly enough, it's the contributions from the big names of the genre that prove to be the most disappointing, with a couple of decidedly so-so stories by H.P. Lovecraft (both written in collaboration) and a very corny effort from Robert E. Howard.
Still, this is a rather nice time capsule of an era when fantasy short stories were widely read and appreciated and at a bargain-basement price to boot.