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      1. The Tragedy of Gnome Press

        Many thanks to Georges Dodd for bringing us this important story. Note that this is part of a series call the Literary Ladder which has lots of really interesting topics.

        Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HlKhLG3ZxE

        Modern Science Fiction & Fantasy Owe an Enormous Debt to Pioneering Publisher Gnome Press

        the library ladder, 8.32K subscribers
        Gnome Press was a small publisher of science fiction and fantasy that existed from 1948 to 1962. Despite its small size, Gnome had an enormous impact on the future of speculative fiction by, among other things, being the first to publish in hardcover format novels by many of the greatest SF authors of all time, including Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, C. L. Moore, and Robert E. Howard. Alas, the history of Gnome is a cautionary tale. The company played a pivotal role in lifting the SF genre out of the pulp magazines and into literary respectability, but it never achieved true success of its own. This video is about the story of Gnome Press.
        0:41 Origins of Gnome Press
        4:02?Gnome’s first books in 1948-49
        4:58 Proof of concepts
        5:56 The period 1950-54
        7:05 Iconic dust jacket artwork
        8:34 Gnome’s business challenges
        13:18 The period 1955-59
        14:22 Gnome’s collapse, 1960-62
        15:26 The legacy of Gnome Press
        18:55 Related reading material

        Post 6 of 6: Wrap-Up

        This is our closing post of the afternoon.


        Before we wrap things up, here are the answers to the Halloween Quiz posted at the outset of this afternoon’s conclave:

        1) Halloween is the day before which holiday?

        ANSWER: All Saints (Hallows) Day

        2) The tradition of making Jack-o-Lanterns to ward off evil spirits is thousands of years old. Which vegetable were they originally made out of?

        ANSWER: Turnips

        3) According to superstition, if you stare into a mirror at midnight on Halloween, what will you see?

        ANSWER: Your future husband or wife.

        4) Which region in the world do pumpkins originate from?

        ANSWER: Central America

        5) Who wrote the novel Frankenstein?

        ANSWER: Mary Shelley

        6) Transylvania is a region in which country?

        ANSWER: Romania

        7) Halloween has its origins in which ancient Celtic festival?

        ANSWER: Samhain

        8) Which actor played Dr. Frank-n-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show?

        ANSWER: Tim Curry

        9) Is a pumpkin a fruit or vegetable?

        ANSWER: Fruit

        10) What is the significance of seeing a spider on Halloween?

        ANSWER: It is thought to be the spirit of a loved one watching over the person who finds the spider.

        11) Which country celebrates the Day of the Dead starting at midnight on October 31?

        ANSWER: Mexico

        12) According to superstition, a person born on Halloween has what particular ability?

        ANSWER: The ability to see and talk to spirits.

        13) Who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas?

        ANSWER: Henry Selick

        14) Which vampire said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m going to give you the choice I never had.”

        ANSWER: Lestat (Interview with the Vampire)

        15) How many people were hanged during the Salem Witch Trials?

        ANSWER: 19

        16) Every Halloween, Charlie Brown helps his friend Linus wait for what character to appear?

        ANSWER: The Great Pumpkin

        17) What do people “bob” for on Halloween?

        ANSWER: Apples

        18) Who is said to haunt the White House Rose Garden?

        ANSWER: First Lady Dolly Madison

        19) Pumpkins can be orange, white, green, or what other colour?

        ANSWER: Blue

        20) In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, how many people are killed with a chainsaw?

        ANSWER: One

        21) What’s the body-count for the film Halloween?

        ANSWER: Five people, and a dog.

        22) Which year was the movie Freaks made?

        ANSWER: 1932

        23) In the original Alien film, how many alien eggs were made for the egg chamber inside the downed spacecraft?

        ANSWER: 130

        24) How many Oscars was Psycho nominated for?

        ANSWER: Four

        12) THANK YOU!?

        We thank for their chief contributions to this afternoon’s e-meeting Keith Braithwaite, Linda Ross-Mansfield, Lindsay Brown, and Cathy Palmer-Lister. We offer a nod of appreciation, as well, to all of our supporting players.

        MonSFFA hopes you have enjoyed your time with us this afternoon, we thank you for dropping in, and we ask all of you to check in regularly here at for additional content during this stubbornly persistent pandemic, and for any updates as to when the club will be returning to long-overdue regular, face-to-face meetings!

        Thank you for your interest and attention, and don’t forget to comment on today’s e-meeting!


        Alas, no booking of our intended downtown meeting room has yet been confirmed; function space rentals remain on pause still at this time, and we continue to await word of facilities reopening.

        If you are able, take a walk or ride soon out to a local park, or to the off-island countryside, and delight in peak leaf season on a crisp autumn day. Have fun with the upcoming Halloween holiday, too!

        We bid a fond farewell to all until we meet again on Saturday, November 12, at 1:00PM, likely again online right here at . But if our intended meeting hall reopens its function space anytime soon, we’ll be looking forward to a real, live, in-person meeting and, of course, let you know of any such change of plans regarding November’s get-together.

        Keep well, everyone, save some of those Halloween treats for the kids, and thrill to all the horror movies airing and streaming this month!

        Post 5 of 6: Show-and-Tell and Art Gallery

        This is Post 5 of 6 this afternoon.

        9) SHOW-AND-TELL

        For those participating on ZOOM, today, we open the floor to any club members who have “fancraft” undertakings to showcase—sci-fi scale models, sculpture, SF/F woodworking or needlecraft, Halloween masks or costumes, whatever genre-themed, hands-on project it may be that you are working on at present, or have recently completed. Tell us all about your endeavour, and share any photos you may have snapped of your work-in-progress, or of the finished piece.

        Those not able to join our ZOOM chat for the show-and-tell may contribute nonetheless by using this post’s “Leave a Comment” feature to type in a quick description of any such project of theirs.

        10) Art Gallery: AIP’s Sci-Fi/Horror B-Movie Posters (The Albert Kallis Years)

        Alternately, we offer an art gallery of colourful, arresting, astounding science fiction/horror B-movie posters designed and rendered for American International Pictures, or AIP (initially ARC, American Releasing Corporation) by artists largely unknown outside of Hollywood’s film industry. Two of the most talented were stand-out freelancer Reynold Brown and the advertising-savvy Albert Kallis.

        Kallis supervised all advertising campaigns at AIP from start to finish, often handling the design and illustration himself, producing many of the studio’s most striking film posters. He served as AIP’s art director from 1955 through 1973.

        AIP was the first film studio to rely on focus groups to evaluate what would likely excite their audience of largely teenagers. Movies about hot-rod racing and motorcycle gangs, along with Westerns and war pictures, and of course, sci-fi and horror films were, thus, the company’s lifeblood.

        AIP’s approach was to pre-sell a film with a thrilling title and eye-catching poster, secure funding from exhibitors, and only then commission a script and shoot the movie, often in a matter of days or weeks! And an effective ad campaign was key to getting people into movie theatres and out to drive-ins for what were, after all, low-budget B-movies. A well-designed film poster promised excitement and thrills, and often, the sci-fi/horror monster featured looked better on the poster than in the film!

        In addition to Kallis, who, interestingly, was later a co-founder of the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) restaurant chain, prominent AIP personnel included consummate sales manager James H. Nicholson and entertainment lawyer Samuel Z. Arkoff, the company’s founders, producer/director Roger Corman, as well as screenwriters Charles B. Griffith and Lou Rusoff. Other notable producers and/or directors included Alex Gordon, Edward L. Cahn, Bert I. Gordon, and Herman Cohen.

        AIP enjoyed increasing success in the late-1950s, added more films to the production slate, and began releasing films in agreements with other production companies to boost content. Kallis’ workload consequently ballooned, prompting him to engage other artists to help with the work, including Brown, a draughtsman of impeccable facility, who was able to turn Kallis’ layout concepts into marvellous finished paintings.

        Next post: 4:45PM


        Post 4 of 6: Convention Reports

        This is Post 4 of 6 today.


        We take this opportunity to present a convention report that was scheduled for last month’s meeting, but unfortunately, had to be postponed. We offer, now, that ZOOM report on the recent Chicon 8, which was this year’s Worldcon, and on next year’s NASFiC, which will be hosted by Winnipeg.

        This will mark the first time the NASFiC has been held outside of the U.S. A NASFiC is held whenever the Worldcon takes place in a locale other than North America; next year’s Worldcon is to be hosted by Chengdu, China.

        Join our ZOOM chat to hear the latest! Simply click here and follow the prompts: This Afternoon’s MonSFFA e-Meeting on ZOOM

        If you’re not fully equipped to ZOOM, you can also join in by phone (voice only); in the Montreal area, the toll-free number to call is: 1-438-809-7799. Outside of the city? Find your local number here: Phone to ZOOM!

        Also, have this information on hand as you may be asked to enter it:

        Meeting ID: 881 2635 6895
        Passcode: 120606

        Next post: 4:15PM

        Post 3 of 6: The Break

        Post 3 of 6: The Break

        Get your Bheer & Chips!
        It’s time for the break!


        Regarding a move to the Atwater Library: The last I heard, we were to be informed in August about when we could begin renting the auditorium. I wrote to the Atwater Library again, but no response. I’ve no idea what’s going on, and I’m getting discouraged.

        Have you paid your dues? Please check with Joe! A lot of memberships are overdue!


        Brian Knapp sends us photos of his latest work.

        I finally finished Polar Light’s Robby the Robot from the shelf of doom. The resin base, Robby’s legs, Altaira, & the Fez are all aftermarket from Jimmy Flintstone Studios (https://jimmyflintstonestudios.com/Figurines_c_28.html). Please feel free to start a caption this segment during the next meeting, or if someone wants to write a short story.


        Click the thumbnails to view full size image.

        Sturmovik Neko Girl, Japanese Capsule Toy, donated by Brian Knapp.

        Cat licking paw, ornament designed by Sue Mey, cut by CPL from canary wood. 8cm diameter.

        1982 – Prix Boréal 1982 – Prix Rosny-A?né 1982 – Grand Prix de la science-fiction fran?aise From Sylvain’s collection

        Set of 5o cards showing cover art for Astounding Magazines. Descriptions on back. From Sylvain’s legacy.

        Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold, hardcover, pages a bit yellowed, Sylvain’s legacy

        Vernor Vinge: Tatja Grimm’s World, excellent condition. Cover by Tom Kidd

        Alan Dean Foster and Eric Frank Russell: Design for Great-Day Good condition

        Boris, series 1, from Sylvain’s legacy, box of 90 cards, each card described on the back

        First of a duology by Ben Bova & A J Austin, dust jacket a bit scuffed, otherwise looks unread.

        Post 2 of 6: Vampires and Scary Books/Movies!

        This is our second post of six.

        5) The Vampire Myth

        Concurrent with the written presentation below, which we invite all to read at some point, we’ll briefly reiterate on ZOOM this topic of The Vampire Myth, welcoming comment and fielding any questions.

        Book Illustration: Varney the Vampire; or, the Feast of Blood (1847)

        We will then shift the conversation, opening the floor to discuss each other’s picks for most frightening books and movies (or television episodes).

        6) The horror, the horror

        From our teenage or subsequent years, we all remember a particularly spooky, suspenseful, startling, shocking, book, movie, or TV episode that creeped us out, or scared us stiff, and has stuck with us all these years!

        “The Monkey’s Paw,” The Exorcist, The Haunting of Hill House, “Children of the Corn,” Psycho, Alien, the Doctor Who episode “Blink,” Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, The Blair Witch Project, the X-Files episode “Home”?… Are any of these your picks, or do you have others to put forth?

        Which are your picks, and what was it about this book, and that film or TV episode, that terrified you so?

        Those unable to join our ZOOM chat this afternoon may contribute nevertheless by using this post’s “Leave a Comment” feature to type in their picks, and any brief commentary. We welcome your participation.


        In March 2004, MonSFFA welcomed as a special guest speaker locally-based writer/editor Nancy Kilpatrick, lauded by Fangoria magazine as “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice.” An award-winning author of numerous vampire-themed novels and short stories, Ms. Kilpatrick was joined on the dais by club members Cathy Palmer-Lister and Keith Braithwaite for a panel discussion/Q&A on the topic of vampires, perhaps the most iconic terrors of horror fiction and film.?

        Keith’s notes on the panel capsulize that which the panel imparted to audience members:

        The Vampire, an Ancient and Global Legend

        Vampires, and supernatural entities that predate the term, are part of the folklore of almost every culture on Earth. While the word “vampire” is of relatively modern origin, revenants, spirits, and demons of vampiric attribute can be found in the mythologies of the ancient Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, Hebrew, and other civilizations, and undoubtedly influenced the folklore of ensuing societies. Generally human-like in appearance, these evil, undead creatures feasted on a diet of human blood, and sometimes flesh.

        Descriptions of vampires vary from region to region, country to country.

        Certain European vampires are distinguished by red hair and a characteristic cleft lip, or harelip. The Bavarian variety sleeps with its left eye open and its thumbs linked. Purple-faced are Russian vampires, according to legend, while the Bulgarian type is distinguished by its single nostril.

        Some Chinese vampires are said to draw their strength from the light of the moon, others come to be by way of magic, these drawing “qi,” or life-force from their victims. A hopping gait and fuzzy, greenish skin are unique characteristics.

        Several female vampires are to be found in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Appearing as beautiful women by day, they transform by night into winged freaks with a taste for entrails, blood, or human foetuses! These fiends sport an elongated, hollow tongue with which to feed. Some are capable of severing their upper torsos in order that they may fly off into the night to prey upon sleeping pregnant women.

        The Mexican vampire is readily recognized as a ghastly chimera, its horrific face a fleshless skull. Further north, reportedly dwelling in the Rocky Mountains, is a vampire that feeds through its nose, sucking blood from its victims’ ears!

        The Western Vampire

        Stemming almost entirely from the Balkans in Eastern Europe, the Western archetype of the vampire, that of a preternaturally strong, virtually immortal, blood-feasting creature of the night, is but one of many variations when considering vampire mythology, worldwide. The Western vampire, however, is arguably the world’s best known and most popular, no doubt due, at least in modern times, to the widespread exporting of Western culture.

        The archetypal Western Vampire was hilariously spoofed in the1963 Merrie Melodies animated short “Transylvania 6-5000.”

        Travellers visiting the remote regions of 16th century Transylvania returned home with strange and terrifying tales of ungodly devils, monstrosities neither living nor dead, which feasted on human blood under darkness of night. These abominations were called, variously, “vurculac,” “wampyr,” and “vampire.”

        Transylvanian and other Eastern European vampires shared common characteristics. The legends tell of hellions gaunt in appearance, pale of complexion, having full, red lips, pointed canine teeth, and long, sharp fingernails. They exuded a foul stench, likened to that of a rotting corpse. They possessed superhuman strength, supposedly derived from their diet of blood, and cast a hypnotic gaze upon their prey from behind demonically gleaming eyes. They also possessed an uncanny shape-shifting ability and were able to assume the forms of a variety of animals, and further, to command the nocturnal faunae of the forest.

        The Science and the Superstition

        Fear and superstition fed the vampire myth during the late Middle Ages, the prevalent conjecture being that these nightmarish monsters were evil spirits capable of inhabiting and animating corpses for malevolent purposes. Alternately, persons viewed as sinful or wicked for one reason or another—suicides, those excommunicated from the church, or buried without appropriate rites—might return from the grave, some believed, “reborn” as vampires. Barred from the afterlife, the souls of these vile individuals continued to utilize their lifeless bodies.

        But vampire lore did not grow exclusively from superstitious fantasy. Circumstances very real contributed, as well, to the making of the myth.

        Unsolved mass murders and cattle mutilations by wild animals are among the kinds of incidents in those days that provided ample fodder for tales of vampirism. The surreptitious removal of corpses from graves by, for example, sexual deviants like necrophiliacs, left behind indisputable “proof” that the dead could leave the grave to any predisposed to such beliefs. And one can easily imagine that the rare, crazed person driven by a pathological or physiological thirst for human blood would quickly be deemed a vampire by his or her frightened neighbours.

        Commonly believed to be a source of vampire legend was premature burial. Several centuries ago, it was not unusual for comatose or cataleptic individuals, or even falling-down drunks, to be mistaken for dead, and so buried alive. It is theorized that when subsequent exhumations found that their bodies had not decomposed as a dead body normally would, rumours that these poor unfortunates were vampires soon spread.

        One episode in Serbia prompted the government to send a detachment of soldiers, including a few army surgeons, to investigate a village whose panicked inhabitants were suffering an apparent epidemic of vampirism. Thirteen graves were opened and only three bodies were deemed to be undergoing the normal process of decomposition. The others, some longer underground than those three, were reportedly rosy-cheeked, firm of flesh, and when dissected, found to have within them fresh blood. They were promptly decapitated and burned to ashes.

        Such anecdotes, inevitably enhanced with each recounting, were picked up by travellers and spread throughout Europe, fuelling the vampire myth.

        Also contributing to the myth were the noble Slavs of the 1400s, whose interbreeding resulted in a number of genetic disorders, including a rare disease, erythropoietic protoporphyria, which was not diagnosed until the 19th century. This disease is a pigment disorder which causes the body to produce an excess of protoporphyin, basic to red blood cells. Symptoms include unbearable itching, redness and edema, and bleeding cracks in the skin after brief exposure to sunlight. The physical appearance of those who suffered from this affliction, and their necessary avoidance of daylight, fed right into the belief in vampires.

        The Vampire in Art

        For centuries, artists have depicted vampires, from great works of fine art to commercial illustrations for books, comics, films and other forms of pop culture. Here is a sampling:

        The Vampire (1897), by Sir Philip William Burne-Jones. This painting was exhibited at The New Gallery in London just a few months prior to the first publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The artist, son of British pre-Raphaelite painter Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, never achieved his father’s level of recognition and fame, and is known largely for this single work of art, and the story behind it.

        Sir Philip was, briefly, involved romantically with beautiful actress Beatrice Rose Stella Tanner, better known by her stage name, Mrs. Patrick Campbell. But his infatuation with her was rather more than hers for him, and she soon left him heartbroken. Painting from memory, he modelled his vampire after her.

        Inspired by the image, Sir Philip’s cousin, Rudyard Kipling, wrote a poem about a foolish man destroyed by a heartless woman, which helped to drum up publicity for the painting prior to its exhibition. Sir Philip displayed a copy of the poem alongside his artwork.

        Shown here is a printed reproduction of The Vampire from an illustrated period publication of Kipling’s poem. The actual painting’s whereabouts are currently unknown; Sir Philip may have sold the work, or destroyed it.

        Love and Pain (1895), by Edvard Munch. The esteemed Norwegian artist painted six different versions of this scene between 1893 and 1895, and later in his career, returned yet again to his depiction of a woman kissing a man on the neck. The kiss, the man’s submissive pose, and the woman’s flaming red hair led some to interpret the painting to be of a vampire embracing her victim. Though sometimes called Vampire, Munch never referred to as, or so named his work. Yet today, this painting is liberally interpreted as vampire-themed by enthusiasts.

        Another work so interpreted is Une semaine de bonté (1934), a collage novel and artist’s book by Max Ernst. Created by clipping images from Victorian novels and encyclopaedias, and combining and arranging these to create new pictures, Ernst was inspired by the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. He divided his work into seven sections, each named for one of the days of the week, with each having a theme, one of which was “Blood.” The work consists of five volumes, for which the artist created 182 dark, bizarre, dreamlike images. One in particular has been widely taken to be that of a vampire, here reproduced.

        Creatures of the Night (1969), by Frank Frazetta. The venerated “Godfather of Fantasy Art” celebrated two classic monsters with this canvas, perhaps the two most famous of all. And one of them is a vampire!

        Vampirella is a comic book superheroine and, for all intents and purposes, vampire pin-up girl! She was co-created in 1969 by noted science fiction fan/literary agent/magazine publisher Forrest J Ackerman and pioneering underground comix artist Trina Robbins—it was Robbins who came up with the lovely lady’s revealing costume. Frazetta painted Vampirella for the first edition of her self-titled comic book series, but the artist most associated with the character is José Gonzáles, whose iconic rendering (left) was made into a popular poster (1972).

        In 2010, Joe Jusko employed Vampirella to pay homage to Ackerman, who had died two years earlier (right).

        Zora la Vampira (1972-1985) was an erotic/horror comic book series about a female vampire’s sexually-charged adventures as she sought to satisfy her taste for both blood and sex! She was one of many such supernatural characters in the fumetti tradition of sex, violence, and horror. Fumetti are, simply, Italian comic books. This cover illustration was painted by one of the most talented artists of the genre, Alessandro Biffignandi.

        Commercial Art: A British merchandise and jewellery designer, and contemporary fantasy illustrator, Anne Stokes (www.annestokes.com) has produced artwork for books, record albums, and games, including Dungeons & Dragons. Her art has also been licenced for posters, T-shirts, calendars, jigsaw puzzles, tarot and greeting cards, coffee mugs, and jewellery. This piece (left), entitled Await the Night, is from her Gothic Collection and was adapted, too, as a collectible figurine.

        To the right is cover art produced for a paperback vampire novel, circa 1960; the artist is unknown and likely one of the many unsung in-house commercial illustrators hired to turn out such artwork.

        The best Vampire Movie Posters featured dynamic designs and gloriously garish artwork rendered in a variety of styles.

        The Vampire on Page and Screen

        History’s poets and writers have showcased the vampire over the centuries, some adding to the mythology an erotic element. Among the most influential works of the early 19th century was “The Vampyre” (1819), a short story written by John William Polidori (1795-1821), personal physician to Romantic poet Lord Byron.

        During the summer of 1816—the so-called Year Without a Summer, a recent volcanic eruption having caused unusually cool temperatures and heavy rain over Europe—Byron welcomed guests to his rented villa near Lake Geneva, Switzerland. In the evenings, the group amused themselves telling ghost stories by the fire, until their host proposed that they each write a horror story of their own. Polidori’s “The Vampyre” came of this challenge, which also, famously, begat Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (1818).

        Victorian vampire tales often featured an alluring, elegant neck-biter, seductively preying on young, virtuous women who find themselves at the same time repelled by and attracted to the gentleman. Gothic horror virtuoso Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s (1814-1873) novella, Carmilla (1872), offered readers a Sapphic angle, his titular character the template for many a lesbian vampire to come.

        Carmilla, book illustration (1872)

        Byron, Goethe, Tolstoy, Théophile Gautier, and Alexandre Dumas, pére are among the literary greats who were inspired by the vampire. Contemporary novelists Anne Rice, Chelsey Quinn Yarbro, Laurel Hamilton, Montreal-based Nancy Kilpatrick, Stephanie Meyer, Richard Matheson, George R. R. Martin, Stephen King, and countless others, followed in their footsteps.

        The German silent-film classic Nosferatu (1922) stars Max Schreck as vampire Count Orlok. The film was an unauthorized adaptation of Dracula, produced for German audiences—thus were the details changed to so reflect—but Stoker’s heirs successfully sued, nonetheless, resulting in the court ordering all prints of the film destroyed. Fortunately, some copies survived as the film is, today, considered a masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema, not to mention a prototype of the vampire movie.

        Advancing the genre on screen were films like F.W. Murnau’s silent classic Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922), Tod Browning’s definitive Dracula (1931), and the numerous vampire pictures of the Hammer Horror oeuvre (1958-1974) starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt, and others.