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Michael O’Shaughnessy – The Monster Book Of Monsters

Posted by demonik on September 16, 2007

Michael O’Shaughnessy (ed.) – The Monster Book Of Monsters: 50 Terrifying Tales (Xanadu, 1988).


Hannes Bok

Introduction: Here be Monsters – Michael O’Shaughnessy

A. E. Van Vogt – Vault Of The Beast
Frederik Pohl – We Never Mention Aunt Nora
Charles Beaumont – Last Rites
Nelson Bond – And Lo! The Bird
Charles G. Finney – The Black Retriever
Henry Spicer – The Bird Woman
Lord Dunsany – The Horde of The Gibbelins
Frederic Brown – Answer
P’u Sung Ling – The Painted Skin
Roger Zelazny – The Monster And The Maiden
Manly Wade Wellman – The Devil is Not Mocked
Frederic Brown – Puppet Show
Harry Harrison – At Last, The True Story Of Frankenstein
Chelsea Quinn Yarbo – Disturb Not My Slumbering Fair
William Sambrot – Island Of Fear
Robert Sheckley – Dr. Zombie And His Furry Little Friends
Guy De Maupassant – The Mother Of Monsters
Evelyn Waugh – The Man Who Liked Dickens
Paul S. Powers – Monsters Of The Pit
Philip K. Dick – Expendable
Hume Nisbet – The Demon Spell
Richard Matheson – Born Of Man And Woman
P. Schuyler Miller – The Thing On Outer Shoal
Philip Jose Farmer – After King Kong Fell
Roger Zelazny – The Doors Of His Face, The Lamps Of His Mouth
William Sambrot – Leprechaun
Guy Endore – Men Of Iron
Louis Philips – The Lop-eared Cat That Devoured Philadelphia
Thomas M. Disch – Flight Useless, Inexorable The Pursuit
Robert Sheckley – Ghost V
Joseph Payne Brennan – Slime
Anthony Boucher – They Bite
Ray Bradbury – The Foghorn
G. R. Macready – The Plant-Thing
Edgar Allen Poe – The Conquering Worm
Victor Hugo – The Fools Pope
Harl Vincent – Rex
Algernon Blackwood – Roman Remains
Francis Flagg – The Distortion Out Of Space
Peter Redgrove – Mr. Waterman
Barry Pain – The End Of A Show
Lafcadio Hearn – Mujina
William Tenn – She Only Goes Out At Night
Robert Bloch – Mother Of Serpents
Robert Bloch – Sweets To The Sweet
Bruce Elliott – Wolves Don’t Cry
R. Chetwynd-Hayes – Looking For Something To Suck
Theodore Surgeon – The Professor’s Teddy Bear
William Sambrot – Creature Of The Snows
W. J. Stamper – Lips Of The Dead

Blurb:
Amazing Aliens, Anxious Androids, Baleful Beasts, Creepy Cannibals, Diabolical Demons, Deadly Dracula, Dangerous Dragons, Fearsome Frankenstein, Ghastly Ghouls, Grim Gorgons, Horrid Hybrids, Insidious Insects, Jolly Jack the Ripper, Killer Kids, King kong, Looming Leviathans, Mad Machines, Mixed-Up Mutants, Nail-biting Nightmares, Outrageous Ogre’s, Paralysing Parasites, Poisonous Plants, Queer Quasimodo, Rebellious Robots, Spooks From Space, Threatening Things, the Unsettling Undead, Vicious Vampires, Weird Witches, Werewolves and Zombies ….

There are days when I wonder why I do this.

Anyway, for want of a better word, an eclectic selection from Mr. O’Shaughnessy. It must be very disconcerting reading these stories in order as they flit from full-on SF to creature features via Victorian melodrama and back like there was no tomorrow (to be fair, in some of them, there isn’t). Here’s the usual bunch of sickening spoilers.

Pu Sung Ling – The Painted Skin: Beautiful sixteen year old girl is in reality a demon who wears a human skin. She rips out the heart of her benefactor Wang when he discovers her terrible secret. Now disguised as a hag she encounters a wise old priest who knows how to deal with her. Wang is brought back from the dead thanks to the persistence of his devoted wife Chen who humbles herself before the town tramp, a master occultist.

Guy de Maupassant – The Mother Of Monsters: A peasant farm-worker falls pregnant and, ashamed, constructs a corset of wood and rope to conceal the evidence. The child is born hideously deformed, earning her mother the nickname ‘the She-devil’. However, her misfortune turns to advantage when the owner of a travelling show offers to buy the monstrosity. She then becomes a one woman atrocity factory, pumping out a mutant offspring to order (in as much as it’s physically possible, of course) and setting herself up for life.

Charles G. Finney – The Black Retriever: Mr. Charles is on the look-out for the elusive beast responsible for slaughtering his and his neighbours’ pets. He is distracted by the sight of Miss Betty hanging out her washing in just her bra and shorts and indulges in some harmless peeping-tommery. Good thing he does, too, as Betty suddenly vanishes before his eyes. And then he hears the clawing on the roof of his car.

Harry Harrison – At Last, The True Story Of Frankenstein: Panama City, Florida. After witnessing the extraordinary performance of a ‘monster’ seemingly entirely oblivious to pain, reporter Dan Bream interviews its master, monocled Carney showman, Victor Frankenstein V. Frankenstein confides that the creature is wearing out and he’ll need replacing very shortly …

Henry Spicer – The Bird Woman: A young lady answers an advertisement for a position as carer to “an invalid, infirm or lunatic person” at a dingy-looking house which has the reputation of being haunted. “Having little fear of anything human and none at all of apparitions” she’s confident that she’ll be able to cope with her charge – until she actually claps eyes on the owl-like travesty she’s expected to look after.

P. Schuyler Miller – The Thing On Outer Shoal: Phillipsport, Maine. An earthquake spews a dying giant Gilman out of the sea, its carcass slowly torn apart and feasted upon by vast armies of gulls. As Cap’n Waters and his party of aged sea-dawgs draw their boats closer to investigate, the creature’s mate arrives to claim the body. Then a Kraken shows up – its all happening in this one – for a quick fight to the death. The Gilwoman wins, but then she’s machine-gunned and bombed to death by Jim Anders in his coast guard plane.

Philip K. Dick – Expendable: Unnamed man is declared war upon by the ants because he knows too much about their plans for world domination. The spiders assure him that they and the birds will save the human race – but there’s not much they can do for him …

Here’s some I made earlier …

Manly Wade Wellman – The Devil is Not Mocked: Dracula and the children of the night make short work of a Nazi unit foolish enough to believe they can commandeer a Transylvanian Castle.

Anthony Boucher – They Bite:The Carka family operate in a manner comparable to the Sawney Beane clan. Twice the army have been sent into the small Californian desert town to wipe them out, twice they’ve come back – biting. Now Hugh Tallent arranges to meet the man who’s been blackmailing him at a seemingly abandoned old ruin …

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo – Disturb Not My Slumbering Fair: “It was almost an hour later when Dierdre climbed up the hill again, scratched, bruised and happy. Tied to her belt by the hair, the woman’s head banged on her legs with every step she took ….”

Dierdre thrives on a diet of human flesh. Our heroine attacks first a cemetery warden and then a woman who gives her a lift. Eventually she gets herself hired at a morgue where she can feast to her heart’s content – until she comes into conflict with a second ghoul.

William Tenn – She Only Goes Out At Night: Sympathy for the vampire. In Groppa County they’ll tell you how old Doc Judd can handle anything, so it’s lucky he’s around when his son, Steve, falls for Tatiana Latianu, just as a weird epidemic begins to lay low the children of the community. The narrator, a Rumanian, realises there’s something wrong about the girl when he starts getting twinges in his wooden leg. The Doc works out a humane solution to the situation and everybody’s happy.

… and three from the first Not At Night collection …

Paul S. Power – Monsters Of The Pit: Port Said. Scott falls in love with Irene, the sheltered daughter of Prof. Denham, mad scientist and misanthrope. Denham has bred ghastly, squirming diseased bacteria to unleash on the world, and he’s also been experimenting with insects. He throws Scott into the pit where, caught in a huge web, he awaits the approach of giant spiders (their last meal was an ox). He escapes minus an arm, which Irene is obliged to hack off with an axe when one of the arachnids sinks its fangs in. It takes her three attempts.

R. G. Macready – The Plant Thing: Dick, star reporter with The Clarion, breaks into Professor Carter’s grounds to investigate claims that he’s carrying out dreadful vivisection. In reality, the old boy is a well-meaning fellow and the missing sheep & co. are being fed to his pride and joy, a 25ft carnivorous “travesty” which he believes to be the missing link between plant and animal (see also Hester Holland’s Dorner Cordainthus). Both men are attacked and almost eaten by it.

W. J. Stamper – Lips Of The Dead: “Down with Theodor! Death to Black Oscar!” Port Au Prince, Haiti. When the corrupt leaders decapitate the people’s champion, Papillon, his severed head warns: “To-morrow, Theodor, to-morrow.”
The following day the mob storm the palace. Black Oscar is – disappointingly – merely shot dead, but Theodor is dragged by a horse and then crucified.

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