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A Sherlock Holmes Sampler

September 15th, 2018

I’ve been working my way through all of the Sherlock Holmes novels and stories over the last month. I love Holmes and Watson. Holmes’s deprecating remarks to Watson. His way of disguising himself so that Watson doesn’t recognize him. His haughtiness. His neurotic spells. The British usages, and the country scenes, and the class system. The dialog, and the dialect. Such fun, so comfortable, and a pleasant escape from our tense 21st C USA.

As described in the Wikipedia entry for Sherlock Holmes, the so-called Holmes Canon of works includes four novels, four story collections, and an isolated story. In chronological order they are:

• A Study in Scarlet (Novel) 1887
• The Sign of the Four (Novel) 1890
• The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Stories) 1891–1892
• The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Stories) 1892–1893
• The Hound of the Baskervilles (Serialized Novel) 1901–1902
• The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Stories) 1903–1904
• The Valley of Fear (Serialized Novel) 1914–1915
• “His Last Bow” (Spy story that was published with a volume of reprint stories) 1917
• The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (Stories) 1921–1927)

My favorites are The Sign of the Four (that’s the one where Holmes is famously shooting up cocaine, but the key thing is that the story and characters are great in this one), and the story collections. Holmes supposedly dies at the end of the last story in The Memoirs, but he reappears in the first story of The Return. The intermediary The Hound of the Baskervilles is set before Holmes’s supposed death.

At this point, I’m near the end of the The Return of Sherlock Holmes, and I haven’t even gotten into the Case-Book yet. I’m glad I still have some Holmes left.

The edition I’ve been reading is Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection (Including all 9 books in Sherlock Holmes series), by Arthur Conan Doyle, Hatman’s Books. $0.99 on Kindle. I should caution that this cheap edition fails to include the occasional maps or diagrams that appear in the stories.

As I read, I’ve been highlighting passages that I find amusing or memorable. A nice feature of the Kindle is that it’ll send you a list of the passages you’ve highlighted, although I don’t think my ebook is laid out in the correct canonical order. Anyway, I’m reprinting a more or less consecutive series of Holmes quotes, without bothering to comment on them—they speak for themselves. And I put in the the novel or story titles.

Although I read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with relish, I neglected to highlight any passages in that collection…the highlighting was an idea I only had later on. But maybe, as time goes by, I’ll add a few more Holmes quotes from time to time.

If you want to locate the full passage corresponding to one of my excerpts, you can open a very nice online complete edition of the Holmes Canon , assembled by the worthy Christoph Ender, a software engineer in Husum, Germany. Note that Ender also provides ebook versions.

On Ender’s vast and capacious page, you can do a webpage Find words to find a given passage by typing a few words of the passage into a webpage Find box. To open a web page Find box, press Ctrl+f or Apple+f on the page, or go to the browser menu and select Find.

Ender’s page includes the drawings that are missing from my Kindle edition, although his online HTML version and his ebooks lack the final volume of Holmes stories, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, as this volume is not yet in the publich domain, due to some grasping lawyers’ pettifoggery.

As I so often do, I’m going to fold in a completely irrelevant series of photos from my recent stash, with th expectation that the Surrealist Muse of Randomicity will, as always, provide hidden connections and entanglements among the quotes and the images. And take the Location numbers as surreal mileposts, if you will.

A Study in Scarlet

Holmes is a little too scientific for my tastes—it approaches to cold-bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects. To do him justice, I think that he would take it himself with the same readiness.

The Sign of the Four

Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantel-piece and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks. Finally he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined arm-chair with a long sigh of satisfaction.

The Sign of the Four

He did not seem offended. On the contrary, he put his finger-tips together and leaned his elbows on the arms of his chair, like one who has a relish for conversation.

“My mind,” he said, “rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation.

The Sign of the Four

“I trust that you have no objection to tobacco-smoke, to the mild balsamic odor of the Eastern tobacco. I am a little nervous, and I find my hookah an invaluable sedative.”

The Sign of the Four

“This is all an insoluble mystery to me,” said I. “It grows darker instead of clearer.”

“On the contrary,” he answered, “it clears every instant. I only require a few missing links to have an entirely connected case.”

The Sign of the Four

He whipped out his lens and a tape measure, and hurried about the room on his knees, measuring, comparing, examining, with his long thin nose only a few inches from the planks, and his beady eyes gleaming and deep-set like those of a bird. So swift, silent, and furtive were his movements, like those of a trained blood-hound picking out a scent, that I could not but think what a terrible criminal he would have made had he turned his energy and sagacity against the law, instead of exerting them in its defense. As he hunted about, he kept muttering to himself, and finally he broke out into a loud crow of delight.

The Sign of the Four

I followed him some distance, but he subsided into an ale-house:

The Sign of the Four

“See how the folk swarm over yonder in the gaslight.”

“They are coming from work in the yard.”

“Dirty-looking rascals, but I suppose every one has some little immortal spark concealed about him. You would not think it, to look at them. There is no a priori probability about it. A strange enigma is man!”

“Some one calls him a soul concealed in an animal,” I suggested.

The Sign of the Four

“The division seems rather unfair,” I remarked. “You have done all the work in this business. I get a wife out of it, Jones gets the credit, pray what remains for you?”

“For me,” said Sherlock Holmes, “there still remains the cocaine-bottle.” And he stretched his long white hand up for it.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

“Would you have any objection to my running my finger along your parietal fissure? A cast of your skull, sir, until the original is available, would be an ornament to any anthropological museum. It is not my intention to be fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull.”

The Hound of the Baskervilles
A short walk brought us to it, a bleak moorland house, once the farm of some grazier in the old prosperous days, but now put into repair and turned into a modern dwelling. An orchard surrounded it, but the trees, as is usual upon the moor, were stunted and nipped, and the effect of the whole place was mean and melancholy.

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Dr. Mortimer lunched with us. He has been excavating a barrow at Long Down and has got a prehistoric skull which fills him with great joy.

The Hound of the Baskervilles
He stopped suddenly and stared fixedly up over my head into the air. The lamp beat upon his face, and so intent was it and so still that it might have been that of a clear-cut classical statue, a personification of alertness and expectation.

The Hound of the Baskervilles
The path zigzagged from tuft to tuft of rushes among those green-scummed pits and foul quagmires which barred the way to the stranger. Rank reeds and lush, slimy water-plants sent an odour of decay and a heavy miasmatic vapour onto our faces, while a false step plunged us more than once thigh-deep into the dark, quivering mire, which shook for yards in soft undulations around our feet. Its tenacious grip plucked at our heels as we walked, and when we sank into it was as if some malignant hand was tugging us down into those obscene depths, so grim and purposeful was the clutch in which it held us.

The Valley of Fear
“You have heard me speak of Professor Moriarty?”

“The famous scientific criminal, as famous among crooks as—”

“My blushes, Watson!” Holmes murmured in a deprecating voice.

“I was about to say, as he is unknown to the public.”

“A touch! A distinct touch!” cried Holmes. “You are developing a certain unexpected vein of pawky humour, Watson, against which I must learn to guard myself.

The Valley of Fear
“Is he not the celebrated author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid?”

The Valley of Fear
“Your native shrewdness, my dear Watson, that innate cunning which is the delight of your friends, would surely prevent you from inclosing cipher and message in the same envelope.”

The Valley of Fear
“The old wheel turns, and the same spoke comes up.”

“The Stock Broker’s Clerk” in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

One morning in June, as I sat reading the British Medical Journal after breakfast, I heard a ring at the bell, followed by the high, somewhat strident tones of my old companion’s voice.

“The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Finding that Holmes was too absorbed for conversation, I had tossed aside the barren paper, and leaning back in my chair, I fell into a brown study.

“The Final Problem” in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

“Now I have come round to you, and on my way I was attacked by a rough with a bludgeon. I knocked him down, and the police have him in custody; but I can tell you with the most absolute confidence that no possible connection will ever be traced between the gentleman upon whose front teeth I have barked my knuckles and the retiring mathematical coach, who is, I dare say, working out problems upon a black-board ten miles away.”

“The Final Problem” in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

The torrent, swollen by the melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss, from which the spray rolls up like the smoke from a burning house. The shaft into which the river hurls itself is an immense chasm, lined by glistening coal-black rock, and narrowing into a creaming, boiling pit of incalculable depth, which brims over and shoots the stream onward over its jagged lip. The long sweep of green water roaring forever down, and the thick flickering curtain of spray hissing forever upward, turn a man giddy with their constant whirl and clamor. We stood near the edge peering down at the gleam of the breaking water far below us against the black rocks, and listening to the half-human shout which came booming up with the spray out of the abyss.

“The Adventure of the Empty House” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

[Said Holmes:] “We tottered together upon the brink of the fall. I have some knowledge, however, of baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling, which has more than once been very useful to me. I slipped through his grip, and he with a horrible scream kicked madly for a few seconds, and clawed the air with both his hands. But for all his efforts he could not get his balance, and over he went.”

“The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

“Oh, it may be a mere fancy of mine; but it had seemed to me sometimes that my employer, Mr. Carruthers, takes a great deal of interest in me. We are thrown rather together. I play his accompaniments in the evening. He has never said anything. He is a perfect gentleman. But a girl always knows.”

“The Adventure of the Priory School” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

We have had some dramatic entrances and exits upon our small stage at Baker Street, but I cannot recollect anything more sudden and startling than the first appearance of Thorneycroft Huxtable, M.A., Ph.D., etc. His card, which seemed too small to carry the weight of his academic distinctions, preceded him by a few seconds, and then he entered himself—so large, so pompous, and so dignified that he was the very embodiment of self-possession and solidity. And yet his first action, when the door had closed behind him, was to stagger against the table, whence he slipped down upon the floor, and there was that majestic figure prostrate and insensible upon our bearskin hearth-rug.

“The Adventure of the Priory School” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

The day was just breaking when I woke to find the long, thin form of Holmes by my bedside.

“The Adventure of Black Peter” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

I got a shake when I put my head into that little house. It was droning like a harmonium with the flies and bluebottles, and the floor and walls were like a slaughter-house.

“The Adventure of the Six Napoleons” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

The official received us with a very grave face and showed us into a sitting-room, where an exceedingly unkempt and agitated elderly man, clad in a flannel dressing-gown, was pacing up and down.

“The Adventure of the Six Napoleons” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

Finally, he picked up his hunting-crop and struck Napoleon a sharp blow on the top of the head. The figure broke into fragments, and Holmes bent eagerly over the shattered remains. Next instant, with a loud shout of triumph he held up one splinter, in which a round, dark object was fixed like a plum in a pudding.

“Gentlemen,” he cried, “let me introduce you to the famous black pearl of the Borgias.”

Lestrade and I sat silent for a moment, and then, with a spontaneous impulse, we both broke at clapping, as at the well-wrought crisis of a play. A flush of colour sprang to Holmes’s pale cheeks, and he bowed to us like the master dramatist who receives the homage of his audience. It was at such moments that for an instant he ceased to be a reasoning machine, and betrayed his human love for admiration and applause. The same singularly proud and reserved nature which turned away with disdain from popular notoriety was capable of being moved to its depths by spontaneous wonder and praise from a friend.

“Yes, gentlemen,” said he, “It is the most famous pearl now existing in the world, and it has been my good fortune, by a connected chain of inductive reasoning, to trace it from the Prince of Colonna’s bedroom at the Dacre Hotel, where it was lost, to the interior of this, the last of the six busts of Napoleon which were manufactured by Gelder & Co., of Stepney.”

“The Adventure of the Three Students” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

“I am very busy just now, and I desire no distractions,” my friend answered. “I should much prefer that you called in the aid of the police.”

“The Adventure of the Three Students” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

“I shall be happy to look into it and to give you such advice as I can,” said Holmes, rising and putting on his overcoat. “The case is not entirely devoid of interest.”

“The Adventure of the Three Students” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

“No, indeed,” said Holmes, heartily, springing to his feet. “Well, Soames, I think we have cleared your little problem up, and our breakfast awaits us at home. Come, Watson! As to you, sir, I trust that a bright future awaits you in Rhodesia.”

“The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

As I turn over the pages, I see my notes upon the repulsive story of the red leech and the terrible death of Crosby, the banker. Here also I find an account of the Addleton tragedy, and the singular contents of the ancient British barrow. The famous Smith-Mortimer succession case comes also within this period, and so does the tracking and arrest of Huret, the Boulevard assassin—an exploit which won for Holmes an autograph letter of thanks from the French President and the Order of the Legion of Honour.

“The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

It was a wild, tempestuous night, towards the close of November. Holmes and I sat together in silence all the evening, he engaged with a powerful lens deciphering the remains of the original inscription upon a palimpsest, I deep in a recent treatise upon surgery. Outside the wind howled down Baker Street, while the rain beat fiercely against the windows. It was strange there, in the very depths of the town, with ten miles of man’s handiwork on every side of us, to feel the iron grip of Nature, and to be conscious that to the huge elemental forces all London was no more than the molehills that dot the fields.

“The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

“Nothing was moved before I got there, and strict orders were given that no one should walk upon the paths leading to the house. It was a splendid chance of putting your theories into practice, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. There was really nothing wanting.”

“Except Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said my companion, with a somewhat bitter smile. “Well, let us hear about it. What sort of a job did you make of it?”

“The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

At that instant, to give point to his words, the carriage came round to the door.

“Could you not follow it?” [I asked.]

“Excellent, Watson! You are scintillating this evening. The idea did cross my mind. There is, as you may have observed, a bicycle shop next to our inn. Into this I rushed, engaged a bicycle.”

“The Adventure of the Abbey Grange” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

It was on a bitterly cold and frosty morning, towards the end of the winter of ’97, that I was awakened by a tugging at my shoulder. It was Holmes. The candle in his hand shone upon his eager, stooping face, and told me at a glance that something was amiss.

“Come, Watson, come!” he cried. “The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!”

Ten minutes later we were both in a cab, and rattling through the silent streets on our way to Charing Cross Station. The first faint winter’s dawn was beginning to appear, and we could dimly see the occasional figure of an early workman as he passed us, blurred and indistinct in the opalescent London reek.

“The Adventure of the Abbey Grange” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes

“I must admit, Watson, that you have some power of selection, which atones for much which I deplore in your narratives. Your fatal habit of looking at everything from the point of view of a story instead of as a scientific exercise has ruined what might have been an instructive and even classical series of demonstrations. You slur over work of the utmost finesse and delicacy, in order to dwell upon sensational details which may excite, but cannot possibly instruct, the reader.”

“Why do you not write them yourself?” I said, with some bitterness.

Madison, California Zephyr Train, Ed Note for “Return to the Hollow Earth”

September 13th, 2018

Editor’s Note to Return to the Hollow Earth

[This is my note to my Mason Reynolds novel, Return to the Hollow Earth. I’ve illustrated the post with some photos taken during a visit with our daughter Georgia and her husband Courtney in Madison, Wisconsin, and then a train trip from Chicago to Denver and onward to Oakland, California.]

In 1990, I edited Mason Reynolds’s 1850 manuscript, The Hollow Earth, and I saw it into publication. The Hollow Earth ends with Mason and his wife Seela setting off for California aboard a clipper ship, the Purple Whale. Newspaper records of the time report that the Purple Whale sank off Cape Horn with no survivors.

For years I’ve wondered if Mason and Seela might somehow have made their way to California anyway—and whether they ever revisited the Hollow Earth.

In 2006, one of my woman readers emailed me that, while on a dive trip to Fiji, she’d spent a passionate night with a man named Alan Poague, who showed her an unfinished manuscript attributed to Mason Reynolds and entitled Return to the Hollow Earth.

By way of researching this, my wife and I took a cruise on a liveaboard dive boat in Fiji—great fun. In a village on one of the smaller islands, I met this Alan Poague, a Californian who’d gone native in the islands. A raffish and engaging man, he played a steel guitar in the lounge of an inn that catered to divers and surfers. I told him my story, and he readily showed me the manuscript pages that he’d shown the woman diver who’d emailed me.

Poague said he was familiar with my edition of The Hollow Earth, and that his manuscript was by Mason Reynolds as well. How so? Supposedly the words had come to Poague in a kava trance, that is, in a waking dream brought on by an intoxicating local plant. He’d typed the text without really having to think about it. He’d produced eleven pages this way, and then the flow had stopped, or he’d gotten distracted—and he’d moved onto other projects. He was now assembling a diving guidebook for the Great Astrolabe Reef. And he dreamed of writing a New Age work based on his notions of the thought-processes of the woomo. I made a copy of Poague’s eleven pages and we returned home.

Ten years later, in April, 2017. I began having lucid dreams involving the Hollow Earth—in particular I was sensing the mind of the giant woomo whom Mason called Uxa. Uxa was extending her tendrils from the core, worming them through volcanic vents and ocean-floor holes. Upon reaching me, Uxa’s fronds wrapped my body in a net of pale gold. Using this connection, the Great Old One was speaking to me—not in words nor in images, but via certain physical sensations. She was making my fingers twitch.

I had no writing project that April. Sitting at my computer keyboard one morning, I turned my thoughts to my dreams of Uxa. As I thought of her, my fingers began to move. Suddenly I realized that Uxa wanted me to type the second narrative of Mason Reynolds.

I knew this in the same non-verbal way that I might know the workings of a mathematical proof. Mason had written Return to the Hollow Earth in his head, Uxa had read his mind, and now she was using me to put Mason’s words to paper. She’d tried earlier to use Alan Poague of Fiji for her scribe, but he hadn’t had the patience. But now, with me already having edited The Hollow Earth, Uxa had found someone who would see the project through.

Smiling to myself, I unleashed my fingers and let the story flow. As my tekelili connection to Uxa sharpened, I began mentally hearing the words I wrote, and inwardly seeing the scenes I described.

The strange, intense transmission lasted several hours, and when I was done, I’d typed the first six pages of Return to the Hollow Earth. The next day I typed five more. I compared what I had to my copy of the Alan Poague manuscript. The two texts were word for word the same.

For a week nothing more came. I lost hope. Perhaps I’d unwittingly memorized Poague’s manuscript and had merely retyped it. Perhaps there was no Uxa. Perhaps I was a doddering, self-deluded, borderline-senile old man. A writer at the end of his rope.

But then, bam, Uxa linked into me for three days in a row—and I was well into the second chapter. My joy mounted, and in the coming months my confidence steadily grow. I didn’t like telling my wife or my friends exactly what I was up to. I just said I was working on a sequel to The Hollow Earth, and that I had no outline at all, and that I was depending entirely on the muse. My scribing continued, off and on, for nearly a year. Nobody paid me much mind. Writing is what I do.

On March 24, 2018, things got stranger. According to what I was transcribing in the pages of Return to the Hollow Earth, Mason had arrived that day in Big Sur! No longer was he a fictional or a historical figure. He was here and now, just down the coast from my Los Gatos home. A day later, I found myself typing that Mason and his family had moved in with four undocumented Latinos in the Beach Flats neighborhood of Santa Cruz. Should I go and meet him? I didn’t quite dare.

How had Mason jumped so far forward in time? I had only to study the pages I’d written. Mason had spent over a hundred and sixty seven years stranded with the woomo Uxa in the slow time zone at the Hollow Earth’s core. Evidently it was near the end of that stay when Uxa began using her tekelili to send out Mason’s narrative for transcription. First she’d tried it with Alan Poague, and then she’d turned to me. And then Mason had escaped the slow time zone and he’d ridden to Big Sur in a live flying saucer made of two veem. And, now, even with Mason so far away from the Earth’s core, Uxa was still picking up his mental narrative—and transmitting the updates to me.

On March 28, 2018, I found myself writing that Mason had sold an article to a Santa Cruz newspaper called Good Times, and that his article was appearing that day. I’d been leery of seeking him out, but this pushed me over the edge. I got in my car and drove to the Good Times editorial office in Santa Cruz, and asked where I could find Mason Reynolds. A young woman told me to check the crumbling old Evergreen Cemetery.

I hurried there—and I found Mason, along with his wife Seela, their baby Brumble, Mason’s new friends Maya and Rafaelo, plus an inquisitive policeman, and none other than the recently resurrected Edgar Allan Poe, accompanied by his wife Ina. I felt like I was going crazy.

But yet, everything remained, in some ways, ordinary. Mason already knew that I’d edited and published his manuscript of The Hollow Earth, and he was interested in discussing this. He and his friends were on the point of being in trouble with the police, and I was able to talk our way past the problem.

And—Edgar Allan Poe? Was I really meeting Poe? It certainly seemed so, not that he was in good shape, having spent well over a century buried in a bronze casket, and then having immediately gotten drunk. But you know all this if you’ve read Return to the Hollow Earth. Mason describes these scenes better than I. He’s a born writer, a natural.

Having grown used to the fluent, assured tone of Mason’s two narratives, I was startled to see how young he was in person. Eighteen years old, or not quite that. He was dark-skinned from the woomo light, with the features of a slender, white, Southern boy, and with, of course, something of a Virginia accent. He was very articulate, and with a rich vocabulary. His speech had a leisurely pace that matched his origin in slower times. His eyes were quick, animated, and perhaps a bit haunted.

Seela was dark brown, with thin lips and a delicate nose, resembling the Melanesian women of Fiji. She was beautiful and lively, with a sharp tongue. Clearly she loved Mason and Brumble. The moment of her parting with them was very painful, and their reunion a joy.

Mason and Seela didn’t like our present day world, and Mason himself was a bit let down that he hadn’t traveled onward through that dubious tunnel in space with Eddie Poe. I was glad to give Mason and Seela some money—although he thinks it should have been more. I hope I did well in suggesting they move to Pohnpei. And I’m glad to have inherited their dog. Arf is good company, with deep wisdom in his eyes.

In my excitement, I didn’t think to take any photos of Mason, nor of the epic scenes at Big Sur. But Arf is here in the flesh. As I like to tell people, “If you don’t believe the Hollow Earth is real, come visit me and you can see the dog!”

As I write this, he’s lying in a patch of sun, thumping his tail against the floor. Good dog. Arf is my proof that the Earth is hollow.

I’m no longer getting any tekelili updates from Uxa. Perhaps, from the woomo point of view, my mission is done—not that I’m certain what was the purpose of my mission. Perhaps Mason’s two narratives are meant to prepare our society for an eventual merger with the civilizations of the Hollow Earth? The woomo take a long view.

I don’t have any contact information for Mason, but I do have Rafaelo’s email address. A couple of months ago I mailed a paper printout of my draft of Return to the Hollow Earth to Mason in care of General Delivery at Pohnpei. Rafaelo emailed me Mason’s response, and this comprises the brief closing section of the book’s final chapter. I’ve heard nothing more since then.

Judging from Mason’s ending to the book, I think he’s angry about his book being published with so little fanfare—and that he blames me. And never mind that I spent a year writing his book for him, and gave him ten thousand dollars! A slicker promoter might have found a way to package Mason’s adventures into a best-seller. A wiser editor might not insist—in the face of universal derision—that Mason’s two books are literally true.

The public is wary of nuts—and this category unfairly includes believers in the doctrine of the Hollow Earth. But Mason and I are right. As he puts it—to hell with them all. What matters is that we’ve managed to publish the truth, and nobody stopped us.

As a final point, note that definitive proofs of the Hollow Earth doctrine are in the offing. Eventually the passageways at the poles will reopen. As the Antarctic ice melts, the cap across the South Hole will crumble. And, as ice vanishes from the Arctic and the speed of the polar jet stream increases, the pre-1850 North Hole maelstrom will reemerge.

And then Mason Reynolds will be granted his just place in the Pantheon of great explorers!

Get the books today!

Published “Return to the Hollow Earth.” Three New Paintings.

September 9th, 2018

Yee-haw! The flying saucers are excited!

“The Red Saucer “oil on canvas, Sept, 2018, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

Just finished this painting this week, it took about four sessions—when you use oil instead of acrylic paint, you have to go a little slower, giving the coats some time to dry. I take a deep, atavistic, satisfaction in painting flying saucers. No real reason. It’s like Wassily Kandinsky with his squiggles , or Larry Poons with his dots, or Jean Miro with his hairy ovals.

I laid on a about seven layers of paint for that red saucer’s rim, giving him a Kustom Kolor hot rod sheen. And that orb…is it a sun or a planet? The saucers are interested in it. Maybe it’s their home.

But, wait, what I want to tell you what these wise, living saucers are excited about !

My new novel, Return to the Hollow Earth, which inevitably has a few living saucers among its pullulating and thoroughly fabuloso cast of characters. Visit the book page to see extensive details and buy links. Or just go get the Kindle book on Amazon right now!

I’m still chuckling to myself about some of the bits I put into the new novel. That Eddie Poe!

Writing Return to the Hollow Earth , running a Kickstarter to fund it, and publishing it along with a new edition of my older The Hollow Earth —it’s been quite a push.

I feel like I’m emerging from that tunnel in Fellini’s movie 8½.

And arriving in 2018 San Francisco/Santa Cruz/Los Gatos, greatly changed.

I’ve been decompressing by wading up a long , isolated creek near our house. I walk in the water, on smooth stones, wearing sandals. I never see anyone else, but there are some graffiti. This pompadoured surfer dude is called Naeve. A naive knave? I like that he only has one eye, and that he always looks the same.

Signs of a skattered human tribe, kind of a post-WWIII vibe.

The scraps of nature are like signs from the majestic woomo sea cucumbers of the Hollow Earth.

There’s this one fallen tree I like a lot. Kind of magical, the light there. I painted it, and spent quite a long time on the painting.


“Up the Creek,” acrylic on canvas, August, 2018, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

My old artist friend Barry Feldman had recently remarked to me that I should paint what he considers to be “real” pictures, that is, landscapes with no fantastic critters. I was annoyed by this, but I was in fact goaded into doing a pure landscape. And I’m forever intrigued and challenged by the shapes of running water.

Despite Barry’s injunction, there is a slight possibility that the pair of rocks near the base of the log are in fact a stone UFO. You never know.

Before I relapsed back into my full-on saucer-paintings mode, I did another somewhat realistic painting of the creek. I combined some images I’d seen.

The creek is, in a way, so abstract looking. Like this bi-color zone photo here.

And I saw this one-clawed crawfish kind of threatening me, or waving to me. He reminded me of my old friend Greg Gibson. “Hi Greg,” I said.


“Standing in the Stream,” acrylic on canvas, August, 2018, 30” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

So I put those two together, starting out with swirls that were meant to represent the flows of the water, and the ripples on top.

In the Kingdom of Puf and Naeve.

Not that I’m high on pot. High on sensations and ideas. I recently read this book by Carlo Rovelli, Reality is Not What It Seems. He has a crazy rap about quantized space and time. And I’m looking forward to reading his new pop-sci book, The Order of Time. By the way, here’s a short semi-techincal article of his free online, “Space and time in Loop Quantum Gravity.”

So what does he say about time? Well, the world is made of chunks of space, each with some associated “volume” but you can’t subdivide them. They’re connected via links that represent their shared surface areas. And time is links between events. But the links aren’t sharp…the image I came away with is that my memories of my past are a fairly accurate approximation of what physical time is like. If two events remind me of each other, they have a “temporal” link.

There’s no master time, no overall flow. Just this heap of events…or perceptions…or thoughts…or sensations. And the way we associatively piece together our hoards is pretty much what real time is like. We create time and it creates us…if that means anything. Scraps of imagery in the fog. Greg and the crawfish. With Robert Plant’s “Stairway to Heaven” solo playing. High on life, man!

The stone splash of my glance, the minnow darts of my impressions.

Those primeval playmates space and time.

Go get yourself some of that Hollow Earth, baby!

Brain in an SF Fog

June 29th, 2018

As I’ve been mentioning, I spent the last two months doing final revisions for my two novels Return to the Hollow Earth (written 2017-2018, to appear from my Transreal Books in August or September, 2018) and Million Mile Road Trip (written 2015-2016, to appear from Night Shade Books, May 2019). Like ordering a dessert, and getting two. Fun, interesting, but now I’m worn out. Made (literally) about three thousand changes, large and small. By now I’m in a drifty, twinkling sci-fi fog, with my brain falling out.

In the 50s and 60s, there was a notion that science fiction was a subliterature on the same low level as porn. Paul Di Filippo dug up this old photo to instantiate this notion. When I tweeted it, one of my followers commented to a friend, “That’s him in the doorway,” meaning me. I kind of liked that. Almost like being beatnik.

What with all the revising, I haven’t gotten around to blog posts, other than a recent one about how to make an ebook. So today, as I sometimes do, I’ll just be putting up some things from my bulging photo stash—even when I’m writing, I keep taking pictures.

Did I ever post this photo of the Big Wheel race on Potrero Hill on Easter? Such a jolly event, and somehow nobody seemed to be getting injured. Adults (mostly) riding random scavenged kids’ tricycles, Big Wheels, or office chairs.

Here’s my Notes for Return to the Hollow Earth manuscript from when I was nearly done revising the novel and (for that matter) the notes. Plus a corner of my home made Keith-Haring-style UFO painting, “I Once Was Blind, But Now I See.” I don’t understand why nobody has bought this painting…for sale for a (relative) pittance on my fab Paintings Page. And that’s my nice Panama hat that I got about a year ago. They tend not to last more than one or two years…either getting lost or getting a cracked hole. Really the subject of this photo is shades of beige and yellow…and the use of the triangle.

My writer friends Paul Di Filippo and Richard Kadrey delight in posting altered covers of old pulp paperbacks, somehow transmogrified into fantasy, science-fiction or horror titles. [See photo of me in the doorway at the start of this post.] This cover is the actual 1953 Ace Double edition of William Burroughs’s first novel, Junkie, which he published under the nom de plume Willy Lee. My book dealer pal Greg Gibson gave me the book years and years ago. I knew of this book from the earliest days, and it’s existence inclined me to send my 1979 novel White Light to Ace Books, as did Ian Watson’s “Miracle Visitors.” Like, “Those Ace guys are cool…” Greg was outraged when I actually took my rare Ace Double out of its plastic bag and read it, wanting to soak up the seedy 50s atmosphere. By the way, I feel it cannot be emphasized enough that William Seward Burroughs was fundamentally a science fiction writer, and is the true father of us all. But who is us?

Went for a hike in the Santa Cruz Mountains near the famed Alice’s Restaurant with Sylvia, Rudy Jr., and two of his kids. My granddaughter coiffed me with a Bozo do, kind of nice. Like a Mr. Frostee cone.

Big show by the surrealist Rene Magritte at the SFMOMA in San Francisco. Here’s a painting I’d never seen—I forget the title now, easy to do, as a true surrealist often chooses a title that has nothing whatsoever to do with the image, although, of course, any image and any title do, at the deep waking-dream level, illuminate each other. I’d never thought of candles as being, potentially, flexible snakes. Aha!

Our veteran artist pal Paul Mavrides came to the show with us. “Paul broke a big Magritte painting.”

Synchronicity and randomicity. Both my new books involve one specific 4D construct: which you might call an “unny tunnel,” or “anomaly,” or “wormhole,” or “Einstein-Rosen bridge.” “You know what they are,” insisted the seedy old writer. And synchronisitically I did the photographic equivalent of a “butt dial” on Valencia Street last week, that is, I shot a picture without noticing I did it, and the image has a very nice “lost in the fourth dimension” look to it. A calling card from the Muse: “Crossing a 4D street.”

Here’s a diagram explaining something complicated that happens near the end of Million Mile Road Trip. That square with the tail and the higher-dimensional eyestalk, I call her Yulia, or the flat cow.

Demotic art of the graffitist, seen under a bridge over a woodland creek where I like to hike. I walk in the water on the gravel mostly, wearing Keens sandals. I went here the day after I finished fixing Million Mile Road Trip. Dig the five Us in the Puuuuuf…one U is unseen. Marveling at the woods, and beautiful disorderly order of the clouds and the ripples in the creek and the wind-wobbling leaves, it seems to me that it would be odd and unnecessary to vape to “get higher” Chaos is Enuuuuuf. But whatever works, dude. Far be it from me. Not even. Joie de vivre.

“Woomo Hunters” oil on canvas, May, 2018, 24” x 18”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

While I was working on the ending to Return to the Hollow Earth, I did a painting of five large “woomo” creatures floating over a sea, with two men catching a baby woomo, and slitting it open, with their little boy watching. I don’t think that the hunters are prudent.

I took the composition of the hunters/fishers in the boat from a very famous 1556 drawing by Peter Bruegel. When the drawing was made into an etching, the publisher put the signature “Hieronymous Bosch” on it, just to help the sales. I love the thought of that. Bruegel forging Bosch! Like Jimi Hendrix playing Dylan’s “All Along the Watch Tower.”

That’s enough for today. I’ll post some more later this week, or next week. Here’s a passage from Million Mile Road Trip that I find amusing and heavy. The flat cow (shown above) is talking to my character Villy about the nature of reality as related to the two connected universes in the novel.

The world is made of stoooories,” says the flat cow, getting into a divine wisdom routine. “Not atooooms. Words weave the cosmoooos. A tangle of gossip, archetypes, and jooookes.”

The moos echo in Villy’s head. He’s always imagined his thoughts to be images of the firm external world. But Yulia’s saying it’s the other way around. Villy makes an effort to get to that state of mind. And for a few seconds he’s there. Reality is a sea of sensations, feelings, and tales, intricately linked, with everything alluding to everything else. And the stodgy, solid, kick-a-brick, normative world—that part is the illusion. That part is the dream.

As for the split between ballyworld and mappyworld—there’s really no difference between dreaming the world as a bunch of planets, or dreaming the world as an endless sheet of basins. Either way, it’s the same gnarly thing underneath. Feet on a welcome mat. A tangle of talk. Yeah. Villy feels high as a kite.

Just like the forked birch stick and her shadow, eh?


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