Tag Archives: strangeness

Decades had passed, and he was old, inured to strangeness. Nothing had been confirmed except a long-suppressed suspicion of men’s selfishness.

Mary Sativa, The Lovers’ Crusade

Hermetic quote Sativa Crusade selfishness

The Dreaming Jewels

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Dreaming Jewels; The Cosmic Rape; Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon:

Theodore Sturgeon's The Dreaming Jewels


This Book of the Month Club edition contains three unrelated novels by Theodore Sturgeon. The third of them, Venus Plus X, I originally read in a battered used paperback, and I’ve already reviewed it separately.

The Dreaming Jewels (also published elswhere as The Synthetic Man) was Sturgeon’s first novel. Written circa 1950, it is also set in mid-20th-century America, with an emerging substratum of non-human strangeness. “Yet—how many men walked the earth who were not men at all; how many trees, how many rabbits, flowers, amoebae, sea-worms, red-woods, eels and eagles grew and flowered, swam and hunted and stood among their prototypes with none knowing that they were an alien dream, having, apart from the dream, no history?” (181)

The comparisons I found myself making for this story were not to other pieces of science fiction, but rather to the horror genre. Without even engaging any extraterrestrial scenario, Sturgeon manages to evoke a cosmic indifference more effectively than H.P. Lovecraft ever did. And, by way of further contrast, he succeeds in making his characters both more detestable and admirable than any Lovecraftian people. Sturgeon had had plenty of experience in his short fiction at drawing vivid personalities, and it shows in this novel.

There is one element of the plot in the closing pages that I was not able to quite reason out: a happy twist for which I can imagine a justification, but which the text doesn’t seem to square away as well as a reader might desire. The prose throughout is graceful and efficient, and The Dreaming Jewels is a speedy, pleasurable read.

The Cosmic Rape remains on my TBR pile for the time being. [via]



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Join in for the next round of the Eclectic, Esoteric Postal Potlatch

I haven’t talked about the Eclectic, Esoteric Postal Potlatch in a while, but just sent off a bunch of fun stuff via post today and was thinking how much more fun it would be with even more people participating.

As a kid, in my family, we had a tradition of doing what we called “christmas stockings” each year, but there was so much bizarre being exchanged that we needed garbage bags to hold each person’s haul. I don’t propose sending that kind of volume to people, but I have in mind a crazy, fun grab bag of esoteric strangeness very similar to that for each person participating. Another example that comes to mind are the old boxes of tchotchkes put together by Steve Jackson Games for the Illuminati board game, with stickers and photocopied flyers and little rubber fnords. But, to make it real, and really bizarre, I need your help in both accumulating things to send and in being someone I send things to!

Check out the full page about the idea, and consider becoming part of the project, but, here’s the gist to remind everyone.

Here’s the simplest explanation of what I’m thinking: If people send me things then I’ll send them things. What arrives and what is sent would be up to those involved. I would never sell or reveal the participant list, but would use addresses of participants to merely to send occasional envelopes or packages, maybe once a month or quarterly. There would be two ways to get on the participant list, but this would be completely open to individuals, music groups, publishers, and so on:

  • first, and simplest, is to send something in; For those sending things in, something reciprocal would be sent based on what I can afford to post or, better yet, on their SASE or how much postage they include inside for me to use on return post to them.
  • second, and really great, is to become a supporter of the library. For supporters, depending on how much postage their support reasonably allowed beyond helping with hosting the site and so on, I would send quarterly or monthly something fun from the supplies donated and gathered.

Really any variety of interesting tchotchkes people sent in limited pretty much only by their imaginations and my ability to post those imaginations back to others. Also, I might be able to occasionally send supporters an Hermetic Library t-shirt or maybe some promotional books if I can interest any publishers or authors in contributing. But, really, who knows what fun we might generate with this? Let’s turn my office into an homage to what Archee McPhee’s would be if they were dabbling in the dark and esoteric arts!

So, one who is participating might variously send in and get things in return like:

  • bookmarks
  • stickers
  • mix tapes
  • CDs
  • used books
  • rituals, poetry, essays
  • booklets, brochures, flyers

I’m not looking to have sent to me or to resend things that evoke the black helicopters, SWAT teams or HAZMAT teams; but, just about anything else that the postal system will deliver could be part of this.

Anyhow, why not join the fun and make the fun funner and funnier together with a side of eldritch tentacles?