My archive crawl on Aetherial Engines continues. I recommend clicking straight through to the “Full Story Page”; only some kind of WordPress shenanigans prevents me from simply reblogging that.
I like the Depression-era pulp setting of the first half of this one, not least because of the details that remind us why we wouldn’t want to live there – the polio-inflicted leg braces, the “Yellow Peril” magazine cover, the magazine staff one story away from the breadlines, and the fact that “Melvin Bush” needs to hide her true identity in order to sell stories.
The second half, I like because…well, because it’s Conan-esque pulp fantasy (did you know that Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft were pen pals, and that Conan is very much part of the Cthulhu Mythos?), with a truer romance (nerd love rules) and a deeper horror just beneath the surface.
Take a look.
Removing his fingers from the keys, Howard leaned over the typewriter and silently mouthed the words he had struck onto the paper. He shook his head and groaned. Pulling the release lever, he cranked the feeder knob and yanked the page free. Having wadded the paper into a tight paper ball, the young man pitched it into the wastebasket at the far end of the room. It joined twenty other balls that had preceded it.
The scrawny writer leaned back in his chair and stared at the ceiling. “How the hell do you expect me to write this, Ed? I can’t ape Ian’s style to save my life, and this is the god-dammed climax of his story!”
Howard sighed and closed his eyes realizing that the impending deadline and restless week had brought him to ask questions of people who weren’t there. There was no…
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