Christopher Barth, American Renaissance, June 29, 2020
Stanley Hornbeck’s “Five Short Stories for Literate Whites” blog was excellent, and I am grateful to him for introducing me to Rudyard Kipling’s “The Mother Hive,” which should be on everyone’s reading list.
As one who has haunted libraries, both physical and digital, almost since I was able to walk, I’d like to suggest a few more worthwhile short stories.
“The Eighty-Third” by Katharine Fullerton Gerould (1916)
This story was proclaimed by Edward J. O’Brien, a prominent contemporary critic and anthologist, as “the most completely realized study of horror that American literature has produced since ‘The Fall of the House of Usher.’”
Mrs. Gerould’s work appeared in such popular periodicals as Atlantic Monthly, Scribner’s Magazine, and Harper’s Magazine from the teens through the thirties of the 20th century. Valiant Dust, a collection of her short stories, was a best-seller in 1922, but did not contain “The Eighty-Third.” And, for all his praise, Mr. O’Brien failed to include the tale in his Best Short Stories of 1916 anthology.
The story remained forgotten for 70 years, until it was resurrected by British anthologist Peter Haining for his Tales of Dungeons and Dragons collection (1986), where it appeared alongside the works of Bram Stoker, Sax Rohmer, Ambrose Bierce, William Faulkner, and other legends. To my knowledge, it has not been reprinted since.
“The Eighty-Third” certainly lives up to O’Brien’s promise that “Once read, it will never be forgotten by even the most callous reader.”
“The Street” by H.P. Lovecraft (1920)
To no one’s surprise, some Lovecraft scholars and fans have damned this short essay on the degradation of a New England street from Colonial days to the early 20th century as “racist.” It was inspired by the Boston Police Strike of 1919, plus the author’s not unreasonable antipathy toward Eastern European immigrants who were addicted to anarchy and bombings. In a letter, Lovecraft described his reactions to the police work stoppage:
“. . . the magnitude and significance of [the police strike] appalled me. Last fall it was grimly impressive to see Boston without bluecoats, and to watch the musket-bearing State Guardsmen patrolling the streets as though military occupation were in force. They went in pairs, determined-looking and khaki-clad, as if symbols of the strife that lies ahead in civilisation’s [sic] struggle with the monster of unrest and bolshevism.”
Anarchists began setting off bombs in American cities in 1914, culminating in two separate terrorist campaigns in 1919 and a 1920 bomb attack on Wall Street, which led to the much-maligned “Palmer Raids” on Reds by the federal government.
“Lord of the Dynamos” by H.G. Wells (1894)
Wells’ little-known exposé of the Third World’s introduction to First World science drew no special attention when it was first published in 1894, and that speaks well for the common sense of the people of that era.
In today’s fearful and guilt-ridden society, it would be considered unpublishable by every commercial magazine, even though it is the work of an undisputed master — actually, one of the founders — of the fantasy/science fiction genre. This speaks volumes about the intelligence and fortitude of the people of today, not a word of which could be even vaguely flattering.
“Trend” by Douglas Olson (1987)
This short, gritty tale examines modern racial dynamism by asking the question: “How does today’s woman respond when her lover admits that he’s had a race-change operation?” It is one of the few pieces of fiction to appear in Wilmot Robertson’s Instauration, which is a clear indication that it is not restrained by any fantasies of “sensitivity” or “respectability.”
Read it on page 14 of this PDF.
“Mars Colonizes” by Miles J. Breuer, M.D. (1935)
There are different kinds of invasions, and more than one sort of illegal “alien.” If Dr. Breuer’s Martians and their efforts to remain and prosper where they are not wanted bear strange resemblances to certain minority groups in European-descended nations — well, it must be coincidental. After all, the story was first published 85 years ago. But, my, how accurate the good doctor seems to have been in forecasting so many aspects of his far-away future and our unfortunate present.