Don't Dream: The Collected Horror and Fantasy Fiction of Donald Wandrei
by Philip J. Rahman & Dennis Weiler (ed.)
Category: Fiction / Horror
395 pages; ISBN: 1878252275
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
This is a collection of, mostly, reprinted famtasy and horror stories from one of the greatest writers of the Pulps era. There are many types of stories here, ranging from dreamlike fantasy to psychological horror to pseudoscientific stories to squishy, slimy horror tales.
A meteor strikes Earth near the Great Lakes region and didgorges thousands of invisible beings who attach themselves to a person, then cause that person to spontaneously burst into flame. Two men are trapped on a sailing ship, adrift in the middle of the ocean after a storm. Many days of hot sun, salt water and food cargo below decks causes the creation of a carnivorous blob that feeds at night. A college biology laboratory experiment gone wrong results in the creation of a giant ameoba that escapes from the lab and absorbs people. A man discovers a new anesthetic that keeps the patient totally awake even while major surgery is performed, without feeling any pain at all. It is tested on a patient brought to the local hospital after an auto accident. The anesthetic worked, but the inability to feel pain becomes permanent. A half-dead jungle explorer stumbles into a camp run by a couple of scientists. While he remains unconscious, they electronically switch his personality with various animals, including a black panther and an eagle. In a midwestern farming community, a farmer goes out to his garden to dig up some potatoes. The potato digs itself farther and farther into the earth, as if it doesn't want to be dug up. Another farmer goes out to his orchard, only to find the whole orchard has moved itself a couple of miles away.
There is also an account of the founding, with August Derleth, of Arkham House, the small press publisher. This later became a multi-year court battle, started by Wandrei, that almost destroyed Arkham House, and did destroy Wandrei's reputation in the science fiction and famtasy world. That shouldn't detract from the fact that this is still an excellent collection of stories from the old days, written by one of the giants of the field, and is well worth reading.
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