MACABRE - THE FIRST SCOTTISH FANZINE (1939)
MACABRE #1 (and only) was dated December 1939. A carbonzine - ie. the pages are carbon-copies straight from the typewriter - the limitations of the method meant it was produced in an edition of less than half a dozen copies, few of which will have survived to today. It's being presented here not because of any particular merit - it's actually pretty dreadful - but because it was the first SF fanzine ever to come out of Scotland and is worthy of preservation for that reason alone.
The editor of MACABRE was 19 year-old James P.Rathbone. Born in Edinburgh, he spent two years in the China seas and several in Romford, Essex, before returning there. A scientific instrument salesman before the war, he described himself as "extremely interested in mysticism and occultism, aspiring poet and writer, enthusiastic disciple of Algernon Blackwood". A pacifist, he appeared before the tribunal (see final page) but his application for Conscientious Objector status was denied and he ended up in the RAMC, stationed just outside London.
AN INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF WEIRD FICTION AND FANTASY
In the first places even our prospective interior artist doesn't know we're going into production as yet, so it is not surprising that there is no art work herein. Yet we hope, that, as things straighten themselves out in the near future„ so will these pages become more and more pleasing to the critical eye...
We can't apologise for deficiencies you may see - they're all part of the emergency bugaboo which clouds all magazines to date. Still, we'll do better "next time."
Readers will be aware that the venerable editor lives among air raids and daily exists and thrives between air raid shelters and air raid shelters. In fact, with something like four warnings sounded (and, when actual juice was dropped, with no warning at all) , the thing is in danger of becoming a psychological complex. Since no town - and certainly not this city - seem to be in much danger from bombs, t}he warning siren and mix-ups attendant thereon have become a singular source of amusement. Whether the editor ever adds himself to the phantom population on the astral plane as a result of this untoward merrimernt remains to be seen.
Otherwise, we shall continue to produce, in our blatant though complacent fashion, this "dark lady" - with very material manifestatian of quality and (later) quantity...
One more note as to the next issue. This will be a special Xmas one, and will, besides havirg more pages, try to be more unusual in treatment...
The Ghoul-in-Chief -
INTERVIEW WITH A MEDIUM...................................................................... by DAVE McILWAIN.
She was small, slightly built, and rather pretty. I found it difficult to be severe with her."Madam," I said,"It is essential that you should conform to our conditions, in order to render this interview valid from the point of View of psychic research."
" I shall be at liberty to question you, but I am not
obliged to answer any questions that you ask me . Mr. Burke here
will taKe down the proceedings in shorthand. We thank you greatly
for your cooperation."
At this point Mr. John F. Burke, my colleague, amputated part of his finger while sharpening a pencil. "Blood," whispered the medium, "that is a good sign. You will receieve a fortune shortly." Mr. JFB promptly proceeded to sever his arm at the elbow, avarice gleaming in his eye, but t twisted a tourniquet round his throat and strangled him. When he came to, we carried on with the examination of the medium.
We sat facing each other across a small polished table, the medium taking my hand. She inspected the palm. "I see a stain on your character," she said, in a hushed voice.
"Nothing," said I, "That's where I spilled the ink at work."
"And blood on your finger-tips," she went on.
"Nicotine," I explainad patiently.
She glanced up, her face suddenly became contorted with horror - "An evil spirit is looking over your shoulder." she screamed.
I sighed, and, turning round, pave JFB a push in the face." This is a scientific investigation, not Madamr Tussaud's," I said scathingly. and he wilted.
When I turned round again, the medium was in a trance. "Look what you've done now," I complained to JPB - "Can't you wear a nose- bag or summat?"
"I see," came the voice of the medium... "I see a strange spirit attired in red and green striped trousers with orange spots. He has a glass of beer in one hand, and be is playing the bagpipes with his feet."
"That"s not a spirit - that's Bill Temple," I snorted in anger.
"And he is accompanied by a peculiar entity with a huge head - denoting amazing brain-power. He has innumerable arithmetical books packed in his pockets, and , from the amount of twine that is wrapped rourd him, I should say he is highly strung."
"Damn," I muttered," That's Arthur C.Clarke."
"And another strange being," continued the madium. "This ` latter is half asleep, and is attired in baggy military uniform...
" "Bloated imperialist," came the voice of JFB, "hired assassin let me get at him..."
"The spirit is angry," warned the medium.
She was right. The spirit was angry. JFB suddenly shot into the air, and hung there suspended upside-down. Came the sound of a carpet- . beater, and the unfortunate Pacifist attempted to emulate an air- raid siren. ((Impossible: Ed.))
But be was soon rescued. The medium procured some Holy Water, and flung it over the suspended body. Forthwith JFB crashed to the floor, stood up, then dashed for the bathroom at once.
I glanced suspiciously at the bottle of Holy Water - and my my suspicions were correct - for the jar was labeled "Flit".
When the unfortunate JFB returned, we decided to hold a seance in order to get in touch with the spirits. So the lights were dimmed and we joined hands. JFB seemed very eager to take the medium's hand, and when she giggled once or twice, my suspicions were aroused, so I produced a bottle of chloroform and anaesthetised him.
After that everything went smoothly, the psychic forces
were getting nicely into play when JFB came to - and screamed
"I feel a cold sensation down my spine..."
"We turned the lights up, and investigated thiss extraordinary spirit manifestation. But, unfortunately, the phenomenon had a rational explanation : Johnny had left the bathroom tap running, and the water had overflowed and dripped through the ceiling. With a sigh of resignation I grabbed my hat and prepared to go.
" Thank you very much, Madam," I said, "Our investigation has hardly been fruitful, but the next time I'll remember not to bring - this."
I put JFB in my pocket out of harm's way, and set off for home.
John F Burke
The marsh grass whispers, the river chants a song;
" W H I T E C A R N A T I O N S "
It was a warm, sunny afternoon in June, and the aerial ways glinted the reflected light. The noise and bustle of their congested white avenues came thinly down to the gardens and parks below. Trees swayed a little, shrubs and flowers waved a lazy leaf or two, a woman's laugh filtered down to the ground levels, noinsy strained and - young. Altogether, if they had cared to know, the citizens of New London might have found it to be two o'clock on the weekly Plebs'
day, year 2062. As it was, no one
particularly bothered about the time. "DROWN YOUR SORROWS IN A
MELLOWHISK BEER", or "TAKE ONE OF TRUDY'S PRETTY LADIES FOR A
WALK ON YOUR PRIVATE ROOF-GARDEN --payment in advance" ...Why
worry ?" was the spirit of the New London of those days.
Did I say no one bothered about the time? Well, to make a resevation, and to begin my story, one, at least was worried about the time, though she was waiting on two-twenty-five. -- A slim little lady clad in the shiny greu of a Pleb, she anxiously watched the minute hand of the a clock creep slowly onwards -- a great lump of a clock placed strategically all over one side of the restaurant over the way which also announced in large red lettering, that "NOW IS THE TIME TO EAT."It was certainly not so beautiful as the water-lilies on the lake in Park Twenty, or the girls who could hold and keep a man in the "Follie Petite" round the corner, yet it told all the world to this little Pleb, and that, of course, because "He" was coming. As everyone familiar with the ways of the world and romances in pulp magazines knows -" He " - with a capital "H" denotes a lover, so we might as well get to him right away.
"He" was a tall, gangling youth with queer ideas, unnaturally'" large eyes, and a sniff. He possessed verty little else, save a remarkable personality. And, of course, he was the darling of the little Pleb's heart and the apple of her eye.
He had come with a tale of disillusionment, and had given her such happiness that made her snuffie into the pillow at night, sobbing because this one wished for dream had come true. The other girls in the Dormitory didn't like it - "not much." "Her with a male of the spieces", they would sniff, and console themselves recounting highly-colored adventures with pallid-faced, night club haunting Romeos, who inevitably found them alone.
"I'm, I'm sorry," he had gulped, "George sent me to tell you he's, he's (Gulp) getting married - to a mannequin he fell for at Geraldine's... I'm sorry (I'm his brother, you know) and all that... Don't think much of his taste... Oh, hell, I'm sorry." And so that was the end to her little romance via the "ROMANTIC CORRESPONDANCE LEAGUE." She colored up then, when, before, she had been white." - So you think I'd fall for the two-timing ape ? I hate him, I hate him I tell you ...I...oooh!" And they had patched things up there and then to drown their sorrows in pots of steaming hot coffee and ham sandwiches at Goldmay's -"over the way."
It all happened as usual, worldly readers, - friendship ripened into love, love became for them something just a little removed from the delight of Paradise... Yet in this love they had for one another, theve was the element of - something else - something dangerous... This was the mood of "Otherwhere", this was their instinctive delight in the lovliness of the sweet earth, this was their longing for more freedom and less artificial culture. It was more than just sentiment, for it seemed to have been there always waiting its chance to rise through them like a little spring seeking the sKy. And it sought the sky, too -indeed, such was the primitiveness of its longing, it revived in them the old spirituality that tlheir scientists were telling them daily had died out...It rose, crystal-clear, and overwhelmed them...utterly...
"If I die, you shall know,"he said, once.
"It you die - I die too," she had answered.
So that was that.
And we have have the little Pleb waiting for her lover at a street corner in New London, and the birds singing, till (oh - there's always a "yet" or a "till") a noise of rending metal made her glance upwardes... What she saw made her gasp...A little silver-colored car seemed poised for flight above her, then it plunged down for the bakelite pavements below. It landed out of sight where she could not see anything more. There was a deafening explosion, and she was almost thrown off her feet...When she recovered from the shock, a crowd of City Guards had swept rourd to the scene of the accident, The horrified babbling of a man Ccame to her ears..."Gawd, there was a man there, there was - right Uunderneath he was - Gawd..."
She felt very sick...But she had an appointment to keep and nothing..She sniffed her white carnation. They had met wearing them now.. No - whatever was she thinking - it couldn't be Him...not Him...yet...
There was a curious scent in the air, she recognised it at Oonce as the smell of carnations - but - there must be myriads of them. It was curious she had never noticed the scent before. A shimmering patch of sunlight seemed to have detached itself from the rest - someone playing with mirrors, perhaps. The radiance made for her with a rush...and then, she felt the sweetest - and most inexplicable - delight of her life...
The little Pleb was liftad out of herself, became one with the outside - felt as it did, saw as it did. She knew the ecstasy of the first days of Spring, shared with the earth the ripe motherhood of Autumn and the danse macabre of the dying leaves. She knew the joy of Summer and the pity or it...the dancing patch of sunlight raced on.
But beore it went, something in it had whispered "Come, come... oh, I'm free."
And the Pleb knew her lover was dead.
She turned, and the carmine on her lips, the dainty cupids bow painted there since she was sixteen, could not conceal the downward curve of her mouth, the careful makeup on her face lost itself in wrinkles of despair - and, somehow, the thing that had happened was beyond sorrow and suffering, beyond even tears...She turned, and crept round the corner, eyes downcast.
She could not look at the heap of crumpled metal by the roadside, but her downward glance revealed a little patch &of white in the gutter...She picked the flower up...it was a white carnation, and it had drops of blood on it... She kissed it once, and whisered a name - and something inside her broke... Like a little white pillar crumbled at the base, she collapsed on the pavement quite still.
a man saw her fall, fall, and hurried over. He held her thin wrist for a moment.."Another death - and a dame this time," he murmured. Two patches of sunlight danced round the corner, suddenly and sped upwards, there was the odour of carnations in the air... "Gawd - I need a drink to sober up," he said.
It was half-past two, and a woman's laugh floated down from the white ways, noisy, strained, and young...
But there was no one to hear at a certain street corner in New London.
The fate of the "FUTURIAN" still hangs in the balance, too, and since that publication is the only properly printed fan-mag on the market it seems to this bright individual something might be done about it.
From the horrible abysses above the Earth I gather that Seabury Quinn is in cahoots with old Nick himself... Or so I hear from a Certain Ironic Idividual. Any ideas on that subject, playmates?
Is Caroline Ferber - Gertrude Hemken? Tell me, somebody, before I drop by the wayside...Even my tremendous occult powers can't solve that riddle... And, if so - why?
It is whispered in the precincts of Galgoath and the bright temples of Liverpool, London, Leeds, and sundry horrible, nameless places that James Rathbone Who-is-to-blame-for-it-all, believes in white magic. Admitted. More - he practices it.
Will the person who last saw the cover of Sam Youd's "Fantast" and duly departed for the nether world please return as he is wanted to praise the current installment of "Fanopolis". ((Late news: the last installment.))
Current "Satellite" contains a very interesting article "In Defence of Weird Fiction" ((More late news: reduced "Sally" just out.))
I suppose, bowing to the inevitable logic contained in the phrase "There is no escape" one might be tempted to turn from the mystery of the inexplainable to the profounder mystery of the explainable. Yet, without imagination, man is no more than a reasoning animal...and the proper exercise of imagination is found in the wonder of fantasy such as is in s.f. and w.f. What one seems to need is knowledge of what is a balance between fantasy and reality....
In the Crystal Glass...
The next issue of "Macabre" wiull be larger and more artistic - if such a term can be applied to a magazine of this type. Articles by well-known fans - and some new writers, too. All interior illustrations by Osmond Robb - already known for his cover work on the "Fantast".
Among the interesting contributions received is a story by one who wishes to remain anonymous called "The Initiation" - which, I think, is something more than a mere story, which you may confirm after reading it.
Looking forward...it is hoped that, now and then, a story will be received constituting a kind of theme around which other contributions might be written. If it becomes impossible to obtain weird fiction of the pulp variety, "Macabre" might take on a fiction form.
We hope you like this issue. Remember - a letter department will be with us next issue - so send in your ideas and opinions and ideas.
an authentic ghost story.
Shepherd was, as well as an artist, very greatly interested in religious and mystical subjects, and seems to have had more than a passing knowledge of psychic matters. He called it his intuition, and said he "knew" thingswere happening at a distance without the odinary methods of communication.
Now, though the letters ceased arriving, the "news" came just as usual via his intuition. And disquieting news it was which did come - to the effect that his father was very seriously ill.
On retiring to bed one Friday (about the early part of October 1917) Shepherd was thinking of his father and sisters and wondering why they did not write, and fell asleep in that frame of mind.
After being asleep for about two hours he awoke suddenly to find his mother - who had been dead, about seven years - "present" in the room. The apparition seemed too have been raised into objectivity by magnetic emanation fropass to and fro between himself and the apparition. This, at the same time, conveyed the news of his fathers dangerous illness.
The manifestation lasted only a very short time, and seemed to pass back into Shepherd's heart by the magnetic projection formerly used to materialise...
Shepherd was somewhat startled by the occurrence, but fell asleep, however.
Early the following morning the Young man was again awakened by hearing - quite distinctly - one of his sisters calling his name in an appealing and anxious tone from the foot of the staircase of the house in which he was living, although she was, at the time, miles away in Manchester. The voice was clear and distinct and the identity perfect. That day, Shepherd wrote home to say he knew his father was ill and asked to be fully aquainted with ail the news... Back came the answer that old Mr.Shepherd was very ill indeed - and on the night of the "warnings" which James had received the old man had been low indeed and they had considered sending for him to come home.
However, the old man rallied, and a few weeks later, was quite able to be about again.
The apparition of the mother appearing to James on the night of the crisis of his father's illness seems to show the interest
taken by relations who have "passed over" in earthly affairs and would
seem to demonstrate that ties of love cause the departed to be aware of
happenings - particularly of an unusual nature, in the physical world.
The story gives proof of the theory of man's latent faculties, which under pressure of circumstances flash into activity... A possibility more and more likely to occur as human consciousness unfolds and evolves.
Poets are dream-adepts whose futile way