the Avram Davidson electronic newsletter

Vol. I No. 2
13 July 1789
ISSN 1089-764X

Henry Wessells, Editor.
Cooper Wessells, Honorary Secretary.

Published by whim and fancy at irregular intervals.
Contents copyright 1996 The Nutmeg Point District Mail and assigned to individual contributors. All rights reserved.

All correspondence to:
TEMPORARY CULTURE Post Office Box 43072, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-0072

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While most of the contents of the alleged LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS may not see the light of day in this century, your editor has turned up the manuscript of AVRAM DAVIDSON's contribution, in the Special Collections of the Library of the California State University at Fullerton. The 9 page manuscript bears the title "Caretaker" but a handwritten note suggests, rather optimistically, that the story will be published in the second Dangerous Visions anthology, under the title "A Very Old Custom." To complicate matters still further, this piece has been previously reported under the title "The Stone That the Builders Rejected."
All right, get on with it.
Yes, it's a notable story by Avram Davidson, in the John Collier vein, and even if it doesn't see publication until 2008, it will not be in any way dated or stale. It looks at old customary practices in the building trades, and has a splendid, icy concluding image.

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first of an occasional series


Aaron Burr (1756-1836), son of an early president of The College of New Jersey (known in later years as Princeton
University), third vice president of the United States of America, was a man with vast political ambitions and quite a vision for America. Burr's political career suffered a minor setback when he shot and killed his long-time political rival Alexander Hamilton in a duel on the banks of the Hudson in July 1804. That much is fact.

Aaron Burr's ambitions are at the heart of "O Brave Old World!" (Beyond Time. Ed. Sandra Ley. New York: Pocket Books, 1976.) It's one of the best of Avram's many alternate history tales, delivered with a minimum of razzle-dazzle or hype.   Outrageous in its total reworking of American history, the historical figures remain true to their fundamental natures.
Frederick (son of George II), sent to America for his health, becomes widely popular and the center of a royalist revolt
against England when the purse strings are cut. America becomes the seat of the monarchy, the Continental Congress (under the leadership of Franklin and then Washington) supersedes Parliament. England is invaded and occupied, seething under the tax burdens inflicted by the most Roman dictatorship under Washington's successor, "that scoundrelly American prime minister-president," Aaron Burr.  Jefferson et al are refugees in London fomenting a war of independence from America.

What is less widely known is that Aaron Burr signed the Constitution of the United States of America. At least he did in
Michael Kurland's novel The Whenabouts of Burr (New York: DAW Books, 1975), a light-hearted time-travel adventure featuring Amerigo Vespucci, private eye, a special operative from the Bureau of Weights and Measures, a jovial tavern-keeping Benjamin Franklin, and a rather megalomaniacal Alexander Hamilton. Avram Davidson contributed a draft of the first chapter (the manuscript is in the Texas A&M University Sterling C. Evans Library Special Collections), in which a retired historian notices the signature of Aaron Burr on his daily visit to ogle the Constitution. The shadowy investigatory powers of the Bureau of Weights and Measures are also outlined. The novel travels through time and ideas at a brisk pace, with some hilarious historical jokes and some nebulous science. A pleasant read.

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DANNY DEEVER by Rudyard Kipling

"What are the bugles blowin' for?" said Files-on-Parade.
"To turn you out, to turn you out," the Colour-Sergeant said.
"What makes you look so white, so white?" said Files-on-Parade.
"I'm dreadin' what I've got to watch," the Colour-Sergeant said.
    For they're hanging' Danny Deever, you can 'ear the Dead March play,
    The regiment's in 'hollow square--they're hangin' him to-day;
    They've taken of his buttons off an' cut his stripes away,
    An' they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.

"What makes the rear-rank breathe so 'ard?" said Files-on-Parade.
"It's bitter cold, it's bitter cold," the Colour-Sergeant said.
"What makes the front-rank man fall down?" said Files-on-Parade.
"A touch of sun, a touch of sun," the Colour-Sergeant said.
    They are hanging' Danny Deever, they are marchin' of 'im round,
    They 'ave 'alted Danny Deever by 'is coffin on the ground;
    An' 'e'll swing in 'arf a minute for a sneakin' shootin' hound--
    O they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'!

" 'Is cot was right-'and cot to mine," said Files-on-Parade.
" 'E's sleepin' out an' far to-night," the Colour-Sergeant said.
"I've drunk 'his beer a score o' times," said Files-on-Parade.
" 'E's drinkin' bitter beer alone," the Colour-Sergeant said.
    They are hanging' Danny Deever, you must mark 'im to 'is place,
    For 'e shot a comrade sleepin'--you must look 'im in the face;
    Nine hundred of 'is county an' the regiment's disgrace,
    While they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.

"What's that so black agin the sun?" said Files-on-Parade.
"It's Danny fightin' 'ard for life," the Colour-Sergeant said.
"What's that that whimpers over'ead?" said Files-on-Parade.
"It's Danny's soul that's passin' now," the Colour-Sergeant said.
    For they're done with Danny Deever, you can 'ear the quickstep play.
    The regiment's in column an' they're marchin' us away;
    Ho! the young recruits are shakin', an' they'll want their beer to-day,
    After hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'!

See Avram's Edgar Award winning story, "The Affair at Lahore Cantonment" (1961).

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Grania Davis, recognizing the significance of the date of the first District Mail, wrote:
    "I was delighted to receive The Nutmeg Point District Mail, which arrived on the third anniversary of Avram Davidson's passing. This is a fitting "Yortzeit," [i.e., Jahrzeit -- Ed.] the old Jewish custom of commemoration.
    "Remind me someday, when I'm an old lady rocking, to tell you about the Real Nutmeg Point, where I lived for nearly half a year."

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WHERE? WHICH? A short quiz (published works only)

The prize is one grumpkin (redeemable in the New York, New Jersey, or Philadelphia area in vino or in coffee).

Name three birds featuring prominently in Avram's writings.

Name three taverns featuring prominently in Avram's writings.

Name three neglected or outdated scientific disciplines featuring prominently in Avram's writings.

What is the significance of the date of this issue of The Nutmeg Point District Mail?

Extra credit given for answers in essay form.

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ANSWERS TO WHERE? WHICH? from the inaugural issue

Roland Thurn was the first reader to respond with correct answers.

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are NOT mentioned in "The Singular Incident of the Dog on the Beach."

"The Third Sacred Well of the Temple" is in the pleasant and still undiscovered town of Monte del Incarnacion in the Central American Republic of Hidalgo (not too far, one presumes, from British Hidalgo).

Vergil Magus sources:

The Phoenix and the Mirror
"Sea-Scene, or Vergil and the Ox-Thrall"
"Yellow Rome, or Vergil and the Vestal Virgin"
Vergil in Averno
"Vergil and the Caged Bird"

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