THE NUTMEG POINT DISTRICT MAIL

the Avram Davidson electronic newsletter

Vol. VI No. 2-4

8 December 2001

ISSN 1089-764X

Published bimonthly by whim and fancy for the Avram Davidson Society.
Contents copyright 2001 The Nutmeg Point District Mail and assigned to
individual contributors. All rights reserved.

Henry Wessells, Editor.
Cooper Wessells, Honorary Secretary.

All correspondence to:
TEMPORARY CULTURE
Post Office Box 43072, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-0072
Electronym: wessells@aol.com

Use this electronym for requests to be added to or dropped from the
mailing list. Back issues are archived at the Avram Davidson Website,
URL : http://ad.kosmic.org/

PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THE ORIGINATING ADDRESS

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

IT'S A BOOK!

The Other Nineteenth Century. A Story Collection by Avram Davidson.
Containing Startling Revelations of the Lives of Literary Persons ; also,
Truthful Accounts of Living Fossils, Montavarde's Camera, The Irradiodiffusion
Machine, and El Vilvoy de las Islas ; with Heinous Crimes, Noble Ladies
in Adversity, Brilliant Detections, Imperial Eunuchs, Political Machinations,
etc., etc.  Edited by Grania Davis and Henry Wessells. New York : Tor, 2001.
Dust jacket painting by Tom Kidd. ISBN 0-312-84874-9. $27.95

Avram Davidson once wrote that he "would give lots and lots to have poured
tea for Dr. Johnson." In his own science-fiction and fantasy writings, however,
he tended to favor a slightly later period, an alternate nineteenth century that he
marked as his own. Your editor is delighted to report publication of a new
volume of stories by Avram Davidson.

The table of contents includes:

O Brave Old World!
Great Is Diana
One Morning with Samuel, Dorothy, and William
Traveller from an Antique Land
The Man Who Saw the Elephant
Pebble in Time (with Cynthia Goldstone)
The Singular Incident of the Dog on the Beach
The Engine of Samoset Erastus Hale and One Other, Unknown
Buchanan's Head
The Odd Old Bird
The Deed of the Deft-Footed Dragon
The Montavarde Camera
What Strange Stars and Skies
The Lineaments of Gratified Desire
The Account of Mr. Ira Davidson
Twenty-Three
Dr. Bhumbo Singh
The Peninsula
Summon the Watch!
Dragon Skin Drum
El Vilvoy de las Islas
Mickelrede ; or, The Slayer and the Staff. A Ghost Novel (with Michael Swanwick)
Afterword by Grania Davis

Each of the stories includes a short postscript by Grania Davis, Henry Wessells, or George Scithers.

One of Davidson's chief talents was his ability to suggest a sense of history
in his tales or, more precisely, to evoke a sense of the many histories that
come together to create an event. Witty, digressive, and often surprising,
these stories are vintage uncollected Davidson. This volume does not, however,
contain all of the stories where the flavor of Davidson's other nineteenth
century predominates.  The Avram Davidson Treasury (Tor, 1998) includes
such classics as "The Affair at Lahore Cantonment" and "The Necessity of
His Condition" as well as "Take Wooden Indians," a time-travel tale where
the gaslight and wood shavings of Canal Street, 1880, are in rich contrast
to the grey-flannel modernity of the late 1950s. The Investigations of
Avram Davidson (St. Martin's, 1999) includes "The Importance of Trifles,"
set in New York under High Constable Jacob Hays, and "The Cobblestones
of Saratoga Street," a twentieth-century tale with deep historical roots.  "The
Odd Old Bird" in this volume is just one of a series of stories and novellas
set in the late-nineteenth-century empire of Scythia-Pannonia-Transbalkania;
others are collected in The Adventures of Doctor Eszterhazy (Owlswick
Press, 1990).
Happy reading!

A review of The Other Nineteenth Century will apear in the next issue
of The Nutmeg Point District Mail.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

"Young Vergil and the Wizard"
A previously unpublished Vergil Magus story, "Young Vergil and the Wizard,"
is now appearing at the Infinite Matrix, Eileen Gunn's website. The story is
extracted from the typescript of the third Vergil Novel, The Scarlet Fig ; or,
Slowly through a Land of Stone,  which Avram completed before his death.
 The story URL is
<< www.infinitematrix.net/stories/shorts/young_vergil1.html >>

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In the Avram Davidson archive in the Special Collections of the California
State University Fullerton library, there is a typescript entitled "The Camera"
that bears the name "A. A. Davidson, Ph M" and handwritten addresses at
Camp Pendleton, California, and Banana River, Florida. Other notes indicate
"Very First Version" and, most surprising of all, "fragments of the original MS,
1942." For this story is recognizably what would become "The Montavarde
Camera," published in the May 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction.  One brief passage will show how Davidson's prose style and
narrative structure evolved.  The earliest draft reads: "At last he collected his
thoughts. Montavarde might have sold himslef to his dark god in return for
unsurpassable skill in building and using the camera, but the tainted device would
ever again do its devilish work. he made up his mind then and there that he
would weigh the camera down with stones and drop it in the Thames."  The
passage in the finished story has a different tone :

It seemed to him that an age passed as he stood there, hand in pocket,
thinking of the long-dead Montavarde (How did he die? "Untimely" was
he word invariably used), who had purchased, at a price unknown and
scarcely to be guessed at, unsurpassable skill in building and using his
camera. What should one do? One might place the Camera in a large
sack, or encase it in concrete, and throw it in the Thames.
     Or one might keep it hidden in a safe place that one knew of.  (The
Other Nineteenth Century, pp.147-148).
It is not only this short passage but the entire focus of the story that evolved
between 1942, when Davidson was a pharmacist's mate and medical corpsman,
and its publication in 1959.

[With thanks to Sharon Perry for supplying photocopies of the material.]

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

AVRAM DAVIDSON SOCIETY MEETING

An impromptu Autumnal meeting of the Avram Davidson Society was held on
Monday 19 November 2001 in New York City, with a few board members
and other interested Davidsonians in attendance. Presentation copies of
The Beasts of the Elysian Fields by Conrad Amber,  bound in green Japanese
silk and Bhutanese paper, were displayed and distributed.  With a good measure
of serendipity, the first copies of The Other Nineteenth Century were also
sighted that day.  By the first of December (the month of publication), reports
of the book's presence in shops were received from as far away as California.
The next meeting of the Avram Davidson Society will be held in the Spring; an
announcement will be made in the next District Mail.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

AVRAM DAVIDSON DOWN UNDER

Bruce Gillespie very kindly sent a copy of SF Commentary 77, in which he
briefly praises "The Secret of this Book [by Brian Aldiss] and The Avram
Davidson Treasury, the most satisfying short fiction collections of the nineties"
 (p. 47).

Of much greater interest is his ANZAPA fanzine, brg no. 30, the Avram
Davidson special, devoted to publishing his essay "Rounding up the Shaggy
Dogs : The Short Stories of Avram Davidson," first given as "a talk to the
Nova Mob, 7 March 2001, at the home of Lucy Sussex and Julian Warner."
Gillespie notes the humor inherent in Davidson's stories, and also asks, "Why
are Davidson's observations about people more interesting than those of many
other writers?  Because Davidson values people who are usually forgotten or
despised by other people, and often by other writers."

Bruce Gillespie, 59 Keele Street, Collingwood, Victoria 3066, Australia.
Electronym : gandc@mira.net

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

PUBLICATIONS OF THE AVRAM DAVIDSON SOCIETY

The Last Wizard with A Letter of Explanation.
Publications of the Avram Davidson Society, number one.
Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches, xii pages. Second printing, May 1999.
Single copies, $10.00 (postpaid).

El Vilvoy de las Islas.
Publications of the Avram Davidson Society, number two.
Size: 6 x 9 inches, viii + 32 pages. June 2000.
Issue of 100 copies in paper wrappers : single copies, $13.00 (postpaid).

The Beasts of the Elysian Fields by Conrad Amber.
Publications of the Avram Davidson Society, number three.
Size: 6 x 9 inches, iv + 12 pages. June 2001.
Issue of 80 copies in paper wrappers : single copies, $26.00 (postpaid).
Less than a dozen copies remain.

Special offer : all three publications for $40.00 postpaid.

To order, send a cheque in U.S. funds, payable to Henry Wessells, to :
P.O. Box 43072, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-0072, USA
Orders by e-mail to wessells@aol.com will be held until payment is received.
For cheques drawn on overseas banks, please add $7.00 for bank fees.

Trade discount available.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Your Editor regrets the long interval since the last issue and thanks the
numerous correspondents and website visitors who have persisted despite
the silence.
Continued thanks to the heroic Jim Nicholson, whose generosity and server
make the Avram Davidson Website available.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Next Issue Date : January 2002

The editor of The Nutmeg Point District Mail invites contributions on any
topic pertaining to the life and work of Avram Davidson.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Next issue