POWERS OF MIND by financial writer Adam Smith (not the “invisible hand” guy) is a mid-seventies book looking at the “inner space astronauts” exploring consciousness and related matters, including EST, Esalen, Arica, LSD (which Smith took himself in the legal years) transcendental (and other kinds) meditation, placebos, ESP research, Uri Geller and Carlos Castaneda. Smith tends toward a middle ground here, genuinely interested in the approaches while fully aware some of these gurus are doing very well financially; impressed by some results while retaining some skepticism (in hindsight, his tentative faith in Uri Geller and then standard left brain/right brain theories is probably the weakest point) so I suspect whatever side of the aisle the reader falls on they’ll find what they’re looking for. As a largely ineffective meditator, I found some of this quite useful, though it didn’t tell me anything really revolutionary—but if I ever write about consciousness-raising in the 1970s in fiction, this’ll be my source.
HYPERBOREA collects Clark Ashton Smith’s tales of that ultimate Thule, ranging from the slightly humorous adventures of thief Satampra Zeiros to the darker tales of men trapped by magic in “The Seven Geases” and “The Weird of Avoosl Wuthacqquan” and the slow slide of the land into darkness in “The Testament of Athammaus” and “Coming of the White Worm”—though unlike some of Smith’s setting, there’s usually a trace of humor in all of the tales. This collection also includes several short pieces vaguely clumped together as stories of “The World’s Rim” under editor Lin Carter’s assumption they were the start of another cycle; I’m not so sure but it’s always fun to reread the rather over-the-top “Abominations of Yondo.” (all rights to cover image with current holder)
CHRISTOPHER LEE AND PETER CUSHING AND HORROR CINEMA: A Filmography of Their 22 Collaborations by Mark A. Miller was one I picked up at the McFarland table at Dragoncon. The book chronicles the men’s careers, off-stage lives and friendship, with the focus on the films where they appeared together, starting with the Laurence Olivier Hamlet (Cushing as Orsic, Lee as a spearman) through the mess of House of Long Shadows. I didn’t find the analysis and critiques of the film as thought-provoking as many of McFarland’s books, but this is full of background detail on them and the movie: Cushing grew up admiring cowby star Tom Mix; the train in Horror Express was from a film called Villa and not (as often reported) Nicholas and Alexandria; and the original ending for House That Dripped Blood would have been an homage to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. A nice and informative tribute to the two titans.