Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

“The Lust Sleepers”

“The Lust Sleep­ers” (1964) by J X Williams

A clas­sic exam­ple of the 1960’s hyp­no-porn. John Thurs­day, the pro­tag­o­nist, makes a liv­ing pro­vid­ing hyp­not­ic ser­vices for voy­ers and sub­jects. When one of his sub­jects com­mits sui­cide, he flees to New York where he gets black­mailed to assist Reich, who runs BDSM par­ties at his remote manor with a heavy empha­sis on B and S.

The inside cov­er text reads:

CONDITIONED FOR LOVE?

John Thurs­day has a spe­cial trick. His sin­cere looks mask the abil­i­ty to hyp­no­tize any unwill­ing wan­ton until she casts aside all her inhi­bi­tions to per­form any shame­ful set Thurs­day can think to com­mand. Like Gre­ta, on the office couch, who goes through such throes of ecsta­sy there is noth­ing left for her … but the long fall out­side the office win­dow. Like Rita, the red­head on the plane, who shows Thurs­day what love / hate real­ly means. Like Mae, whose trance revealed a degra­da­tion that was alarm­ing in its inten­si­ty. Or like Reich, the twist­ed degen­er­ate who used extor­tion to per­suade Thurs­day to do his evil bidding.

The back text reads:

TORTURE CELLAR… That’s where the sadis­tic Reich kept all his lit­tle impli­ments [sic] of plea­sure. The shack­les, the cells, the whips. Right there beneath his pala­tial coun­try estate. And it is so easy for him to find guests to peo­ple his week­end orgies. Each of them going through their shame­less paces at Reich’s bid­ding, nev­er know­ing what exquis­ite plea­sures wait­ed below… plea­sures for Reich, that is… as the whip tens­es in his hand. Into this hell-hole he black­mails John Thurs­day… to per­form Thurs­day’s spe­cial degrad­ing trick on Mae Davis… while all the oth­er chang­ing part­ners watched in delight…

GoodReads has a very good descrip­tion of it here.

I believe J X Williams is a house name, because there are far too many books with that name list­ed from this and allied publishers.

“The Shadow” — The Origin

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”
“The Shad­ow knows”

With that, one of the most suc­cess­ful pulp char­ac­ters was intro­duced to the radio and mag­a­zine audi­ence. Even today, that phrase is rec­og­nized and the char­ac­ter remem­bered: the Shad­ow, who pos­sessed the hyp­not­ic pow­er to “cloud men­s’ minds”.

But The Shad­ow had a con­vo­lut­ed his­to­ry: he didn’t always have that pow­er; in fact, he wasn’t a pulp char­ac­ter in the first place!

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing ““The Shad­ow” — The Origin”

“The Third Circle” by Amanda Quick

Leona Hewitt has secret­ly made her way into Lord Delbridge’s pri­vate muse­um to retrieve a rel­ic stolen from her fam­i­ly. But some­one else is in the dim­ly lit gallery on the same errand: a tall, black cloaked man whose very voice is enough to cause her to fall into a trance.

Thad­deus Ware, a mes­merist with psy­chic gifts, is accus­tomed to fear­ful reac­tions from others—women, in par­tic­u­lar. After all, a man who can con­trol the minds of oth­ers could rob a lady of her virtue—completely unbe­knownst to her. But Leona shows no trace of hys­te­ria in his pres­ence. A gift­ed crys­tal work­er, she exerts a rather hyp­not­ic pow­er over the hyp­no­tist him­self. And she is deter­mined to keep the cov­et­ed crys­tal they man­age to recov­er by giv­ing him the slip at a run-down Lon­don inn.

Thad­deus, on assign­ment for the Arcane Soci­ety, knows the men­ace Leona is court­ing by abscond­ing with the crys­tal. A source of remark­able ener­gy, it holds the poten­tial for great destruc­tion. Lord Del­bridge has already killed to acquire the crys­tal, his key to mem­ber­ship in the elite, shad­owy group known as the Third Cir­cle. And, with the help of a ruth­less hunter of preter­nat­ur­al skill — dubbed the Mid­night Mon­ster by the press — Del­bridge intends to find Leona. With the stolen crys­tal in their pos­ses­sion, the dan­ger is only beginning.

Two very dri­ven indi­vid­u­als, both with agen­das that set them against each oth­er, both with pas­sions that draw them together.

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing ““The Third Cir­cle” by Aman­da Quick”

“Slightly Shady”, “Don’t Look Back” and “Late for the Wedding” by Amanda Quick

As if a head for busi­ness and a nose for trou­ble aren’t enough to dis­tin­guish fierce­ly inde­pen­dent Lavinia Lake from the oth­er women of London’s fash­ion­able Clare­mont Lane, there is one more fea­ture to set her apart. Lavinia is also well versed in the prac­tice of mes­merism, an extra­or­di­nary gift that far sur­pass­es mere charm and phys­i­cal appeal. Nobody knows this bet­ter than the usu­al­ly cool­head­ed Tobias March, who seems to have fall­en hope­less­ly under her spell. For­tu­nate­ly for all, how­ev­er, Lavinia uses her pow­ers for good. And ever since a tragedy involv­ing one of her sub­jects, she has even retired them in favor of her work with Lake and March, a joint ven­ture pro­vid­ing “discreet pri­vate inquiries for indi­vid­u­als of quality.”

Mrs. Lake and Mr. March have a rocky first encounter: he is sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly ram­pag­ing through the tiny shop Mrs. Lake and her niece oper­ate, all in an attempt to force them to leave and thus remove them from impend­ing dan­ger. Nev­er­the­less, they find rea­sons to con­tin­ue their rela­tion­ship, despite the fric­tion of their equal­ly strong per­son­al­i­ties. As these are romance nov­els, their rela­tion­ship also con­tin­ues to be fraught with unre­solved passion.

Part of that pas­sion and that fric­tion is due to the fact that Mrs. Lake is a tal­ent­ed mes­merist, although Mr. March is quite hes­i­tant to allow him­self to be placed under her mag­net­ic influ­ence for med­i­c­i­nal pur­pos­es, even though he is quick­ly falling under her cap­ti­vat­ing spell as much as she is falling under his. How­ev­er, in her new occu­pa­tion per­form­ing pri­vate inquiries, Mrs. Lake finds his com­pa­ny and her mes­mer­ic pow­ers advan­ta­geous, and not always in the expect­ed manner.

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing ““Slight­ly Shady”, “Don’t Look Back” and “Late for the Wed­ding” by Aman­da Quick”

“The Witch Hypnotizer” by Zena A. Maher (1892)

Such a promis­ing title.

Such a pro­found disappointment.

To put this blunt­ly, this is a Bib­li­cal tract, not a sto­ry. Each chap­ter is whol­ly or in part a moral­i­ty play in minia­ture, com­plete with such name­less stock char­ac­ters such as the man who drinks too much, the gam­bler, the unfaith­ful hus­band, the false wit­ness, the beset-upon Chi­na­man (yes, this work is reflec­tive of the peri­od and there­fore there are def­i­nite strains of racism and misog­y­ny with­in) and the “fall­en woman”. There is lit­tle dia­log and very few attempts at char­ac­ter descrip­tion or char­ac­ter­i­za­tion. Each sto­ry involves the Witch Hyp­no­tiz­er as she wan­ders through the town, encoun­ter­ing indi­vid­u­als with prob­lems or moral flaws. Then comes sev­er­al Bible vers­es, sin­gle vers­es care­ful­ly select­ed and dis­joint­ly assem­bled, then comes the demon­stra­tion of the ref­or­ma­tion of the par­tic­u­lar indi­vid­ual and the res­o­lu­tion of the exist­ing prob­lem or sit­u­a­tion. End of lesson.

The unnamed pro­tag­o­nist, the Witch Hyp­no­tiz­er, is equal­ly obscure and occlud­ed: no phys­i­cal descrip­tion of her is ever giv­en, but there is a descrip­tion of her power:

It was noth­ing tan­gi­ble, but an inde­scrib­able some­thing which gave her influ­ence over oth­er minds, to bend them to her will.

She is also com­plete­ly cer­tain of her mis­sion of the spir­i­tu­al and social ref­or­ma­tion of oth­ers accord­ing to the mores of the day, includ­ing the prop­er place of women (in the home and with­out the vote). By her cer­tain­ty, does not feel the need to seek informed con­sent. Fur­ther­more, there is nev­er any kind of demon­stra­tion that the Witch Hyp­no­tiz­er actu­al­ly per­forms any kind of act to induce the ref­or­ma­tion. (That, appar­ent­ly, is left up to the imag­i­na­tion of the reader.)


This work was found at Project Guten­berg, in a vari­ety of elec­tron­ic forms, here. There is very lit­tle to rec­om­mend it.

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