Forgotten Fantasy: The Face in the Abyss by A. Merritt

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Face in the Abyss wrap-around cover by Rodney Matthews

Edgar Rice Burroughs opened up the world of the pulps in the ‘teens, and the field of fantasy and science fiction (the latter of which didn’t even have that name yet) attracted new voices. One of the most successful to follow Burroughs was A. (Abraham) Merritt, a magazine editor and part-time speculative fiction author. Merritt specialized in the Los Civilization tale. He lavished an imaginative perspective onto this sub-genre unlike anything seen previously. In novels like The Moon Pool (1919), The Metal Monster (1920), and Dwellers in the Mirage (1932) he created science-fantasy vistas as astonishing as they were verbose. And of “coruscating” and “scintillating,” two words Merritt passionately loved.

Although Merritt was one of the most popular SF&F authors of his time, today he’s almost forgotten except in corners of pulp fandom. The Face in the Abyss, like Merritt’s other novels set in otherworldly hidden civilizations, has fallen into the out-of-print, out-of-mind limbo. Avon books published a top-selling paperback for years, but eventually they allowed their rights in it lapse. Today, it’s available again as an ebook or print-on-demand—if people even know to look for it. (Which is why this post is here in this first place.)

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My First Perilous Worlds Articles Are Live

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My first three articles for Perilous Worlds, the new publishing imprint and website, are now live. Presenting, for your enjoyment: