Absolute Evil vs. Island of Ghosts

“Lovely day for a stroll, eh, Martha?”

[Warning, contains some spoilers for a 103 year-old story. Be sure to pre-order The Strange Recollections of Martha Klemm on Kickstarter!]

Absolute Evil is one of the few Hawthorne stories that is not only extant but oft-reprinted. While Cirsova Classics is a project primarily focused on pulp stories that have never been collected or reprinted, we opted to include it for completion’s sake so that we would be releasing all of Hawthorne’s All-Story Weekly fiction together. 

Not only has Absolute Evil been collected in a recent horror anthology [American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps, 2009], following its publication in All-Story Weekly, it was reprinted in a British periodical, The Premier Magazine, in June 1919 as “The Island of Ghosts” with a handful of changes. Indeed, it is this version that has seen print more than the original [Island of Ghosts appears in both The Ash Tree Press Annual Macabre 2000 and Stark House’s Strange Island Stories anthology(2018)].

Most of the changes are superficial and the vast majority of the text remains the same. The only notable change of any significance is that throughout the text, the villain, the Reverend Nathaniel Tyler, an eloquent and fierce-preaching Calvinist pastor and theologian, is transformed into merely Professor Nathaniel Tyler. Some of the more blasphemous details described in the method by which a man engaged in diablerie might be granted powers to transform and work evil are omitted to tone down some of the imagery. Additionally, though of somewhat less consequence, Martha merely supposes by tradition her ancestry from the Salem witches rather than asserts it. 

To an extent, it ruins this excellent line from the original:

“I was interested in original sin, and had dabbled in esoteric philosophy; my remote ancestors had been Salem witches. So, on these grounds at least, I was ready to meet Nat Tyler half-way.”

While I personally think that the changes made to the revised version weaken the themes and horrific nature of the tale [sure, we could all see a College Professor renouncing Christ and committing blasphemies to be granted Satanic powers to terrorize the New England coast, but a well-respected New England minister? Why that pops monocles even today!], I do think it is worth checking out both versions of the story for comparison sake.

A “Goth” from Boston?

Something interesting worth noting is that Martha Klemm is NOT the “Goth from Boston.” Yes, she’s mildly clairvoyant, yes, and she was the protagonist of a “gothic” horror [what the editors of All-Story Weekly refer to as a “different” story]. But…

The title is actually an artifact of this line:

“It was wonderful to hear the chaste lips of Cabot Selwyn reproduce the speech of the old Yorkshire mariner—as if from the portals of a Greek temple were to issue a Gothic gargoyle.”

Cabot Selwyn, the stodgy university biology professor, is quoting the uncle of his cute tomboy maid (Polly King) describing how she would “wallop” the boys, “but the first one as licks [her, she’ll] marry him.”

So, the “Goth” from Boston is Polly King.

Who’s that on the cover?


Maybe Martha Klemm, or more likely just a generic portrait that seemed like it would fit the title.

It’s hard to see from the original cover that A Goth From Boston is neither a gothic nor a horror nor even really a supernatural story! Rather it is a romantic comedy that features a South Seas adventure.

Martha tries to convince Selwin he should settle down with the lovely but rough girl, stop being stodgy, and take up farming and raise a family. When that doesn’t work, Martha and Polly go on an adventure together but keep running into Selwin.

Whether by rail or by ship, every time Martha thinks they’re finally off on their own just-girls adventure:


Be sure to check out our Kickstarter to restore A Goth From Boston and the other Julian Hawthorne All-Story Weekly fiction!

Martha Klemm herself is actually more prototypical of a Phryne Fisher-type character.

Miss Fisher and her fans: how a heroine on Australia's small screen became  a global phenomenon

Recent Good Fiction

Wow, what an absolutely fantastic review of Jim Breyfogle’s The Paths of Cormanor! The kickstarter shipped out last week, and it will be available for retail on November 1!


The Mixed GM

I think you should cut your hands off, wave your bloody stumps around.*

Maybe that is a bad idea, but do cut out the big media companies out of your media diet! As Brian Niemeier says, “Don’t give money to people who hate you”. And let’s be frank, other than your money, most big media companies hate you. They put out garbage that insults your morality and is of low quality. Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying that all fiction must be pure and wholesome and explicitly put forth a Christian worldview full of scenes where characters listen to sermons.

I mean something with defined good and evil, even if characters don’t always live up to it (just like real people). Something that doesn’t glorify moral relativism and evil acts.

Lately, I have been doing that by reading books by smaller publishers and self-published. And, I don’t want to go back…

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Cosmic Courtship Completely Out: Now What?

We’re just shy of half-way through our project to restore and collect the rest of Julian Hawthorne’s All-Story Weekly fiction.

What does success for the Martha Klemm project look like?  The Cosmic Courtship was just one book–Martha Klemm is 3 + an omnibus.

We had nearly 500 backers for The Cosmic Courtship and raised over $17k.   We need to make AT LEAST $50k to consider this project as successful as The Cosmic Courtship  We hope that our performance with our last crowdfund will grow the number of backers on our current Kickstarter.

There has been an incredible amount of time and resources put into this project, whether it has been Robert typing the texts, Michael acquiring and scanning original pulps and restoring artwork, or me doing layouts and promotion.

We cannot express enough how much we appreciate the support everyone has given us that has allowed us to donate The Cosmic Courtship to Project Gutenberg [it was a LOT of work!].

We hope that you will continue to support this exciting project to collect and restore the rest of Hawthorne’s All-Story Weekly fiction and be able to donate them as well.

As of right now, we’ve hit our first stretch goal for The Strange Recollections of Martha Klemm: pulp trading cards to all backers. The next stretch goal is to offer ebooks and to donate the texts. 

But… we’ve had an interesting request: Can backers of The Cosmic Courtship receive the trading card for The Cosmic Courtship without having to back for the omnibus?

Right now, no… BUT! If we get 500 backers for The Strange Recollections of Martha Klemm, we will check against The Cosmic Courtship backer list and include the card to all backers of the previous project!

Cosmic Courtship Stretch Goal Fulfilled

One of our stretch goals for The Cosmic Courtship was to donate the text to the Project Gutenberg library of Public domain works. 

I’m happy to say that we’ve been able to fulfill this goal! The Gutenberg version of The Cosmic Courtship can be found here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/66349/

The $15k stretch goal for The Strange Recollections of Martha Klemm will include not only the addition of an eBook Tier and eBooks for all physical backers, but the donation of these works to Gutenberg.

The ultimate goal of this project is preservation and restoring these fantastic works so they can be read and enjoyed by the entire world. As public domain works, these stories are part of our shared world intellectual heritage, and it is important that they be available to everyone, not just collectors and historians.

Everyone who is supporting this project is helping make this possible by underwriting our efforts to find and restore these nearly-lost works of classic fiction!

Cirsova 2022 Lineup!

We have finalized the Cirsova lineup for 2022! This is going to be an incredibly exciting year.

Major features include not only the serialization of Michael Tierney’s Orphan of the Shadowy Moons, a sword & sandal sci-fi epic from the 70s seeing publication for first time, but the serialization of an original sword & sorcery novel from Dave Ritzlin, Vran the Chaos-Warped.

After numerous picaresque adventures, Jim Breyfogle’s Mongoose and Meerkat moves into its climactic final arc.

Next year also sees some returning favorites, including Adrian Cole’s New Dream Lords Saga with Serpent God of Mars, Louise Sorensen’s Darla of Deodanth in her third Cirsova adventure Firewood, more of Mark Mellon’s Melkart, Harold R. Thompson’s bookish explorer Anchor Brown, and quite a few other familiar names and rising stars of Cirsova Magazine’s roster. [We’re dubbing Mark Pellegrini “the King of Gen Y Horror” and crossing our fingers our Spring issue does 1/10th of the numbers that his comic books are doing.]

We’re also looking to expand the number of illustrations per issue, but we’ll get more on that soon!

Spring (March 2022)

  • Orphan of the Shadowy Moons (Part 1) – Michael Tierney
  • The Flying Mongoose – Jim Breyfogle
  • Channel 121, After Midnight – Mark Pellegrini
  • The Recorporator Finds a Live One! – Andrew Majors
  • Serpent God of Mars – Adrian Cole
  • The City of the Crocodile God – Owen G. Tabard
  • Firewood – Louise Sorensen
  • An Ayre By Landor – Jeffery Scott Sims
  • Just Another Crappy Story that Kills Everybody In It – Jim Breyfogle
  • Dreaming of Mart Senson – Liviu Surugiu
  • Touch of Night – Erik Johnson
  • The Sound of Silence – Rodica Bretin

Summer (June 2022)

  • Orphan of the Shadowy Moons (Part 2) – Michael Tierney
  • Death and Renewal – Jim Breyfogle
  • Vran the Chaos-Warped (Book 1) – D.M. Ritzlin
  • What Price the Stars – Jeff Stoner
  • Dead Planet Drifter – J.D. Cowan
  • People of the Stone God – Harold R. Thompson
  • The Last Khazar – Rev. Joe Kelly
  • Melkart and the Crocodile God – Mark Mellon

Fall (September 2022)

  • Orphan of the Shadowy Moons (Part 3) – Michael Tierney
  • Fight of the Sandfishers – Jim Breyfogle
  • Vran the Chaos Warped (Book 2) – D.M. Ritzlin
  • The Impossible Footprint – David Skinner
  • The Wisdom of Man – Adam S. Furman
  • New Troops for Old: A Review of Jerry Pournelle’s Janissaries Series – J. Comer
  • A Long Way to Fall – David Eyk
  • Fall of a Stormking – Misha Burnett
  • Tripping to Aldous – J. Manfred Weichsel
  • Cerulean – J. Thomas Howard
  • The Strickland Line – Alec Cizak

Winter (December 2022)

  • Orphan of the Shadowy Moons (Part 4) – Michael Tierney
  • Thunder in the North – Jim Breyfogle
  • Vran the Chaos-Warped (Book 3) – D.M. Ritzlin
  • Sister Winter – John Daker
  • Pick Trick – Troy Riser
  • Wishing Well – Michael Wiesenberg
  • The Nighthawk – Michael Gallagher
  • House Odds – Ken Lizzi
  • Moon Magic and the Art of Fencing Doubtful Jewels – Tais Teng
  • The Gold of Palladias – John Gradoville
  • Take the Sword – Michael Ray
  • Lights – Lou Normann

Don’t forget to pick up the Fall 2021 issue out now, both with the Raven Monroe cover and the Genzoman Variant! Also, check out Julian Hawthorne’s Strange Recollections of Martha Klemm for pre-order now on Kickstarter!

Where’s Waldo?

so I got this where’s waldo book.

it’s one of those talking books with the buttons and the pictures.

but it’s broken or something.

all the buttons just play this garbled, drawn out “where’s waldo?” clip.

on the last page, Waldo is just there alone.

he looks like this


Cirsova News: New Issue, Paths of Cormanor, and Martha Klemm

Things have not let up in this last month!

Cirsova Publishing has made all of its acquisitions for 2022 and will have quite a line-up to announce on Monday.

The new Fall issue of Cirsova is out now, featuring the exciting conclusion of Michael Tierney’s The Artomique Paradigm, the conclusion of Paul O’Connor’s Badaxe, and the latest installment of our long-running Mongoose and Meerkat series!

Covers by Raven Monroe and Genzoman pay tribute to two of the series’ heroines [Kat from Mongoose and Meerkat and Tanree from Badaxe] and one of the other series’ villain [Red Queen from Wild Stars].

We are mailing out Jim Breyfogle’s The Paths of Cormanor to kickstarter backers next week.

The retail release will be November 1st.

Our new Cirsova Classics project to restore and collect the rest of Julian Hawthorne’s All-Story Weekly fiction is almost to our first stretch goal, pulp trading cards, so we’ll be getting those ready in the meantime! We hope that everyone here appreciated our work to restore The Cosmic Courtship and will check out these other fantastic stories by this great American author!