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Secret Sci-Fi Authors You'd Never Expect In the Mummy's Tomb

Updated on July 27, 2014
(Photos this page public domain)
(Photos this page public domain)

Mummy!

Kharis, Kharis,

That molderin' smolderin' pile of bandages -

I want to be his girl. ♥

This is the great line addressing the leading character and films of The Mummy, from a science fiction folk song, otherwise known as filk. In 2009, a lovely woman in her 80s performs the number while accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. The song is about the old black and white horror films and Satuday movies for a nickel in the 1930s. While all the other girls screamed at the sight of Karis, the mummy, the singer tells us that she was in love with him. What fun!

You might hear the song on the science fiction convention circuit, which has been going strong since the 1930s. It didn't really start with Star Wars® and Star Trek®, although these franchises gave the concept a great boost of popularity from the late 1970s - onward.

Part and parcel of sci-fi conventions in general are the Klingon jail house, King Kong, Godzilla and anime film marathons, and everything "Mummy." On the sales floors, one can purchases mummy DVDs, games, costumes, script copies, autographed photos, and other memorabilia. Some of this includes books, novellas, and pulp magazines of old.

Some famous and classic writers have composed stories about mummies and curses in the past -- One is surprised to find out who these writers are, when opening the pages of a collectible pulp magazine. Mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner started out in the pulps before he found fame with Perry Mason, and so too, did some of the writers highlighted in into the Mummy's Tomb.

Egyptology and mummies' curses are classic phenomena in literature, on radio, and in film. It's everywhere. being so widespread, it has been addressed by many writers that one would not expect -- But it's a real enjoyment to find out that they did. And what better way to acquaint teens with classic writers than with a fun, futuristic tome of scary stories? Some will read and scream until they are scared happy. Great summer reading!

The Mummy, 1932

Beginning Somewhere Else

Many great futurist, science fiction, and fantasy writers of the 18th - 21st centuries originally wrote in other genres, like news and sciences..

Some of the early 20th century sci-fi legends were scientists with the US Government, while others worked at various other vocations besides writing.

The authors showcased in short stories gathered in Into The Mummy's Tombs are all well known, and most of them for writing classics in genres other than science fiction. What fun it is to read science fiction, for example, from the unexpected Tennessee Williams, Agatha Christie, and Louisa May Alcott (her startling story is definitely not about little women).

Everyone Into The Tomb!

Egyptian Artifacts

Who Wrote of the Mummy's Curse?

Into the Mummy's Tomb

  • Edited by John Richard Stephens
  • Published by Barnes and Noble, 2006.

Into the Mummy's Tomb is a collection of short stories and factual articles concerning elements of Egyptology, a study that fascinates youth and adults alike. I jumped at the chance to own this book, because of the range of authors famous in other genres, who had also written about mummies, curses, magic, and mystery in the desert. Upon reading the book, I was not disappointed, but quite pleased to have some early works of these writers all in one book.

One of my favorites in the book is a story written by the playwright Tennessee Williams at the age of 16. Not only did he create A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, and The Glass Menagerie, but as a teenager he wrote The Vengeance of Noticris. This story is based in fact and concerns Queen Noticris, possibly the first female Pharaoh of Egypt. Her history is recorded only by the ancients Herodotus and Manetho, who described her as blond and fair-skinned. Her brother (and husband), the Pharaoh at the end of the 6th Dynasty, was killed and she took the throne. All of this and her anguish over her brother's murder make for a fascinating and chilling story, as Williams tells it. Out of just a few lines of remaining fragments of ancient texts, Tennessee Williams created a captivating 12-page story.

Cthulu comic graphic from Fandemonium conventions in Idaho (link below).
Cthulu comic graphic from Fandemonium conventions in Idaho (link below).

Ghosts and Ghostwriting

H.P. Lovecraft ghostwrote Under the Pyramids for the famous magician Harry Houdini in 1924. In the same year, the story appeared in the early pulp magazine Weird Tales under the title "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs." In 1939 it re-appeared as "Under the Pyramids." It is included in Into the Mummy's Tomb.

H.P.Lovecraft died in 1937, but his strange stories of uneartly creatures have fascinated leagues of science fiction conventioneers into the 21st Century.

It was he who wrote the uncanny The Call of Cthulu, about which a cult of popularity and role-play gaming has risen. He also created the Necronomicon, a fictitious reference book of evil, to reference in his many stories. Hoax editions of the fictitious book began to appear in the 1970s and gave rise to much debate.

Mark Twain Tonight

A selection from Mark Tawin is included in this book. it is called The Majestic Sphinx and is nonfiction, included to give background to the fictional stories of the collection. He writes about the Sphinx, its grandeur, size, and mysteries with awe. He includes the words:

The Sphinx is grand in its loneliness; it is imposing in its magnitude; it is impressive in the mystery that hangs over its story. And there is that in the overwhelming majesty of its eternal figure of stone, with its accusing memory of the deeds of all ages, which reveals to one something of what he shall feel when he shall stand at last in the awful presence of God.

Twain's article creates an effective backdrop for the mysterious stories in this book of mummies dying and brought back to life, dragging with the the dust of centuries. It creates a good framework for mummy stories late at night.

"The Majestic Sphinx"

Colonel Stonesteel's Genuine Homemade Truly Egyptian Mummy

This story is a sheer delight by Ray Bradbury, offering memories of a long-ago era in America; one of summer circuses and carnivals and strange beings from faraway.

In this story, lad of 13 and a senior citizen give a boring summer's town something to talk about. They create a mummy and the old man sews into it everything in his attic - all his ancient memories and mementos. The finished product certainly creates a furor and an interesting ending.

Additional stories in the book include:

  • John Richard Stephens: The Truth of the Mummy's Curse
  • Arthur Weigall: The Malevolence of Ancient Egyptian Spirits - nonfiction, translated from Egyptian.
  • Louisa May Alcott: Lost in a Pyramid, or The Mummy's Curse - another favorite.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - The Ring of Thoth - excellent story and a new turn on the mummy's curse. Conan Doyle was nearly obsessed with the supernatural and the afterlife.
  • Howard Carter - Opening King Tutankhamen's Tomb - the actual records of the event.
  • Agatha Christie - The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb - quite good; tells of the power of superstitions, even if the believes are not real. - A second story is included by Conan Doyle: Lot No. 249.
  • Sir H. Rider Haggard - Smith and the Pharaohs
  • Edgar Allen Poe - Some Words with a Mummy - another favorite.
  • Rudyard Kipling - Dead Kings - nonfiction.
  • Elizabeth Peters - The Locked Tomb Mystery
  • Anne Rice - Excerpt, The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned - as good as her vampire series.
  • Bram Stoker - The Jewel of Seven Stars - from the writer of Dracula.

The collection of stories and articles provides background for the authors included that will be useful as yong people encounter them again in school and adult life. Otherwise, the book is entertaining, informative, and fun for summer reading.

King Tut - Steve Martin & Henry Winkler

Steve Martin won the 2005 Mark Twain Prize, presented by the Kennedy Center for the Arts. Steve Martin and Mark Twain both wrote of Egypt. As an author, actor, comedian, playwright, and producer, Martin refused the Mark Twain award unless it recognized his writing as well as his comedy.

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