Call of Chicago: A Thousand Pages, Give or Take a Few

“’Wait a minute!’ the man hissed. ‘Are you after more books like that? I know where we can get some.’”

— Ramsey Campbell, “Cold Print” (1969)

The 1960s were a great decade for occult books, featuring waves of bestsellers launched by Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels’ million-selling Morning of the Magicians in 1963. Some of those books show up not just on bookstore spinner racks but on DELTA GREEN task sheets — or in the dorm rooms, cult compounds, and forest cabins those task sheets point the Agents to.

The Black Diamond Séance

“A.K. Porlock” (1939; English)

In 1936, thriller writer Dennis Wheatley began writing a series of “murder dossiers” intended as party games. Containing all the clues and handouts needed to solve a murder mystery, the first one sold over 100,000 copies. Rival publishers Sandestin Press rushed out their own “Sensation File” series. This one, the third and last in the “Sensation File” line, contained instructions for holding a séance complete with an “occult ritual” intended to awaken the Black Diamond (a milled shard of obsidian included in a paper packet). Fortunately the War intervened and very few copies sold. The American reprint edition (from Harmonica Publishing) comes out in 1967, riding the booming interest in witchcraft and the occult.

Hypergeometry Potential: Contains one hypergeometric ritual, which awakens a Black Winged One and ties it to a nearby shard of obsidian. Fortunately, the American edition does not include actual obsidian, replacing it with colored glass.

Dedicated Pool Points: 1 for Occult, usable to hold or otherwise interact with a séance.

The Case For the UFO (Varo Press Edition)

Morris K. Jessup and unknown annotators (1957; English)

The pre-Varo edition

Jessup, an auto-parts salesman who studied astronomy in college (M.S., University of Michigan, 1926), wrote The Case For the UFO in 1955. Parties unknown mailed a triply-annotated copy of Jessup’s book to Admiral Frederick R. Furth of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in early 1956. Jessup recognized one of the annotators’ handwriting as that of “Carlos Allende,” a correspondent of his who had described witnessing the Philadelphia Experiment (Project RAINBOW). Captain Sidney Sherby of the ONR had government contractor Varo Press print thirty spiral-bound copies of the annotated volume (displaying each annotator in their own color of ink), including two Allende letters, and gave Jessup four of them. The annotations hint at many things that MAJESTIC does not want mentioned, even in such limited circulation; the fate of the twenty-six ONR copies remains unclear. Jessup died in 1959 in Florida, an apparent suicide by motor exhaust inhalation. Not all of his copies have been recovered.

Unnatural: 1 if the reader has experienced the ultra-violet, time travel, or communion with Yog-Sothoth.

Dedicated Pool Points: 1 for Fringe Science, especially MAJESTIC research into UFOs or Project RAINBOW

Dhol Chants

Unknown authors (c. 200 B.C.; originally Pyu?)

This set of chants supposedly “spoke themselves” as the “yin reaction” to the introduction of Buddhism to Burma in the third century B.C. The structure of the chants themselves indicates a Sino-Tibetan original, probably the extinct Pyu language of central Burma. Commentaries in Burmese date from some time around the Mongol invasion (c. 1300), and ascribe the chants to “men of Linggu.” The eccentric Sinologist Jerome Harkniss translated and edited a complete corpus of Dhol Chants and commentaries in three volumes in 1891-1899.

Unnatural: 2

Hypergeometry Potential: 3 (1 for readers illiterate in Burmese)

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 for investigations involving the plateaus of Leng or Sung.

Marvels of Science

James Morryster (1960; English)

Hasty edition in modern English of Morryster’s 1708 original Marvells of Science, bulked out with more “strange but true” facts from a variety of sources. Many of Morryster’s anecdotes involve devils, reptiles, birth defects, murderers, angels, sea monsters, and magnets. Morryster briefly quotes the Pnakotika when discussing the theory that time and Creation repeat themselves. The credited editor, Lois Gould, provides a lengthy preface siting Morryster in the intellectual disputes of the Royal Society, which mentions the Mathers and Ward Phillips. Originally a doctoral dissertation by Gould, the publisher (Stellar Press) cut the manuscript down and tarted it up with UFO and Bigfoot sightings.

Unnatural: 1 at most

Dedicated Pool Points: 1 for Fringe Science.

Randolph Carter: A Look Behind the Attic Window

Lin Carter (1969; English)

Unimaginative but completist survey of the fiction and poetry of Randolph Carter (1890-1928?), in a paperback original from Ballantine Books with a lurid cover showing ghosts and monsters cavorting across a dreamer’s face. It attempts to explicate and unify Carter’s various imaginary, dream, and theosophist settings and concepts, and includes two chapters of biography including a chapter on his mysterious disappearance in 1928. Contains a “Glossary of Randolph Carter’s Cosmos” listing and defining every place, entity, dimension, and so forth mentioned in his fiction, including several names of Unnatural import.

Unnatural: 1 if the reader has already entered the Dreamlands or otherwise had an Unnatural experience while asleep.

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 for any investigation involving the Dreamlands.

The Tablets of Nhing

Rebecca Aspinwall (1964; English)

This channeled magical text supposedly originates from the planet Yaddith. Rebecca Aspinwall drops out of Tulane Law School on the basis of her contactee experience and self-publishes her book the next year. In 1966 she sells it to Chaplet Books, who retitle it Love Visions of Nhing and, based on her “continuing revelations,” insert much sexier rituals such as “The Joining of Three Souls” and “The Orgy of the Spheres.” Aspinwall lives in Houma, Louisiana, although she often travels to college campuses to incarnate a new group of Joiners of Yaddith and draw reliable condemnation from church groups and anti-obscenity crusaders.

Unnatural: 1

Hypergeometry Potential: 1 (3 for self-published 1964 edition)

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 points for any investigation involving Yaddith, bholes, or Yog-Sothoth; also grants 1 point of HUMINT for New Agers and free-love cultists.

Überreste Verlorener Imperien

Otto Dostmann (1809; German)

Romantic prehistory of the Mediterranean world after the sinking of Atlantis, sporadically treating sites from Scotland to Romania to India wherever Dostmann believes the evidence supports his theories. His arguments range from linguistic and epigraphic oddities to antiquarian finds to folktales and songs. Needless to say, the Ahnenerbe reprinted it in 1940 as a triumph of German scholarship. The only other edition of Dostmann is the Spanish-language Residuos de Imperios Perdidos (Buenos Aires, 1954).

Unnatural: 1

Hypergeometry Potential: 2 (after undergoing a vision at one of the sites mentioned)

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 for Anthropology, Archaeology, History, or Occult involving the relevant region of the world (northern Africa, Europe, western Asia).

2 Responses to “Call of Chicago: A Thousand Pages, Give or Take a Few”

  1. The usage of Lin Carter as the author of the Randolph Carter (wait a minute . . .) title is especially good. I actually had to check to make sure it wasn’t real!

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