Novels of Perley Poore Sheehan, Available from Beb Books

The Abyss of Wonder
The Abyss of Wonder is a mystical tale of adventure and growth, of self-knowledge and love. It was reprinted once before in 1950 in a limited edition volume from Polaris Books and is now available again in a low-cost edition from Beb Books.

John McGoff was an ordinary boy growing up in a small town in middle America. Like many young boys John dreamed he had a secret life, different, greater than his own. Unlike other boys, John McGoff had one. Early in life he had formed a close friendship with an old Chinese laundryman, Charlie and an old Russian cobbler, Ivan. They called themselves the Sons of the Blue Wolf, seekers of the unknown and shared tales with young John, of their lives in the old country and of the great mystery that is the Gobi desert. Into that desert once traveled a great shaman, Shan Marakov, who found at its center a fabled lost city, Shamballah, center of all wisdom of the world, oldest city of all, the tomb of Kubla Khna, the home of the fabled Abyss of Wonders. John McGoff, recognizing the similarity of his name, is convinced that he is the heir to Shan Marakov. And so sets off to find Shamballah and claim his inheritance.


The Copper Princess
The Copper Princess appeared in The All-Story in 1913. It is a charming novel of love, science, mummies and reincarnation. Dr. Howland is an anthropologist at a New York museum where he becomes convinced that a centuries old, perfectly preserved mummy of an Incan princess is not dead but caught in a weird state of suspended animation. He calls on the help of a Russian woman scientist who has experimented with what they call "electric sleep." Meanwhile they are being harassed by a Russian Secret Police Agent who seeks the Russian woman's brother, a revolutionary. The Secret Agent raids the museum just as the Princess awakens causing Dr. Howland to flee with her into the "wilds" of the Bronks. There he finds himself falling on love with his experiment even as he wonders if he has given birth to a creature without a soul. This is a great story, a forgotten classic, that deserves greater awareness.


Captain Trouble

In the thirties Sheehan began writing two series for Thrilling Adventures.One was a Tarzan clone call Kwa which some day we hope to add to our list. The other was about an American engineer, expelled from Russia, then suddenly caught up in the tribal conflicts in Afghanistan where he is proclaimed the heir to Kubla Khan, the future warlord of the world. In a series of eight novelettes Sheehan traces the rise of Pelham Rutledge Shattuck from soldier of fortune, a fighting fool, to the crown of Kubla Khan. These stories are exciting, well written adventures, fun to read for there own sake.


The Woman of the Pyramid
In The Woman of the Pyramid a young Egyptologist feels he is being haunted by a strange woman who shows up at odd moments, gives him an intense glare then disappears. Strangely, she seems to be a distant relative to the woman he intends to marry. During a trip to Egypt he becomes obsessed with stories about a ghost, the "woman of the Pyramid" who seems to drive those who met her mad. He sets out to meet her and when he does, finds himself reliving the life of the Royal Chamberlain to the Pharaoh five thousand years in the past. The Woman of the Pyramid turns out to be the widow of Pharaoh, who is looking for a new husband, looking strongly at him, but he is in love with another woman, and so the widow decides that this woman must die, as well as the chamberlain for spurning her, and well, everybody in a holocaust inside a sunken banquet chamber. Awakening from this strange dream the young man has to end the conflict between this possessive ghost and the woman he intends to marry.

This is more a straight romance than, say, The Copper Princess, which was fundamentally a science fiction story with a heavy overlay of romance. Though there is this long digression into a past life, and some interesting stuff about ancient Egypt, there's not a lot of action or adventure. It's extremely readable because Sheehan was always an extremely readable author.


The Queen of Sheba
The Queen of Sheba, despite its title and the lovely illustration for the story, actually takes place in modern Paris. The American sales representative for an bike company is tired of paying bribes to the editor of a sporting newspaper just to get neutral coverage of his product. There is an altercation in the newsroom where he punches out the editor. Because of the altercation, the assistant editor pulls him out of the building and hearing the American mention a strange old man he'd met that night, takes him to a fortune-teller, who claims to be able to resurrect the ancient mummy of the Queen of Sheba, perfectly preserved in a crystal coffin all these thousands of years. When the fotune-teller learns that the American's middle name is ‘Hyram', the same name as the ancient queens lover, the fortune-teller proclaims him the mummy's lover re-born. Whether or not any of this is true, the American spies a young girl, apparently a prisoner in the fortune-teller's house and vows not only to get to know her better but to free her from the place.

There are a lot of different things going on in this story. There's no fantasy, only the hint that there may be fantastic elements to the story but the action is brisk, varied and interesting.


Judith of Babylon.
This an ambitious story about a Chaldean seer attempting to take over and remake New York city as a modern Babylon, all for the sake of his love for a woman named Judith. If she gives in to him he may let her true love live, but will unleash endless horror on the city. If she fights she might lose all she loves but save her city from greater evil. The story ends with it all being a dream, though I think it can be argued that Sheehan was going for the idea of a theoretical universe that exists only so long as Judith is unable to make her decision. The story has its moments as the Chaldean quietly subverts the institutions of democracy. The ending is a bit of a cop-out but I think there are a lot of moments when the story is well worth reading.

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Books by Perley Poore Sheehan currently available from Beb Books

The Abyss of Wonder

The Copper Princess

Captain Trouble

The Woman of the Pyramids

The Queen of Sheba

Judith of Babylon

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