You know those stories you read, about how some guy has gone off to war in Afghanistan or someplace and comes back to find out that his soon-to-be-ex-wife has sold his dog? Or all the stories about soldiers who put their stuff in a storage locker, only to find when they get back that the contents have been auctioned off?
Turns out that something along those lines happened to Scott Connors — or Young Scott, as I call him. He maintains that now that he is older than H.P. Lovecraft lived to be, I should drop the “Young” bit, but for me he’s ever the precocious teen who showed up one day in weird fiction fandom, when a bunch of us emerged in the mid-70s.
Scott wasn’t in combat, but some years back he was in the military for a stretch, stationed in Germany and along the DMZ staring down North Korea. He had his books stored, and got word that they’d all been ruined in a Pennsylvania flood and thrown out.
When I spotted the copies of books by Fritz Leiber and H. Warner Munn inscribed to Scott at PulpFest, I didn’t know why they were there. Yeah, maybe Scott needed money at some point and was forced to sell them — even the arch-bookman Vincent Starrett agreed that financial need was a reason to sell your library, and about the only reason. But even if that had been the case, I knew that someone like Scott — like me — would want those copies back. So I picked them up, just in case.
Turns out that Scott does want them (“Thanks for looking out for me here! I managed to pick up another inscribed copy of Fritz’s book, but I’d much rather have mine back”) — and that they would have been among the books supposedly flooded and thrown away.
He had no clew that the story about a flood was made up until he happened on the copy of Strange Harvest that Don Wandrei had inscribed to him, and realized that the books had just been sold out from under him. Brutal.
Now he’s got a tentative start on getting that first library of his back, with Wandrei and Leiber and Munn.
If you happen to have some book inscribed to Scott that would fall into that era, 1970s and early 80s, maybe think about selling it back to him — but don’t gouge the poor guy. I imagine the books are widely scattered by now, some no doubt lost along the way. The dealer who had the titles at PulpFest told me he got them from a guy’s estate, who had died three or four years before.
Once they were sold out of storage, who knows how many different ways they jumped?
Oh, and since we’re on the topic of Young Scott, at PulpFest John D. Haefele told me that he had appeared on a panel once before — sort of — before the Cthulhu Mythos panel he headlined.
I’m not sure I want anyone to recollect that first panel — Scott (or somebody) recommended at the last minute I sit in at the 2005 World Fantasy Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, the year Arkham House was being honored. It was held on Thursday, titled “The Early Years of Arkham House,” and the scheduled/listed participants were Walden Derleth and Dwayne Olson. Apparently Scott also was invited at the last minute. I seem to recall that very few people were in attendance, probably due to the timing. . . .
I was not an official participant, never listed, hardly participated, no recordings, no notice of any kind that I can recall.
If you don’t get the idea, Haefele maintains that for the sake of accuracy, “please be clear that I view that as something quite different than the Mythos panel at PulpFest.” Check.