FORGOTTEN BOOKS #65: WHO FEARS THE DEVIL?: THE COMPLETE SILVER JOHN STORIES By Manly Wade Wellman

I read Manly Wade Wellman’s Who Fears the Devil? back in the 1960s when Ballantine Books first published it. But Wellman kept writing about Silver John, a wanderer and balladeer, both in short stories and in five novels. Now, PLANET STORIES has published the complete stories of Silver John. John confronts evil in the little communities of the South. You’ll not find more satisfying collection of domestic fantasy stories anywhere. Wellman was a master of this type of rustic story-telling. If you haven’t read these stories, I encourage you to give them a try. You’ll be delighted!

This completes the May part of Carl V.’s fantasy challenge. To learn more about the fantasy challenge, click here.

33 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #65: WHO FEARS THE DEVIL?: THE COMPLETE SILVER JOHN STORIES By Manly Wade Wellman

  1. Todd Mason

    Well, some of the Silver John stories have an excellent frisson to them or several, but they are definitely in the fantasy/horror-adventure mode for the most part, and even more some the most brilliant evocations of folklore in fiction as one could want. Using the PLANET STORIES rubric for such WEIRD TALES/F&SF stuff as the John stories seems somehow wrong to me, despite the occasional touches of sf in the stories, but certainly the packaging is better than in that early Ballantine edition, with “SCIENCE FICTION” plastered all over the cover of a collection with nearly no sfnal content.

    If R. A. Lafferty was our Missisisippi-basin tall-tale teller, then Manly Wade Wellman was our Appalachian bard.

    It’s a rare case when Baen Books, with their JOHN THE BALLADEER, have the most appropriate packaging for such a collection, at least among the paperbacks (the Arkham House original and the collected Wellman volumes from the later small presses left out of this contest for the moment).

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      This collection was so good, I’m considering reading the five Silver John novels, Todd. I’ve had them for years, but never got around to reading them.

      Reply
    1. george Post author

      The Silver John novels are: THE OLD GODS WAKEN, AFTER DARK, THE LOST AND THE LURKING, THE HANGING STONES, and THE VOICE OF THE MOUNTAIN, Todd.

      Reply
  2. Richard R.

    I have this one in hand but of course it’s on a shelf waiting to be read. Thanks or the review.

    I had no idea there were so many eidtions / collections of these stories and novels. Good grief.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      There are plenty of variant editions of the stories, Rick, but the PLANET STORIES collection is the only complete edition.

      Reply
  3. Eric Reanimator

    I have read and enjoyed a few of these stories. There was a John the Balladeer film in the early 70s and a great song by the late Hoyt Axton called The Devil that was recorded for the film. I haven’t seen the film, but dig the song.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      According to Mike Resnick’s fine introduction to WHO FEARS THE DEVIL?, Eric, the movie sucked. I’ll have to check out the song.

      Reply
  4. Drongo

    “Presented” sounds like another word for edited.

    Planet Stories is doing their thing pretty well. They remind me a bit of Black Lizard. Both reprinted great older tales and put pleasingly pulpy covers on them. I just hope PS has a longer run than BL.

    Bought

    Reply
  5. Todd Mason

    THE LEGEND OF HILBILLY JOHN, as the WHO FEARS THE DEVIL? film was also released as, can charitably be considered Almost Good Try…a friend gave me a dub some years back.

    Indeed, George…I actually have four of the novels, but have only read three…something (like a move and an unopened box) kept me from reading THE LOST AND THE LURKING, and the only one I need to obtain is THE VOICE OF THE MOUNTAIN. Pluralize that and there’s as good a tag for Wellman and his adopted home as any.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      The Silver John books seem to be easily available from online sellers, Todd. As soon as this semester ends, I think I’ll read all five books one after another.

      Reply
  6. Kerrie

    Hello George, I will continue contributing during Patti’s absence. She gave me your email address do I’ll send you the exact URL on a Thursday.

    Reply
  7. Todd Mason

    JOHN THE BALLADEER was a Baen release, Randy, rather than Ballantine…Baen’s friend and contributing novelist and friend (and WHISPERS managing editor) of Wellman David Drake had a hand in that volume, I think we can be sure.

    As I only need a copy of the last novel, George, I’ll be picking it up any time now. A run through the two I haven’t read would be a good thing.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      I’ve had the five volume Manly Wade Wellman collected fiction set from Night Shade Books on my shelf for years, Todd. This is the time to read them, I figure.

      Reply
  8. Pierce Watters

    As Senior Editor of the Planet Stories book line, this has been my personal favorite. Wellman was one heck of a writer. I also read and loved the novels and even created my own iTunes mix of various songs mentioned in the stories and novels. “Shiver in the Pines” is my favorite song and there are some wonderful versions out there. I particularly like covers by Bill Monroe; Odetta (as collected by Leadbelly); and Nirvana (titled “Where Did You Sleep Last Night).

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Planet Stories has reprinted some wonderful work, Pierce. Like you, I think WHO FEARS THE DEVIL? may be your best book so far. Keep publishing great books and I’ll keep reviewing them!

      Reply

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