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May include mature situations and art
Serial text Uploads: 7 - 31 December 2008
'Overture' added: 13 October 2009
Rusty Haller art - 6 illustrations added:
Movement 1: 19 January 2009 & 3 February 2009
Movement 2: 16 February 2009 & 3 March 2009 & 11 March 2009

*  Link to Rusty Haller memorial art archive added: 13 October 2009  *

Singular Tales cover (large file)- art by Rusty Haller for "Sinnessteuersymphonie" by E.O. Costello
Pulp magazine cover art by Rusty Haller
Upload 24 December 2008

by E. O. Costello
A Tale of mad science in six movements, with coda


Introduction and Dedication

     This story has aspects that make it very personal to me.  I tend not to write introductions to my Spontoon Islands work, but this one is an exception.

     Typically, my stories are written with heavy input from my constant collaborators, M. Mitchell Marmel and Walter Reimer.  The stories are produced as a result of numerous conversations and drafts. In some ways, the fun of the conversations is an end unto itself, especially when a string of jokes is in the offing.

     Sinnessteuersymphonie was an exception to this.  I had been considering the story for over a year.  When I draft stories, I refer to the internal, unwritten drafts as "rehearsals," visualizing them within my mind as if upon a soundstage.  Scenes are adjusted, and further "rehearsals" are held.  This story, as I said, had been under consideration for some time.

     Walt, in the meantime, had been working on another project of his own, a pastiche of 1930s action serials called "Rocket Rat," which took the old Buck Rogers stories as its starting point.  Being a big fan of 1930s popular culture, this had a great deal of appeal to me.

      One thing, however, created a triggering flash in my mind. Walt, as is his wont, had engaged an artist to do some work; in this case, a pastiche of the lobby cards commonly seen in movie theatres of the time.  Walt's choice was, I thought, inspired.  The artist, when I saw the final result, had squarely caught the spirit of the story, complete with jut-jawed hero, female interest, and wholesome sidekick. Well, that was one of them.  The other picture was of the villain (boo! hiss!) and his lovely and terrible minions (rowr).

      The drawings clicked a last piece of the puzzle for me.  My story, I decided, would be done in the spirit of an homage to the pulp adventure/science fiction stories of the 1930s.  Another decision: I would get the artist Walt hired to do appropriate illustrations for my story.

      Unusually for me, this story was written in one fairly short, sustained burst of writing.  The chapters rolled out fairly smoothly. One interesting thing that happened was that the last chapter of the story turned out quite differently from what I had planned.  The characters, in effect, overruled me as to how the story should end.

     I did indeed engage the same artist Walt had used.  The first drawing was done in time for the 2008 Ursa Major Awards, and to my mind was a wonderful evocation of the pulp adventure magazine covers of the era, done in marvelous period colour (or in the case of the background, sinister shadows).

     The other drawings for the first two chapters followed suit, and were more in the same vein of evoking old-fashioned drawings.  This added the right spirit to the story.  I have always felt that illustrations add spice and flavour to any story, and it's little wonder Amazing Stories and its ilk would commission artists in the same way I did.

     Unhappily, there were circumstances that caused the last drawing in the series to be produced in March.  There were plans to finish one batch of drawings, and begin consideration of others, when the artist died rather suddenly, leaving a number of fans deeply saddened and mourning the loss of an individual who brought a great deal of enjoyment to those who saw his work.

      I could commission someone to finish the job, but frankly, I don't have the heart.  There was only one artist who could have done the work for Sinnessteursymphonie, and I will leave his work as is.

     This story is dedicated to my brother Connecticut Yankee, artist Russell "Rusty" Haller.  Rest in peace.


Movement 1 - Misterioso
Movement 2 - Con slancio
Movement 3 - Insistendo
Movement 4 - Molto espressione
Movement 5 - Attacca
Movement 6 - Allegro con fuoco
Coda - Con dolore
- end -

“Sinnessteuersymphonie” (.rtf)
Download (complete story) as an .rtf (Rich text file - 321 Kbytes)
© E.O. Costello, 2008
Upload rtf file: 7 December 2008

Art Archive for Sinnessteuersymphonie
Art by Rusty Haller - Warning: large graphics files
May include mature situations and art
Upload 11 March 2009

Rusty Haller memorial art archives  *

  'Thumbnailed' graphics files
May include mature situations and art
Upload 13 October 2009