“Horrer Howce,” Margaret St. Clair, 1956 — An entrepreneur visits a reclusive old man who is looking for investors in his unfinished horror house. Jaded by his experience with the latest in such entertainments, the investor isn’t impressed by the first few exhibits. Desperate, the old man decides to show him something special. They get in a car and drive down an impossible freeway, travel at incredible speeds, then are chased by nightmarish cars from which arms seize passengers in nearby vehicles. When they pull off the freeway, the old man explains that the source of menace is called the Voom. The investor is jolted, but definitely interested. The exhibit has to be toned down, but he’ll provide the funding the old man needs to complete the exhibit. Before they can close the deal, the horrors of Voom (aliens from another dimension?) break through the wall and claim the investor. The old man is dejected; he must use the terrors to one day build a horror house fit for the Voom.
Comments: Read in The Fourth Galaxy Reader. Themes of cars, speed, advertising. Is “voom” a reference to the advertising term popular during this period or a reference to automobiles? Is “horrer howce” a play on “whore house?” Is it graffiti? Recalls Bradbury’s and Leiber’s stories depicting youths using cars to terrorize pedestrians and other drivers; here an old man is responsible. A cross-over with horror.
Author: Wikipedia: “Margaret St. Clair (17 February 1911 – 22 November 1995) was an American science fiction writer, who also wrote under the pseudonyms Idris Seabright and Wilton Hazzard. St. Clair was born at Huchinson, Kansas. She married Eric St. Clair in 1932, whom she met while attending the University of California, Berkeley. In 1934 she graduated with a Master of Arts in Greek classics…Of interest beyond science fiction is her 1963 novel Sign of the Labrys, for its overt early use of Wicca elements in fiction…Her interests included witchcraft, nudism, and feminism.” See also Chas S. Clifton’s, “Chasing Margaret.”