the Avram Davidson electronic newsletter

Vol. I No. 6
6 March 1997
ISSN 1089-764X

Henry Wessells, Editor.
Cooper Wessells, Honorary Secretary.

Published bimonthly.
Contents copyright 1997 The Nutmeg Point District Mail and assigned to individual contributors. All rights reserved.

P.O. Box 43072
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-0072

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AVRAM & THE MASONS ; or, An Open Question about "The Stone That the Builders Rejected"

(aka "Caretaker, a short short story" aka "A Very Old Custom")

Your editor has noted the frequent appearance of issues pertaining to the Masons in Avram's writings. These references are explicit in his unpublished novel The Corpsmen, somewhat less so in Masters of the Maze (1965), and quite oblique or encoded in "The Blaze of Noon" (Analog, Sept. 1961), a collaboration with Randall Garrett. Confessing an utter lack of familiarity with this subject matter, I invite readers to shed more light on matters connected with this connection, particularly with respect to the unpublished story, "The Stone That the Builders Rejected," (see Vol.1, No.2) which tells of the ceremonial murder of Joe Gilson by members of the building trade who are about to pour concrete the foundations of a new building. Joe's body is incorporated into the foundations. . . .

Somewhere I read an unidentified (biblical?) quotation, "The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner." Furthermore, I wonder about the apparent connection between this story and the account of the murder of Hiram Abiff that forms part of the Masonic tradition:

According to the Master's degree given by speculative Masons in the 1730s, the murder of Hiram Abiff, the master workman at the building of Solomon's Temple, took place at 'high 12 at Noon.' A group of disgruntled craftsmen accosted him in the temple demanding the secret 'Master's word'--a term used primarily to differentiate the pay and assignments of workers but also, the ritual implied, bearing deeper mystical significance. Refusing the conspirators' demands, Hiram was killed and his body thrown into a grave, where it lay until found by a party sent out by Solomon. On the way, the workmen agreed that, if there was no clue on Hiram's body to the powerful but now-lost word, their first statement would become its substitute.
Steven C. Bullock, Revolutionary Brotherhood, Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), p.11.

Further ruminations and uncoverings on this topic will appear in the District Mail.

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Curiosae Hyperboreae ; or, A Footnote to Ursus of Ultima Thule, &c.

"Once this was Beringia, a now-sunken continent that straddles Siberia and Alaska twenty thousand years ago, its mid-portion a low-lying, sluggishly drained plain now deep beneath the Bering Strait. [...] They thought of their homeland in different t