Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Grandpa's Influence Continues


My favourite Lovecraftian fiction series continues with ye newly-releas'd Black Wings V from PS Publishing. Editor S. T. Joshi has selected a fascinating collection of weird tales that are original examples of how modern weird authors continue to pay homage to Ye Gentleman from Providence. 

Contents
Introduction, S. T. Joshi
Plenty of Irem, Jonathan Thomas
Diary of a Sane Man, Nicole Cushing
The Woman in the Attic, Robert H. Waugh
Far from Any Shore, Caitlin R. Kiernan
In Blackness Etched, My Name, W. H. Pugmire
Snakeladder, Cody Goodfellow
The Walker in the Night, Jason C. Eckhardt
In Bloom, Lynne Jamneck
The Black Abbess, John Rippion
The Quest, Mollie L Burleson
A Question of Blood, David Hambling
Red Walls, Mark Howard Jones
The Organ of Chaos, Donald Tyson
Seeds of the Gods, Donald R. Burleson
Fire Breeders, Sunni K Brock
Casting Fractals, Sam Gafford
The Red Witch of Chorazin, Darrell Schweitzer
The Oldies, Nancy Kilpatrick
Voodoo, Stephen Woodworth
Lore (poetry), Wade German

This anthology benefits greatly, I think, because of ye reputation of its editor as the World's Leading Lovecraft Scholar & Editor; because he is so well-known for his work inye Lovecraft field, S. T. is able to attract numerous writers who wou'd not normally dip their claw into ye Mythos fictional universe. But there are plenty of familiar names as well, and I enjoy the kind of nameless intimacy that can be sipped from such outstanding stories as Darrell's "The Red Witch of Chorazin", and where we find such phrases as "adventurous expectancy"--a phrase that will bring a wee smile to ye mugs who are familiar with HPL's prose.

My own story in ye book continues my recent obsession with setting tales in Lovecraft's mythical towns of Dunwich, Kingsport, and (in this case) Arkham. To do this is part of ye fan-boy appeal of writing Lovecraftian fiction, and I'm addicted. It limits ye number of pro editors who will consider my work for their anthologies, but the only editor I really care to write for is S. T., so that's cool wid me.

S. T. has started work on BLACK WINGS VI (he has accepted a story of mine for it already), and then he thinks he wants to cease work on this particular series for a while and concentrate on Other Things. 


Monday, July 11, 2016

New from ye H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society!


With audacious originality and absolute genius, The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society has given us a new audio cd in their Dark Adventure Radio Theatre series. Inspir'd by H. P. Lovecraft's classic tale, "The Call of Cthulhu", Sean Branney has created an outstanding original story and audio script, which is well-served by a cast of fifteen players. Sean himself portrays Inspector John Raymond Legrasse, a character from HPL's original tale. Now, the thing ye need to know about Sean Branney and Andrew Leman is that they are among the world's really superior Lovecraftians--by which I mean that they understand Lovecraft's art intimately and intellectually. Thus The White Tree is authentic in every way, a product of pure Lovecraftian horror, a wondrous display of how H. P. Lovecraft's influence is still so potent in these latter-days, still relevant and still original. 

The topic of Lovecraft's racism seems to be all over ye Internet these days, to ye exclusion of other aspects of Lovecraft's personality quirks. As repugnant as that racism is, it in no way diminishes the genius of Lovecraft's art for me--and I am of Jewish and Native American heritage (as a wee babe, people often thought I was a little Eskimo lad), as well as queer-up-ye-arse. Lovecraft may well have been horrified had he met me (although I doubt that I wou'd exist as I am in ye 1930s). The producers of this new cd write, in a paragraph in ye liner notes:


                    "We know well that Lovecraft's racism is a hot-button topic.
A thorough review of HPL's life, correspondence, 
and creative works shows that he was lamentably
but undeniably xenophobic and racist in his personal
beliefs, and it's always been challenging to
appreciate his fictional creations without excusing
his more repugnant real-life attitudes."

I don't know of anyone who has actually tried to excuse or deny Lovecraft's bigotry, although some seem to try and "explain" by saying that Lovecraft was "a man of his time". I have grown weary of discussions of HPL's racism because such discussions try to downplay his genius as an author, combining his racism with complaints of what an "awful" writer Lovecraft was. Excuse me, bitches--Lovecraft was an excellent writer, in every way, as S. T. Joshi has shewn in several of his personal blogs & elsewhere. 

Damn it--you see how the topic has derail'd this blog, which is meant only to proclaim my admiration for this amazing new radio drama. The White Tree is one of ye finest Lovecraftian creations I have ever experienced, with performances enhanced by the stunning musical score by Troy Sterling Nies. As with all Dark Radio Theatre kits, this comes with several bonus features: a clipping from the New Orleans Daily Picayune about the original swamp raid on ye Cthulhu Cult; an incident report from the New Orleans police department; a page torn from an unholy book of secret rituals; and coolest of all (I'm holding it in ye photo above) a powerful relic of New Orleans voodoo!

This sublime cd package may be order'd at

www.cthulhulives.org


Friday, June 3, 2016

Get Yem While Ye Can!


Ye vinyl from Cadabra Records with Andrew Leman's hypnotic reading of "The Hound" and "The Music of Erich Zann" is now sold out. Thus one is urged to visit ye Cadabra site and order their new diabolic offering before it, too, becomes unavailable. 

Cadabra Records www.cadabrarecords.com 

Marking ye first time in history that The Lurking Fear has been read for vinyl, this release of The Lurking Fear features a dynamic reading by professional actor Andrew Leman, a co-founder of the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, who delivers the terror, dread, suspense and madness that permeates Lovecraft's writing with by-the-throat conviction. Dark ambient/industrial outfit, Theologian, backs up Leman's conveyance of the awesome story, supplying an appropriately macabre and unsettling score.

A segment of the liner notes for this edition of The Lurking Fear, written by literary horror scholar and expert, S. T. Joshi offers, "Reading Lovecraft can on occasion be a guilty pleasure. When we encounter a sentence like this from The Outsider--"It was a compound of all that is unclean, unwelcome, abnormal, and detestable"--we are inclined to smile as well as to admire the verbal pyrotechnics that can create such a cascade of evocative adjectives. Especially in his eartlier stories, Lovecraft enjoyed experimenting with this kind of over-the-top horror, and the results are some of his most entertaining stories. The Lurking Fear is one of these.
"Written in November 1922, it was the second of Lovecraft's professionally published stories. Weird Tales, which was the haven for most of his later tales, would not be founded until March 1923; and Lovecraft--who was not even sure he wanted to be a "professional" writer, if that meant churning out hackwork according to market specifications--wrote The Lurking Fear in response to the pleas of a friend, George Julian Houtain, who wanted just such a blood-and-thunder narrative. Houtain had begun a semi-pro magazine (which Lovecraft later called a "vile rag") entitled Home Brew, subtitled "America's Zippiest Pocket Magazine." Most people don't know that Home Brew was a humor magazine, full of articles, sketches, limericks, and other matter poles apart from Lovecraft's usual brand of supernatural horror."

"Shrieking, slithering, torrential shadows of red viscous madness chasing one another through endless, ensanguined corridors of purple fulgorous sky . . . formless phantasms and kaleidoscopic mutations of a ghoulish,remembered scene; forests of monstrous overnourished oaks with serpent roots twisting and sucking unnamable juices from an earth verminous with millions of cannibal devils; mound-like tentacles groping from underground nuclei of polypous perversion...insane lightning of malignant ivied walls and daemon arcades choking with fungous vegetation..."  --"The Lurking Fear", by H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ye Next LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED


Some few changes are coming with ye next three volumes of PS Publishing's LOVECRAFT'S ILLUSTRATED series. The Mound and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward will each have their own single volumes. But it is ye Haunter of the Dark volume that has me really excited. This third book will contain both "The Haunter of the Dark" and "The Thing on the Doorstep"; but it will also contain ye Robert Bloch story that inspir'd Lovecraft to pen "Haunter"--"The Shambler from the Stars"--and Bob's sequel to Lovecraft's tale, "The Shadow from the Steeple". August Derleth publish'd these three tales, in chronological order, in his Arkham House edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. This volume will also contain some essays concerning ye two tales, so it shou'd have quite a few pages. It will be quite a while after these next three are publish'd that we will see further volumes, although one of them will be another combo containing both "Herbert West--Reanimator" and mine beloved "The Lurking Fear". 

There have been hints, yet unfounded but thrilling nonetheless, that almoft all of H. P. Lovecraft's fictional oeuvre will be publish'd in this illustrated series. These books are the products of honest-to-gawd aficionados. Pete Von Sholly's artwork is vivid and diverse in pictorial approach, and I especially love the two-page spreads, such as we have below:

That image above is a bit faded compar'd to ye actual reproduction in ye book, which is of vivid blue in hue. Some of the art pieces has a startling power in the way they capture the power of Lovecraft's scenes, & they shew that Lovecraft had a very visual sense when it came to painting his dreams in fictive form. Many of the illustrations are in subdued single tones--others are quite vibrant in their use of colour:

Although I will never consider myself any kind of Lovecraft "scholar", I have grown keenly fond of writing my wee essays for this series of books. Writing essays, I've found, slightly changes the way I approach reading HPL's tales--I not only read them but I kind of scrutinize them for aspects that have eluded me in previous readings. It has greatly heightened my joy in reading Lovecraft, and my admiration for ye Old Gent's fictive art. I look forward to all future volumes!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Ye Beauty out of Time & Space


I have many editions of ye fiction of H. P. Lovecraft; but because I return to those stories repeatedly, month after month, it's always nice to have them in an attractive new edition, especially a handsome hardcover volume. I had The Complete Cthulhu Mythos Tales on pre-order at Amazon, but then to-day's poft brought a free review copy from ye publisher. Honey, this is one gorgeous book. The colour design of ye boards is lovely--with solid black, shimmering gold & silver, & a moft peculiar shade of blue-green. The pages have a gilt edge of gold, and a pale golden book ribbon is attach'd, a wonderful service for keeping one's place while reading ye tome. The endpapers are in two shades of green and feature an image of "R'lyeh" by John  Coulhart. The book feels so solid, and although it is a wee bit weighty it is easy to hold and read while reclining in one's armchair. 
This is a hardcover edition of a trade paperback that was originally publish'd in 2013; but its contents is so excellent, combining some of Lovecraft's minor stories and his classics, along with a number of his finest revisions/collaborations, that the volume wou'd be an outstanding gift to give to a friend who is reading H. P. Lovecraft for ye first time. The text is well-printed and the stock is thick enough that there is no peek-through of text from the opposite side of ye page. A small poster by Mr Coulhart, "Cthulhu Rising," is attach'd to ye inside-back board--and one wou'd do well to use caution in pulling it free so that the is no resulting ripping of ye back endpaper. I believe ye book is to begin selling in Barnes & Noble stores in August.

One may wonder why B&N have publish'd yet another volume of Lovecraft's work, having published The Complete Fiction in 2011. There has been a lot of books out these past couple years that emphasis ye name "Cthulhu" in their titles, ye name being a lure that gets people to purchase books. Even S. T. Joshi's Black Wings series--publish'd in hardcover by PS Publishing--had its title changed to Black Wings of Cthulhu when Titan Books began to issue ye series in trade paperback. There is a removable label on the back board (I lifted it off ye board carefully and then glued it inside ye book just opposite page 594) on which is stated:

"The Cthulhu Mythos was H. P. Lovecraft's greatest contribution to supernatural literature: a series of stories that evoked cosmic awe and terror through their accounts of incomprehensibly alien monsters and their horrifying incursions into our world. The Complete Cthulhu Mythos Tales collects twenty-three of Lovecraft's greatest weird tales, including 'The Call of Cthulhu,' 'The Colour out of Space,' 'The Dunwich Horror,' 'The Shadow over Innsmouth,' and 'The Shadow out of Time.'"

I love this volume--for its beauty and its excellent contents. Priced at $20, it is inexpensive enough to give to a chum as eldritch gift.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Unknown Gulf of Night


Above is one of my favourite illustrations by Pete Von Sholly for ye forthcoming LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED edition of THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK from PS Publishing.  www.pspublishing.co.uk/  I glanced over the tale before I wrote my essay for this particular volume, and was once again transported by the power of Lovecraft's imagination and the beauty of his perfect prose. One of my great loves in life is to see Lovecraft's weird fiction illustrated, and Pete Von Sholly's work continues to amaze me. There is an almoft simple perfection to ye piece above, and the tone of colour enhances ye foreboding mood of the art for me. 

Returning as I do to Lovecraft's text, continually, it helps to have a variety of editions in which to dip. Every edition has something different that helps to enhance ye Lovecraftian experience. The Penguin Classics editions has those amazing Introductions and Notes; The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft has that solid hardcover feel as one holds it, and the staggering number of illustrations, photos, &c; and these new editions from PS Publishing have Pete's magnificent artwork plus a variety of bonus material following Lovecraft's texts. As far as I know, Chaosium plans on publishing editions of Lovecraft's tales edited by Robert M. Price, and these may be critical editions as well, with commentary (no date for the Price project has been announced). 

This year we can look forward to a 4th Variorum edition of Lovecraft's Revisions & Collaborations. A second volume of The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft is being edited by Leslie S. Klinger. Hippocampus Press will be publishing The Annotated Fungi from Yuggoth in May, in which each of Lovecraft's sonnets will have an illustration. And Peter Crowther has express'd interest in bringing out many more volumes of LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED, some featuring single stories and all ye bonus stuff, and others probably combining a number of Lovecraft's shorter things into one illustrated volume.

We Lovecraftians are living in ye best of eras, methinks.

Today is Robert Bloch's birthday. I'll be reading two or three of his fine stories as an act of remembrance.