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. 


Friday, March 4, 2016

Titan Blur


Above are ye jackets for ye first nine volumes in the LOVECRAFT LIBRARY from PS Publishing, featuring ye artwork of Pete Von Sholly, who is also ye editor for the series. The first nine volumes are already in print, and the last three are forthcoming. I have written new essays for these volumes: THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK; THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP;THE CALL OF CTHULHU; THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE; THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS;THE SHADOW OUT OF TIME; and an old fanzine essay of mine was reprinted in ye DUNWICH volume. I love these wee books more than I can say, and have a special place for their in a shelf right beside my writing table. I want to keep them close, to fondle and adore them. It's a delightful experience, to read again these wonderful stories by Lovecraft, and while reading to turn a page and find a colorful illustration portraying the scene one has just devour'd. 

I love reading critical essays. I think this came about from being such a Shakespeare nut since my high school days. I would read Shakespeare in single volumes from Bantam Books, and at the back of the books there would be an assortment of essays by various scholars &c. My love for Oscar Wilde and H. P. Lovecraft also trigger'd my fondness for critical material, because so many of the books I read discuss'd in critical fashion Wilde's novel or plays; and at the time I became a Lovecraft nut was also the time when critical works on Lovecraft began to flow, as a prelude to full-length biographical studies. I love how the observations of other readers can illuminate a text of a story I have read a dozen times and bring forth aspects that eluded me. I discovered that I really dig writing about the writings that I adore, although I could never think of myself as any kind of scholar. So to be invited to write my wee essays for the LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED volumes has proved an immense delight for me.

The fact that three new volumes have now been added to the series makes me hope that even MORE volumes will eventually be presented, until we have ye majority of Lovecraft's fiction in illustrated volumes. That wou'd be a dark dream come true for this Lovecraft fan-boy.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

An Eldritch Life


I hold, above, my very favourite volume of S. T.'s Penguin Classics editions of Lovecraft's weird fiction. It contains so many of Lovecraft's very best tales, including the wee novels The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and At the Mountains of Madness. It also includes one of my Lovecraftian obsessions--"Pickman's Model." That story has influenced me in a way I cannot quite understand, especially after I spent time haunting ye lanes of Boston with my chums and stumbled among ye tombstones of Copp's Hill Burying Ground. It was wonderfully weird, after having imagined the scenes of Lovecraft's fiction during my myriad readings of ye tales, to actual walk their ground and drink in their aura with mine eyes. I felt a tremendous surge of unspeakable joy when I walked up to 10 Barnes Street and touched my hand to the number 10 fastened to the house, while behind me S. T. Joshi was chanting all the masterpieces that Lovecraft had penned while living there. That was the moment, I think, when Lovecraft completely took over and became my core lifestyle, because the aesthetic energy of which I thrive. 

Because of my heart condition, I am not able to hold a job, and this disheartens me because I love being part of a kitchen crew and miss my job at Stellar Pizza big-time. It's a real responsibility, taking hold of one's life and trying to make every day count, especially for a Taurus who is inclined to be lazy. Every time I finish a new story these days, it feels like a real accomplishment. I'm supposed to be working on new stories for two collections I'm writing with chums--a book of CAS-inspired stories with Henry Vester and a book of Enoch Coffin tales with Jeff Thomas--but none of those new stories have been completed, although some few have been feebly begun. Yet I have been active, thanks to Pete Von Sholly and PS Publishing.  Pete asked S. T. to suggest people who could write new essays for their LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED volumes in their PS Pulps Library series, the first nine volumes of which have been publish'd. These books, such as ye one pictur'd at left, contain one of Lovecraft's classic tales, a new Introduction by S. T. Joshi, and various essays and other fun features. For The Whisperer in Darkness series Ramsey Campbell wrote a new Foreword and I compos'd a new essay, "Cosmic Trickery," in which I insist that Nyarlathotep does not appear in ye tale in any guise. The series has been well-received, and PS Publishing is preparing three more volumes: THE MOUND, THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK, and THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP. Pete Von Sholly ask'd if I cou'd write new essays for two of ye volumes, and I must say that working with him has been an absolute delight, because he obviously loves and is intrigued by Lovecraft's stories as much as I am. I spent the past few days writing my essay on "The Thing on the Doorstep," and it went through various stages as Pete reread the story and asked about certain aspects of it. The essay is now complete at 1,350 words. I love having these individual editions of Lovecraft's stories, and it enhances the reading experience to turn a page and find a colourful illustration for it, sometimes even a dynamic two-page spread. Nothing wou'd please me more than to see the series continued so that all, or at least most, of Lovecraft's weird tales are thus presented. 

Now my essay writing is at an end, and so I must try again to concentrate on original composition of my own fiction. I have ideas, and hopefully I can smooth my mental chaos and find my Muse and work my craft. Shalom, my darlings.
in Providence, 24 October 1707--photo by Greg Lowney, Esq.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thanx Penguin!


So I got this huge box from Penguin just now, and I got all excited. I thought, wow, they must be sending me a bunch of cool books that I don't remember ordering! Did I order a big book on Amazon and forget about it? The last big tome I have purchas'd is ye handsome THE ANNOTATED POE, but that's already arriv'd. As I picked up ye box from the porch where ye UPS bloke dropped it, I was surprised to find it rather light, not weighty. So I gets me scissors and slice through the packaging tape, dig through the bubble packing and found--one book. 

Ah--but whut a book! Of course, Titan's ridiculous decision to change ye original title, Black Wings, to BLACK WINGS OF CTHULHU still annoys me. I'm hoping that ye day comes soon when the hideous and alien word "Cthulhu" isn't such an advantage to selling books, such a commercial gimmick. One of the editorial stances for this series is that cliche Cthulhu stories will not be consider'd. This is not a book of Cthulhu Mythos stories; as ye sub-title insists, these are "Seventeen New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror." 

I love the strange green cover stock for this volume, on which the gold image of ye illustration looks very fine in good light (in poor light the illustration almost vanishes). I think this is my favourite volume in the series, I love each and every story. The opening story, a long piece by Fred Chappell, is absolutely remarkable. The one constant complain'd that dimwitted "reviewers" on Amazon and other online forums have concerning such series as this and Ellen Datlow's Lovecraftian anthologies is that the stories selected "aren't Lovecraftian." This is just pathetic stupidity. These writers have given us Lovecraftian fiction that is new and original, extremely modern. (Except for my own work; my story in this book is a traditional Lovecraftian tale set in Kingsport.) 

I love this series from S. T. and am overjoy'd that he has selected tales of mine for the next two volumes.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

MIDNIGHT DIN & OTHER WEIRD STORIES



So, this is too typical of me. I totally forgot about writing this book and recording this video! I found it again quite by accident, because of Bobby Derie's new posting regarding Henry S. Whitehead. Whitehead was buddies with H. P. Lovecraft and the author of a number of cool vodou stories, many of which were publish'd in Weird Tales. Such is my admiration for Whitehead and his weird fiction that, on a whim, I based a character on him for my story, "Ye Unkempt Thing," whut was included in my last book, Monstrous Aftermath. My character was named Reverend Henry St. Clair, author of ye book Midnight Din and other Weird Stories. Well, at ye moment I am trying to write new stories for a collection of Enoch Coffin stories that I'm doing with Jeffrey Thomas, and I thought, hmmm, let's write a story called "Midnight Din." So I went to Google to see if anyone had already used that title, because quite often I find that a character name I come up with, or a story title, has already been used by someone else. So I did a search on "Midnight Din" and, lo!, there was my video! Oh yeah, I was gonna write this totally gay book of weird fiction. Seem;d a fun idea at ye time, and then the more I thought about it I changed my mind, thinking it wou'd result in a rather stupid, trivial collection. But I still like that story title, so I have decided to try and write a story with that title for ye new Enoch book. 

My initial plan was that this 2nd book of Enoch Coffin stories would not be Lovecraftian--but I'm beginning to see that Lovecraft's spectre seems to taint everything I intend to write to some degree. So be it. I hope soon to be able to announce that I have actually written one or two of ye new tales.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ye Lurking Fear


Knowing that a second NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT volume will be forthcoming next year or early 2018 has me contemplating what illustrations will be used for some of the stories; and that made me reflect on some of ye cool illustrations I have seen for "The Lurking Fear." I love that story and have an almoft-intimate relationship with it. When I was ask'd to write a story for the weird journal, Fungi, the editor told me he wanted a story of around 11,000 words, he wanted it in segments or chapters, and he wanted each chapter to have its own title. This made me think immediately of "The Lurking Fear," a story of 8,170 words that Lovecraft divided into four episodes, each with its own title. My fanboy juices began to bubble, and I knew that I was going to write my own Sesqua Valley version of "The Lurking fear." I had my own Martense mansion, located on Tempest Hill, near Sesqua Valley's monstrous Mount Selta. I had a doomed character named Arthur Munroe, as did Lovecraft. My one change was that my daemons were ghostly rather than physical creeps. I took my chapter titles from those in "The Lurking Fear" and "Herbert West--Reanimator." I wrote the story quickly, effortlessly; I think it was so easily done because the writing of it was such rad fun. It felt illicit and irredeemably fan-boy, writing a story that was so like one of Lovecraft's tales, at least in inspiration if not completely in approach. Lovecraft is the only writer who can influence me to commit such a reckless act--again & again & again.  (I was once going to write my own version of Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, but eventually came to my senses, thank Yuggoth...) So, anyway, thinking about Leslie Klinger's 2nd volume of annotated HPL has me dwelling on all this, and I am rather shock'd to find that I want to write yet another story inspired by Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear"--perhaps this time using his actual setting. Maybe I can have Enoch Coffin visit the site for one of my new stories that I'm writing for a second volume of Enoch tales. Hmmmm.......

So, I have started a very slow, careful re-read of Lovecraft's tale, in S. T.'s wonderful volume, A MOUNTAIN WALKED. Actually, S. T. didn't choose to have either "The Lurking Fear" or "Pickman's Model" in ye hardcover edition of that book (it was publisher Jerad's idea), which is why Lovecraft's tales don't appear in ye recent trade pb edition of the book from Dark Regions Press. And now I have this new queer hankering. My version of "The Lurking Fear" was originally publish'd in Fungi and then reprinted in my book, In the Gulfs of Dreams and Other Lovecraftian Tales. There it wore its original title, "A Presence of the Past." I have since grown bored with that title, so when the story is publish'd in my forthcoming Centipede Press collection next year it will wear ye title "The Horror on Tempest Hill"--yes, for real, bitches! And I am thinking of asking my publisher, Centipede Press, to use the Clark Ashton Smith illustrations for "The Lurking Fear" when it first appear'd in Home Brew to illustrate my story! Is that crazy or whut?! 

So now I have much to do. I need to reread Lovecraft's story, in the way I study tales to which I want to write a sequel, which requires a different kind of mental approach to ye reading process. Then I need to begin to mentally outline a new Enoch Coffin story in which he visits the site of Lovecraft's original tale (I think Lovecraft destroyed the daemonic mansion of his story, but I can invent a kind of macabre ambiance that is left behind and affects (pollutes) ye mind & soul. Oh, this is going to be fun!

Here's a reading from a story I rather regret having written--I think it was a mistake to try and use Lovecraft's Pickman as a character in a Sesqua Valley tale. But, you know, we try and try, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it fails.


Monday, February 1, 2016

NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT II: BEYOND YE MYTHOS

Leslie Klinger had announc'd that, because NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT is selling so extremely well, Liveright/Norton has ask'd him to do a second volume, tentatively titled New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft: Beyond the Mythos. The focus of the first volume were those stories that Klinger felt were a part of the "Cthulhu Cycle"; so this 2nd volume will have tales that are not a part of that cycle. The selected stories are:

The Tomb
Polaris
Transition of Juan Romero
The Doom that Came to Sarnath
Ex Oblivione
The Terrible Old Man
Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
The Cats of Ulthar
Celephais
The Temple
The Outsider
The Other Gods
The Music of Erich Zann
The Quest of Iranon
The Lurking Fear
The Rats in the Walls
The Shunned House
He
Cool Air
The Strange High House in the Mist
Pickman's Model
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

Klinger notes, "I'll be working with my friend S. T. Joshi to use the most accurate text possible, based on his brilliant Variorum edition.

Hopefully there won't be any tentacles on this editions jacket.....

Sunday, January 31, 2016

LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 1 -- YE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH


When I was a young Lovecraftian, I cou'd not "get into" this novella. I was obsess'd with pure Lovecraftian horror, and ye idea of a fantasy novel lack'd appeal. Trying to read Dream-Quest at that young age, I became impatient with many of ye fabulous creatures that Carter encountered, finding them silly, absurd, and boring. The one allure the novella had was that it featured Richard Upton Pickman in his ghoul state; but ye dreamland ghouls rather disappointed me, because they meep. What the hell is meeping? However, over time, as I return'd to "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," I found more therein that charmed me; and now, last year, my collaborator, David Barker, and I have written an entire novel set in Lovecraft's dreamlands--, or rather, our own version of it. 

Because of ye novel's length, this edition in ye PS Publishing LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED series contains just the wee novel, plus a new Introduction by S. T. Joshi, and a charming rambling essay by artist Pete Von Sholly (the LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED series was Pete's idea and all nine volumes are filled with his vivid colour artwork). The illustrations are superb, so enjoyable, and it adds immeasurably to the joy of reading the book to turn a page and be confronted with an image from Lovecraft's mighty imagination. On page 43 we have what is ye finest rendition of a night-gaunt that I have ever seen--a really inky fiend. Pages 50/51 are taken up with a spread depicting this line from ye novel: "There, on a tombstone of 1768...sat a ghoul which was once the artist Richard Upton Pickman." This is perhaps my favourite scene in ye novella, and Pete's rendition of it is quite eerie, using hues of purple, blue, and black. 

Dream-Quest is, as far as I understand, a first draft never revised or polished by HPL. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is also a first draft never prepared for publication, but Lovecraft revis'd the manuscript throughout, causing it to be rather a mess (see image). Writes S. T., in his Introduction, "In many ways, the Dream-Quest and Charles Dexter Ward are mirror images of the same basic idea--that idea that 'you can come home again.'" In Dream-Quest we encounter one of Lovecraft's recurring characters--Randolph Carter--one whom, it has been suggested, is Lovecraft's fictive portrayal of himself.
Von Sholly seems to have picked up on this idea, for in some of his paintings Carter does indeed vaguely resemble his creator.

Never publish'd in Lovecraft's lifetime, Dream-Quest saw its first publication in Beyond the Wall of Sleep (Arkham House, 1943). It has since found many admirers. Joanna Russ, that supreme sf author, is quoted in Wikipedia as saying "charming...but alas, never rewritten or polished." And that Wiki article also notes that "In 1948, Arthur C. Clarke sent Lord Dunsany a copy of The Arkham Sampler containing part of The Dream-Quest. Dunsany responded, 'I see Lovecraft borrowed my style, & I don't grudge it to him." Strangely, Lovecraft seems to have been unable to appreciate the great merit of his finest work, and he is known to have destroy'd much of his fiction with whichhe was displeased. We can count ourselves fortunate that The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath was kept from ye flames and survived potential destruction or disposal during and after HPL's lifetime. 

This PS Publishing edition of Dream-Quest, in their fabulous LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED series. is one result of that lucky survival. Pete Von Sholly's magical illustrations are a rich and wondrous manifestation of Lovecraft's brilliant imagination. This is one cool book, my darlings!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Rejected by Amazon...


For some strange reason--perhaps because I have quoted sections from the book in review--Amazon won't post my new review of MEDUSA'S COIL AND OTHERS. This is quite annoying, because I spent a nice wee while typing up that review. However, I was able to print out ye review, and so I am going to share it here, with ye. I think it requires a nice purple typeface.

Medusa's Coil and Others. Volume 2 of THE ANNOTATED REVISIONS AND COLLABORATIONS OF H. P. LOVECRAFT. Arcane Wisdom, 2012. Editing and Annotated by S. T. Joshi.
I keep returning to this wonderful tome, and to its companion volume, THE CRAWLING CHAOS AND OTHERS, for a number of reasons. I feel a close kinship with H. P. Lovecraft because I have been an obsess'd fan since ye early 1970s, at which time I also began my hobby of writing weird fiction that is heavily tainted by Lovecraft's oeuvre. I think my initial reading of many of these revisions fueled my desire to write Lovecraftian horror; I began to correspond with some few of these writers when I was young, and the idea that others had been inspir'd to write in ye "Lovecraft tradition" proved alluring. I kinda wanted to become a "member of ye club," so to speak. Reading Lovecraft's correspondence captivated me, especially when those selected letters spoke of Lovecraft's writing of his weird fiction, or had him encouraging others to write such stuff. This second volume of Grandpa's revisions & collaborations shews how intense his influence was while he lived. Most of these stories, published in pulp journals, did not wear Lovecraft's name in their byline; but some readers became suspicious about the authorship because of the writing style and mentions of Mythos elements in these yarns. 

As ye can see, I cannot write about Lovecraft or review his Work without repeated references to myself. Although my ego is enormous, that's not why it happens; rather, it is because reading Lovecraft's fiction has become so intimate a part of being an obsess'd Lovecraft fanboy. To write an "objective" review is impossible, and instead mine are rather bubbly and personal. However, I am also an author, and I take the creation of Literary Art very seriously. Those writers whom I most admire--Oscar Wilde and Henry James and H. P. Lovecraft &c &c--also consider'd ye writing of fiction an art form. So, fanboy that I am, I am also dedicated to striving for excellence in the fiction that I compose. Lovecraft did this as well, and from his correspondence we learn that he was determined to write fiction that was excellent. That he succeeded in this is evident in those editions of his Work publish'd by Penguin Classics, Liveright, and The Library of American.

ye Contents of ye Booke:
Introduction, by S. T. Joshi
Medusa's Coil, with Zealia Bishop
The Trap, with Henry S. Whitehead
The Man of Stone, with Hazel Heald
Winged Death, with Hazel Heald
The Horror in the Museum, with Hazel Heald
Out of the Aeons, with Hazel Heald
The Horror in the Burying-Ground, with Hazel Heald
The Slaying of the Monster, with R. H. Barlow
The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast, with R. H. Barlow
The Tree on the Hill, with Duane W. Rimel
The Battle That Ended the Century, with R. H. Barlow
"Till A' the Seas", with R. H. Barlow
Collapsing Cosmoses, with R. H. Barlow
The Challenge from Beyond, with C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long
The Disinterment, with Duane W. Rimel
The Diary of Alonzo Typer, with William Lumley
In the Walls of Eryx, with Kenneth Sterling
The Night Ocean, with R. H. Barlow
Appendix
Notes
Notes to "Medusa's Coil"
Notes to "The Challenge from Beyond"
The Diary of Alonzo Typer, by William Lumley
The Sorcery of Aphlar, by Duane R. Rimel

I reread "Medusa's Coil" last week in this edition; and for ye first time, I came away feeling disappointed with this fun tale. There is a sentiment among critics that Lovecraft was less careful in his prose with these revisions than with stories that wore his byline. I don't think I agree with that, and one reason I love the stories in this book is that they read very much like work by HPL. "Medusa's Coil" may be said to be flaw'd by Lovecraft's racism, and Derleth seems to have been sensitive of this flaw when he included the story in The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions--for he actually changed the final sentence in the story, thus "editing" Lovecraft's bigotry!Here's Derleth's version of that final line in ye tale:
[spoiler's alert] "...for, though in deceitfully slight proportion, Marceline was a loathsome, bestial thing, and he forebears had come from Africa." That sentence captivated my youthful imagination--ooo, whut kind of daemonic thing dwells within ye shadows of Dark Africa?! Here is Lovecraft's original sentence, now restor'd to ye text by S. T. Joshi: "--for, though in deceitfully slight proportion, Marceline was a negress."

This anthology is a hefty book of 484 pages. It's fascinating to see how Lovecraft, in writing some of these tales, completely takes over the plots suggested by his "collaborators" and writes what is essential a new story by H. P. Lovecraft. The range of fiction is wide in regards to style and content, and some of this fiction is bloody awful. I mean, it's almost outrageously weird to see, with "The Horror in the Museum," Lovecraft writing a story that reads more like a Derleth pastiche than authentic H. P. Lovecraft! 

The Notes are fascinating and inform'd, and elucidate these entertaining horror tales--which are indeed the work of HPL, for Lovecraft wrote what is finest in them.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Ye Inescapable Influence

I have started working on a new story for a second collection of Enoch Coffin tales that I am writing with Jeffrey Thomas. Jeff and I initially agreed that, unlike our first book, this second collection would not be Lovecraftian. So what am I doing to-night? I'm rereading "Out of the Aeons" in S. T.'s edition of Medusa's Coil and Others: The Annotated Revisions and Collaborations of H. P. Lovecraft  (Arcane Wisdom, 2012). First, I want to set ye tale in Boston, and "Out of the Aeons" has that city as its setting. Second, I wanted a sexy beginning for the story, & ye idea came to me to have two or three persons wrapping moist gauze around Enoch's naked body as part of a bizarre "art project" in which they replicate in living form the mummy of ye Cabot Museum. Such is my wonky memory that--although I have read ye tale numerous times--I cannot now remember how the story ends or the fate of the mummy. Anyway, that's as far as I've gotten in doing a mental "outline" of ye tale--and it isn't much. But often ye alchemy of inspiration comes during ye creation of a rough draft. Sometimes all I need is just that wee germ of an idea, and then when I begin to type ye rough, the imagination does its magick and ye ideas begin to flow. I'm not really interested in making this any kind of Mythos tale, but it will be what it will be. (I confess that I have a mighty attraction to ye idea of having some few references to Friedrich Wilhelm Von Junzt--but I'm fighting it.)  

I have one other idea for an Enoch Coffin story, concerning a woman artist, perhaps elderly, who is no longer seen in public. Although she doesn't dabble in magick to ye extent that Enoch does, she has accompany'd him to two or three covens and their ceremonies. When Enoch finally goes to call on her, he complains about her anti-social behavior. He wants to take her out for lunch, and perhaps to a gallery or two, as Boston has some fascinating new exhibits. She cannot attend, she tells him. "I have lost the day." "Whatever do you mean?" "I no longer experience the day. I exist in never-ending night."

Okay, back to my Nameless Research.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Good Year Thus Far . . .

Above is me in Boston, at ye gates adjacent to Harvard. My friends Maryanne and Greg took me on a three-week tour of New England and New York, and those were the moft magical three weeks of my life, never surpass'd. To be a Lovecraftian on his first visit to Lovecraft Country--Great Yuggoth, what an experience! I've been musing about Boston because I am preparing to begin work on a second collection of Enoch Coffin stories, and I want the first tale to be set in Boston. My memory of ye city is now so poor, however, that I fear making a lot of mistakes in describing it, &c. Well, I write fantasy fiction, so I guess it's semi-okay if ye Boston I evoke is more phantasy than reality.

With this second collection of Enoch Coffin tales, I am going to evoke the spirit of Poe rather than Lovecraft--at least that's my intention. Poe had a bit of an attitude regarding some of Boston's authors, but ye city seems to have embrac'd ye poet, as ye pictur'd statue of Poe and his Raven has been erected near ye Boston Commons. It's such a cool-looking thing that I feel an intense ache to travel to Boston so as to kneel before it and recite some snatches of "Ulalume". 

Anyway, the writing, for some reason, is flowing. It's not something I can ever plan on, to become suddenly productive. My great shame as an author is that I am so lacking in discipline, that I can only write "when in the mood". As I age, the mood to write becomes more rare. But of late, things have been moft encouraging. This morning, a friend accepted the story I have been slaving away on this month, "The Barrier Between". My friend's anthology has as its theme "nightmares and dreams," and that immediately made me think of Lovecraft, one of ye world's Great Dreamers. I was able to fight my initial Lovecraftian urge, however, and began to devise a story that was in no way Lovecraftian. Hopefully this isn't a false start. I want--I need--to write.

So ye rest of this evening will be devoted to musing on Poe, on dipping into some few biographies retelling his life story, and in listening to some of his poetry on audio cassette. I want to drink Poe's aura, and then part my lips and spill, as ink, Poe's haunting of my soul.



Friday, January 15, 2016

Ye Antique Critique


I couldn't find my copy of Carter's book on ye Mythos (a friend in Australia sent me ye Panther Horror pb edition some few decades ago), so I order'd an inexpensive copy on Amazon; but to-day, while trying to read ye damn thing, I grew more annoy'd at Lin Carter's critiques of Lovecraft than ever before. Now I know that the book, written in ye early 1970's, was the first full book about Lovecraft to be publish'd, and it was written at a time when so much rancid misinformation concerning HPL was being hurled by clueless idiots; yet, still, so much of Carter's criticism is so harsh that one wonders why he felt compell'd to write the book. Of course, the book is much more than a volume about Lovecraft, being an investigation of the thing we have come to call "the Cthulhu Mythos". The Mythos can put a person into a state of fannish fever--and when I first read this book, I caught that fever big-time. I knew that I had to try and become one of these Mythos guys, to plant myself into that coven of writers.

Of course the paragraph that really gets to me, that makes my blood boil with rage, is this: "Lovecraft was such a bundle of contradictions that he will be the despair of his eventual biographer. How does one deal with a man so quirky and changeful and perverse that within a month after selling his first story to Weird Tales, he turns around and writes a piece of snobbish idiocy to [Frank Belknap] Long such as the following: 'I am well-nigh resilv'd to write no more tales, but merely to dream when I have a mind to, not stopping to do anything so vulgar as to set down the dream for a boorish Publick. I have concluded that Literature is no proper pursuit for a gentleman; and that Wrighting ought never to be consider'd but as an elegant Accomplishment, to be indulg'd in with In frequency, and Discrimination.' In that passage you have much of what I would call the worst of Lovecraft, his weakness and his folly: the absurd pretentions to gentility on the part of a man who had lived barely above the level of utter poverty for three years; the ludicrous self-delusion of thinking himself an "artist"--the snobbishness of spelling "literature" with a capital L..."   I would whisper to Lin Carter's ghost that it was this "ludicrous self-delusion", and Lovecraft's striving to write works of fiction that exhibited the best of his abilities, the effort made toward writing excellent weird fiction, that resulted in H. P. Lovecraft's eventual edition from The Library of America.

What made me toss the book away from me as I was reading it just now in me bathtub was the castigation aim'd at Lovecraft for one of his finest pieces, the prose-poem "Nyarlathotep": "He appears in a story fragment (prose poem?) called Nyarlathotep, and those already familiar with the figure of this devil god, one of the most prominent in Lovecraft's later pantheon, will be surprised to see him appear in this brief tale or sketch as a sort of traveling showman or charlatan. The story (or whatever it is) is unfinished; it is most unsatisfactory, too, and its flawed ineptitude seems to have haunted Lovecraft. He turned the initial impulse behind the yarn into a sonnet...and later employed Nyarlathotep in the Cthulhu stories and elsewhere, as if the original germ of the story, which he had left undeveloped in his initial treatment, haunted him and would not let him move on to other things until he had utilized it to the hilt." Gawd, what a load of clueless idiocy! Lovecraft knew exactly what he was doing when he compos'd his initial prose-poem (Carter seems too stupid to actually grasp the form in which the piece is cast), and wove references to the Strange Dark One in future works as he did with several other entities in his cosmic pantheon. Lovecraft couldn't "move on to other things" after having written this piece? His very next effort is one of Lovecraft's most powerful tales, "The Picture in the House," followed quickly by such outstanding works as "The Outsider" and "The Music of Erich Zann". Carter makes these outlandish statements that have no foundation of truth. He knows little, but assumes much. Of "The Nameless City" Carter writes, "This is now universally recognized as the first of the stories in the Cthulhu Mythos...", and that is entirely untrue, for there are scholars who do not consider the wee story part of ye Mythos at all. Let me go find my copy of LOVECRAFT: A BIOGRAPHY to see what de Camp says of "The Nameless City"...[ha!! in seeking my copy of de Camp's book, I found, instantly, my Panther pd edition of A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos, right there in plain sight...] "'The Nameless City'(1921) is the first story of what was later called the Cthulhu Mythos." Thus de Camp, wiriting a few years after Carter's book was publish'd, is agreeing with him chum. He disagrees, however, in his assessment of ye tale: "...the story is rather good of its kind". Carter dismisses it as "not much of a story": "The Nameless City itself is essentially a trivial exercise in Poe-esque gothica". Okay.


My own feeling re: "Nyarlathotep" is that it is perfect as is, and that it is exactly what Lovecraft intended it to be. I agree with S. T. Joshi, who writes in I Am Providence, "The entire prose-poem is one of Lovecraft's most powerful vignettes, and shows how deeply imbued was his mingled terror of and fascination with the decline of the West." The figure of Nyarlathotep has so haunted me that I publish'd an entire book of stories featuring Lovecraft's dark entity. The Strange Dark One appears in S. T. Joshi's Lovecraftian novel, The Assaults of Chaos, and as a major character (Reverend Nye) in Robert Bloch's vastly entertaining novel, Strange Eons. Chaosium has publish'd a source book devoted to Nyarlathotep, and for them Robert M. Price edited an anthology, The Nyarlathotep Cycle. I used to think that my story, "The Strange Dark One," was my ultimate "tribute" to ye Crawling Chaos, but now a few friends have help'd to convince me that it's a poor story, overlong and confus'd, and so I need to write a new really long story concerning Nyarlathotep that will be my essential tribute to this creature that has so haunted me over ye strange aeons of my mortality.




Monday, January 11, 2016

H. P. LOVECRAFT'S "THE TOMB" -- a wee commentary

Richard Lund

Richard Lund, Esq.


Have ye ever created a character who, after killing him off in a tale, continues to haunt your imagination, to ye point where you regret having destroy'd him? This has been ye case with my character of Richard Lund, ye central character in my story "Born in Strange Shadow." Perhaps ye reason this character so "lives" for me is that, when I had my wee cassette recorded and used to record "living letters" on cassette tape to send to various correspondents, "Born in Strange Shadow" was the story that I read into ye tape recorder the moft often; & I had a special deep "sepulchral" voice that I used when speaking the dialogue of Richard Lund; and in thus presenting him in those recordings, I grew strangely fond of him. 

Well, of late I have been revising some few of my older tales. This is a habit I have been trying to resist, wanting to concentrate fully on creating new work; but this evening, as I was reclining in bed and sinking into dream, ye image of Richard came to me, and I felt that well-known pang of remorse in having kill'd him at ye end of my short story. And a wee voice whisper'd to my brain, "Honey, you can always rewrite the damn story and not have him hang himself at its conclusion." 

"Born in Strange Shadow" is one of my "Pickman's Model" tales, inspir'd by one of my favourite H. P. Lovecraft stories. It was inspir'd mainly by a mention in Lovecraft's tale of one of R. U. Pickman's paintings.

"Occasionally the things were shewn leaping through open windows at night, or squatting on the chests of sleepers, worrying at their throats. One canvas shewed a ring of them baying about a hanged witch on Gallows Hill, whose dead face he;d a close kinship to theirs."

That painting by Pickman figures in my story and supplies my climatic scene. To-night, I am tempted to altar that scene--nay, more than tempted, for I am going to completely rewrite the story, and in doing so hopefully increase its wordage from ye original 2,240 to at least 3,000 words.


(ye novel mention'd in the above video, writ by me and Jeff Thomas, never got started; but eventually he and I will write a second collection of Enoch Coffin tales)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Good Year Thus Far

It has indeed been an excellent year for this writer of weird fiction. I've already had two new things accepted. In an attempt to clean ye chaos that are ye piles of papers in various rooms, I came upon a print-out of a wee sonnet sequence, "The Ghoul's Dilemma," of which I have no memory. I cannot now recall if I consider'd the thing finish'd with ye three sonnets of which it consists, or if I meant to add further sonnets; nor can I recall submitting it as is to any publication. S. T. has just accepted it for his way cool poetry journal, Spectral Realms. I am hoping to make 2016 a year of poetry--I want to write lots of it.I'm a little shy, however, about trying my hand at any form other than sonnets. I think my ghoul sonnets will be publish'd in ye 4th issue.

S. T. has a new blog up to-day www.stjoshi.org/news.html
in which he announc'd: "I am also compiling a volume entitled The Red Brain: Great Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos for Dark Regions Press. This is a kind of follow-up to A Mountain Walked, which has done surprisingly well in the paperback edition that Dark Regions issued late last year. The Red Brain will again consist of both reprinted stories and original tales, and I hope to complete the compilation as early as April of this year."  I am always delighted to write a new story for one of S. T.'s books, and it is in this forthcoming Mythos anthology that my newest original tale, "Pickman's Lazarus," will be publish'd. 

New work progresses, however slowly. David Barker and I are near ye end of writing our Dreamlands novel, and hope to have it completed by ye end of this month. I am still trying to find the "right" beginning for the new story I want to write for S. T.'s nightmare-themed anthology. I want to write a story that is slightly similar in tone and approach and use of character as my "Inhabitants of Wraithwood"; but the beginning scene that I keep returning to involves the famous painting by Henry Fuseli, "The Nightmare"--and I worry that to use that painting in the story is just a tad bit too "obvious". We shall see. It all depends in how ye idea is handled.

My best to ye, my darlings.
Shalom.