Sonntag, 24. Juni 2012

Frankenstein Horror Series:
by Harris Moore
 1972 Popular Library
                                               My copy.

Hey Folks,
   For a change of pace I’ve decided to cover a novel this week instead of an anthology.
The Marrow Eaters” was the only book in the “Frankenstein Horror Series” that I ever read back then. I bought it when I was still in the 5th grade at “Johnny Clem Elementary School” in “Newark Ohio”. I could remember absolutely nothing about the book aside from the basic premise. The naked lady on the cover who’s sadly covering her breasts is the only thing about it that I didn’t forget. I’ve also never forgotten the grief I received over the cover from my mother and a few teachers. I know that I sure as hell found it fascinating back then. So come on honey, put you arms down finally! I’ve only been waiting for 40 years!

Here’s the quote from the back cover.

     “THE FRANKENSTEIN HORROR SERIES is a group of entirely new stories that follows the fates of the primal monsters and their heirs, as they re-emerge from the Pit of the Unknown, and Unspeakable and the Undead.”

(Is that even grammatically correct using “and” two times in a list?)

     There were 8 novels in this series from the very early 70s. As I said, this was the only one I read, even though I know own 3 of them. And as I couldn’t really remember anything about the book I decided that I needed to reread it, which I did this past week. And to be honest, even though I enjoyed it, I can now understand why I didn’t remember anything about it.
It was a quick, fun read that was for good or bad decidedly uninspired B-level Pulp writing. To be fair though, I’m guessing though that this was the purpose of the series. My on-line research shows that this is the 2nd of only two books written by Mr. “Harris Moore”.

And now to the Story:

As pulp fiction the “Marrow Eaters” is okay, but badly needs that extra dose of insanity that makes this kind of stuff stand out and be memorable. It reads like a novelization of a low budget 1950s “monster (guy in a suit) on the rampage” film. Think of the film “The Revenge of the Creature”, but where the Creature is a blood  thirsty murderer. The cast of characters includes:

Dr. Richard Fisher: Atomic Scientist (Atom Bomb builder) and all around criminally negligent secretive asshole.

Dr. Ken Bryan: Jr. Atomic Scientist, son-in-law of Dr. Fisher and just as criminally negligent                   as his father-in-law.

Janet Byran: Clueless victim and wife and daughter of the two dummies above.

Sheriff Brody Wicker: The poor man’s “Slim Pickens”. The local, cigar chewing, overweight, baby faced and dedicated lawman.

Joe Eagle: Stereotypical and very old Native American who seems to be the only one who actually knows what’s going on and is of course immediately dismissed by the players and is only considered to be “local color” for the tourists

Marrow Eater: 100s of millions of year old mutant freak wiseman with bad eating habits and titular monster.

. Our 2 scientists, Drs. Fisher and Bryan, have picked themselves out a piece of desert above an underground cave system as the ideal location for their subterranean A-bomb test. Old Joe Eagle keeps trying to warn them of because his tribe had ancient legends saying the area is cursed! Of course old Joe gets ignored by everyone involved. Dr Bryan’s wife “Janet” is visiting and   staying at a local hotel waiting for her husband and father.  Sadly Janet seems to be having a breakdown being caused by a series of vivid nightmare concerning the caves under the test site. He husband’s response is nothing more than “don’t worry you pretty little head”! Coincidently these dreams/visions seem to have started when her husband gave her a necklace made from a “mysterious gemstone” (that seems to emit warmth and throb) that Dr. Ken found on the test site when he was scouting it out as a possible test site on a previous visit. So we now have enough foreshadowing to realize that things can only go wrong.
Okay, and to be fair, the cover showing Janet with a glowing gem clutched to her naked breasts while a monster stands in the background  kind of gives this away also.

     The Bomb test turns out to be a huge success and once Dr. Ken explores the explosion site everyone will be able to return to the big city and go on with their glamorous scientific lives. This is at least what the think at the beginning of the book.  Ken of course, discovers a “book” made of unknown material while exploring the underground cave that also appears to be artificial and not natural. Janet, at the same, time is having nightmares of something emerging from a subterranean grave to come and get her. Ken shows the book to Dr. Fisher and like all good men of science, they decide to keep this discovery a secret from everyone else until they can decipher the contents of the “book”.  This turns out to not be the best of ideas. After Ken had left the caves a “coffin” in a side chamber opens up and release a monster that had be sleeping with in. It turns out, thanks to Dr. Fisher’s amazingly impossible translation, that 100s of millions of years ago there was an advanced god like race of humanoid giants on the earth. Unfortunately they were all struck down be a strange virus that deformed them and caused them to only be able to nourish themselves on human bone marrow!!  You have to be asking yourself how Dr. Fisher could translate a language that disappeared before humanity even evolved and secondly, where did these monsters find human bone marrow all of those millions of years ago?  When it appeared that their race was doomed, the 12 wisest among them  used telepathic powers to force the remaining members of their dying race to place the 12 wise men  in suspended animation and then bury them around the globe  in stone coffins . These 12 wise men figured that they could be awoken when a cure was found. They were kept alive in suspended animation by 12 “power crystals” that were for some unexplained reason not placed in the coffins, but just in their vicinity.  I guess that you’ve now realized the significance of Janet’s “necklace”. Our wise man wakes up with a few problems. He’s a deformed monster 3 times bigger than a normal human who lives off of bone marrow and has even more deformities and brain damage thanks to the radiation exposure he received from the bomb test. He also need his crystal in order to heal and to continue living.
      Our “Marrow Eater” is psychically bound to his “power crystal/gemstone” and has to go to it in order to survive.  The “Marrow Eater” starts making his way across the desert to where Janet is. Janet, poor thing, develops a psychic bond to the monster and just keeps getting battier and battier until they have to lock her up for “observation”. While Janet is going nuts no one listens to hers or old Joes warning that a horror is approaching. Mangled marrowless bodies start piling up across the desert. Out 2 scientists have sort of figured everything out and keep it to them selves. In great “bad-scientist” manner, Dr. Fisher dies while trying to communicate with poor misunderstood monster. Pretty soon the entire desert is piling up with corpses and the Sheriffs department is so overwhelmed that even the National Guard gets called out. So the next 100 pages or so is basically lone and paired searchers getting picked off and eaten by the monster as he makes his way to Janet.
      The book only takes off at the last 30 pages or so when the Marrow Eater finally reaches the town where Janet has been hospitalized. Once his goal is in sight he becomes Satan’s own Energizer Bunny and an unstoppable force of nature. The Monster is in such a hurry to get to Janet the he refuses to waver from his path one inch. So he just literally goes through houses, trucks, businesses, unfortunate bystanders and walls in a perfectly straight line to reach his goal.  He only slows down enough to carry off a few victims to use as snacks on the way. This is finally where the book reaches such gonzo levels of zaniness that it actually becomes quite good. I wish that the entire book was this crazy. I hate to say it, but even though the gore is kept at satisfying levels, the book is so dumb that some sleazy sex scenes would have actually helped it.

The writing is adequate, but the story is so predictable and by the numbers that I’ll probably forget reading it with the next year. What a bummer. I think that Mr. Morris tried to write a serious book instead of a silly pulp novel and ended up delivering a mediocre demi-pulp story. One of the other books I have from this series is a Werewolf novel written by “Frank Belknap Long! I’m hoping that Mr. Long’s novel is much better. At least he understood what pulp-fiction was all about. I wanted to enjoy this one so very very much. It has a world class cover that simply fails to deliver on the insane premise. :-(

And since I don’t want to end on a negative note I want to share a few scans that I finally found on-line.

These are the original paperback ads that were appearing in “Famous Monsters ofFilmland”!!! “Warren Publishing” had their own in-house mail order company that sold tons of horror related items. The coolest, for me at least, were all of the amazing horror paperbacks that they sold. I ordered lots of these and believe me, when you’re only 11 years old “6-8 weeks delivery time” is an eternity! This was good example of “the anticipation of pleasure can be greater than the pleasure itself”.

 So check them out and enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by and take care.

                                         1972 ads.

                                               1977 or so.

Sonntag, 17. Juni 2012

Edited By Vic Ghidalia
Berkley Books.  December 1974. $0.75

                                                                 My Copy.


"The October Game" by Ray Bradbury
"The Secret of Death Dome" by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
"Three Gentlemen in Black" by August Derleth
"The Seed from the Sepulchre" by Clark Ashton Smith
"Smith: An Episode in a Lodging House" by Algernon 
"The Message on the Slate" by Edward Lucas White
"Black Country" by Robert E. Howard

Hey Folks!

     This week’s book is “Gooseflesh!” edited by Vic Ghidalia. Mr. Ghidalia edited 18 anthologies back during the late 1960s up through to the late 1970s. 8 of these were co-edited with “Roger Elwood”.

“Gooseflesh!” is a very good anthology with a wide range of story types. Only one of which would I describe as mediocre. The cover art is nice, but not very inspired. It did its job though, since I can remember picking this one up off of the rack back then.

And now to the stories!

"The October Game" by Ray Bradbury

     Since this is a Horror Blog I have to assume that many, if not most, of you are familiar with this story.  “The October Game” shows us what we lost when Ray Bradbury, God rest his soul, quit writing out and out horror stories and instead became Ray Bradbury™.
Mr. Bradbury always came off as a kindly soul with a strong sense of whimsy and nostalgia. This is absolutely correct, but he also had a very dark side to some of his early stories, most of which appeared in “Weird Tales: the Unique Magazine”. What has always surprised me is that this story has been anthologized so many times but isn’t published in “The October Country” which reprints many of Bradbury’s stories that appeared in “Weird Tales”. “The October Game” originally appeared in the March 48 issue of “Weird Tales”.
Anyways, lots of people would be shocked to see just how down and dirty Uncle Ray could get when he set his mind to it. This is one of the first stories that I can remember that had such a vicious, mean and nasty ending that I was truly shocked. The ending is so awful that even though it is 100% clear where the story is going you still can’t believe that Uncle Ray would actually take us there. He does though, and that’s what makes it so shocking. What happens in the story is now, sadly, an everyday occurrence which I’m assuming was pretty seldom 64 years ago. I won’t give too much away. It’s Halloween, at a children’s party, Mommy and Daddy are having an extremely nasty divorce and Daddy uses an innocent children’s game to exact the most horrible revenge possible on Mommy!  This reads more like a “Charles birkin” story than one from Mr. Bradbury. It’s that nasty.

"The Secret of Death Dome" by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
     I’m not quite sure why Mr. Miller’s “Death dome” was included in this anthology. It’s actually a two fisted SF tale with what I think are heavy satirical overtones. Regardless, it’s a great story though. Even though Mr. Miller is most famous for writing the classic SF novel “ACanticle for Leibowitz”. He also wrote quite a few other SF short stories. The only one of these that I can remember deals with babies/foetuses being used as hardwired on-board computers for space ships. And it wasn't a very pleasant story. “Death Dome” deals with a huge Martian spaceship/outpost that lands out in the American southwest sometime in an undisclosed future. It seems that the Martians want to study humanity. They do this by testing our weapons capabilities, feeding us tons of disinformation about themselves and their purposes. and kidnapping people for vivisection. This section of desert becomes closed off to the public by the government with a heavily patrolled perimeter. Two of the perimeter guards are Barney and Jerry. They are best friends. They are such best friends that they even remain friends after Barney steals Jerry’s girl and marries her. They are such best friends that the bartender in their favourite bar chains their bar stools together as a symbol of a sort of marriage between the two men. They are even described as “side riders”, what ever that actually means. Anyways one days Barney stumbles dying into town when he should be out on patrol duty. Jerry races to his side (it’s a very small town). At first no injuries are apparent, so Jerry opens up Barney’s pants only to discover that he has been castrated by the Martians. This sets Jerry into a rage that his best friend has been emasculated. He does believe though that death is the only option in a situation such as this. Barney’s body gets taken to his young widow since there is no mortuary in town. She does the only logical thing by placing Barney’s corpse in their bed, kisses him goodnight and goes and sleeps on the sofa. Maybe it’s just me, but this whole undercurrent of damaged and frustrated sexuality is pretty bizarre. That’s why I think that it’s actually satire. I mean Jerry is almost driven insane by the thought of Barney’s castration and the fact that Barney wouldn’t have been able to “take care” of his hot young wife if he hadn’t died. Later on the same evening Barney’s widow “Betty” informs Jerry that if he was “man enough” he would do something about Barney’s mutilation and subsequent death. Jerry goes into another rage and takes off into the desert on his horse hoping to get kidnapped by the Martians so that he can learn their secret, avenge his friend and prove his own “manhood” to Betty. One of the big disinformational tid-bits that the Martians have feed the humans is that they are asexual and reproduce by dividing down the middle. They never leave their ship so we only know what they tell us by radio communications. Jerry gets captured, as does Betty when she comes searching for him so she can apologize. They end up finding out the HUGE Martian secret, defeat said Martians, save the entire world and rediscover their love for each other. All of this is done in such an over the top “two fisted” manner that I can’t believe that Mr. Miller wasn’t having a little bit of fun with us.  It “almost” reads like something Robert E. Howard would have written.  Satire or not, horror or not, it’s still a great story though and lots of fun!

"Three Gentlemen in Black" by August Derleth

     This is the only weak/mediocre story in the entire book. I’m a fan of Mr. Derleth’s writing as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with the “Cthulhu Mythos”. This story though is just plain filler.  A man buys a house in the country so he can lay low while he waits for his Uncle/Guardian to die. The guy knows his Uncle will die one of these days since he replaced one of the old guys heart pills with poisoned and it’s just a matter of time before he gets to it.
So he moves into a house in the country that seems somewhat familiar. It’s haunted by the ghosts of 2 old men. The 2 old men turn out to be his two great uncles whom his father murdered for their money and they are spirit bound to the house. After his father drowned the 2 old men and made it look like a boating accident he killed himself out of fear. The Uncle finally dies and a 3rd ghost shows up. You can guess what happens. Sorry Mr. Derleth, I do love you, but YAWN!

"The Seed from the Sepulchre" by Clark Ashton Smith

     This has been reprinted so many times that I won’t go to deeply into it since I did that in an early post a while back.  Just want to say that this is another nasty little story that pays off in a big way. It’s also one of the few CAS stories to take place in our world and during “modern” times. I believe that the guy who wrote the book “The Ruins” had to have read this story at one time. All I’ll say now it that if you ever do decide to break into some old  south American pre-Columbian jungle pyramid ruins, then for God’s sake don’t breath in any man eating plant spores or you’ll end up with a bitch of a bursting headache!

"Smith: An Episode in a Lodging House" by Algernon Blackwood

     This is a good one from Mr. Blackwood. A young medical student in London during the end of the 19th century befriends the lodger who rooms above him. It seems that Mr. Smith a practitioner of magic and some of his experiments tend to get out of hand at times. This story covers a few of those instances.  It’s a fun story, fairly scary and with a moderately happy end. Not your typical Blackwood story as far as the happy end part.

"The Message on the Slate" by Edward Lucas White

     This is only the 2nd story I’ve ever read by Mr. White. The other is “Lukundoo” which is a very good African black Magic revenge tale that been constantly reprinted over the years. “Message” deals with a young socialite who marries her childhood love after his first wife passes away. She only wins his hand by wearing him down. He marries her only with the condition that she will never have his love and that he will be morning his first wife until the end of his life. The socialite accepts these terms only to become terribly unhappy with her husbands dispassion and lack of interest in life. He is faithful to her and never mistreats her, but he’s just the shell of a man going through the motions of life. The new wife is also extremely curios about the events that took place at the first wife’s funeral. The grieving husband demanded to be left alone for one hour with the corpse of his deceased wife after having a 2nd coffin brought in and set up beside his wife’s and afterwards had the 2nd coffin buried on top of his deceased wife’s.
     The new wife approaches a clairvoyant after being told in a dream to seek one out to find the solution for her unhappiness..  The dream instructs her to find the clairvoyant by going to a specific drawer in her dressing room chest of drawers and take the seventh newspaper from a stack of them in the 7th drawer and go to the 7th column on the 7th page. She does this and discovers the clairvoyant’s advertisement. It turns out that the psychic has loved her from a far and confesses to being a charlatan and that his advice is pure common sense. He tries his best to dissuade the young women form her quest to win her husbands love. She demands that help her if he truly loves her. He tries to help by lending a sympathetic ear and giving common sense advice. This helps at first and we see the motives of the “psychic” are pure.
The young wife has another dream saying that the psychic should attempt automatic writing to find the answer to her problem. The psychic is totally against the attempt as he reminds her that he is a con-man and fraud and has no supernatural abilities. She bullies him into attempting this anyways. Much to both of their surprise and horror the experiment is successful. The psychic has no plausible explanation for this occurrence and is deeply disturbed. The advice states that if she has the 2nd mysterious coffin exhumed then her problem will die.
You probably see where this is going and all hell breaks loose at the exhumation. The story isn’t all that scary, but is very well written that keeps your attention on the story and the people. The ending is very moving, but I don’t want to give everything away.

"Black Country" by Robert E. Howard

   Black Country” is an extreme rarity. It’s a story from Robert E. Howard that I’ve never read before. Wow! I “think” that this remained unpublished during Mr. Howard’s lifetime, but I’m not quite sure. It might have been in the famous trunk of unpublished material that “Glenn Lord”, God rest his soul too, obtained from the Howard Estate.
This is the kind of over the top hysterical story from REH that I like best. It’s extremely un-politically correct. I mean borderline racist. So yes, that does dampen my enthusiasm a bit. It deals with a man working a very remote trading post in deepest darkest Africa. As far as Africa goes, that was the only kind back then. The locals are your typical lot of primitive, bloodthirsty, superstitious, homicidal savage. I love his stories dearly, but this is REH we’re talking about here. So you have the White guy from the trading post witnessing a genocidal war between two rival tribes that has been instigated by their respective medicine men. So we have murder, mutilation, torture, black rampages and black magic. The typical fare of 1930s pulp wititng. As offensive as it can be, I have to admit that I do love this stuff (i.e. REH at his worst and not his best, and his best is truly AWSOME to behold!) and it’s a guilty pleasure which I take with a HUGE grain of salt. The story is a lot of insane fun which has a beautifully bloody conclusion involving a severed head.

Here’s he opening of the story…….

“Any man who has ever spent any time on the west coast of Africa will be loath to say that anything is impossible. Even a newcomer can look into the pulsing darkness at midnight and admit to himself that anything could come out of the jungle. In that abhorrent land of swamps, black river, nauseous diseases and mysterious tribes, the Caucasian brain disintegrates swiftly, and men fall prey to strange broodings.”

As un-PC as that is, it’s by itself worth the $0.75 cover price.

So all in all this is a very rewarding anthology with only 2 stories that have been  over anthologized and only one weak story in the book. Read it if you can find it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Here’s a little video in honour of REH’s African stories!


Sonntag, 10. Juni 2012

Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos Volumes 1 & 2

“Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos Volumes I & II”
 Edited by August Derleth
Published by "Beagle Books.  May &August 1971 
Cover price: $0.95 each 
                                        My 3 copies

                                           Beagle Books


                                                             Grafton Books UK edtion.

Volume I

Volume II
  • The Shambler from the Stars by Robert Bloch
  • The Haunter of the Dark by H.P. Lovecraft
  • The Shadow from the Steeple by Robert Bloch
  • Notebook Found in a Deserted House by Robert Bloch
  • Cold Print by Ramsey Campbell
  • The Sister City by Brian Lumley
  • Cement Surroundings by Brian Lumley
  • The Deep Ones by James Wade
  • Return of the Lloigor by Colin Wilson
  • Biographical material

„Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos Volumes I&II“were my introduction to the non-HPL “Mythos” Stories. They were originally published by “Arkham House” in a single volume and later broken down into 2 volumes first by “Beagle Books” and then later by “Ballantine Books”.
What’s also so significant about this anthology is that it came out before H P Lovecraft and his “Cthulhu Mythos” was a multi media million dollar industry that they are today. HPL was much more of insider phenomena back then.
I first read these stories the in the old early 1970s Ballantine editions with the “bizarre” “John Holmes” covers, and no, not that John Holmes. Considering the mood and subject matter, I find the covers to the Beagle editions much more appropriate and attractive. The Beagle covers are just oozing with a Freaky-Deeky/1960s/Cosmic Horror/Bad LSD Trip/Hieronymus Bosch vibe that fits the material like a glove. And of course that musty old book smell makes the experience complete. Like someone once said, “It stinks so good!”

If anyone knows who the cover artist is I’d sure appreciate it if you could let me know so I could give the person credit.

Here’s a quick summary, just in case someone is new to this stuff and has no idea what the “Cthulhu Mythos” is. H P Lovecraft wrote horror stories during the 1920s and 1930s. Most of these were printed in “Weird Tales Magazine”. He did something that was pretty novel for back then. He created his own mythology to use as the background to many, but not all of, his stories. The premise is that gazillions of years ago the earth /& Universe) was occupied by god like beings who, because they were so rotten and pissed off an even more powerful group of beings, got banned, for eternity, to other dimensions. They continuously try to break back through so they can rule the earth again and reshape it to their liking. This is very bad for us. And for whatever reason they are constantly assisted by loyal extra-terrestrials, Magicians and cultists. This is basically SF-Horror since the supernatural rarely has anything to do with the stories. Lovecraft was one world class letter writer and corresponded with dozens of fans and authors who became known as “the Lovecraft circle”. Mr. Lovecraft, by giving these folks permission to use and expand upon his ideas, ended up creating the first “shared universe”.

The books open up with a short introduction by “August Derleth (God Bless his soul) where he explains the “Mythos”. Sadly he has to go and compare it to “the Christian Mythos”. How he came to this conclusion remains a mystery to this day.I read once that Lovecraft himself claimed that his deities are beyond good and bad and operate on a completely different moral plain than we do and that the universe and “powers that be” are totally indifferent to humanity. As much as I admire Mr. Derleth as a writer, editor, publisher and champion of Lovecraft and many other horror writers, this attempt to place the Mythos into the boundaries of Chrisitan morality all but completely ruins the Mythos stories he wrote himself. Mr. Derleth has also taken a load of criticism which continues to the present day because of his so-called “Post-Humus collaborations” with H P Lovecraft. What he did was expand some fragments and storie ideas that were left behinf after HPL’s death and call these then “collaborations”. He even went so far as to include Lovecrafts name in the by line. Since then he’s taken quite a bit of pre- and post-humus shit this.  Considering everything that he has done for all of us I‘ve easily forgiven him for this!

Thirteen of the stories are from original members of the “Lovecraft circle”, 3 are from modern Lovecraftian masters and I haven’t a clue as to where “James Wade” fits into all of this. And when I say modern masters I mean that they are post pulp writers, even though they were fairly new when this volume originally came out back in 1969. I’ll go more into this later.

And now the stories!!

“The Call of Cthulhu” by H. P. Lovecraft.

“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”

"Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."
("In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.")

CoC pretty much sets up HPL’s vision in its entirety. This is the story that gets the ball rolling as far as the Mythos is concerned. Read this story and you can follow ever other story in these two volumes.

Cthulhu? Check!
Necronomicon? Check!
Being driven insane by dreams? Check!
Cults? Check!
Xenophobia? Check!
Tale told in flashback through diary entrees? Check!

Enough said.

“The Return of the Sorcerer” by Clark Ashton Smith.

Scholarly guy takes on a job as private secretary to some crazy old reclusive guy who needs his collection of books on and of black Magic to be organized. Old guy´s brother has gone missing. Things go bump and thumpity thump in the night. Of course it turns out the the old fellow is a fratricidal wizard using forbidden tomes. His missing brother was even more adept in the black arts and said dead brother has been in the process of rejoining his own dismembered corpse. Hilarity ensues.

To be honest this is one of the weakest Clark Ashton smith stories I’ve ever read. Now, if you are a CAS fan then you already know that weak CAS is pretty damn good so long as you don’t compare him with his other works. This is the same problem John Carpenter has. Do his later films only suck when compared to other JC films or not. Bad JC is still heads and shoulders above the competition. He only starts to blow when compared to his first 10 years of film making.  This is exactly the case with “RotS”. It’s a fine story if you are not familiar with all the truly amazing stuff that Mr. Smith was writing at the time.

Trivia: As an in joke HPL refers in a few of his stories to a dead Atlantean priest named “Klarkash-Ton”.

“Ubbo-Sathla” by Clark Ashton Smith
A fellow places himself in a trance to be able to more or less astraly project his conciseness back to the very beginning of primordial times to retrieve some tablets left by   some gods from even before the beginning of time. Our travelr meets up with “Ubbo-Sathla” who is the beginning of all life. The man becomes so enthralled that he stays and reverts to primordial ooze!
This isn’t the best story in the book, but at least Mr. Smith is using that wacked out genius of his to come up with the crazy plot line.
“For Ubbo-Sathla is the source and the end. Before the coming of Zhothaqquah or Yok-Zothoth or Kthulhut from the stars, Ubbo-Sathla dwelt in the steaming fens of the newmade Earth: a mass without head or members, spawning the grey, formless efts of the prime and the grisly prototypes of terrene life . . . And all earthly life, it is told, shall go back at last through the great circle of time to Ubbo-Sathla.
—The Book of Eibon.“

“The Black Stone” by Robert E. Howard
I covered this story in depth a few months ago and I won’t repeat myself all that much. I will say though that Robert E. Howard takes the Mythos and owns it! This is a perfect Lovecraftian concept being filtered through the juices of REH’s brain!  Usually an HPL hero ends up either insane, eaten or both. Howard`s hero seems, by the way he describes the events, to have gotten off with only a mild erection. Go Bob! Bob Howard wrote several Mythos stories all of which fall into the “Two Fisted” category of story telling. Nope, you won’t find any girly men in his stories. These guys fight back. Luckily for us, Brain Lumley resurrected this type of Mythos story.
This is the best non-HPL story in the entire collection.

“Hounds of Tindalos” by Frank Belknap Long
“The Space-Eaters” by Frank Belknap Long
Mr. Long was another member of the original circle who knew HPL during his life.
Both of the above stories a good examples of Mythos stories that don’t slavishly imitate Mr. Lovecraft’s style or writing.
“Hounds” is a nice little story about extra/inter-dimensional creature which can travel between and through angles. Nice idea and fun story that ends with the grand-daddy of all bad Mythos techniques!
“God, they are breaking through! They are breaking through! Smoke is pouring from the corners of the wall. Their tongues-ahhh-“
Have you ever asked yourself who in the hell continues to write in their journal as they are being eaten alive? I guess Mr. Long didn’t ask himself this question.
Don’t feel bad though. He wasn’t the only writer who’s done this.
“Space Eaters” is, I think, the 2nd best non-HPL story in the entire collection. What is so interesting is that it doesn’t take place in the universe of the Mythos, but in ours, where the Mythos is only fiction. What is doubly cool is that he doesn’t fall back on the old “HPL was trying to warn us but disguised the truth a fiction”. This also get used quite a bit also by some writers. I won#t say more since I also intensively covered this story back in April.    (THAT’S A HINT FOR YOU TO GO READ SOME OF MY EARLIER POSTS!)

The Dweller in Darknessby August Derleth
Beyond the Thresholdby August Derleth
These are two entertaining stories by Derleth. Neither of which is one of Mr. Derleth’s post-humus “collaborations” with HPL. That a point in his favour. What I like about “Dwellers” is that it has “Nyarlathotep” hiding out in the Wisconsin woods.  Wisconsin being Derleth’s New England makes for a nice change of scenery. Oh yeah, Mr. Derleth was from Wisconsin.  In “Beyond” we return to the woods of Wisconsin only to run afoul of “ITHAQUA”, the walker of the winds! Ithaqua is Derleth’s version the the “Wendigo”. Go and find a copy of   Algernon Blackwood’s “Wendigo” to see how this got started. I actually liked this one quite a bit. Later on Brian Lumley picked up the Wendigo ball and ran like hell with in a whole series of stories.

“The Salem Horror” by Henry Kuttner
 Henry Kuttner, before he became the über-famous SF writer and (husband of and) collaborator with the great C. L. Moore, was a member of the original Lovecraft Circle and was writing tons of stories for the shudder and horror pulps. He wrote several Mythos stories before moving on to SF greatness. He even added several of his own deities to the Mythos and used “Salem” as his own version of “Arkham”. Another of his Mythos stories, “The Graveyard Rats”, has recently been in included in “The Centuries Best Horror Stories” from Cemetery Dance Publications. As much as I enjoy “The Salem Horror” it basically come off as a poor mans version of “Dreams in the witch House”. It does have a nice nod to Robert Bloch by naming a character “Abigail Prinn”. You have to go to the Robert Bloch section to understand this “insider joke”.

“The Haunter of the Graveyard” by J. Vernon Shea
This is an odd one. Mr. Shea was also one of the original Circle’s members, but this is the only story of his that I have ever read. Secondly, this story seems to be originally written for this anthology since it’s not listed on the copyrights page and seems to be set I the 1960s since it‘s protagonist is a television “Creature Features” host. It’s a nice little story about a poser TV show host who happens to be an admirer of HPL and also lives next to an abandoned cemetery. The cemetery is also accursed by a group of dead cultists. This works much better as a straight up horror story which happens to have a few HPL references. It’s good fun and the guy does get eaten at the end.

“The Shambler from the Stars” by Robert Bloch
“The Haunter of the Dark” by H.P. Lovecraft
“The Shadow from the Steeple” by Robert Bloch
“Notebook Found in a Deserted House” by Robert Bloch
You could fill an entire Blog just writing about Robert Bloch and HPL. Mr. Bloch started out as very young HPL fan-boy and went as far as to get HPL’s written permission to kill off Lovecraft in a story. Lovecraft returned the favour and killed off Bloch in the next story. Later on, when he was a much more mature writer and had found his own voice, Bloch returned to the mythos with two very fine stories. These are all very worthwhile stories to read, even if they are fairly pedestrian “Yog-Sothothery”.

Now we’ll move on to the newer generation of Mythos authors….

Cold Print” by Ramsey Campbell
“Cold Print”, is in my opinion, the first great modern Mythos story. Mr. Campbell started his career as a teen aged writer of HPL pastiches set in the UK which impressed August Derleth so much that he had them all published in “The Inhabitant of the Lake”. That’s pretty impressive. I’ve always liked those early Campbell Mythos stories. They managed to be both goofy and truly scary. That’s not an easy stunt to pull off, especially when you’re just a teen. “Cold Print” was written after Mr. Campbell had found his own voice and style. It’s a great Mythos because of this and not in spite of it. It takes place in Liverpool at Christmas time where our protagonist is out searching for hard to find gay S&M porn novels. This alone gets right in your face since sexuality never, up to this time, reared its ugly head in the Mythos universe. Anyways, our hero finds a “special” back alley book shop that doesn’t exactly cater to his tastes. He ends up getting a hand joy. Just not the kind you might think I mean. This story is so creepy that it’s actually a little bit hard to read. It’s great, but actually too unsettling to be “fun”. Fantastic story though. It’s stuff like this that has made Mr. Campbell one of the all time great horror writer ever.

“The Sister Cityby Brian Lumley
“Cement Surroundings” by Brian Lumley
Brian Lumely was another writer who was “discovered” by August Derleth. Mr. Lumley was an MP Sgt. In the Royal Army who was stationed in Berlin at the time. He was such a fan of HPl that he wrote, for the fun of it, some Necronomicon fragments and sent them to Mr. Derleth. August Derleth was so impressed that he asked for more and a best selling author was born. I like Lumley so much because his stories and novels are pure plain pulp fun! Once he found hid own voice he started writing a sort of balls to the wall “two fisted” Mythos stories. His heroes didn’t die screaming. They went out with fists swinging and both barrels blazing and sometimes took the fight to the Mythos and not visa versa as was the status quo. “Sister City” is a follow up to “The Shadow over Innsmouth” and is ok, but not yet the Brian Lumley that we all know and love. “Cement Surroundings” though is what I consider to be the very first story outlining Mr. Lumley’s very own take on the Mythos and introduces us to his subterranean Cthonians and “Shudde M’ell.  This one is fun, over the top Mythos insanity.
“The Deep Ones” by James Wade
Aside from the biographical entry at the end of the volume, I have no idea who James Wade is. It seems that he wrote “The Deep Ones” especially for this anthology and isn’t a reprint. What his connection to the whole thing is remains a mystery to me. It’s a pretty good story though. Dolphin research goes badly, very badly. It turns out that they are in league with Cthulhu and the “Deep Ones” and the only group on to them is a hippy cult tripping on LSD (this is the 1960s you know.). But do the researchers at the Institute listen? Noooo! Dolphins also like having sex with human females (this is the 1960s you know.).

“Return of the Lloigor” by Colin Wilson
I like this story also. Basicaly Mr. Wilson creates a mirror Mythos that is the reality that HPL was only hinting about in his stories and disguised as fiction. Well as you know it, an eccentric explorer discovers the truth and tries to warn us all. He dies at the end. The story is well written and clever, but for some reason not very satisfying. Mr. Wilson has written much better stuff.

Well that’s it! I’m tired and don’t want to type anymore!
So go home!
The show’s over!
Cthulhu Fhtagn Baby!

Mittwoch, 6. Juni 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury August 22 1920 - June 5 2012

 August 22, 1920 — June 5, 2012

I'm 50 years old and as long as I've been reading I have been aware that Ray Bradbury was in the world.
Not anymore.

God Bless You and God Speed!! You new how special it was to be an "October boy".

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.

It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

 “That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”

 “First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys.”

 “They knew how to live with nature and get along with nature. They didn't try too hard to be all men and no animal. That's the mistake we made when Darwin showed up. We embraced him and Huxley and Freud, all smiles. And then we discovered that Darwin and our religions didn't mix. Or at least we didn't think they did. We were fools. We tried to budge Darwin and Huxley and Freud. They wouldn't move very well. So, like idiots, we tried knocking down religion. We succeeded pretty well. We lost our faith and went around wondering what life was for. If art was no more than a frustrated outflinging of desire, if religion was no more than self-delusion, what good was life? Faith had always given us answer to all things. But it all went down the drain with Freud and Darwin. We were and still are lost people.”