Hi! This is my attempt at starting a small blog about, what is in my eyes, the golden age of Horror Anthology Paperbacks and a huge passion of mine. Update: I've realized that what is even more important is the people have to be made aware of these wonderful stories before they disappear forever. Most the the stories I mention here haven't been reprinted in over 40 years and most likley will never been seen again. They will be lost to us once these books are gone and forgotten. How sad.
“Strange Eons” was Robert Bloch’s final tribute to his friend and mentor
“H.P. Lovecraft”.To my knowledge, Mr.
Bloch never wrote another Cthulhu Mythos story after this novel. I figure that
that is reasonable seeing that he brings the entire “Cthulhu Mythos” to an end
in this book.Yep, in the novel, the
Stars are finally right!
Mr. Bloch seemed to have had
two shadows hanging over his career. The first one was that he was one of the
original members of the “Lovecraft Circle” which means that
he started out his career by writing Lovecraft pastiche. Luckily he quickly
broke away from HPL’s influence to develop his own style of writing and
afterwards only returned occasionally to “Lovecraft Country”. The second shadow
was that after 1960 every single Bloch novel or short story collection (aside
from only one that I know of. And Will Errickson over at “Too much Horror
Fiction” had to point that out to me.) contained the following blurb, “by the
author of PSYCHO”. Alfred Hitchcockfilming Mr. Bloch’s novel was a huge boost to his career, but it would also be
how he would ever after be recognized by the general reading public even though
he was hugely successful from the 1930s onward.
Mr. Bloch was a true
multi-talent. He was extremely successful in several genres. He wrote Horror,
Science Fiction, and Crime/Thrillers. He
was also an extremely canny businessman. From the 1940s onward he was also a
very successful script writer for film, Television and Radio. Almost always
adapting his own stories. Some of his original scripts were written for such
shows as “I Spy”, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E” and even 3 episodes for the original
“Star Trek”.So here is a man who not
only got paid to for his printed stories, He would then sell the film rights
AND get paid a third time to write the scripts! Not bad for a Pulp writer.
Now let’s take a look at
“Strange Eons”. I can’t say that “Eons” is a great book. It is highly
entertaining, but is such of an insider joke that I think that readers who have
no knowledge or interest in H. P. Lovecraft will find little to love here. To
be fair, Mr. Bloch includes a huge chunk of exposition explaining all you need
to know about Mr. Lovecraft and his works. I feel though that this brings the
story to a dead stop. I understand that he wanted to reach as large of a
readership as possible with this novel. As a Lovecraft fan though, I can only
think “C´mon! I know this shit already! Let’s get going!” The book is great
fun; it’s just not great literature. Any HPL fan will see every shock revelation
coming a mile away. And since this is basically a huge tribute/Love-letter to
Lovecraft and his Mythos I wish that he could have been a bit more subtle for
those in the know.
The story itself is broken
down into 3 sections and told as a mystery. The first section deals with two
art collectors in Los Angeles who literally
stumble across and purchase a painting that turns out to be the genuine
painting that appeared in Lovecraft’s story “Pickman’s model”. This sets off a
chain or murders by some mysterious group who want the painting and will go to
any lengths to recover it and to hide any evidence of it even existing. The
murders themselves all appear to be modelled after famous death scenes from
Lovecraft stories. This is quite apparent to the two collectors since one is an
HPL aficionado and the other is the target of the fore-mentioned chunk of HP
exposition. Eventually our two
collectors meet untimely and grisly ends. Thus ends the first section of the
novel. The second section picks up about six months later and the ex wife, who
is a photo model, of one of our dead art collectors gets dragged into the whole
mess by being hired to model in some ads for a new cult that has popped up in
LA.She then gets approached by govt.
agents who are investing the Sect as part of a supposed racketeering
investigation. Turns out this sect is heavily involved with the Return of
Cthulhu and the Government knows this. After a series of HPL inspired murders
and chases involving denizens straight out of Lovecraft stories our heroine
gets initiated into the inner circle of a international group of spies,
scientists and diplomats who are waging a shadow war against the Cult and the
Cthulhu Mythos deities. By the end of the second section we learn the Cult has
infiltrated all levels of government and society by means of bribery and mind
control. Our heroine is finally kidnapped and forced into a marriage of
convenience with Cthulhu himself. She then on their wedding night she receives
from Cthulhu the gift that keeps on giving and as a result of this gift she
goes insane. The third section then moves up 30 years to ca. 2009 or 2010. We
know this from two reasons. The first is that we are told that its thirty years
later and the second reason it that everyone seems to have video-phones on
their office desks. Our new protagonist is a young reporter who is
investigating the resurgence of the Cthulhu cult from the first two sections.
It seems that the cult had been busy recruiting member and spreading death and
terror around the globe before being put down by various governments. Anyways
it now seems that some one has been doing their best to convince the public
that there never was any Cthulhu Cult and the end of the world is not
approaching.Our young reporter finds
out other wise. It seems that his foster father is behind the efforts to
convince the world that every thing is just fine and that there is nothing to
worry about. We also find out that the young reporter is an ORPHANE who’s
mother died insane after his birth without ever revealing who was the father of
her child. I bet that you can guess where the final 20 pages of the book are
going. Like I said earlier, the Stars are finally right!
All in all, “Strange eons” is a fun read for HPL and Robert Bloch fans.
The 2nd section is the best part of the book. It reads like an old
“Mannix” episode then switches into high gear as “The Man from U.N.C.L.E vs.
The Mythos”. We even get treated to an all out nuclear attack on “R’Ley”!
What I did find really clever
in the book is that the protagonists were never sure if the cultists were
mocking them by recreating death scenes from Lovecraft, recreating the murders
for their own (the cultists) amusement or that HPL was a visionary who saw
these future murders in his dreams and then incorporated them into his stories.
We do learn through the novel that Lovecraft knew what was going on through the
visions he had while dreaming, personal investigations and that his stories
were meant as warning to future generations.
So if you like Bloch or Lovecraft I can highly recommend this book.You can give it a pass though If you’re not
interested in either.
Lastly, I received a copy of a new collection of “Flash Fiction”
published by Michael Faun and “Hyperpyrexia Press”. I haven’t had time to get
very far into the collection. What I’ve read so far has been quite enjoyable.
You can check it out here……