Sonntag, 13. Januar 2013

Strange Eons



Strange Eons

By Robert Bloch
Blurb: „In the Fantastic Tradition of H. P. Lovecraft”

Pinnacle Books 1979.  $1.95



That is not dead which can eternal lie / Yet with strange aeons even death may die.“ – H. P. Lovecraft: The Nameless City

                                             Front and back covers to my copy.




                       Mr. Robert Bloch! Thanks to Will Erickson @ "Too Much Horror Fiction"






“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……


Thanks for stopping by and I hope that everyone survived the holidays and that 2013 will keep all of you healthy, happy and sane!

Thanks for stopping by!

Doug

P.S.

I just found out the the "Oxford Univeristy Press" has a nice hardback Lovecraft anthology coming out in June 2013. It looks pretty interesting!
You can check it out here!

Kommentare:

  1. Dear fellow colleague from our noble HPL Historical Society. Congratulations to this step into the blogosphere! I am looking forward for your publications here and invite you to my blog (http://brillenschnitzel.wordpress.com) as well. May the investigations of the very strange things surrounding us never end.

    Yours sincerely,
    Dr. N. Brillenschnitzel

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  2. Vielen Dank lieber Hr. Doktor!!

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  3. I love these garish old covers, that's what's missing now from contemporary novels and ebooks.

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