" It is new, indeed for I made it last night in a dream of strange cities: and dreams are older than brooding Tyre, or the
contemplative Sphinx, or garden-girdled Babylon" The Call of Cthulhu

Friday, December 7, 2018

Recommended Links Lovecraftian Science and the Art of Tom Ardans


I am currently shuffling my Lovecraft material around, with a little help from friends. This always gets me in the mood to search out more items of Mythos interest. 


One of the first places I visited was Lovecraftian Science, a wonderful website dedicated to the science in H.P. Lovecraft.  

https://lovecraftianscience.wordpress.com/

Their current post; 

Cryptobiosis in Elder Things, Part 2 Traveling through Interstellar Space, features a beautiful (as elder things go) illustration of an Elder Thing by Tom Ardans. 


So the second place I visited was Tom's website My Vain Doodles, which features a plethora of really well executed illustrations of many different scenes and characters from Howard's work. I have not reproduced them here since I do not have permission, but I urge you to not only visit Tom's site but leave comments so he knows how much you enjoy his work.

http://tomardans.blogspot.com/

Some of my favourites so far:

https://tomardans.blogspot.com/2017/02/pickmans-model.html

https://tomardans.blogspot.com/2017/02/mi-go-anatomy.html

https://tomardans.blogspot.com/2017/02/yithian-biology.html

https://tomardans.blogspot.com/2014/04/yithian-again.html

https://tomardans.blogspot.com/2015/10/encounter-on-europa.html

https://tomardans.blogspot.com/2014/05/yithians-interrogating-peaslee-upon-his.html

I noticed Lovecraftian Science also has a tome available on Amazon which I will be ordering once I recover from Christmas. 

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1927673100/ref=ox_sc_act_image_1?smid=A3DWYIK6Y9EEQB&psc=1

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Recommended links: Episode 37: When Cthulhu Calls (Podcast)

In an effort to bring HPL: Beyond the Walls of Sleep into whatever century it is we currently inhabit, I thought I would look at some non-print aspects of the Lovecraft milieu. So I located a podcast, (description and link below) that looked Lovecraft's character Cthulhu (or is it really Howard's creation). I found this podcast enjoyable, Molinsky makes no secret of Lovecraft's flaws but captures some of the fannish enjoyment we get from characters like Cthulhu and the connections we makes between Lovecraft's various stories.

Eric Molinsky on his episode “When Cthulhu Calls”:
“I did an episode with Here Be Monsters, we did a collaboration, which was set in the world of H.P. Lovecraft. It was basically a fake episode, which starts out realistic—in fact, we did interview, I think, some kind of scientist, but eventually it got so ludicrous that I was interviewing H.P. Lovecraft’s brain in a jar, and it was making anti-Semitic comments toward me. And I could not have been more clear in the beginning that ‘This is going to start out real, but it is a radio drama.’ In the description on social media, in the description on your phone, it says ‘This is a radio drama.’ And I could not believe how many people wrote me and said, ‘I completely forgot. It was so believable that I forgot, and I’m really angry at you for misleading me.'”
Episode 37: When Cthulhu Calls

https://www.imaginaryworldspodcast.org/when-cthulhu-calls.html



And remember:
ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

, , Alec Nevada-Lee, Caitlin R. Kieran, The Dinosaur Tourist


 Yesterday was a great reading day. I had finally began to read Astounding, Alec Nevada-Lee's book on John W. Campbell and some of the writers most associated with Astounding, Isaac Asimov,  Robert A, Heinlein, and L. Ron. Hubbard.  As I read, the dogs let me know that our postal worker had dropped by and I  got up hoping that "it" had finally come. And it had.


I am a huge Caitlin R. Kieran fan. Her work effortlessly inhabits the intersection of so many genre, horror, fantasy, mystery and science fiction that I am always interested go see where she will take me next. I also have a life long love of palaeontology especially dinosaurs so the minute I saw the Subterranean Press announcement of the collection The Dinosaur Tourist with a stunning cover by Ray Troll,  I had to order it. Then a long wait occurred. Then the announcement came, copies, including mine were shipping. Oh no, a job action by Canada Post. Mail from outside Canada has piled up to the extent that international partners are asked to hold items. The Dinosaur Tourist (trade edition) is sold out. Will my copy appear or be lost to some inter-dimensional gateway to be lovingly perused by the shades of the Whateley brothers, or shelved among the tomes at the Misatonic University Library. No, there it was right in front of me, I hugged the box.


from Subterranean Press

"Almost nothing is only what it seems to be at first glance. Appearances can be deceiving and first impressions often lead us disastrously astray. If we're not careful, assumption and expectation can betray us all the way to madness and death and damnation. In The Dinosaur Tourist, CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan's fifteenth collection of short fiction, nineteen tales of the unexpected and the uncanny explore that treacherous gulf between what we suppose the world to be and what might actually be waiting out beyond the edges of our day-to-day experience. A mirror may be a window into another time. A cat may be our salvation. Your lover may be a fabulous being. And a hitchhiker may turn out to be anyone at all."

https://subterraneanpress.com/dinosaur-tourist


I am including this post on my Jagged Orbit blog because, while Kiernan is associated with horror, she does write very good science fiction. PS Publishing in the UK is distributing the collection A is for Alien, containing many of her science fiction stories as part of a four volume set of her work. As I mentioned in an earlier post I was also really impressed by another Subterranean Press offering, her (2004) novella entitled The Dry Salvages.

"A SF work rather than a typical mythos tale, it combines her love of palaeontology with the rather enigmatic tale of a doomed expedition investigating the remains of an extraterrestrial mining colony on the moon of the gas giant Cecrops. It has a subtle, haunting flavour I often associate with European SF and I recommend it. "

http://dunwichhorrors.blogspot.com/search/label/Caitlin%20R.%20Kieran




Cover art Richard Kirk 

https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/a-is-for-alien-trade-paperback-by-caitlin-r-kiernan-2623-p.asp

Sunday, November 11, 2018

New Eldritch Tomes - Saskatoon 2018 Westgate Books/McNally Robinson



   I have several depictions of Cthulhu (doesn't everyone) but this statuette produced by Chronicle Books and purchased at McNally Robinson seems the most accurate.

"Inspector Legrasse was scarcely prepared for the sensation which his offering created. One sight of the thing had been enough to throw the assembled men of science into a state of tense excitement, and they lost no time in crowding around him to gaze at the diminutive figure whose utter strangeness and air of genuinely abysmal antiquity hinted so potently at unopened and archaic vistas. No recognised school of sculpture had animated this terrible object, yet centuries and even thousands of years seemed recorded in its dim and greenish surface of unplaceable stone. 


 The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and careful study, was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely artistic workmanship. It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the wings touched the back edge of the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst the long, curved claws of the doubled-up, crouching hind legs gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of the way down toward the bottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so that the ends of the facial feelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the croucher's elevated knees. The aspect of the whole was abnormally life-like, and the more subtly fearful because its source was so totally unknown. Its vast, awesome, and incalculable age was unmistakable; yet not one link did it shew with any known type of art belonging to civilisation's youth - or indeed to any other time. Totally separate and apart, its very material was a mystery; for the soapy, greenish-black stone with its golden or iridescent flecks and striations resembled nothing familiar to geology or mineralogy. The characters along the base were equally baffling; and no member present, despite a representation of half the world's expert learning in this field, "

from "The Call of Cthulhu"
by H. P. Lovecraft


We have just returned from two weeks in Saskatoon. Helen's family lived near Westgate Books. so I visited it several times. And there on the shelf were more of the Ballantine editions with the John Holmes covers I collected as a teenager.

Westgate has an interesting history which is related here.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/westgate-books-owner-donates-entire-collection-to-employee-1.3046878





If this is Wilbur, it does not seem to be a terribly 
accurate depiction, but a striking cover none the less, 
by Victor Valla for Lancer Books.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Happy Halloween; Recommended Reading

"Yet more disturbing than our view of the asylum was the idiotic gaze that it seemed to cast back at us. Throughout the years, some persons actually claimed to have seen mad-eyed and immobile figures staring out from the asylum’s windows on nights when the moon shone with unusual brightness and the sky appeared to contain more than its usual share of stars." 


"And next to that room would be another room that was unfurnished and seemed never to have been occupied. But leaning against one wall of this other room, directly below the sliding panel, would be some long wooden sticks; and mounted at the ends of these sticks would be horrible little puppets."

"To make things worse, the setting sun would each day slip out of sight behind the asylum, thus committing our town to a premature darkness in the long shadow of that massive edifice."

from Dr. Locrian's Asylum
by Ligotti, Thomas

Thursday, October 25, 2018

"In the Forest of the Night" by Alter Reiss

  Last night I woke around 4:00 and headed over to the Great Lovecraft Reread at Tor to see what Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth were reading. It turned out to be, a story I had not read before, one that was available online, and one that I really liked. Alter Reiss’s "In the Forest of the Night" it was first published in the March 2015 issue of the Lovecraft E-zine.


The link to the story is here;

https://lovecraftzine.com/magazine/issues/2015-2/issue-34-march-2015/in-the-forest-of-the-night-by-alter-reiss/


The link to the Reread review is here;

https://www.tor.com/2018/10/24/kentucky-bourbon-and-elder-signs-alter-reisss-in-the-forest-of-the-night/


The story is quite short so I will a provide a few quotes and make some comments but try to avoid spoilers. Why not read it first and come back? 

The first paragraph propels us directly into the heart of the story as well as into the wonderfully atmospheric setting of the tale.

"“And who is this,” said the long-necked paneron, from the bole of one of the great, phosphorescent night oaks, “come to our solitary?”

Jack kept walking, not looking up at the paneron, or at the shimmer spiders, who pulled in their threads at his approach, hissing angrily.

“Abraham Jackson,” continued the paneron. “But he is not the only one to come out of the great mirrored hall in this hour.” It dipped its head lower, claws biting the night oak’s bark. “Two others are in the Dawning Wood, Abraham Jackson…,"


Not that the warning is really needed because Abraham Jackson, normally referred to as Jack or One-eyed Jack has entered the wood under compulsion. And what an eerie wood it was;

"So still that the spiders forgot him, and lowered their strands down, down past the roots of the night trees, into the dreaming world.

Jack watched the sparks rising and falling in those strands. Those were the souls of dreamers; each of the spinners had found a dreamer, and was bringing it upward. The spark would rise as the dreams drew closer to reality, and fall as they fell farther away and the dreamers woke. "

"In the Forest of the night is a nicely realized tale of betrayal and revenge. But the most impressive thing for me was Reisse's world building especially in such a relatively short story. The atmosphere is dark and grotesque with a real sense of place. It has an odd mixture of Southern Gothic and Baroque imagery that is totally appropriate for Reisse's plot. After talking with my wife and a number of friends I realized that a lot of readers visualize the setting or characters as they read. This is something I rarely do, but in the case of the paneron I envisioned something like an armoured pangolin but with the grace and agility of a gecko, and scary of course. What I do instead, while reading is compare the plot, character, tropes within the story to other things I have read. I do not claim that the authors has read or emulated these stories, rather this allows me (and hopefully others) to identify the type of things I like. In  "In the Forest of the Night" the setting reminded me of Clark Ashton Smith's two Maal Dweb stories, "The Flower-Women and "The Maze of Maal Dweb" and Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories both of which are concerned with the adventures of wizards and magic users in a world of deadly perils and strange magical beasts. 



But Jack himself with his bourdon, clasp knife, and silver dimes comes from another tradition. 


Pillsworth in her review says "and this fellow has definitely dropped into the Forest of the Night from some high ridge of our own Appalachian mountains.'" and I would not be surprised. He seems a more violent and morally ambiguous version of Manly Wade Wellman's character Silver John or John the Balladeer. Silver John is a character who battles evil through out the Appalachian mountains, with little more than his silver stringed guitar and the occasional silver dime, in a number of Wellman's short stores and novels. 


The image of Jack moving through a grotesque and twisted landscape of treachery, betrayal and revenge also reminded me of a number of Zelazny's heros or anti-heroes, including Francis Sandow in Isle of the Dead or especially Jack of Shadows (Shadowjack) in the novel of the same name. As I said earlier, I do not claim to know anything about about the author's, in this case Reiss’s inspiration for this work. I do know that it offered an interesting take on a Lovecraft themed story with shimmer spiders fishing for dreamers lost in a strange dreamland, and Great Old Ones yet again awaiting their sacrificial offerings. I loved this story and hope to read more stories about Jack by Alter Reiss.

For another very different take of betrayal and revenge in a Lovecraftian world I recommend "NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT" by Michael Shea, and while it is quite different, there the rose garden scene.





Monday, October 22, 2018

New Eldritch Tomes, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs James Blaylock


  A few posts back, I spoke of the death of Peter Nicholls the editor of the 1979, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. As I was preparing for that post, I took out my tattered edition and leafed through looking at the pictures. Which meant looking for my favourite, a 1937 edition of Argosy with an enchanting Burroughs cover by Emmett Watson. I then decided to see if there was a decent/affordable copy on ABE. I found one and since one of the main drawbacks of ABE is the initial shipping costs, I looked to see if the vendor has other items I could add. I knew from previous purchases that this vendor, Leonard Shoup, tends to carry Weird Tales related material so I did a quick search on Lovecraft. And there they were. I could not resist adding The Lurking Fear and Other Stories and The Shuttered Room and Other Tales of Horror to the Argosy and now all I had to do was wait until the frantic barking of the dogs signaled the arrival of our letter carrier

When I first began collecting, rather than simply buying books randomly, I focused initially on two areas. Lovecraft with the obvious (to me) addition of Arkham House and other Weird Tales authors, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I chose Lovecraft because I was introduced to his work by a school chum at 15 and enjoyed it.

These two Lovecraft titles would be considered minor collections at best. The stories in the The Shuttered Room are pastiches or stories based on Lovecraft's notes by August Derleth. The Lurking Fear contains what I think I can safely describe as lesser tales, although I have a certain fondness for the wildly illogical The Lurking Fear, with it's warning against the dangers of inbreeding, cannibalism and a subterranean existence. I purchased them for the John Holmes covers, these were among the first editions (now lost) that I owned.

(Both author's works can be considered problematic in their treatment of women and minorities, I posted my thoughts on Lovecraft here
http://dunwichhorrors.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-real-shadow-over-innsmouth-odd.html )

I chose Burroughs because his books filled the used bookstores of my youth and I loved the covers. James Blaylock in his wonderful Burroughs themed novel The Digging Leviathan expressed this beautifully. 

" Edward St. Ives was a collector of books, especially of fantasy and science fiction, the older and tawdrier the better. Plots and cover illustrations that smacked of authenticity didn't interest him. It was sea monsters; cigar-shaped, crenelated rockets; and unmistakable flying saucers that attracted him. There was something in the appearance of such things that appealed to the part of him that appreciated the old Hudson Wasp …,.  Once a month or so, after a particularly satisfactory trip to Acres of Books, he'd drag out the lot of his paperback Burroughs novels, lining up the Tarzan books here and the Martian books there and the Pellucidar books somewhere else. The Roy Krenkel covers were the most amazing, with their startling slashes and dabs of impressionist color and their distant spired cities half in ruin and shadow beneath a purple sky." (17)


Cover by Timothy McNamara (as by Ferret)

Roy Krenkel below




I have to admit this purchase was rooted very much in nostalgia or perhaps immaturity if you like. I have lately found the rise of irrationalism worldwide troubling and some days the world seems unrecognizable. As I get older my reading and collecting helps keep me mentally active, engaged and grounded. The process of aging has been beautifully described by Wendell Berry in his novel (a favourite of mine) Jayber Crow.

 "Back there at the beginning, as I see it now, my life was all time and almost no memory. Though I knew early of death, it still seemed to be something that happened only to other people, and I stood in an unending river of time that would go on making the same changes and the same returns forever.
     And now, nearing the end, I see that my life is almost entirely memory and very little time." (24)

I try very hard to avoid wallowing in memories of the past, and make sure that I read new and diverse works and authors, but I, like Edward St. Ives, cannot resist the occasional winged T-Rex.