" 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, April 29, 2016

Horror Anthologies, the art of Richard Powers and others

I have been enjoying a series of posts on horror anthologies on https://unsubscribedblog.wordpress.com/ which prodded me to put together a post I have been planning on horror anthologies with cover art by the well known SF illustrator Richard Powers, okay a couple of others slipped in.  I find it interesting that a number of SF writers also appear in these anthologies. Ramsay Campbell notes in the introduction to his collection Cold Print, that he first encountered HPL in the collection Cry Horror, purchased in Bascomb's a sweetshop when he was 14, so this is a good place to start. What better recommendation could you have.

Cover by Emesh
The Phantom-Wooer (poem) by Thomas Lovell Beddoes
The Crawling Horror by Thorp McClusky
The Opener of the Way by Robert Block
Night Gaunts (poem) by H.P. Lovecraft
In Amundsen's Tent by John Martin Leahy
The Thing on the Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft
The Hollow Man by Thomas Burke
It Will Grow On You by Donald Wander
The Hunters from Beyond by Clark Ashton Smith
The Curse of Yig by  Zealia Bishop and H.P. Lovecraft 
Geregeerd (poem) by Ray H. Zorn
The Cairn on the Headland by Robert Howard
The Trap by Henry S. Whitehead and H.P. Lovecraft 

The Dweller (poem) by H.P. Lovecraft 

Cover by Powers
Sweets to the Sweet by Robert Bloch 
The Strange Children by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
The Likeness of Julie by Richard Matheson
It Will Come to You by Frank Belknap Long
A Gnome There Was by Kutter and Moore
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson
In the Midst of Death by Ben Hecht
Gabriel-Ernest by Saki
Banner's Imp by August Derleth
Enoch by Robert Bloch
For the Blood is the Life by F. Marion Crawford

                                           Cover by Powers
The Claws Exposed (essay) by Whit Burnett and Hallie Burnett
The Birds by Daphne du Maurier
The Cats by T.K. Brown
The Cocoon by John B.L. Goodwin
Baby Buntings by Radcliffe Squires
The Red Rats of Plum Fork by Jesse Stuart
Butch by Oreste F. Pucciani
The Salamander by William B. Seabrook
The Return of the  Griffins A.E. Shandelling
Congo by Stuart Cloete
The Cat Man by Byron Liggett

Cover by Powers
Intro by Conklin
The Screaming Woman by Ray Bradbury
A Bottomless Grave by Ambrose Bierce
The Cart by Richard Hughes
The Graveyard Rats by Henry Kuttner
Skin by Roald Dahl
Night Court By Mary Elizabeth Councilman
Free Dirt Charles Beaumont
Listen Children by Charles Beaumont
Special Delivery by John Collier
The Child That Loved a Grave by Fitz-James O'Brien
The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft
The Graveyard Reader by Theodore Sturgeon

Cover by Powers
Sorry, Right Number by Richard Matheson
Share Ailke by Jerome and Joe E. Dean
Talent by Theodore Sturgeon
Listen Children by Charles Beaumont
The Whispering Gallery by William F. Temple
The Piping Death by Robert Moore Williams
The Ghost by A.E. van Voght
Carillon of Skulls by Lester del Rey and James H. Beard
Pile of Trouble by Henry Kuttner

Cover by Jeff Jacks
The Gifts of the Gods by Raymond F. Jones
Turn of a Century by James Blish
Courier of Chaos by Poul Anderson
Mind of Tomorrow by Lester Del Rey
In the Beginning by Damon Knight
little Green Men By Noel Loomis

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Nothing Personal - Richard A Lupoff

DAW Books, Inc. 2010, cover artist uncredited

I have made no secret of my admiration, for Schweitzer's anthology Cthulhu's Reign, one of the best mythos collections I have read, quality wise, most stories are good to excellent. There are a few, so so stories, but as the old saying goes if you have nothing nice to say …, 

Which brings me to Mr Lupoff, his "Discovery of the Ghooric Zone - March 15, 2337" was the first story I discussed on this blog, and I loved it. It is fair to say I liked his contribution to this volume "Nothing Personal". I thought it was okay on first reading, even better when I read it again for this post, but I also found even more  quibbles with the story overall on the second reading. 

Yes we are off to Yuggoth again. Mankind has been exploring the solar system and the good news is there is life everywhere, but no obviously intelligent life. 

  " It took the exploration of dozens of moons to find jungles and prairies, natural gardens of unimaginable colors and forms, schools of swimming things that were surely not fish, and flocks of flying things that were anything but birds.
   But no people. Not merely no humans, like those whose robot explorers first landed on Callisto and Mimas, Miranda and Proteus and Galatea and all the others. The people of earth both longed for and feared the discovery of alien intelligences, whether they looked like giant grasshoppers, self-conscious cabbages or whales with hands, whether they wrote epic treatises on the meaning of life or built machines to carry them across the dimensional barrier to other universes even stranger than the one from which they had come. "p.238

Until Yuggoth,

"That huge planet and its four satellites, Nithan, Zaman, Thog and Thok, rolled eternally in a counter planar orbit, crossing the plane of the solar ecliptic only once in a thousand years. No wonder it had gone undiscovered for so long," p. 237. 

And on Yuggoth there are signs of intelligent life and Earth's robotic probes have sent back the images to prove it,

" images of structures that were undoubtedly artificial, yet that resembled no city ever built upon earth. They stretched for thousands of miles across the ruddy, pulsing surface of Yuggoth. They rose for hundreds of miles into the roiling, cloudy atmosphere of the planet. At the poles of the monstrous globe, black, glossy areas that must be ice caps reflected the light of a billon distant stars." p,239

And huge shapes move across the landscape. But all attempts at contact are in vain. So the Beijing 11-11, an observation satellite, ten years in the making is launched. It's two person crew, Dr. Chen Jing-quo and crewman Kimana Hasani have been sent from Earth's moon. Chen has trained for this type of mission her entire life. It seems children are selected as toddlers and sent to the moon to be trained as staff for Earth's ongoing scientific projects. Chen has been observing Yuggoth for the decade it has taken to build the Beijing 11-11. Upon arriving at Yuggoth, attempts to contact inhabitants of the planet, "Yuggothi"  again go unacknowledged and there is no indication that the Beijing 11-11 has even been observed. So Kimana Hasani announces that he will take one of the External Excursion Pods for a closer look. These pods are intended for maintenance or as lifeboats, and this excursion is not part of the mission protocol. Despite Chen's protests Hasani leaves and it is here we will also leave our intrepid explorers. 

Overall I enjoyed the story and, as I mentioned above, even more on my second reading. I liked the passages discussing mankind's discoveries in the exploration of the solar system and those concerning Yuggoth. There were obvious similarities with Lupoff's story "Discovery of the Ghooric Zone - March 15, 2337" as both concern small crews of explorers dispatched to Yuggoth. One difference that is apparent is the length this story, it is 11 pages long the earlier story was over thirty. This meant that in the "Discovery of the Ghooric Zone - March 15, 2337" Lupoff was able to offer us intricate explorations of the history of the various cultures of the explorers, similar to the long passages in HPL's "Mountains of Madness" or "The Shadow Out of Time". This much shorter story simply cannot accommodate the wonderfully atmospheric world building of the earlier tale. For all I know Lupoff may not have intended to create this type of back story to avoid comparisons with the earlier story. Whatever his intent "Nothing Personal" seems a bit short or rushed and there were, for me, some problems with the plot I had trouble with. I will discuss these under spoilers. Still I enjoyed the scope of the story, the interstellar arc of the work mirrors HPL's "Whisperer in the Darkness" where we first encounter Yuggoth With both of Lupoff's Yuggoth tales it is obvious we aren't in Arkham or even New England anymore.


These are some things I noticed that bothered me, maybe it is nitpicking, please don't judge the story by them, read it first. Remember I had lots of nice things to say.

That Yuggoth is made of anti-matter, this reminded me of  Larry Niven's "Flatlander" in which Niven's character Bey Shuffler encounters an antimatter planet which damages his indestructible puppeteer built General Products hull.

There is no reason Lupoff cannot have an antimatter planet and I felt it was a nice plot twist. Chen is in the shower when the explosion caused by matter, the External Excursion Pod containing Kimana Hasani, contacts antimatter, Yuggoth's atmosphere. This explains why she is not blinded but wouldn't she be observing Hasani's progress? She also is able to watch and listen to what happens to Kimana Hasanibut it is not clear to me, is this supposed to be this taped? The "Yuggothi" indicate by their actions that they immediately associate the pod with Earth but not the larger satellite? 

Things I liked, the fact that Earth uses hyper-lightspeed communications and avoids any time delay, this is good because I loved the speed at which things unfold, that while Chen and her moon based supervisor Jerom are still discussing what happened we are told, "They're here!" p.244 and we realize that the "Yuggothi" have already responded.