Monthly Archives: July 2017

Happy Brithday, Farnsworth Wright

Weird Tales editorial office, l. to r., unknown, Farnsworth Wright, Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch

By the time of his death in 1940, Farnsworth Wright had become one of the most influential editors the field of the fantastic would ever see. Wright was born in 1888 on July, 29.  I would argue his influence on science fiction, fantasy, and horror has been greater than any other editor, including John W. Campbell, Dorothy McIlwraith, Fred Pohl, Ray Palmer, or Hugo Gernsback.

Yes, I realize that last sentence could be controversial, especially the inclusion of Campbell and Gernsback.  So be it.  Farnsworth Wright edited Weird Tales during what is considered to be the magazine’s golden age.  The authors he published have had a greater impact on the literature of the fantastic than those of any other editor at any time in history. Continue reading

Going Gothic

No, I said Gothic, not Goth.  While I tend to wear a lot of black T-shirts, that really not my scene.  I must admit, though, that the young lady in the picture I downloaded at random from the internet is quite fetching. Click to enlarge. 

No, not those Goths, either, although they are much more my scene than the previous goth.

Read my lips.  I said goth-ic.  Goth. ic.

Got it?

You know the novels from the late 1700s and early 1800s, not the romance subgenre popular in the 70s where every book cover had a beautiful young woman with great hair fleeing a creepy edifice in the background, usually one that had a single light in a tower window.  I swear, when I was a kid, you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting one of those books.  Uh,,,not I swung cats or anything.

What I’m talking about is a style of early novel filled with menace, usually something supernatural, and all kinds of trouble for the protagonists.  They were the late Eighteenth Century version of pulps. Continue reading

Four Greats Share a Birthday

There are a number of writers and artists who share a birthday today, July 24.  I’m going to focus on four of them, although there are others such as Alexandre Dumas, Barry Malzberg, Gordon Eklund, or Travis S. Taylor, whose work has either been significant to the field or work that I enjoy (or both).

I want to focus on these four because they’ve had a major impact on my reading and writing habits and/or have had lasting influence.  I”ll discuss them in the order of their births. Continue reading

When Things Get Brutal

James Alderdice (David J. West)
ebook $3.99
paperback $15.99

Brutal is the debut novel from James Alderdice, but it’s not really a debut.  Alderdice is the pen name of David J. West.  David is no relation to me, but he’s also no stranger to those of you who have been following this site for a while.

David has been writing a lot of weird westerns lately, so he decided as a branding exercise to use a different name on this epic fantasy novel.  It’s one of the best things I’ve read by him.

Take some Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane, Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, A Fistful of Dollars, and various other influences (which the author describes here), and you’ve got a bloody, gritty tale of a stranger who comes to town to clean up.

A man known only as the Sellsword comes to the town of Aldreth, which the locals have started calling All Death.  He’s there to clean things up, and there’s a lot to clean up.  There are two warring wizards, a cult dedicated to a dark goddess, corrupt city guards, and a widowed duchess who has a reputation for stepping out on her recently deceased husband.  Of course the Sellsword gets involved with her. Continue reading

Back in the Saddle Again

It’s been rather quiet in this corner of the internet the last few months.  That’s not because I wanted it that way.  Real Life has kept me busy.

But hopefully (crosses fingers, knocks on wood, throws salt over shoulder) that’s going to change.  The first summer session of classes is over, we’re back from vacation, and things should slow down a little bit.  I’m not teaching second summer, so even though I’m still supervising the labs, I should have a bit more free time.  I won’t be attending Armadillocon unless something changes; I can’t justify the expense.  Not with World Fantasy later this year.

I’ll be doing more blogging, although I’m not going to be accepting many review requests.  I’ve got too many books I’ve dropped the ball on that I need to read and review.  Most reviews will be things I’ve read because I’ve wanted to.  There will be some of those within the next few days. Continue reading

On Hymns and Pearls

The Hymn of the Pearl
Brian Niemeier
ebook $2.99

So my plans for the weekend have gone completely off the rails, but in a good way.  My son has spent the last week with my parents.  I drove over Friday evening to pick him up, and since it’s 3.5 hr drive, I planned on spending the night and returning home yesterday morning.  I hadn’t been here five minutes when my wife called and asked what I knew about my brother who lives out of state posting on Faceplant that they were coming to see my folks for the weekend.  Uhh…nothing.

Anyway, I’ve stayed over since I don’t often see this brother and his family.  What does that have to do with a book?  I purchased The Hymn of the Pearl yesterday morning and decided to read it while we were waiting for my brother to arrive.  Normally, it would go into the queue to be read when I got around to it.  I decided not to wait.

Good decision. Continue reading