I really liked the first volume of Casefile Arkham. I like this second volume even better. But before I get into the reasons why, I need to remember my manners and thank Kat Rocha for sending me the review copy. I had intended to post this review early last week, but last week sucked rocks. And not just because of things you saw on the news.
I’d like to thank Patrick McEvoy and Kat Rocha for the review copy. If you like Raymond Chandler, or just classic PI stories in general, and are into all things Lovecraft, then this is a graphic novel for you.
The team of Finney, McEvoy, and Rocha have launched a series (yes, it’s a series; more on that later) that lovingly blends the best elements of both.
Set in Lovecraft’s fictional town of Arkham in 1946, the story follows former marine Hank Flynn as he tries to establish his life as a civilian in his home town. He’s working as a private investigator. When he’s hired by a beautiful and wealthy widow to find a missing painter, his life takes a turn for the eldritch. The painter’s name? Richard Pickman. Continue reading →
Another year has passed, and it’s Lovecraft’s birthday again. (It’s also my mother-in-law’s but that’s beyond the scope of this post.) I’ve been planning a post on Lovecraft (yes, Dave H., the one we discussed at Howard Days and Armadillcon), but it’s not the right time for it. It’ll piss people off. Trust me.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island. He was one of the most influential writers of the weird and fantastic of the 20th Century.
I was thinking the other day about my own writing, and I realized that I have written more fiction with lovecraftian themes in the last year than I have in all other years combined. No, you can’t read these stories. They haven’t been published, although not for lack of trying. Two are under consideration and one isn’t quite finished.
I’ve seen more anthologies devoted to Lovecraft’s works this year. Maybe I’m just paying more attention, but it seems like there’s not going to be a decline in interest in his works.
I will make this observation, though. I don’t see a lot of middle ground with Lovecraft these days. Among the people who are familiar with his work, and by familiar I mean have actually read his stories as opposed to hearing about them from others, people seem to either love him or hate him.
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 →
Hey, folks, the Chicken Fried Cthulhu Kickstarter has 25 hours left as I write this and is still a ways from funding. This is an anthology of southwestern flavored Cthulhu and Lovecraft themed stories. It’s set to premiere at the World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio this year.
If it funds. It’s from the same crew that brought you Skelos, and there’s an impressive lineup of authors listed, including Robert E. Howard and Joe Lansdale. Part of the reason the goal is so high is that the editors want to pay the authors professional rates, and that takes money.
So if you’ve been thinking about pledging, please do so. I would really like to see this project get off the ground. I am not an author in the anthology and my only connection to the project is that I’m friends with the guys putting it together. I just want to read the stories.
This book came out at the end of August. I’m still reading it, so this isn’t going to be a review of the whole book. That will come after I finish reading it. I am going to discuss John Campbell, Jr.’s classic “Who Goes There?”, which is the lead story and the inspiration for the anthology.
I’m also going to discuss H. P.. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”. That’s not the Lovecraft story in the book, btw. Davis chose “The Colour Out of Space”. Probably because it fit the theme better than AtMoM.
I have read somewhere, and it was long enough ago that I don’t recall where, that Campbell may have been inspired to write “Who Goes There?” after reading “At the Mountains of Madness” in Astounding Stories in 1936.
I don’t know if this is true, but there are some strong similarities between the stories. There are some key differences as well. Continue reading →
Other than the Dublin Ghost Story Festival (which I can’t afford to attend), there’s not a lot happening this weekend of any significance. Which is fine, because there won’t be much to distract from observing HPL’s birthday today. I intend to read something by him later, provided both the two-legged and four-legged people in the house will leave me alone.
I thought I’d mark the occasion by sharing a few thoughts. It’s become particularly fashionable in recent years to bash the Gentleman From Providence. While this is nothing new, it seems to have gained momentum.
When I was younger, the most common complaint I heard was that Lovecraft’s prose was too purple. I didn’t pay that much attention to the criticism at the time because I was more into science fiction. It was only as my interest in fantasy began to eclipse my interest in SF that I really started getting into his work. I’ve always found his writing to be readable. While there is some merit to the complaints about Lovecraft’s style being outdated (which to a large degree boils down to matters of taste), they’re not a deal breaker for me. Continue reading →
Henry S. Whitehead was born today, March 5, in 1882. He wrote a number of stories for Weird Tales during its early years before his untimely death in 1932. Much of his fiction focused on the Caribbean, where he was stationed for a number of years as a minister of the Episcopal Church. H. P. Lovecraft visited Whitehead for several weeks in 1931. He had a great respect for Whitehead as a person and as a writer.
January 13, 1893 saw the birth of Clark Ashton Smith. Along with his friends and correspondents Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft, Smith was regarded as one of the Big Three at Weird Tales during was is generally regarded as the magazine’s golden age.
Given his stature in the field, it’s a little surprising how brief his career as a writer of fiction was. Most of his fiction was written between 1929 and 1934. Smith’s first literary love was poetry. He also worked as an artist. Clark Ashton Smith was never able to completely support himself through his artistic endeavors, and he frequently did manual labor around his hometown of Auburn, California.
Smith’s fiction is not for the week of vocabulary. He wrote several story cycles that take place in exotic imaginary lands in prehistory or on other planets. Smith’s Collected Fantasies is back in print in paperback and electronic editions. (Click the individual titles for links to electronic versions.)
Take the Mormon settlement of the West, mix in some M. R. James and H. Russell Wakefield, throw in a healthy serving of H. P. Lovecraft and a dash of Robert E. Howard, stir in Native American lore, bake in the desert heat and wash down with a lake formed by a damn, and what you’re likely to come up with something that resembles Whispers Out of the Dust.
David J. West has begun to build a body of work in the subgenre known as the weird western, and his most recent book is a solid addition to the field. It’s also one of his most ambitious projects to date. (And I absolutely love that cover.)
St. Thomas, Nevada was settled by Mormon pioneers, but the area had been home to the Anasazi and other tribes long before. The Mormons, many of them anyway, moved away when they discovered they were in Nevada rather than Utah and Nevada wanted to collect several years of back taxes. Still, the town survived until the Hoover Dam was built, and the waters of Lake Mead covered it up.
That much is historical fact. What David does is add a dose of fantasy which he blends so smoothly that you find yourself believing things you know can’t really be so. (At least you don’t think so.) The footnotes (endnotes, really) certainly add to the feeling of verisimilitude. David includes a number of photos he’s taken, which give you an idea of what the area looks like. Continue reading →