Tag Archives: H. P. Lovecraft

Another Lovecraft Birthday

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.

That is influence.

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

Chicken Fried Cthulhu

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.

Reading A. Merritt on the Occasion of His Birthday

Well, sort of.  Merritt’s birthday was actually yesterday, but classes started the day before yesterday.  I was kinda busy.

Abraham Merritt was born on January 20, in Beverly, New Jersey.  He died in 1943.  Merritt was arguably the most highly regarded fantasy author of his day, with a fantasy magazine named for him after his death.  He was an assistant editor and later editor of The American Weekly, a position which apparently left him little time to pursue his own writing.  Even so, his work cast a long shadow over the field and his influence is still felt today, although most readers are probably unaware of that influence. Continue reading

What Do H. P. Lovecraft and John W. Campbell, Jr. Have in Common?

Things From Outer SpaceThings From Outer Space
Hank Davis, ed.
Baen
mass market paperback $7.99
ebook $6.99 Amazon, $8.99 publisher’s website

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

A Review of Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eight

Datlow Best Horror EightThe Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eight
Ellen Datlow, ed.
Night Shade Books
Trade paper $15.99
ebook $14.99

Since this is a review of a horror anthology, I’m going to run with that theme and say August has come from one of the circles of Hell. Just which one, I’m not sure. I need to brush up on my Dante. I finished this book two (three?) weeks ago, and I’m just now getting a relatively quiet and uninterrupted moment when I’m not too wiped out to put coherent sentences together. (The previous post doesn’t count. A careful reading will show I wasn’t in a good mood, and I don’t write reviews when I’m cranky crankier than usual.)  The only part of the process that went the way it should was requesting the book and the quick response.  Thanks to Brianna Scharfenberg of Night Shade Books.  Delays in reading the book and posting the review are entirely mine.

Datlow is one of the most accomplished editors in the field.  I know that any project, whether reprint or original, will have a top-notch selection of stories.  That’s the case here.  Not every story was to my taste, but then I don’t expect them to.  The only anthology that will be completely to my taste will be one I’ve edited, and maybe not even then. Continue reading

Some Thoughts on HPL, on the Occasion of His Birth

LovecraftOther 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

Frank Belknap Long at 115

Frank Belknanp LongToday is Frank Belknap Long’s birthday. He was born on Arpil 27, 1901, for those of you who are reading this on a day other than when I posted it. Since it’s late, that’s probably most of you.

Long was a prolific writer of weird fiction, fantasy, science fiction, and Gothic romance. (Charles Rutledge discussed them on his blog a few years ago.  Here’s an example.)  He is probably best remembered today as one of the Lovecraft circle.

I’ve only read a small amount of his work. I’ve found him to be one of those writers who either hits with me and hits it out of the park or completely strikes out. (My wife was just watching a baseball game, so naturally you’re getting a sports analogy.

He was one of five authors (along with Lovecraft, Howard, Moore, and Merritt) of the round-robin story “The Challenge From Beyond”, which I discuss here.   My favorite story of his that I’ve read is “The Houonds of Tindalos”.  This is arguably Long’s most important work, at least in terms of influence.  I’ve paid tribute to it in one of my unpublished sword and sorcery tales I hope to see in print one of these days.

I’ve got some writing to do tonight, so I’m going to have to wait until the weekend to read any of his work.  I’ll do that when I’ve got a bit of time, along with reading some more Davidson.

Robert Bloch Hits 99

Robert BlochRobert Bloch was born on April 5, 1917, in Chicago.  He passed away on September 23, 1994 in Los Angeles.

Although he will be remembered as the author of Psycho, and justifiably so, he was a writer of great range and depth.  While I’ve found his novels to be somewhat hit and miss, I’ve almost always enjoyed his short fiction.

Bloch was a member of the Lovecraft Circle and published in Weird Tales, but he quickly moved on to other types of fiction than Mythos pastiche.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with Bloch’s Mythos tales, but they were his early work.)  He appeared as Robert Blake in Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark.”

Bloch was adept at mystery, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy.  Bloch managed to infuse humor into some of the grimmest situations.  His story “That Hell-Bound Train” won the Hugo Award in 1959.  A favorite theme was Jack the Ripper, beginning with the classic “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper”.

Bloch worked in Hollywood, and many of his stories reflect his experiences there.  He wrote two sequels to Psycho which had nothing to do with the movie sequels.  I’ve only read the first sequel, but it’s set almost entirely in Hollywood.  I wondered how many of the scenes in it were based on actual events.

Anyway, Bloch isn’t as well remembered these days as he should be.  Subterranean Press (among others) have published collections of his work in the years since his death, but those are starting to go out of print.

I’m going to read one or two of his stories this evening and toast his memory and literary legacy.

With the lights on and the doors locked, of course.

 

In Observance of Henry S. Whitehead’s Birthday

Weird_Tales_March_1929Henry 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.

To mark the occasion, I read “The People of Pan”, which was first published in the March 1929 issue of Weird Tales.  The story is available in Voodoo Tales  The Ghost Stories of Henry S. WhiteheadContinue reading