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Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 11 July, 2019 07:21AM
Science Fiction doesn't appear to gather much interest on this site. But has anyone here, in this literary distinguished community, read Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game? What is all the hype about?? Is Card a greater original genius or thinker or author than, say, Arthur C. Clarke or A. E. van Vogt? I seriously doubt it, in spite of him having a ten times wider readership. I often find that extremely popular books or movies are surrounded by mass hysteria, and that the opinion and taste of the large masses, who just loves to catch onto the newest entertainment trend that panders to their insipid human emotions, CAN CERTAINLY NOT be trusted.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 11 July, 2019 09:56AM
I have never heard of any Card. But years ago I saw a movie called EnderĀ“s Game (without knowing Card was the author of the book the film was based on) and it was a total piece of crap. :-)

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 July, 2019 11:20AM
El'Khestor Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In his non-fiction book Danse Macabre, Stephen
> King identified three archetypes and their
> associated foundational, literary works: The
> Monster (Frankenstein), The Vampire (Dracula), THe
> Wolfman (Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). He also suggested
> a fourth archetype, The Ghost, though I don't
> remember if he referenced a foundational text. So,
> there is a famous literary work connected to the
> wolfman/werewolf, at least in his mind, because
> both the wolfman and Jekyll/Hyde involve the man
> being transformed into the beast. Thoughts?

Stephen King must have been thinking of some loose movie adaptation of Stevenson's story. RLS rightly shies away from much description of Hyde, but it is clear that he does not look like a Lon Chaney wolfman or like a caveman. The latter notion derives from the notion of Stevenson's story as being about Dr. Jekyll's "primitive," "atavistic" side. That's not what RLS wrote.

There's a story by Guy Endore about a werewolf of Paris, I believe, but I haven't been interested enough to look it up.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 July, 2019 11:21AM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > I should have added the Wolfman too! The
> werewolf!
> > Naturally! But I know of no famous literary
> work
> > connected to it.
>
> Well, of course there is Dracula (turns into a
> wolf) and Carmilla (turns into a black panther).
> But I suppose you mean werewolves who are not also
> vampires.
>
> It is possible that Sabine Baring-Gould's The Book
> of Werewolves (1869), a non-fiction survey of
> werewolf legends, had more influence than any work
> of fiction.
>
> But yeah, there's never been a famous literary
> werewolf work. In the 19th century we had a
> werewolf episode in Maryatt's The Phantom Ship
> (1839) which sometimes gets excerpted for
> anthologies. It is good, but not famous; and is a
> demon that can take human form, rather than a man
> that becomes a wolf. We also had The Wolf-Leader,
> by Alexandre Dumas (1857), which is certainly
> worth reading, but is not horrific enough to be a
> horror classic, and was not even translated to
> English until 1904. The creepiest part of the
> story is the framing device; because it is the
> only part not told from the POV of the monster.
> "Thw Were-Wolf", by Clemence Houseman (1896),
> follows more or less in the tradition of Maryatt's
> werewolf. There's a few other 19th century
> titles, but I have not read them.
>
>
> I can't bring myself to count Jeckyl/Hyde as a
> werewolf.
>
> In the 20th century, HPL and CAS have both dealt
> with werewolf themes.


Interesting reference to the Baring-Gould! I didn't think of that.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 July, 2019 11:38AM
The novella "Ender's Game" is an impressive, award-winning story. I have it in an anthology called The Spear of Mars.

But for a weird science fiction story, read Algis Budrys's "Rogue Moon," in Volume 2B of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Novellas set, ed. by Ben Bova. The implied existentialist philosophy is different from my own, but the story compels my admiration.

"Vintage Season" by "Lewis Padgett (Moore and Kuttner) is a different type of weird science fiction story than "Rogue Moon." It starts as almost a comedy but ends as anything but. It's in the SF Hall of Fame (Novellas) Vol. 2A, also edited by Bova.

A third weird sf story, this time not a novella but a short story, is Damon Knight's "Stranger Station." It's in Silverberg and Greenberg's Arbor House Treasury of Modern Science Fiction and various other anthologies.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 July, 2019 11:51AM
I'm fond of Tim Powers's Declare, which can remind one of John le Carre in its treatment of an espionage theme, but is a supernatural thriller. I haven't had all that good luck with Powers's writing elsewhere, but this is something of a favorite.

Charles Williams's All Hallows' Eve is stranger than what some readers want when they read a weird novel, in that a couple of the main characters are dead, etc. I've read it many times. It's unusually convincing.

Two and a half years ago I started a thread at the SF & Fantasy Chronicles Forums site as follows:

Phyllis Paul (1903-1973) is, at this time, necessarily a "cult novelist" in that nearly all of her books are so hard to get hold of that those who have read more than one of them and want to talk about their reading will find few others who have read more than one.

One or two of her novels shouldn't be too hard to get hold of because in the U. S. Lancer Books issued them in paperback -- yes, at the same time the company was beginning to issue its Conan books.

I have read Twice Lost twice and agree with Glen Cavaliero that it appears to end ambiguously. I'm not sure what happened to little, pathetic, sinister Vivian Lambert. I am not sure what Thomas Antequin did and whether the three pages that might have been torn from his diary record Vivian's death in a well house (or earth closet) by a wretched accident. Did a male character die from a scratch inflicted by rusty metal, or from some psychosomatic stress condition, or from a spectral bite? Who or what were the couple Christine glimpsed in London, who looked like Ecuadorian Indians? Were they visible only to her (inner) eye? Had Christine seen little Vivian's lifeless body stretched on the grass on an overgrown English yard? I am chilled by the novel's final sentence, "But as she had never wanted the truth, but only comfort, so she had not now found it," while recognizing that by itself it is ambiguous: does "it" refer to "truth," as it appears to do, or to "comfort"?

Perhaps the author has indulged in some mystification for its own sake, or perhaps, as in Faulkner's "That Evening Sun," the deliberate inconclusiveness as regards plot is intended to lead the alert reader to see that the novel never was primarily about plot but about character and theme. I must emphasize that though I write this morning of an elusive narrative, Paul's style isn't vague and cloudy. Cavaliero uses the word "steely." She is interested in evil, guilt, evasion.

I have been saving the other Lancer edition, Echo of Guilt (originally Pulled Down) for some time when I am dying for a new-to-me Phyllis Paul novel. Before resorting to it I think I will try and see if maybe interlibrary loan can fetch up something more by Paul.

Cavaliero mentioned Paul in his book on Charles Williams, and then wrote a few pages about her in The Supernatural and English Fiction (OUP, 1995). I suppose that much of the attention Paul has received in recent years derives from Cavaliero's advocacy.

I suppose Paul's novel reminds me a bit of Walter de la Mare's fiction, of Picnic at Hanging Rock, and of The Turn of the Screw. Eh, Lancer Books, her novel certainly does not remind me of Robert E. Howard.

So here is a place where -- should anyone read her -- Chrons people can discuss the writings of Phyllis Paul. Very little is known of her life. I quote from a note on page 259 of Cavaliero's 1995 study:

"Phyllis Paul died on 30 Aug. 1973, in Hastings [England], as a result of being struck by a motor cycle while crossing the road. The account at the inquests suggests that she was not known locally as a writer, being only identified by the Cash name tag on her handkerchief. A neighbour commented that 'Miss Paul kept herself to herself. When she walked she had a habit of looking quickly to one side and then the other, and then she would look down again.' A witness to the accident was more graphic still, remarking that what he saw was 'an old lady going across the road like a sheet of newspaper.' The phrase might have been coined by Paul herself (see Hastings Observer, 8 and 15 Sept. 1973)." And that is perhaps the most full biography of Paul we will get, although publishers' files might have some information.---

Most of the follow-up entries for this thread are by me.

American readers shouldn't have much trouble getting Twice Lost from their library on interlibrary loan. I have seen prices even on used copies of this one going up, though -- though given the Lancer paperback editions, copies shouldn't have been hard to find at one time.

I ended up tracking down all eleven of Paul's books and photocopying the nine that I didn't have. In one case the book had to come all the way from the National Library of New Zealand and I had to pay $30 to borrow it (and $9.60 to photocopy it). Two or three of the others came from the Library of Congress. By now I have read six of her novels. She's really good at the more subtle kind of eerie story.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 July, 2019 11:54AM
Here's a bit of Phyllis Paul's late novel A Little Treachery. Two spinster sisters from London sink almost all their money, trusting an architect's verdict, into buying a cottage on a busy street in a rural village. The house turns out to be in bad condition from damp, etc. and the garden is waterlogged and overgrown with weeds. One of the sisters seems to be retreating into mental illness. The other decides to build a bonfire to burn some of the yard waste, to do something. Dusk falls.

"Suddenly, with the dizzying and limitless astonishment of a nightmare, she perceived that there was a building standing towards the summit of the hill [beyond their garden bounds], within the dark woods. She saw it very imperfectly, but what she saw made the blood sing in her head and her knees feel weak. How could there be, in that rustic spot, towering, buttressed walls, topped by arches, colonnade supporting colonnade? And, still above these, vast rotundas, from each of which was lifted up on high a long staff surmounted by a gleaming sign while, against the walls, were great staircases which branched and joined and branched again, and ascended in giant flights, at each turn of which were newels strangely shaped and crowned with finial figures, perhaps winged, though their detail was not to be discerned in that twilit air. Or were they living beings? Of a gigantic size, suggesting acres of walls, of a monstrous, heroic style, vaguely Aztec, Assyrian or Muscovite, shimmering in the dark air as if, having erupted on that bad spot, having been lifted on a convulsion of the earth's crust to stand under the shocked heavens, it was dripping with the white fires of the regions whence it was spewed up, it hung there as a sign before her eyes, to show whose was the kingdom, under what lordship they had come" (pp. 51-52). Then it seems be a building well known to her, "with its big, coarse water-tower" -- perhaps an impression of something she remembers from London? She changes position for a better view and loses sight of any building there. Had her eyes been affected by staring into the bonfire?

A little taste of Paul's writing. You might be reminded of Arthur Machen's superb late story "N."


...from Letters of John Cowper Powys to Louis Wilkinson 1935-1956 -- a letter dated 24th April 1954, pp. 306-307:

"There's just lately come out a book by a Phyllis Paul authoress of 'Camilla' and some other good novel I forget the name of; but this one (her 3rd) is called 'The Lion of Cooling Bay', & it's a very weird ...exciting and startling book."



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11 Jul 19 | 11:55AM by Dale Nelson.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 July, 2019 12:08PM
Another little-known work that I like a lot is J. R. R. Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers, an unfinished novel from the mid-1940s printed in Sauron Defeated, one of the volumes of The History of Middle-earth. This starts as a pleasant symposium, some Oxford dons talking about science fiction, etc., and develops gradually into a story with affinities with Lovecraft's "Shadow Out of Time."

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