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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."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 July, 2019 07:25PM
Speaking of The History of Middle-Earth, do you like the following books? Worthwhile reading?

The Book of Lost Tales: Part 1
The Book of Lost Tales: Part 2
The Lays of Beleriand
The Shaping of Middle-Earth
The Lost Road and Other Writings
Morgoth's Ring
The War of the Jewels

... and Unfinished Tales

I have all, but have not got around to reading them yet. I selected the books dealing with the time of The Silmarillion. The build up history and variant texts of The Lord of the Rings I am less interested in. I am thinking of only reading J.R.R. Tolkien's texts, and skipping over Christopher Tolkien's extensive annotations (and maybe go back to them afterwards if needed).

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 19 July, 2019 08:43PM
Knygatin, J. D. Worthington knows The History of Middle-earth much better than I do. Perhaps he will favor us with a comment. But here's my answer to your question.

I've read very little of The Book of Lost Tales and The Shaping of Middle-earth. To me, the BLT has felt kind of like juvenilia. I've read most of JRRT's work in The Lays of Beleriand and, I'm sure, enjoyed it, but this was years ago. I liked C. S. Lewis's little "commentary," as by scholar of ancient manuscripts, herewith included.

I've read the fragment "The Lost Road," in the book of the same name, three times, it seems. I felt that Tolkien had some really interesting material here & enjoyed the Rider Haggard "Sherd of Amenartas"-type flavor of some of it.

The "Notion Club Papers" material in Sauron Defeated is my single favorite item from the History of Middle-earth material that I have read (there is a lot I haven't read). I wish it had been published separately in an inexpensive paperback edition with some discussion by sympathetic Tolkienists such as Verlyn Flieger, Douglas Anderson, and the late Jared Lobdell.

"Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in Morgoth's Ring turned out, when I read it, to be a real gem. It is a major and finished work from about 1959, a last flowering of Tolkien's Middle-earth genius. It is a dialogue about the spiritual nature of Man and Elf prior to any mating thereof, and I think it shows Tolkien's invention and also his philosophical mind in a special way. It is not to be missed. The section "Myths Transformed" in this volume shows Tolkien wrestling with some interesting issues, e.g. about the origin and nature of Orcs. It's almost like an extraordinarily good bit of fannish writing from one of the old legendary Tolkien fanzines such as Niekas.

I have spent very little time with The War of the Jewels.

There are interesting scraps in The peoples of Middle-earth, such as a quickly-abandoned sequel to The Lord of the Rings. More a curiosity than something you desperately wish he had gone on to write!

Unfinished Tales was Christopher's early gleaning of plums from his father's unpublished manuscripts, so you would expect that there'd be some goodies. "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife" was one of the items people knew existed before Tolkien died and it was good to get it at last.

So... if I could have only one of these 13 books, I'd go with Sauron Defeated, since The Notion Club papers is so substantial and intriguing. It's probably the closest thing we have to a J. R. R. Tolkien weird tale. It starts with that sort of leisurely men-talking-in-their-club milieu that you get (or similar things) in so many of the Late Victorian-Edwardian weird stories. Then it develops, but in a Tolkienian way, like something somewhat akin to Lovecraft's "Shadow Out of Time." If I could have one more, I'd go with Morgoth's Ring, especially for the superb Athrabeth.

Dale Nelson

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 20 July, 2019 03:54AM
Thank you Dale, for this interesting and helpful information. I will add Sauron Defeated also now to my collection.

I have only briefly leafed through the volumes, and immediately in Morgoth's Ring (or The War of the Jewels) came upon evocative lines about Glaurung, The Great Worm, Father of Dragons. Glaurung, what an alluring name for a dragon! Think that Tolkien's mastery of language can be revealed so, in a single word!

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 20 July, 2019 10:28AM
Agreed, Knygatin!

I've written a long paper on the Inklings and the Lovecraft Circle, which was published this year in the Tolkien Society's journal Mallorn. As regards the possibility of Lovecraftian influence on The Notion Club Papers, it could be, and it could have come about like this:

1.It is certain that American pulp science fiction magazines were sold in England. We have, for example, Arthur C. Clarke's statement of that fact.
2.It is certain that C. S. Lewis read some of these magazines, because he mentions them in his wartime fantasy The Great Divorce. That's where he alludes, almost certainly, to Donald Wandrei's "Colossus," published in Astounding.
3.It is certain that Tolkien was aware of "scientifiction mags," because a character uses that exact expression in the wartime unfinished novel The Notion Club Papers.
4.It's certain that Lovecraft's "Shadow Out of Time" (and At the Mountains of Madness) were published in Astounding, around the same time as "Colossus."

It is therefore possible that Lewis read "Shadow" and passed the issue on to Tolkien, who read it, and it simmered away in the back of his mind, to influence "The Notion Club Papers." However, the resemblances are not so strong as that we must say for sure that he read the Lovecraft.

It is uncertain how much Tolkien did read "Yank" sf pulps. Possibly he never read them at all though he was aware of them, perhaps from comments by Lewis. But it is also possible that he read them quite a bit, either in copies from CSL on that he acquired some other way.

As an aside: I think it's highly unlikely that Lewis or Tolkien read Weird Tales. First, I have never heard that WT was sold in England. Second, I'm not aware of anything in their writings (Letters, stories, etc.) that would suggest they knew some story or stories that, at the time, were available only in its pages. Third, because of its often rather trashy cover art, I'm doubtful that WT would have been sold in Woolworth's (as sf pulps were), and, if it was sold, I doubt Lewis or Tolkien would have picked it up.

If you have the chance, you might take a look at an essay collection called Tolkien's Legendarium. David Bratman's article "The Literary Value of The History of Middle-earth" is a nice survey of the 12 volumes plus Unfinished Tales. John Rateliff has an essay of Tolkien's Lost Road and Notion Club Papers, and on Lewis's Dark Tower fragment, with interesting comments, although it is not one of his strongest writings, perhaps weakened by a certain dislike of Lewis that he is apt to betray now and again, unfortunately.

Dale Nelson

In Morgoth's Ring, perhaps read "Laws and Customs Among the Eldar" before reading the Athrabeth, though that's not essential.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 20 July, 2019 08:25PM
There were actually British versions of WEIRD TALES, starting in the early 40s. Before that, a number of stories from WEIRD TALES were collected and published in the British NOT AT NIGHT anthologies. So there was material available, just not evidence that Tolkien read any of it until L. Sprague de Camp pressed some reprint material on him in the 60s.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 21 July, 2019 03:39AM
I cannot remember exactly now unfortunately, but a few years ago I read a novel and in it were a few similarities to The Lord of the Rings that I found outright startling, either in structure, phrases, or names. I think it was the magazine version of A. Merritt's The Snake Mother.

P.S. Jdworth, I don't know if you still visit the Eldritch Dark forum, but since the occasions of your comments are so few nowadays, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I bumped into Kyberean (Absquatch) elsewhere about a month ago, and he gave his good regards to you.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 October, 2019 02:55PM
How do you Eldritch Darkers like Bradbury? Fahrenheit 451? And which of his short story collections do you like best?

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