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A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 24 November, 2018 03:11PM
Has anybody lately read a good horror/weird/scifi book to recommend?

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 25 November, 2018 12:14AM
I enjoyed the following stories, which all contain horror, weird, and science fiction elements:

John W. Campbell: "Who Goes There?", "Twilight", "Night"
A. E. Van Vogt: "The Monster", "Dormant", The Voyage of the Space Beagle, Mission to the Stars
Jack Vance: Star King, The Brains of Earth, The Houses of Iszm (if you find horror implicit in weird beauty).

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Avoosl Wuthoqquan (IP Logged)
Date: 25 November, 2018 05:29AM
Allow me to recommend Demiurge: The Complete Cthulhu Mythos Tales of Michael Shea, by -- well -- Michael Shea, most of whose stuff is amazing in my opinion. His oddly titled novel In Yana, the Touch of Undying is weird (very weird!) fantasy with lots of horror elements.

Shea's writing tends to be very detailed, his ideas are often extremely surprising, and I don't recall ever reading a boring sentence by the guy.

I wasn't super impressed by his dystopian SF action novella The Extra, but one scene -- in which a dog is attacked and torn to bits by a giant robot spider -- still sticks in my mind. Anyone who can make such nonsense visceral and believable is a master in my estimation.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 November, 2018 02:01PM
Thanks. I have ordered Polyphemus from the library.

Always good to find a new author!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 26 November, 2018 02:20PM
Speaking of "Who Goes There?", the other day I read a short story called "From An Amber Block" (1930) by Tom Curry about a huge mass of amber with something dark inside. It is sent to a museum where the dark thing gets out of the amber block at night and kills people. When the characters were considering the strange amber with the ominous dark thing imprisoned inside, the opening parts of "Who Goes There?" came immediately to mind though I am sure Campbell, in writing his masteripece, knew nothing about Curry´s story.

By the way, today I finished re-reading "The Hole of the Pit" (1914) by Adrian Ross and I enjoyed it as I did when I read it for the first time some years ago. It tells a story about a castle standing in huge marshes and surrounded by an enemy so there is no escape for those inside while there is some hideous and nameless evil comming out of the swamps. Sometimes it seems as if huge snakes were coiling under the dirty surface and when a dead man is thrown into the water, his hideously mutilated corpse is thrown back from the mud. Really a nice little book of horror. :-)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 26 Nov 18 | 02:41PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 November, 2018 04:53PM
I have had in mind to read "The Hole of the Pit", but have not yet had a chance to come across it. Aren't the spooks 'traditional' rather than original?

Michael Shea's "Polyphemus" and "Fat Face" are not to be missed (most fans would foremost also mention "The Autopsy")!
Nifft the Lean was impressive, but the prose was a bit too technically dense for me - however, several worthwhile fantastic moments! Brilliant. I look forward to reading In Yana, the Touch of Undying.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 27 November, 2018 01:52AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Nifft the Lean ...

I found most of the introductions to the novellas impenetrable - too many names introduced without proper attachment. The last novella, "The Goddess in Glass" was in ways incomprehensible; the words just passed me by. Not a book I wholeheartedly recommend, except for "Come Then, Mortal. We Will Seek Her Soul" and "The Pearls of the Vampire Queen" which are good, ... and "The Fishing of the Demon-Sea" which is exceptional.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 27 November, 2018 08:51AM
It is not a classic "spook tale" in the style of M.R.James who was a friend of Ross and to him, by the way, the book is dedicated. The main aspects of the book are an Earl growing mad, an evil Italian woman, a puritan hero, a beautiful and chaste girl, a family curse, a gelatinous creature living in the depths of the marshlands, a ghost of a murdered wife (or what it was :-)) and last but not least an old castle standing in the swamps, besieged by enemies and filled to the roof with dynamite. :-)
Here you have several reviews of the book. On of them likens it to "The Terror" by Dan Simmons or "The Thing" by John Carpenter which I am not sure about but the fact is there is the element of being in a desolate place where on has nowhere to run, with an unknown creature that can strike any time.

[www.goodreads.com]

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 28 November, 2018 04:08PM
A. E. van Vogt's good short story "The Monster" is here available online, for those not lucky enough to have it in glorious paperback.

http://prosperosisle.org/spip.php?article220

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 29 November, 2018 01:38PM
Thanks. I am gonna read it one of these days.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 30 November, 2018 01:25AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks. I am gonna read it one of these days.

I am not sure what your preferences are, but it appears to be mainly older atmospheric horror and supernatural fiction. "The Monster" is actually quite different, it does not place Man in the position of victim like Lovecraft does and traditional horror; its approach is from the opposite direction. So it may be a disappointment to some, or not. Its reward comes from an intellectually uplifting idea. Van Vogt believed positively in Mankind's future potential, much like Arthur C. Clarke did.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 2 December, 2018 05:53PM
I just read the first paragraph of "Hawley Bank Foundry" by L. T. C. Rolt, an author I have never read before. A hunch tells me this is going to be great. He has a very funny sense of sardonic humor. I'll be back when I am done.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 3 December, 2018 03:20PM
Thanks, please do.

I'll look forward to the report.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2018 08:41AM
Ok, I have read "The Monster" by A. E. Vogt. Well, at first I was afraid it was some 1940´s sci-fi version of "Some Words With a Mummy" by Poe but fortunately it turned out to be something different. I will not say I will read it again but its plot was interesting.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2018 07:21PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "Hawley Bank Foundry" by L. T. C. Rolt ...

I understand that Rolt was also an industrial machine engineer and historian, knowledge which he used in his ghost stories to instill them with convincing detailed settings. (Let's face it, most fantasist authors are dreamers and not very practical in other matters than writing. It is a joy to read a text which gives the illusion of actual movement of energy, workers in strenuous, stoic effort of shoving heavy masses around, and constructing impressive physical objects, while you sit in your comfy chair and lazily watch it performed through your book.) In this story he also reveals obvious familiarity with pushing ambitious business men, effective at making money but with little imagination for else; which serves the amusing aspect here. Otherwise a story in similar English tradition as M. R. James, but not quite as high quality as his from the supernatural standpoint. Easy to read clear prose that draws you in. I enjoyed it, especially the excellent settings with foreboding little touches.
However, the older I get the more impatient I grow with these commonly constructed stories, in which you first have to read a long preparatory realistic build-up (you must eat up your potatoes first, lots of them!) before finally, by the end, being served the delicious supernatural dessert. Although he throws in a few spectral suggestions along the way, I do prefer literature that is more or less feverishly supernatural fantasy from beginning to end.

The central setting of this story is an iron foundry work. You can imagine, an accident in there may lead to nasty consequences. Or, 'nasty', that is a grave understatement.

But even more horrible than this story is a real life story I heard on the news a few years ago, taking place in a Chinese iron foundry. A large amount of molten iron was accidentally dropped onto the floor. In a nearby changing room the next shift was preparing for work; the iron flowed in through the door. When others came to inspect several hours later, the floor of the changing room was covered by an even layer of iron; there was not even a trace of the missing men.

I read "Hawley Bank Foundry" in the highly regarded collection A Wave of Fear.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2018 07:35PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ok, I have read "The Monster" by A. E. Vogt. Well,
> at first I was afraid it was some 1940´s sci-fi
> version of "Some Words With a Mummy" by Poe but
> fortunately it turned out to be something
> different. I will not say I will read it again but
> its plot was interesting.


It is fortunate that you at least found it interesting. Van Vogt is all about ideas, futuristic ideas, sometimes gigantic ideas that strain your sanity. But his prose is very uneven, sometimes sloppy, especially in the novels. The single short stories are better written, some very well.

They say that while other science fiction writers wrote about the future, van Vogt wrote from the future.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: xtrmntr1 (IP Logged)
Date: 6 December, 2018 11:28AM
Hi all,

For anyone interested, I self-published an apocalyptic cosmic horror novel. It's a touch on the graphic side and is probably pretty crap, but if you're looking for something like that, feel free to check it out.

US [www.amazon.com]

UK [www.amazon.co.uk]

Hope this sort of thing isn't too tacky. Anyway, cheer.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 7 December, 2018 02:57PM
From a collection named "Wolf's Complete Book of Terror", I read "The Hours in the Life of a Lousy-Haired Man' an episode from Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont.

I still don't know what to make of it.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 7 December, 2018 04:27PM
The collection looks very interesting, maybe I will give it a try in the future. By the way, speaking of short story collections, one of these days I am expecting to get a book called "The People Of The Pit and Other Early Horrors from the Munsey Pulps." It is a collection of short stories that were published in Frank Munsey´s pulp magazines prior to 1920. I know next to nothing about Frank Munsey but he seems to have been a pioneer in publishing what is generally called "pulp magazines", so I am curious what the book is going to turn out to be. A collection of short stories that came out in magazines that were a grandfather of Weird Tales, Astounding Stories, Tales of Terror etc.? We shall see. :-)

[www.goodreads.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 7 Dec 18 | 04:33PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 8 December, 2018 12:30PM
Thanks!

I'm developing a pretty good list of new (to me) weird fiction to explore next year!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: GreenFedora (IP Logged)
Date: 13 December, 2018 02:56PM
Side note: I took a college course with Leonard Wolf and his "Complete Book of Terror" was the textbook. I did my thesis for the class on Clark Ashton Smith. What goes around, right?

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 14 December, 2018 12:37PM
Hah! Pretty neat!

Quite a varied collection, isn't it? I recently mentioned another varied and eclectic collection, "The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories" edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. It is 110 stories from all across the spectrum.

I'm a cheapskate and first got it from the library, but plan to buy it soon.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 22 February, 2019 06:15PM
Has anyone read Philip José Farmer's collection Strange Relations? How is the quality of the writing and imagination? Is it rich? Would it appeal to someone who enjoys Clark Ashton Smith?

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 February, 2019 07:42PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Has anyone read Philip José Farmer's collection
> Strange Relations? How is the quality of the
> writing and imagination? Is it rich? Would it
> appeal to someone who enjoys Clark Ashton Smith?

It's not clear from the above if you're asking about Farmer, in general, or how this particular collection is. I'll gamble that it's the former, and must admit to having not read the collection.

Farmer is one of those authors whose main strength is originality of idea rather than true writing ability. I'll quickly add context: I'm reading a short story collection by Rudyard Kipling, mainly because I got it for free from Project Gutenberg. I am in a sense discovering him for the first time.

In my humble opinion, the man is narrative genius. I learned today that had been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, and considered it to be justified. He's been out of vogue due to changing sensibilities concerning cultural interactions (read: he expresses the commonly held 19th C idea that western civilization, and in particular British civilization, are the apogee of human cultural development).

But enough!

Farmer is a good writer, but no Smith. For example, I would rate him below R. A. Lafferty in t erms of execution. He has some very interesting, and amusing, ideas. I would point to the novel Flesh as an example, which is to me better than his Riverworld series.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 February, 2019 03:25AM
Thanks Sawfish. I am particularly curious about the collection Strange Relations, because I understand it is about Man's meeting and interaction with alien and weird animal/plant life, a subject related to Smith's bizarre conceptions.

There is an omnibus collection by the same name, which includes Strange Relations and the novels Flesh and The Lovers. All those works seem connected in subject matter.

I have never read anything by Philip José Farmer. As a teen I remember handling his Riverworld books while they were on the shelves in the book stores, but did not find them teasing my curiosity enough. Instead I picked books by Alan Dean Foster, H. P. Lovecraft, and Jack Vance. Clark Ashton Smith was not readily available at the time, and I discovered him only ten years later.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 February, 2019 03:33AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As a teen ... I picked books by Alan Dean Foster, H. P.
> Lovecraft, and Jack Vance.

Among others, including Edgar Rice Burroughs of course!

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 23 February, 2019 12:17PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks Sawfish. I am particularly curious about
> the collection Strange Relations, because I
> understand it is about Man's meeting and
> interaction with alien and weird animal/plant
> life, a subject related to Smith's bizarre
> conceptions.
>
> There is an omnibus collection by the same name,
> which includes Strange Relations and the novels
> Flesh and The Lovers. All those works seem
> connected in subject matter.
>
> I have never read anything by Philip José Farmer.
> As a teen I remember handling his Riverworld books
> while they were on the shelves in the book stores,
> but did not find them teasing my curiosity enough.

This is understandable. I got pretty tired of dialogues with famous deceased characters. It was amusing in a sort of irreverent way, and now that I think of it, one of the main characters, Mark Twain, was probably a big influence on Farmer as a wit. I suspect that he wanted to have the same playful sensibilities as Twain.

But Flesh is something else...

Imagine a future world that has some of the same grounding entities--there's a sort of United States--but the central feature of this alternate universe, at least in this alter-US, is a fertility cult that is the national religion.

Each year a sort of sacrificial "stag king" is selected and treated with both hormones and cultural veneration until each spring, when he is turned loose on a sort of ceremonial procession along the east coast, to Washington DC, or what passes for it, fornicating all women in his path. This is considered highly desirable, to give birth to the child of the stag king, and the entire progress is played for ironic, comic effect.

The authorial tone is lighthearted and absurd, and is quite an amusing read.

No serious topics are broached, which is fine for entertainment, but lots of cultural icons are parodied. Baseball as the national pass time, in one notable instance.

So once I read a short story by a 1950s SF author in a large anthology. Maybe I was about 11 or 12. The theme was loss of religious faith by a starship's chaplain because the mission had happened on the burnt out remnant of the planetary system destroyed by the nova that was the star of Bethlehem. There had been an advanced, but planet-bound civilization that had known of the impending immolation, prepared and preserved artifacts for subsequent explores to discover, then perished.

This understandably depressed the chaplain.

Farmer does not write stuff like this; he'd like to be Twain.

> Instead I picked books by Alan Dean Foster, H. P.
> Lovecraft, and Jack Vance. Clark Ashton Smith was
> not readily available at the time, and I
> discovered him only ten years later.

Me, too, and it did not take long for him to stand out once I'd read Zothique, my first exposure.

That was 1969 or 1970, I think.

Always nice to exchange with you!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 February, 2019 01:50PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This is understandable. I got pretty tired of
> dialogues with famous deceased characters. ...

Ha Ha Ha! I remember now, feeling immediately tired only from reading it in the blurbs on the backside of the books.

> But Flesh is something else...

It certainly sounds a whole lot more interesting.

> So once I read a short story by a 1950s SF author
> in a large anthology. Maybe I was about 11 or 12.
> The theme was loss of religious faith by a
> starship's chaplain because the mission had
> happened on the burnt out remnant of the planetary
> system destroyed by the nova that was the star of
> Bethlehem. There had been an advanced, but
> planet-bound civilization that had known of the
> impending immolation, prepared and preserved
> artifacts for subsequent explores to discover,
> then perished.
>
> This understandably depressed the chaplain.

I believe that is a short-story by Arthur C. Clarke. It was very good. I think I read it in his collection The Nine Billion Names of God. "Rescue Party" is my favorite story from that collection, both weird and humorous ... a group of scientist aliens from different planets set out together on a quest, but their individual anatomies can't handle the gravity of the surface, stumbling and falling, jeering at each other.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 23 Feb 19 | 02:17PM by Knygatin.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 24 February, 2019 10:29AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > This is understandable. I got pretty tired of
> > dialogues with famous deceased characters. ...
>
> Ha Ha Ha! I remember now, feeling immediately
> tired only from reading it in the blurbs on the
> backside of the books.
>
> > But Flesh is something else...
>
> It certainly sounds a whole lot more interesting.
>
> > So once I read a short story by a 1950s SF
> author
> > in a large anthology. Maybe I was about 11 or
> 12.
> > The theme was loss of religious faith by a
> > starship's chaplain because the mission had
> > happened on the burnt out remnant of the
> planetary
> > system destroyed by the nova that was the star
> of
> > Bethlehem. There had been an advanced, but
> > planet-bound civilization that had known of the
> > impending immolation, prepared and preserved
> > artifacts for subsequent explores to discover,
> > then perished.
> >
> > This understandably depressed the chaplain.
>
> I believe that is a short-story by Arthur C.
> Clarke. It was very good. I think I read it in his
> collection The Nine Billion Names of God. "Rescue
> Party" is my favorite story from that collection,
> both weird and humorous ... a group of scientist
> aliens from different planets set out together on
> a quest, but their individual anatomies can't
> handle the gravity of the surface, stumbling and
> falling, jeering at each other.

Hah! I'll try to find it, for nostalgia's sake.

Here's a puzzler for me, and maybe you can help me with it. It's about an SF story from the same era as the Clarke one.

Mars chooses to announce itself to the world by setting up a shop on one of the main shopping thoroughfares on Manhattan. The goods are truly amazing and this causes quite a stir.

For some reason the sales staff--masked, mysterious, probably--raises suspicion, and the store is raided by the police after hours. The Martians are tipped and escape, taking most of their stuff with them. However, documents are recovered that reveal that the sales mission was a front to set up for a full-scale invasion of the Earth.

The UN meets, and the world powers of the time, US and USSR, agree to cooperate to oppose this existential threat. Mankind is unified for the first time in history.

Then it is revealed that the entire Martian episode was financed by a group of international philanthropists who hoped to unite the peoples of the earth, and avoid a nuclear war. There were no Martians, at all.

I *believe* the title was something like "Mars Shops, Ltd.".

Do you recall anything like this?

BTW, I was also unduly influenced, as a callow youth, by Asimov's "Nightfall". :^)

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 24 February, 2019 12:13PM
I am afraid I don't know which story that is. The initial premise sounds similar to A. E. Van Vogt's "The Weapon Shop", although the locations don't quite correlate. I think these came from the future, not Mars, and they sold weapons to help citizens protect themselves against the abusive State. The weapons were actually free, to all with honest intentions.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 24 February, 2019 05:05PM
Well, thanks!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 25 February, 2019 11:46AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> A. E. Van Vogt's
> "The Weapon Shop", ... they sold weapons to help
> citizens protect themselves against the abusive
> State.

This calls for a small correction. Not the State as such, of course. But the deep State, that is those in corrupt power behind the screens, acting in secrecy, those who control the money flow, and pull the strings of the representative puppets placed (or, in the very least tolerated, as is the case of Trump) in mock forefront administrative government.

A. E. van Vogt was actually well aware of this in real life (John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln are two politicians who were also very well aware of this; both murdered because they tried to oppose it.); his father, who was a travelling lawyer with wide experience and insights into practical political process, told the young Alfred about it. And Vogt often used it later as a model to build up drama in his science fiction stories.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 March, 2019 12:00PM
Has anyone read the following books, and how would you rate them? (It is always interesting to hear critique from readers who have the fine and unprecedented prose of Clark Ashton Smith as reference.)

More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

All three seem widely regarded as being among the very best science fiction novels ever written. Especially so The Left Hand of Darkness. Its setting appears very modern and in line with confused contemporary feminist political values, in which Western women are urged to become independent from men and from family life, refrain from having children, do the same things men do, behave like men, and mentally free themselves from their biological gender identity; perhaps one reason why the book is unanimously embraced? I once tried to read Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea in my search for classical fantasy, but it did not grab me and I gave up after a few pages.

I have read Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the Stars, and think it is a stunning masterpiece of weird futuristic vision, and a very enjoyable read. Perhaps it is similar to some of the novels above?

Another author I have never got around to read, and which keeps nagging at the back of my mind, one of the most famous of all, is Robert A. Heinlein. Do you think he is essential required reading?

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 4 March, 2019 06:51PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Has anyone read the following books, and how would
> you rate them? (It is always interesting to hear
> critique from readers who have the fine and
> unprecedented prose of Clark Ashton Smith as
> reference.)
>
> More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
> The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
> The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
>
> All three seem widely regarded as being among the
> very best science fiction novels ever written.
> Especially so The Left Hand of Darkness. Its
> setting appears very modern and in line with
> confused contemporary feminist political values,
> in which Western women are urged to become
> independent from men and from family life, refrain
> from having children, do the same things men do,
> behave like men, and mentally free themselves from
> their biological gender identity; perhaps one
> reason why the book is unanimously embraced? I
> once tried to read Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea
> in my search for classical fantasy, but it did not
> grab me and I gave up after a few pages.
>
> I have read Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the
> Stars, and think it is a stunning masterpiece of
> weird futuristic vision, and a very enjoyable
> read. Perhaps it is similar to some of the novels
> above?
>
> Another author I have never got around to read,
> and which keeps nagging at the back of my mind,
> one of the most famous of all, is Robert A.
> Heinlein. Do you think he is essential required
> reading?

I read quite a bit of Heinlein when in 7th/8th grade.

He had no appeal to me after that point, and I wondered why. It much later came to me that he was in essence a sort of Ayn Rand for juveniles. His personal opinions are expressed in fiction, and as such, they work well since he's writing it and can manipulate the outcome to reach desired outcomes.

And, like Rand, he is absolutely certain that he is correct.

But this is just my opinion.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 March, 2019 02:22AM
Thanks. Yes, that impression of his personality has prevented me from reading him. Many seem to like Heinlein's Starship Troopers best. I thought the movie was a bit too much 'military' (although I enjoyed Phil Tippett's special effects). But they say the book is different, more nuanced.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 March, 2019 03:40AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I read quite a bit of Heinlein when in 7th/8th
> grade.

In 7th/8th/9th grade Stranger in a Strange Land stood in my school library. I fiddled a bit with it, ... but its thickness was daunting. And also, since it had been put in the school library, that made me suspicious. Instead I read Stephen King. ;^) Today they probably place Stephen King in the public school libraries.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2019 06:10AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I read quite a bit of Heinlein when in 7th/8th
> grade.
>
> He had no appeal to me after that point, and I
> wondered why. ... His
> personal opinions are expressed in fiction, and as
> such, they work well since he's writing it and can
> manipulate the outcome to reach desired outcomes.
>
> And, ... he is absolutely certain that he
> is correct.
>
> But this is just my opinion.

Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks. Yes, that impression of his personality
> has prevented me from reading him.

Let me rephrase that; it's not that he was sure of his own opinions that hold me off. But rather the quality of his outlook. My impression has been that he was preoccupied with worldly, mundane values, such as career, manliness, marriage, weapons, military, ... and used science fiction as a superficial backdrop for this, rather than having a genuine cosmic outlook. That's just been my impression of his person. But not having read his books, I may of course be wrong.

But being sure of ones opinions, or rather, being sure of ones acquired knowledge, is not a bad thing. Intellectual authority is helpful in art, the greatest artists have it. It gives a clearness of expression. Artists who are unsure of themselves, and of their impressions, are often weak artists. So I believe that to have self confidence and firmly stand ones intellectual ground (while being open to gradually developing it, of course), is a good quality. At least so in a reasonably intelligent person. Stubbornness in a stupid person is another matter.

Lovecraft was another example of one having intellectual authority and strong opinions.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2019 11:27PM
Certainly I agree on Lovecraft.

In a sense, he is almost sci-fiction in his creation of the mythos. It's as if he is describing an alternate earth--one whose past epochs include multiple invasions of alien beings, now mythologized from humanity's point of view. He postulates that this unknown history is so ancient that all remnants have been effaced over time--except for a few remote places.

And he wrote this at the last possible era in which this might be credible; prior to the advent of routine satellite surveillance it was conceivably, barely, that
there might still be unknown regions on earth, and that the few remnants of these former residents, as in At the Mountains of Madness, might be found there.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2019 09:16AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In a sense, [Lovecraft] is almost sci-fiction in his
> creation of the mythos. ...
> And he wrote this at the last possible era in
> which this might be credible; prior to the advent
> of routine satellite surveillance it was
> conceivably, barely, that
> there might still be unknown regions on earth, ...

The era of E. R. Burroughs, A. Merritt, H. P. Lovecraft, C. A. Smith, and R. E. Howard, gradually fizzling out by the end of the 1930s. Replaced by the Golden Age of science fiction, exploring new and interesting frontiers. And later came pure fantasy fiction, to meet the need for escape from the cynically increasing materialism of society. New weird tales often became more of nostalgia entertainment, having lost its earlier spirit of genuine conviction and credibility. And supernatural horror fiction was intentionally turned (degraded) into a symbolic tool for psychological social-workers (the likes of Robert Aickman), regarding itself as having an "important" society function, rather than creating genuine fear, awe or ecstasy.

I think there is still potential for genuine weird and supernatural fiction, but it needs a brilliant mind to step forward, that is not swayed by the present level of collective consciousness, and in vision penetrates beyond the relatively puny levels of science.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2019 05:25PM
Excellent observations.

Thanks!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 March, 2019 03:04AM
I am presently reading Stanislaw Lem's Solaris. It is excellent, serious science fiction, descriptive and dense. I think it is the best SF I have read, alongside Arthur C. Clarke.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 March, 2019 03:16AM
Solaris ... in the first English translation, by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 11 March, 2019 01:36PM
Yesterday, I finished reading Gustav Meyrink´s "Golem". One of the strangest book I ever read.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 12:14AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yesterday, I finished reading Gustav Meyrink´s
> "Golem". One of the strangest book I ever read.


And its events are placed in beautiful old Prague too! I have not read it, only of it, in Lovecraft's essay on horror literature. Perhaps it is directly related to Smith's "The Colossus of Ylourgne".

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 05:45AM
Beautiful old Prague? Well, yes, the old Prague was (and is, for that matter) beautiful, but "Golem" takes place strictly in the Jewish ghetto before the huge sanation (almost 150 unique houses were pulled down) that took place in the first years of the 19. Century. So the reader cannot expect some beautiful architecture, the regal palaces, the broad streets lined with the tall old-fashioned buildings, that makes Prague famous but something very close to what is on the pictures below; old, dirty houses; mysterious, ill-lit alleys; inscrutable nooks; nets of underground vaulted cellars etc. On the other hand, this decrepit and unattractive environment perfectly matches the story.

[www.praguecityline.cz]

I have not read The Colossus of Ylourgne" but I will one of these days to say if there is any relation between it and "Golem".



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12 Mar 19 | 05:49AM by Minicthulhu.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 09:03AM
By the way, Meyrink wrote many short stories, some of them very bizzare and weird. The best ones are probably “Dr. Cinderella´s Plants“ about hideous experiments with plants and human bodies, “Das Präparat“ (I do not know if this story has been translated into English) where certain things of a room equipment (the bell-pull, the clock, the door-knob) are made of parts of a human body, and “Der Verdunstete Gehrin“ (also not sure if this one exists in an English translation) dealing with a crazy, deadly hallucination produced by consumption of poisonous mushrooms. Meyrink is definitely worth reading though sometimes he is hard to understand and tedious in places.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 01:32PM
Wow!

Great recommendation!

The Golem is available in German, from Project Gutenberg. I wish I could read it in the native language.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 01:40PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Beautiful old Prague? ...
> "Golem" takes place strictly in the Jewish ghetto
> before the huge sanation (almost 150 unique houses
> were pulled down) that took place in the first
> years of the 19. Century. So the reader cannot
> expect some beautiful architecture, .... old, dirty houses; mysterious,
> ill-lit alleys; inscrutable nooks; nets of
> underground vaulted cellars etc. On the other
> hand, this decrepit and unattractive environment
> perfectly matches the story.

I see, not all pleasant then, ... although I am sure Lovecraft for one, would have enjoyed exploring the underground vaulted cellars, and alleys with spectral peaked gables, in an ecstatic mood of "adventurous expectancy".


Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> By the way, Meyrink wrote many short stories, some
> of them very bizzare and weird. The best ones are
> probably “Dr. Cinderella´s Plants“ about
> hideous experiments with plants and human bodies,
> “Das Präparat“ (I do not know if this story
> has been translated into English) where certain
> things of a room equipment (the bell-pull, the
> clock, the door-knob) are made of parts of a human
> body, and “Der Verdunstete Gehrin“ (also not
> sure if this one exists in an English translation)
> dealing with a crazy, deadly hallucination
> produced by consumption of poisonous mushrooms.
> Meyrink is definitely worth reading though
> sometimes he is hard to understand and tedious in
> places.

Sounds interesting, ... and rather decadent. Makes me think of Ewers and his Alraune (by the way, is Alraune available online in the original English translation by Guy Endore?), who was also writing around the same time in central Europe. Very different from the contemporary writers up in England; Blackwood, Machen, M. R. James, and W. H. Hodgson. The variance between Germanic and Anglo-Saxon cultural approach, I assume, although I can't quite put my finger on the dividing line in this context.

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?588823

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 02:33PM
I have not read "Alrune" (though I have the book) but I have read cca. twelve stories by Hans Heinz Ewers and most of them did not impress me very much. "The Spider" is a classic and the best story by him (though the plot strongly reminds me of "The Inn at the Red Dragon" by the obscure Czech writer Jiri Josef Kolar). "The Blue Indians" is nothing to write home about but I liked the idea of ancestral memory that is the focus of the story and which was later used by horror/sci-fi/weird fiction writers. "Die Topharbraut" (I do not know if this one has been translated into English) is also a little creepy tale about a strange relation between the death of a young girl and an old mummy in a museum, that was supposed to have been found during excavations in Egypt. The rest of the stories were very weak, tedious, long-winded sometimes. As you say, they are a far cry from Machen, Blackwood and other English contemporaries of Ewers produced. (Though, speaking of English authors of that era, I must say Ewers sometimes reminded me of some short works by Aleister Crowley)

Back to Meyrink; yes, the book you mention in your post contains stories definitely worth reading (and, as a bonus, there is a picture of Prague on the cover, as I can see :-)). "Bal Macabre", "Dr. Cinderella´s Plants" and "The Preparation" are definitely the best stories I have read by Meyrink so far.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 02:58PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Wow!
>
> Great recommendation!
>
> The Golem is available in German, from Project
> Gutenberg. I wish I could read it in the native
> language.


It is a great book though I must say it could be much shorter; there are passages that are almost boring). Also, Meyrink is sometimes uselessly over-complex in expressing his ideas so it requires all your attention in reading to understand what he wants to say. (and, to be honest, sometimes I did not get fully what the author meant, sometimes I needed to read this or that several times to understand ...) It is a weird book, one of them you probably need to read more than once to comprehend it exactly.

I also must say a potential reader of it should not expect any moving beings made of mud appear in the book; except for the title, it has no connection with the old Jewish legend. :-)
[en.wikipedia.org]

P.S. I made a mistake in my previous post; the sanation of the Jewish ghetto was in the first years of the 20th Century, not of the 20th.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12 Mar 19 | 03:01PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 17 March, 2019 12:52PM
I just read "The Colossus of Ylourgne" and found no similarity between it and "The Golem" at all.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 17 March, 2019 07:50PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I just read "The Colossus of Ylourgne" and found
> no similarity between it and "The Golem" at all.


Sorry to hear that. Hope you still enjoyed it, so your time was not all wasted.

It was very long ago I read "The Colossus of Ylourgne", but I seem to remember that sorcery was used to build an animated giant from smaller parts piled together, somewhat like the creation of a golem. I believe Clive Barker's story "In the Hills, the Cities" also has some similarity to "The Colossus of Ylourgne".

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2019 07:09AM
The original Jewish legend of Golem is about a rabbi who creates a powerful humanoid being (he uses clay) to serve him, but Meyrink´ "Golem" is something very different; it is an unknown being that is supposed to materialize itself in a special empty room in one of the old houses in the ghetto every thirty three years. To be honest, "The Colossus of Ylourgne" is one of the weaker stories by CAS; I prefer horror to fantasy. :-)

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Yluos (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2019 02:22PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The original Jewish legend of Golem is about a
> rabbi who creates a powerful humanoid being (he
> uses clay) to serve him, but Meyrink´ "Golem" is
> something very different; it is an unknown being
> that is supposed to materialize itself in a
> special empty room in one of the old houses in the
> ghetto every thirty three years. To be honest,
> "The Colossus of Ylourgne" is one of the weaker
> stories by CAS; I prefer horror to fantasy. :-)

While Colossus isn't one of my favorite stories, I don't think it's fair to declare it to be weak just because you prefer one genre over another. Smith himself stated that he preferred writing fantasy over other genres (or at least over science-fiction) and I think it shows in the quality of many of his fantasy tales.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 18 Mar 19 | 02:38PM by Yluos.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2019 03:47PM
I tried to be honest. Had I said I liked it, I would have lied. Some of CAS´s stories are great (The Uncharted Island, The Supernumerary Corpse, The Double Cosmos or Genius Loci which is one of the best stories I ever read), some are mediocre (The Enchantress Of Sylaire, The Haunted Chamber or The Ninth Skeleton) which is quite normal and natural, I guess.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Yluos (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2019 04:41PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I tried to be honest. Had I said I liked it, I
> would have lied. Some of CAS´s stories are great
> (The Uncharted Island, The Supernumerary Corpse,
> The Double Cosmos or Genius Loci which is one of
> the best stories I ever read), some are mediocre
> (The Enchantress Of Sylaire, The Haunted Chamber
> or The Ninth Skeleton) which is quite normal and
> natural, I guess.


I didn't want you to say you liked it. Like I said, it's not my favorite story either; it plods in several segments and feels a little pointless in itself. I just don't think it's fair to declare it to be poor on the basis of its genre.

I agree that the stories you listed are among the best and worst of his work, but I don't think genre has much to do with that. After all, some fantasy stories are better than others, just as some horror stories are better than other horror stories, and science-fiction and realism and children's literature and so on.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 18 Mar 19 | 04:49PM by Yluos.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2019 07:09PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I tried to be honest. Had I said I liked it, I
> would have lied. Some of CAS´s stories are great
> (The Uncharted Island, The Supernumerary Corpse,
> The Double Cosmos or Genius Loci which is one of
> the best stories I ever read), some are mediocre
> (The Enchantress Of Sylaire, The Haunted Chamber
> or The Ninth Skeleton) which is quite normal and
> natural, I guess.


Of these, I've read only The Enchantress of Sylaire and The Uncharted Island.

There are a bunch of CAS stories that seem to deal with the exploration of the solar system. These are mostly really weak so far as characterization and dialogue. I can't recall many titles, but typically you'd have two or more sort of 19th C adventurer-types and they'd want to explore something and get into a big jam.

Of the ones that work are The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis and Vulthoom.

Did you lke A Vintage from Atlantis?

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 18 Mar 19 | 07:11PM by Sawfish.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 19 March, 2019 04:02AM
Frankly, I am not a huge fan of stories about 17th Century buccaneers but this one is not bad at all. I have read cca. fifty stories by C.A.Smith and I cannot remember what most of them were about but the plot of "A Vintage from Atlantis" I can recall to mind very easily.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 March, 2019 07:18AM
I recently reread Smith's Atlantis stories, after about 25 years. I was on vacation to a beautiful volcanic Atlantic island, and had brought appropriate reading matter for the evenings, Poseidonis (Ballantine, 1973).

The stories I read:

"The Last Incantation"
"The Death of Malygris"
"The Double Shadow"
"A Voyage to Sfanomoë"
"A Vintage from Atlantis"
"Symposium of the Gorgon" (Not Atlantis, but closely related, and a favorite of mine.)

Much has been said of these before, and I will be brief, preferring to hold my impressions in private. "The Last Incantation" is very famous, and often mentioned, but to me it reads mostly like a morality tale; the follow-up "The Death of Malygris" is much richer in imagination. My words can not even begin suggesting the genius of "The Double Shadow", so I will only say it is one of his two or three greatest masterpieces. "A Voyage to Sfanomoë" is beautiful, with a sad (or sardonically fatalistic) ending. I hardly remembered anything from my first reading of "A Vintage from Atlantis", because I was too young then to appreciate its subtly refined content. But now I find it the best text I have read that potently hints at the elevated and ecstatic lives and culture of the people of Atlantis.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19 Mar 19 | 07:33AM by Knygatin.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 March, 2019 01:39PM
Great post!

I'll reply interleaved, and from memory, which may be flawed...

Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I recently reread Smith's Atlantis stories, after
> about 25 years. I was on vacation to a beautiful
> volcanic Atlantic island, and had brought
> appropriate reading matter for the evenings,
> Poseidonis (Ballantine, 1973).
>
> The stories I read:
>
> "The Last Incantation"
> "The Death of Malygris"
> "The Double Shadow"
> "A Voyage to Sfanomoë"
> "A Vintage from Atlantis"
> "Symposium of the Gorgon" (Not Atlantis, but
> closely related, and a favorite of mine.)

Hah! Liked it as well! It almost seemed like the narrative POV was a proxy for Smith, himself, when young... :^)

An "alcoholically flaming youth", indeed!

>
> Much has been said of these before, and I will be
> brief, preferring to hold my impressions in
> private. "The Last Incantation" is very famous,
> and often mentioned, but to me it reads mostly
> like a morality tale;

Is this the one in which the damned near omnipotent Malygris asks his familiar, a small snake, as I recall, if it would be a good idea to call up the phantom of his first love?

> the follow-up "The Death of
> Malygris" is much richer in imagination.

Absolutely!

The setting is almost cinematographic, where they meet in a sort of dungeon to probe whether Malygris is dead or alive.

Then, about half of the participants sneaking away in the night, providing a sort of dreadful foreshadowing...

Too, it's an odd feeling for the reader when the familiar leaves at the end of the story, indicating that this time Malygris is dead. It implies that he stayed in a semi-dead state only long enough to wreak vengeance on his rivals--a final act of focused hubris and apparently motivated by Malygris' ability to foresee his own end.

This is entirely believable within the character context CAS created for Malygris. No small feat, in my opinion. Here I am, a 21st C cynic in his 70s, and I'm publicly admitting to believing that there could be a guy like Malygris.

Hah!

> My words
> can not even begin suggesting the genius of "The
> Double Shadow", so I will only say it is one of
> his two or three greatest masterpieces.

It is my single favorite CAS story.

I get a sort of thematic linkage to Masque of the Red Death--inescapable doom within a fixed setting. The story is filled with not only atmosphere, but very nifty narrative devices. For example, using a mummy, a dead entity that so far as the reader might surmise, is past all suffering, as one of the participants in the incantation, later to be possessed and transmogrified into--what?--amps up the threat to the narrative voice, the acolyte, because if death can't save him, nothing can, it would appear.


> "A Voyage
> to Sfanomoë" is beautiful, with a sad (or
> sardonically fatalistic) ending.

I can't remember it. It may be about two Atlantean scientist brothers who escape to Venus(?) and are hijacked by the plantlife there.

> I hardly
> remembered anything from my first reading of "A
> Vintage from Atlantis", because I was too young
> then to appreciate its subtly refined content. But
> now I find it the best text I have read that
> potently hints at the elevated and ecstatic lives
> and culture of the people of Atlantis.

The POV of the narration, a tea-totaling pirate, who witnessed the effect of the wine, then was forced to drink some, thereby experiencing its attenuated effects, was just great, in my opinion. Again, hugely atmospheric and near-visually concrete.

Thanks for sharing. A great exchange!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Yluos (IP Logged)
Date: 19 March, 2019 08:56PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>"A Voyage to Sfanomoë" is beautiful, with a sad (or
> sardonically fatalistic) ending.

I always found the ending to Sfanamoë a glorious one. True the brothers and even their vessel were lost in the oblivion of orchids, but they so enjoyed themselves as they were slowly and gently consumed. The way they carried on with their passions even after the passing of their people is such a life-affirming journey. In spite of the merciless passage of aeons and the evanescence of human existence, this plays out like one of Smith's most optimistic tales.

Unless perhaps I'm missing something, and I've been seeing glorious delight where there is none. Haha :) I'm not as experienced as you or most people here I'll admit. Maybe everyone else would sneer at someone describing anything of Smith's in such sincerely bright, cheerful terms.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 19 Mar 19 | 09:16PM by Yluos.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 March, 2019 09:31PM
For whatever it's worth, I think your interpretation is entirely justified.

Hah! I just remembered: I feel the same way about The Symposium of the Gorgon. Oddly optimistic because the narrator, by great good fortune, has foiled the cannibals.

Of course, he's bored to tears, but...

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19 Mar 19 | 09:38PM by Sawfish.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 20 March, 2019 03:00AM
Yluos, that is an excellent impression of "A Voyage to Sfanomoë", and I agree. "Life-affirming journey" and "glorious", indeed! Only the ending is a bit ambiguous. It could be glorious (ecstatic transformation), but ultimately also very destructive; like the pleasure of drugs. I personally don't do drugs, and I quit smoking, ... only have a glass of wine every once in a while.

But on the whole, yes a very life-affirming tale. Grabbing life, taking risks, and living to the full. A fresh and youthful expression. I believe that was CAS's own affirmative perspective, even though living isolated and in poverty; compensating with intellectually expanded inner journeys.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 20 March, 2019 03:49AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> > "Symposium of the Gorgon"
>
> Hah! Liked it as well! It almost seemed like the
> narrative POV was a proxy for Smith, himself,
> when young... :^)
>
> An "alcoholically flaming youth", indeed!
>
>
> > the follow-up "The Death of
> > Malygris" is much richer in imagination.
>
> The setting is almost cinematographic, ...
>
> Too, it's an odd feeling for the reader when the
> familiar leaves at the end of the story,
> indicating that this time Malygris is dead. It
> implies that he stayed in a semi-dead state only
> long enough to wreak vengeance on his rivals--a
> final act of focused hubris and apparently
> motivated by Malygris' ability to foresee his own
> end.
>
> This is entirely believable within the character
> context CAS created for Malygris. No small feat,
> in my opinion. Here I am, a 21st C cynic in his
> 70s, and I'm publicly admitting to believing that
> there could be a guy like Malygris.
> ...


Thanks Sawfish for your generous comments. So heartfelt and true. You must be the ultimate CAS fan of deep appreciation. I agree with it all, and it enhances my own perspective. Your observations transcend academia.

I understand that your reading of Smith has mostly been from the Ballantine paperbacks published in the 70's, and I imagine you read them very closely. But have you read "The City of the Singing Flame"? It was not in those books, but is another of his masterpieces. Its publication is a bit confused, some books have only printed half the story; the full version has seven chapters.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 20 March, 2019 04:00AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "The City of the
> Singing Flame"? ... some books have only printed half
> the story; the full version has seven chapters.


Originally the second half was printed as a second story, "Beyond the Singing Flame". I don't know what Smith's intention was. To keep them together as one, or separate.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 20 March, 2019 09:58AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > > "Symposium of the Gorgon"
> >
> > Hah! Liked it as well! It almost seemed like
> the
> > narrative POV was a proxy for Smith, himself,
> > when young... :^)
> >
> > An "alcoholically flaming youth", indeed!
> >
> >
> > > the follow-up "The Death of
> > > Malygris" is much richer in imagination.
> >
> > The setting is almost cinematographic, ...
> >
> > Too, it's an odd feeling for the reader when
> the
> > familiar leaves at the end of the story,
> > indicating that this time Malygris is dead. It
> > implies that he stayed in a semi-dead state
> only
> > long enough to wreak vengeance on his rivals--a
> > final act of focused hubris and apparently
> > motivated by Malygris' ability to foresee his
> own
> > end.
> >
> > This is entirely believable within the
> character
> > context CAS created for Malygris. No small
> feat,
> > in my opinion. Here I am, a 21st C cynic in his
>
> > 70s, and I'm publicly admitting to believing
> that
> > there could be a guy like Malygris.
> > ...
>
>
> Thanks Sawfish for your generous comments. So
> heartfelt and true. You must be the ultimate CAS
> fan of deep appreciation. I agree with it all, and
> it enhances my own perspective. Your observations
> transcend academia.

Far, far too generous!

If there is any advantages I've had it's that I've had the time to read the stories many times, at many stages of my life. Needless to say, Smith holds up well, or I'd not be here now.

BTW, this is the same relationship I have with several books. Catch-22 is one of them. Multiple readings, perhaps 10+ in some cases.

>
> I understand that your reading of Smith has mostly
> been from the Ballantine paperbacks published in
> the 70's, and I imagine you read them very
> closely.

All true.

> But have you read "The City of the
> Singing Flame"? It was not in those books, but is
> another of his masterpieces. Its publication is a
> bit confused, some books have only printed half
> the story; the full version has seven chapters.

I have it upstairs.

I read it once. I'll read it again soon. Maybe I'll start a discussion thread.

Thanks!


I just discovered two very pleasant things in life: e-readers, and Project Gutenberg. Between spending $20 for a used Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader, and going to the Project Gutenberg free library, I've read a decent amount of Kipling for the first time. Not the kids' stuff, but The India Stories, etc.

Same with Stephen Crane, Ford Maddox Ford, Gibbon's 8-volume The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Aside from the $20 for the e-reader, all free.

[www.gutenberg.org]

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 20 March, 2019 11:07AM
Do you know about the Australian Gutenberg mutation? It is chiefly dedicated to older horror/sci-fi/weird fiction/mystery atc.

[gutenberg.net.au]

Some other useful sites dealing with older scifi and horror (and other genres).

[gaslight-lit.s3-website.ca-central-1.amazonaws.com]
[freeclassicshortstories.blogspot.com]
[woolrich3.tripod.com]
[freeread.com.au]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 20 Mar 19 | 11:08AM by Minicthulhu.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 20 March, 2019 01:19PM
TERRIFIC!!!

Thanks a lot!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Avoosl Wuthoqquan (IP Logged)
Date: 22 March, 2019 12:23PM
Since this wonderful conversation refers to "The Death of Malygris", I feel obligated to mention this delightful Malygris sculpture.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 March, 2019 06:38PM
... Solaris is so bizarre I am beginning to feel sick. It even seeps into my dreams at night. Has never happened with a book before.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 24 March, 2019 07:49AM
I am going to read Solaris one of these days so I am curious if I will be affected in the same way like you are. :-)

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 24 March, 2019 01:35PM
I think you should stay away from it. It could make you mentally ill. That is my recommendation to you. But, of course, you will do as you please.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 24 March, 2019 03:30PM
Mentally ill? Are you reading "Solaris", or "Necronomicon"? :-)

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 25 March, 2019 04:19AM
I am sorry, I am not feeling very well right now. I have here seen suggestions of alien planet visions, that my mind is not stable enough or ready to handle. My outer and inner perceptions are shifting, or oscillating in a very unpleasant way. I don't know how else to describe it, a kind of psychosis or wakeful nightmare. Necronomicon, hahahaha, .... yes, maybe this is something similar? I think I will need a few days of rest, and come back to the forum later.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 25 March, 2019 12:15PM
Sawfish, in one of your previous post you wrote you just discovered e-raders. Do you know the site below? You can find tons of old weird/horror/fantasy/pulp/mystery/etc. fiction in epub/kindle format for a mere song. There are authors like Machen, Doyle nad others I have never heard of, compillations of old sci-fi stories, of weird tales, of gothic tales etc. etc.

[wildsidepress.com]

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 March, 2019 03:01PM
Wow!!!

Thanks a lot! :^

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 April, 2019 01:42PM
I am glad to say I am feeling much better now, after a week's convalescence. The doctor told me, after long talks, that I suffered from a mental overstrain, and recommended outdoor walks (at first accompanied by one of the pretty nurses, in the park behind the hospital) and other wholesome mundane activities. But told me to stay away from fantastic literature. Of course, I will not, and cannot, obey his last order. ... ;)

Recently I have read my first book ever by Philip K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Lem's Solaris (translated by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox), and in-between a few stories by Robert Aickman.

The Three Stigmata ... was rather well written. Dick is especially good with flowing dialogue (he was obviously a very social person). But I thought the book used too much focus on drugs and its negative effects, and on career striving, using science fiction more as a superficial setting tool. However, the early introduction of Palmer Eldritch was very evocative and suggestive of the possible mental changes in him after having visited and lived for ten years in a distant star system; and I was hoping for a weird re-visit and re-exploration there. But towards the end of the book his identity turns out too exaggerated and silly, with traditional sci-fi space-opera tropes, to be convincing. I will read more by PKD!

Solaris is partly written as a story, but in structure feels much as a treatise, with references to academic documents, searchings through multiple-volumed tomes in libraries, conflicting theories and ongoing arguments between scientists of different schools. It affirms that Lem in real life was academically schooled and a doctor of medicine. It is a very good book indeed, taking quite a serious literary approach, with many well thought through weird and fantastic elements on beautiful display. It has some action, but is also a very intellectual philosophical book. Some sections of it appear now as blanks to me, and that may be a blessing, ....

My favorites by Robert Aickman are still "The Wine-Dark Sea" and "The Swords", the first two stories I read. But after those I have been mildly disappointed. His stories are not clearly about supernatural phenomena (he can not hold a light to Blackwood, M. R. James, or to Walter de la Mare, for example, in this regard), although I have seen a few good ghosts in his stories; they are more concerned with socially dysfunctional individuals, and seem to deliberately introduce grotesque symbolical elements simply for the effect of driving home a psychological analytical point. The stories lack the mystical quality of the other mentioned authors; they are instead psychological, and therefore much more materialistic/worldly. In "The Inner Room" for example, which seems to be his most celebrated story by fans, I was really excited at the beginning, and waiting eagerly for the weird inner room of the doll-house to finally be exposed; instead it proved to be just a symbol for the girl's inner repressed psyche. That was really disappointing, ... and mundane.
Anyway, that is my personal impression of his work.
But "The Wine-Dark Sea" was a beautiful story. I will stick with him for a while longer, for I am still curious what more he has in store.


Next I will amend for my youth's sin of not reading Robert E. Howard's Conan tales. (But on the other hand I did read all of Kull, Bran Mak Morn, and Solomon Kane.) I made the same mistake (but much more serious I believe) with E. R. Burroughs, when I chose to read his Venus tales instead of his Barsoom tales!
So now I will go on marathon read with all of Howard's Conan tales, in the beautiful volume The Complete Chronicles of Conan: Centenary Edition! I hope my interest will keep up all the way. Generally I am bored by action adventures, but I know that Howard had deeper qualities sparkling in his prose, and at his very best he was at least/or nearly the equal of Lovecraft and CAS.

But first, for relaxation, a small short-story, "The Smell of Evil" by Charles Birkin.

P.S. The edition of Conan I have uses the texts from the original publications in Weird Tales, which are regarded as much much purer than L. Sprague de Camp's later heavily edited paperback versions. But there has also been another Conan edition (Wandering Star/ Del Rey) drawing directly from Howard's original manuscripts. Does anyone here know the nature of the edits in the original magazine versions, compared to the manuscripts? Were they minor and formal, or were they perhaps political, with excessive language and sections censured?

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 4 April, 2019 02:56PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> P.S. The edition of Conan I have uses the texts
> from the original publications in Weird Tales,
> which are regarded as much much purer than L.
> Sprague de Camp's later heavily edited paperback
> versions. But there has also been another Conan
> edition (Wandering Star/ Del Rey) drawing directly
> from Howard's original manuscripts. Does anyone
> here know the nature of the edits in the original
> magazine versions, compared to the manuscripts?
> Were they minor and formal, or were they perhaps
> political, with excessive language and sections
> censured?

So many of R.E. Howard's stories are public domain that there is always going to be a temptation to revise them for reasons of renewed copyright.

Whether there would be any actual excuse for reverting to manuscript, in R.E. Howard's case, I do not know.

My general prejudice is towards treating the published version as the final draft and the manuscript as an early draft. On the other hand, it is possible that Howard was strong-armed by evil editors, and accepted their suggested edits with gritted teeth and tears in his eyes. But rather unlikely, I'd say. It was probably more cooperative than that.

I know that WEIRD TALES versions of HPL's stories were remarkably faithful. Differences between published version and manuscript often resulted, not from editorial interference, but from HPL making additional edits after asking to see the proofs.

I'm not sure if they had a different relationship with REH.

The only Conan story I have an opinion about is "The Gods of the North" a/k/a "The Frost Giant's Daughter". There are a number of different versions and edits. The only version that can really claim to be authorized by REH is "The Gods of the North", since that was the version published in Howard's life. Of course, no-one ever wanted to use that version, because REH threw it directly into the public domain by sending it to a fanzine, after WEIRD TALES rejected it.

WEIRD TALES was REH's market for his Conan stories, and he did not want to step on their toes, so he changed the title to "The Gods of the North", and had Conan use an alias. Of course, any attentive Conan reader would have already known that "Amra of Akbitana" was just one of Conan's many aliases. I can understand the temptation to restore his original chosen title, and edit Conan's name back in. But it is really not necessary. The story is fine as is.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 4 April, 2019 03:34PM
Today I finished a short book called “Newton´s Brain“ by Jakub Arbes. It is a satire, dull and very boring, about a guy who was killed in The Battle of Königgrätz (1866), but what is very interesting about the story is the last few chapters are about a strange mechanical and electrical device that can travel faster than light so when it reaches some distant point in space, those aboard can see the past. It was written in 1877 so I wonder if it could be the first example of a time machine used in literature.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 April, 2019 04:03PM
Interesting input Platypus, thank you. The different versions of "The Frost Giant's Daughter" is mentioned briefly in the afterword of the book I have. Wright wrote Howard, telling him he didn't care much for the tale, and so rejected it. The version in my book is not the same that was later published in 1953, but this one is copyright 1976 by Glenn Lord, said to be the last published version "as left by Howard before his death". So I assume Howard also kept the original Conan version manuscript, after his rewrite.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 7 April, 2019 11:04AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Solaris is partly written as a story, but ...


So, today I finished Solaris. At last. I read a lot of positive reviews about it before I got to reading it so it may be that I expected too much; the fact is the book made no great impression on me. Of course, one can find a lot of fascinating things about Solaris (the descriptions of what the inteligent ocean can do, how it can reconstruct human memories into strange inanimate objects and living forms etc.), but most of the book was incredibly boring. In actual fact, there were places so dull, so tedious, I caught myself thinking about something else in reading them, a thing so rare with me … Chiefly, the never-ending, pseudo-scientific treatises, full of technical terms that were above my head, and the uselessly long dialogues between Kris and Harvey (and other members of the station, for that matter) with nothing going on for several pages, got really on nerves. Solaris is probably not a book I will read again and I must say that 1960s sci-fi has not gone down well with me so far because cca. two months ago I happened to read a short story collection by Clifford. D. Simak from the same period (1955-1960) and it left a lot to be desired like Solaris (1961) did. Slight disappointment.

P.S. I must say that in reading Solaris I sometimes felt very sorry for the translators because to translate such a text from a Slavic language into English must have been a real martyrdom. :-)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 7 Apr 19 | 11:05AM by Minicthulhu.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 April, 2019 03:17PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> So, today I finished Solaris. At last.
> ... most of the book was
> incredibly boring. In actual fact, there were
> places so dull, so tedious, I caught myself
> thinking about something else in reading them, a
> thing so rare with me … Chiefly, the
> never-ending, pseudo-scientific treatises, full of
> technical terms that were above my head, and the
> uselessly long dialogues ...
> got really on nerves.

Hmm, ... while there was not much action (or 'echun' as Lovecraft and CAS would have put it) in the physical sense, it is full of "inner" action, intellectual and philosophical, and also has plenty of detailed descriptive observations of interesting phenomena (which also displayed an aesthetic sense in the author for beauty of form and color, to a remarkably high degree, I think. At times reminding me of both Smith and Lovecraft, and Vance.). Plus much of social and existential insights.
I think it is one of the best science fiction books I have read.
This shows how our brains perceive and appreciate things differently, partly probably from inborn leanings, but also from gradually built up previous experiences and references that define what we personally find meaningful.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 April, 2019 03:36PM
I assume you read the same English translation of Solaris that I did. It has been translated more than once, with different results. It is also a book that requires patience, ... I looked up all the technical terms I did not understand, and read about them until I did understand; that way the reading experience naturally becomes richer.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 7 April, 2019 04:06PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I assume you read the same English translation of
> Solaris that I did.

I read a Czech translation of the book from 1971. To read the book with so many technical terms in English would be a suicide. :-)

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 April, 2019 12:54AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> To read the book with so many technical terms in
> English would be a suicide. :-)

Not at all, not at all! A pleasure, and an honor to have it available in my hands! ;)


> I read a Czech translation of the book from 1971.

I think you are privileged then. I guess Czech and Polish are fairly similar, ... perhaps you can even understand each other in speech (and perhaps, all the way down to Hungary and Romania)?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 8 Apr 19 | 12:58AM by Knygatin.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 8 April, 2019 03:11AM
The languages (Czech and Polish) are similar in some respects but people do not understand each other. And Romanian and Hungarian languages are totally different from Czech language, like English is different from Italian or Portuguese.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Avoosl Wuthoqquan (IP Logged)
Date: 8 April, 2019 09:39AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> P.S. I must say that in reading Solaris I
> sometimes felt very sorry for the translators
> because to translate such a text from a Slavic
> language into English must have been a real
> martyrdom. :-)

Translators of literature are gluttons for punishment. Most of us tend to enjoy wrestling with linguistic problems and doing a bit of research every now and then, not unlike lovers of cryptic crosswords. Couldn't get the job done otherwise. It's not a line of work you get into for the big bucks or the groupies. :)

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Yluos (IP Logged)
Date: 1 May, 2019 10:47AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I tried to be honest. Had I said I liked it, I
> would have lied. Some of CAS´s stories are great
> (The Uncharted Island, The Supernumerary Corpse,
> The Double Cosmos or Genius Loci which is one of
> the best stories I ever read), some are mediocre
> (The Enchantress Of Sylaire, The Haunted Chamber
> or The Ninth Skeleton) which is quite normal and
> natural, I guess.


I've come to read The Uncharted Isle again after several years since my last reading, and although it has some gorgeous imagery and fluid writing, I have to admit that the story itself is underwhelming, in that it goes nowhere with its presented ideas and adds that cliché of a virgin sacrifice to a savage monster-god, with no thematic purpose. It feels like Smith was doing pretty well but then gave up on it, adding that laughable monster as a convenient way to shoo his protagonist off the island.

As maritime narratives go, I'd place A Vintage from Atlantis and The Isle of the Torturers above The Uncharted Isle, though for its first half UI had some splendid imagery and feelings of disorientation, which only makes the later half so much more unfortunate.

On the topic of the thread itself, I came across a weird Antarctic story by John Martin Leahy, In Amundsen's Tent, which was published in Weird Tales in 1928. It's a fun, eerie story with a vivid narrative, in my opinion. It's easy enough to find online so I'll leave other people to judge its merits for themselves.

I've also been reading some stories by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, most of which left me a little cold in spite of their popularity. But to be fair, I only saw Kuttner's Cthulhu Mythos stories, such as Hydra and The Hunt, and I usually find Mythos stories bland or forgettable compared to an author's more original work. On the other hand, Moore's famous Martian story Shambleau is beautiful in a visceral way, and I admire her warrior-maiden fantasies of Jirel of Joiry, which take some creative and dimensional steps far beyond the realms of Conan, though some of them are repetitive. Of these, I find Black God's Kiss to be the best, for its intuitive merging of human emotions and eldritch imagery in a fluid, dream-like narrative.



Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 1 May 19 | 11:29AM by Yluos.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 2 May, 2019 11:57AM
I cannot help myself but "The Uncharted Island" is, in my opinion, one of the best stories by C.A.Smith I have read so far. :-) As for "A Vintage from Atlantis", it did not impress me too much and I have not read "The Isle Of The Tortures".

"In Amundsen´s Tent" is a great story. I consider it to be what one could call an older, shorter and harmless sibling of "At The Mountains Of Madness." A polar expedition; death climate of Arctic; an extraterrestrial monster that seems to be dead but is not; it has it all. :-)

Several days ago I finished “A Man Who Found His Face“ (1940) by Alexander Belyaev. It tells a story about a dwarfish individual with a deformed face and uncoordinated movements who is, thanks to his handicap, a wealthy famous movie star, a kind of celebrity. He has got money but he is frustrated how he looks like so one day he decides to undertake a special medical treatment in an institution of a very eccentric doctor to change his physical looks for the better. After several months he leaves the institution, a handsom young man, only to find no one cares for him any more. No popularity, no fans, no admirers, no roles in movies, no celebrity parties, no slapping on the back by his “friends“ and no money …

I have been also reading several stories by David H. Keller, one of Weird Tales contributors, but they were average, not up to much, which I cannot say about a crazy but very entertaining story “Invaders from Outside“ by J. Schlossel, a kind of Star Wars precursor, published in Weird Tales (1925).

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 2 May, 2019 06:45PM
For whatever it's worth, my book WEIRD TALERS: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others is out on amazon: [www.amazon.com]

This is predominantly a collection of my essays from print and online over the last few years, cleaned up and with updated citations and corrections, with a bit of original or expanded material. The essays include discussion of Robert E. Howard's correspondence with Clark Ashton Smith, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert H. Barlow, and others, as well as his connections with pulp writers and fans including Seabury Quinn, Otis Adelbert Kline, Frank Belknap Long, William Lumley, F. Lee Baldwin, Francis T. Laney, and Stuart M. Boland.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 8 June, 2019 12:28PM
Has anybody read something interesting lately? Something to recommend? :-)

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 June, 2019 07:14AM
You might like E. F. Benson's "The Flint Knife", in Ghost Stories, May 1930.
Or "The Ape", in The Countess of Lowndes Square and Other Stories, 1920.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 10 June, 2019 12:38PM
I have read cca. fifteen short stories by E.F.Benson and ... Well, they were not bad but definitely nothing to write home about, in a manner of speaking. I enjoyed "The Room in The Tower", "The Outcast" and, of course, "The Horror-Horn". (I remember trying to get some more information about the peak before I came to know it did existed only in the story :-)) The rest of Benson´s tales did not impress me too much. But I will give "The Knife" and "The Ape" a try; maybe they´ll put mr. Benson into a new light for me. :-).

The other day, I found a new name, Jean Richepin, a French writter of macabre of the Belle Époque, and has ordered his short story collection, so I am curious what he is gonna turn out to be. "Mad scientists, demons, witches, madmen" ... It sounds very appetizing. :-)

[www.goodreads.com]

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 June, 2019 07:20AM
I have not read "The Flint Knife" and "The Ape" myself yet, but have spent some time hunting them down, and was happy when finally succeeding in locating them so I didn't have to buy yet another paperback for my already over-brimming bookshelves.

Jean Richepin sounds rather interesting, or odd, but I am afraid I don't have enough time.

Do you like A. E. Coppard? I have not read him yet, but have a few digital files I intend to get around to.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 18 June, 2019 02:16PM
I have never heard about A. E. Coppard. Did he write some good horror stories worth reading?

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 June, 2019 03:32AM
I don't know. I think there is some horror in his stories, but more of the realistic kind than outright supernatural; such as poverty, cruelty, social fate. And small brushes of supernatural, like we can experience in our own lives sometimes in odd coincidences. I believe one reads him foremost for his fine prose of atmospheric rural settings and insights into the human condition.

There have been a few collections of his stories. August Derleth put together one: Fearful Pleasures

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 June, 2019 04:56AM
Here is a more detailed discussion about Coppard from 2010, on the Eldritch Dark: A. E. Coppard

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 19 June, 2019 12:24PM
Thanks. Maybe I will give him a try but not before I have finished what I am reading now, that is "The Haunting of Hill House" (1959) by Shirley Jackson. They say it is a classic horror story that must be read by any fan of weird literature, so I am curious what it´s gonna turn out to be because the first thirty or forty pages bring nothing to write home about, no action, just depiction of the house and the small party that meets there to explore the paranormal phenomena, their moods etc.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2019 05:37AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am reading now, that is
> "The Haunting of Hill House" (1959) by Shirley
> Jackson. They say it is a classic horror story
> that must be read by any fan of weird literature,
> so I am curious what it´s gonna turn out to be
> because the first thirty or forty pages bring
> nothing to write home about ...


So, was the rest of it worth writing home about? I never felt tempted to read it. I may be completely wrong, and missing out, but its ghostly setting seems way too conventional. Have you read her short story "The Lottery"?

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2019 01:53PM
"The Haunting of Hill House" was a huge disappointment for me ... Most of the book is about depicting what the characters think, what they wish to do, what they are going to do, what they should have done better, what they dreams are, they exchange their experiences in a long and tedious way, they talk and talk and talk ... The haunting (ridiculous and traditional banging at doors, laughing of invisible children) or some sinister manifestations in the house (a cold stain on the floor in a hot room etc.) take place only in several places, the rest of the book is nothing but several scores of pages of a totally uninteresting and banal text. Definitely a novel one can do without.

No, I have never read "Lottery", but when I have finished the short story collection by the obscure American writer Achmed Abdullah who is said to have also contributed to weird fiction in a way, maybe I will give the story a try.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2019 03:11PM
The Haunting of Hill House works, on its terms, for me. That's my experience. Conversely, I've almost never found Lovecraft scary, since I began reading him at age 14, so far as I remember. He's so outlandish! "Adventurous expectancy" -- Lovecraft's phrase, I believe, though I'm not sure where -- I get from him, but I think I'm pretty much always conscious that I'm reading a story in a familiar genre of weird fiction, with familiar conventions (that of Wm Hope Hodgson & others). The Jackson feels more like something that could actually happen to me. The author is more cunning than Lovecraft, setting up effects that work (notably the pathos of Eleanor).

In some way probably more haunting than either (for me) is Phyllis Paul -- in Twice Lost, etc. I've gone to the trouble of getting all of her books on interlibrary loan, sometimes with charges. One of the novels had to come to North Dakota from New Zealand! Happily, twice Lost might not only be her best for a group like this -- it should be the easiest to get hold of.

But character is very important in Paul's novels. My guess is that if someone is put off by Jackson, he or she would not like Paul's books, although Paul is far beyond Jackson in some matters.

DN

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2019 04:01PM
The only "traditional" ghost stories I have read, aside from a few children's books when I was small, I think would be "The Beckoning Fair One" by Oliver Onions, and all of M. R. James's ghost stories. I liked "The Beckoning Fair One", but other stories by Oliver Onions I found too prim and stuffy Victorian to really enjoy. James's stories are very good, and such a pleasure to read; a learned man and fullfledged prose artist.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2019 04:15PM
I forgot to mention E. F. Benson, but his are not really traditional ghost stories, are they? More of "weird terror".

And of course J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Some great work there, even topping James (well, at least equal).

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2019 04:19PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> And of course J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Some great work
> there, even topping James (well, at least equal).


If for nothing else, Le Fanu has a more mystical quality, while James is more clinical.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2019 04:58PM
Is "The Beckoning Fair One" really a traditional ghost story? I read it a long time ago and I really enjoyed it but as far as I can remember it was more about madness, a gradual mental decomposition ended up in killing a woman, than about a ghost.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 July, 2019 03:35AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Is "The Beckoning Fair One" really a traditional
> ghost story? I read it a long time ago and I
> really enjoyed it but as far as I can remember it
> was more about madness, a gradual mental
> decomposition ended up in killing a woman, than
> about a ghost.

Madness may be an integral part of supernatural experience. To see a ghost or a demon, I think part of the person's mental barrier setup needs to have been weakened, or thinned down, in order for that force to get past inside and be witnessed. Also, a person who claims to have seen a ghost, will likely be considered a mental case by the rest of the social community who have not had similar experiences, even by other family members, and if he presses the issue he will be looked upon as a pariah.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 July, 2019 08:18PM
I am planning a trip to Transylvania this autumn, and to get in the right mood I will start reading Bram Stoker's Dracula when I have finished all of the Conan tales. How do you, distinguished members of Eldritch Dark, like Dracula? Jojo Lapin X commented on another forum that Dracula himself is portrayed as a monster, not the handsome gentleman of many films.

Neither have I read Frankenstein. Dracula and Frankenstein, history's two most famous horror books - which one is the best? Was Mary Shelley also a poet at handling words (in prose), like her husband?

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 7 July, 2019 09:15PM
I guess those two plus RLS's Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would be the three old literary works on Famous Monsters. I like the RLS the best. Dracula has been worth a couple of readings. Frankenstein -- what a weepy book. I don't intend to read it again.

But before you go to Transylvania, you should consider reading some other, even if non-fantastic, things. May I suggest Patrick Leigh Fermor's Bteween the Woods and the Water?

[monumenteuitate.blogspot.com]

Dervla Murphy's Transylvania and Beyond might be good, but I've only just discovered it exists.

I will probably read William Blacker's Along the Enchanted Way eventually, although the Modern Love romance sounds like an all too familiar "relationship":

[patrickleighfermor.org]


Dale Nelson



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 7 Jul 19 | 09:18PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 July, 2019 02:53AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... May I suggest Patrick
> Leigh Fermor's Between the Woods and the Water?
>

I usually do some research before going on trips. Thank you for suggesting this book of first hand account travel writing. I understand Fermor travelled on foot through Europe all the way down to Constantinople. Very interesting.

Another person who travelled extensively was Algernon Blackwood. His spiritually phenomenal book The Centaur can partly be read as a travelogue, taking him all the way to the eastern shores of the Black Sea. There is also a biography of his eventful life, Starlight Man, which is eagerly waiting in my to be read pile.

Lovecraft also did some very historical travelogues, available in Miscellaneous Writings.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 July, 2019 07:54AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... Strange case of Dr.
> Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ... I like the
> the best.

As a small kid under ten, I read it in an abbreviated edition, but it did not make much impression on me, and I am not sure I actually completed it; I think I found it too dry. I preferred the Classics Illustrated version. At that time also they showed the Spencer Tracy movie on TV (the 1931 version starring Fredric March was then only available to me as a wonderful photo sequence of his horrible transformation, in a huge book, Monsters From Screen to Scream, which I perused google-eyed on a daily basis, and which still probably is my most leafed through reference book throughout the years.).
At that young age my reading was mostly occupied with Alfred Hitchcock presents The Three Investigators (I think it was the nice cover art that drew me to these books, and their adolescent heroes). Every book had "Scooby Doo" endings. I regret that I did not discover more quality weird fiction at an earlier age.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 8 July, 2019 12:56PM
I totally agree with Dan. “Frankenstein“ is really a weak and pathetic book. It is considered to be a classic of horror genre but the fact remains I can remember only two or three fragments of it which speaks volumes I think ....

As for “Dracula“, of course, I have got it but God knows when or if I read it at all. There are so many books that seem to be much more inviting, more interesting than “Dracula“. What´s more, I am probably biased toward Stoker because once I read and never finished his “White Worm“ which was really a piece of crap. (O my God, the madman with the kite ... )

“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde“ is fantastic, definitely one of the best books I have ever read.

By the way, speaking of Transylvania, has anybody read the WW2 horror novel “The Keep“ by F. Paul Wilson, set in the Transylvanian Alps? It is about an SS unit fighting some old and nameless evil and the rating is very good.

[www.goodreads.com]

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 8 July, 2019 08:59PM
Knygatin, if you want to explore the "tramping" (hiking) passion of which Blackwood partook, by all means look into Stephen Graham. Note the reference to an enthusiastic review by Blackwood of one of Graham's books:

[www.jstor.org]

I've read a couple of Graham's books with much enjoyment and have more on hand.

I have glanced at a library copy of a newly-reprinted Graham book --

[www.barnesandnoble.com]

Dale Nelson



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 8 Jul 19 | 09:00PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 July, 2019 04:35AM
Thanks again for the tips. Yes, "tramping" about, even in nearby, familiar locations, is a pleasurable pastime. One need not go very far. In cities, but especially for me in bucolic surroundings, a different path, a small shift of perspective, will open up new vistas, variant little details that never fail to delight the soul.

This reminds me again of M. R. James's story "A View From a Hill", my favorite of his work.
And yes, certain secluded vistas will even let us travel back through time, or at least stall awareness of the dreary mundaneness we just stepped away from.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 9 July, 2019 12:44PM
Knygatin Wrote:
> Neither have I read Frankenstein. Dracula and
> Frankenstein, history's two most famous horror
> books - which one is the best?

As a complete novel, Frankenstein is definitely the best. Dracula features a very impressive opening, but somewhat lackluster follow-through.

BTW, there is alot of modernist nihilistic nonsense interpretation about Victor being "the real monster", and this idea poisons alot of modern adaptations. Don't believe it. The monster is indeed a real monster, in spite of ... if not actually because of ... its all-encompassing self-pity and self-justification.

Victor's sin was that he created the monster. After that, the situation just spiraled out of his control.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 9 Jul 19 | 12:46PM by Platypus.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 July, 2019 07:01PM
Interesting spread of opinions, between Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, ... Those classic three very most archetypal of all invented monsters, endlessly working upon and enthralling the collective human consciousness.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 July, 2019 07:10PM
I should have added the Wolfman too! The werewolf! Naturally! But I know of no famous literary work connected to it.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 July, 2019 07:16PM
And the gillman! Popularized in The Creature From the Black Lagoon, and perfected in H. P. Lovecraft's The Shadow Out of Innsmouth!

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: El'Khestor (IP Logged)
Date: 9 July, 2019 09:13PM
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?

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 10 July, 2019 01:21AM
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.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 July, 2019 04:27AM
Thank you Platypus for those interesting sources to the werewolf!


El'Khestor Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 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?

I think I agree with this. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde is no werewolf, but both monsters involve the same archetypal principle in man.

Though there may be subtle differences between them. Mr. Hyde involves the chemical drug. On the other hand, lycanthropy involves a strange plant found only in the Himalayas, and only reacts under full moon. And the werewolf can only be killed by silver, and thereby is more supernatural than Mr. Hyde who appears more like an uninhibited brute, a violent alcoholic; he is directly translatable to reality and of how drugs numb emphatic social sections in the brain. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde could be said to be a social political statement. The werewolf is deeper in folklore and natural forces. But anyway, their archetype energies tangent each other. In both are the uninhibited animal brute, unchecked by human civilized cultivation. The werecat also belongs here.

We may also compare these two to the purely evil character, possessed by Satanic or demonic energies, which is yet another kind of monster; or perhaps its standing is placed higher in title, above monster?

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 Ender´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?

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 18 October, 2019 03:50PM
I have not read much by Bradbury, maybe five or six stories, but I really enjoyed "The Wind" and "Skeleton".

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 October, 2019 02:01AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I really enjoyed "The Wind" and
> "Skeleton".

I think I read those in my late teens, part of The October Country collection, but don't remember them. I didn't really catch on at that age. I liked some of his stories, like "A Sound of Thunder" and "Frost and Fire". I loved The Martian Chronicles, and Something Wicked This Way Comes which in sentimental memory remains one of my favorite novels.
But I appreciate the subtle quality of his writing much better now, and I think its nostalgic themes are more appealing to grownups. A genius at putting words to dreamy passion and the inner ecstasy around visual and weird details.

I have not read Fahrenheit 451 yet, although I am very eager to. It is almost mandatory reading, or was, in the past. Like George Orwell's 1984, although this latter I am not interested in, having heard it from hearsay and secondary adaptions to tedious degree.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 19 October, 2019 10:22AM
I love Bradbury's collection The Illustrated Man. Few authors have mixed the streams of science fantasy, horror, and pure wonder as effectively as Bradbury did in the stories included in that collection.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 25 October, 2019 07:23PM
Epic fantasy trilogy Lyonesse, consisting Suldrun's Garden, The Green Pearl, and Madouc. Or if you want to try something else by Jack Vance, his Demon Princes series, starting with the excellent Star King. Or The Dirdir from his Planet of Adventure series. Or his "clarkashtonian" Dying Earth series, beginning with the episodic The Dying Earth, followed by The Eyes of the Overworld and the incomparable Cugel's Saga. Or perhaps one of his fine prose stand alone novels, for instance Maske: Thaery, ... or the more quickly consumed novellas, like The Dragon Masters, The Miracle Workers, and The Last Castle. ... Such a treasure house.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 1 November, 2019 01:45AM
David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus is a very bizarre and weird, and mystical novel, well worth reading. He has a very authoritative imagination. There is no mediocrity over this. But some may well find it too mystical and philosophically deep for their taste. Many of the weird elements have the strange and intense quality of dream. I have the Dover edition, which I understand uses the original unexpurgated text.

Lindsay's The Haunted Woman is a beautiful novel of a haunted house, more traditional old-fashioned in setting, with great weird and ghostly moments that are not behind the best in the field such as Le Fanu, M. R. James, and Walter de la Mare. This is my favorite of his so far.

I also have Lindsay's Devil's Tor, but have not come around to reading it yet. It is said to be his most advanced work, of existential quality, richly imaginative. But a literary demanding, long and difficult read, perhaps comparable, in that sense, to Hodgson's The Night Land (a book which I, for one, did not find hard to read, although long, but instead absolutely and highly satisfying to my senses. The archaic repetitive language you get used to after a while. I also liked the romance element, which is really what makes the book going forward, ultimately. One of the best books I have ever read.).

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 1 November, 2019 01:59PM
Bizzare, weird, fantastic, surrealistic ...

Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass (1937) by Bruno Schulz
[www.goodreads.com]

The Other Side (1909) by Alfred Kubin
[www.goodreads.com]

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 November, 2019 10:57AM
With the recent mentions of Walter de la Mare, I must of course also mention akin author L. P. Hartley, a wonderful short story writer. And foremost of his stories I recommend "The Travelling Grave", because it is his most memorable one; a very bizarre, horrible, surrealistic, and also humorous story. It is viciously powerful, and being the first story of his I read, it immediately presented Hartley to me as a true artistic authority. Its supernatural element has the quality of dream, more than ghostliness. Try to read it without expectations, and with an open mind.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 5 November, 2019 11:06AM
The Hartley story that sticks in my mind is "Podolo," which seems to me akin to Robert Aickman's more dreadful stories.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 November, 2019 12:07PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Hartley story that sticks in my mind is
> "Podolo," which seems to me akin to Robert
> Aickman's more dreadful stories.


Walter de la Mare stands in a class of his own, above the rest. And yes, I agree that Hartley is probably more similar to Robert Aickman, although I find Hartley more palatable, stylish, and "healthy", while Aickman appears "sickly" to me.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 5 November, 2019 01:32PM
I agree about Aickman. One tires of his characters as defeated people. As for Hartley -- I'd have to revisit some of his stories -- and there are some I've never read. De la Mare I'm getting to know better lately.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 November, 2019 02:38AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I find Hartley more palatable, stylish, and
> "healthy", while Aickman appears "sickly" to me.

Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I agree about Aickman. One tires of his
> characters as defeated people. ...

Then again, to be fair, Robert Aickman has quite an imagination, and an aesthetic sense; but I am uncertain about the quality of his prose. Although the story structures are controlled, I find his prose middling sometimes. I have not read so much of his yet. "The Swords" and "The Wine-Dark Sea" were the first I read, and are still my favorites. Especially the latter is quite beautiful. "Growing Boys" was preposterously upsetting and tasteless. "The Fetch" was spooky, reminding me of the very scary BBC production The Woman in Black. "The Inner Room" was impressive, although I got frustrated with not actually getting to see that inner room; but then, restraint is a necessary part of good art; you cannot always show everything or give people everything they immediately want. They will thank you later, when their senses and thoughts have settled.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 8 November, 2019 01:27PM
Aickman was, for me, an exciting personal discovery about 35 years ago. Living in a university town, I was able to get hold of books of his stories that had been published in the UK but not here, and, while I didn't read everything he had published, I read a lot of it. I don't own his books, but I remember liking The Houses of the Russians, The Same Dog, The School Friend, Ringing the Changes, The Inner Room (that's the one about the doll-house, right?), Into the Wood (the Swedish sanitarium one -- insomniacs), The Hospice (which seemed quite funny), and others. But when I get his books from a library now, I find the stories seem quickly to pall on me. There's that mannered prose and a sameness of his rather futile characters. If one is asked to name a Lovecraft character of particular interest,* one probably won't be able to come up with much -- quick, Albert Wilmarth? (I think he is a Lovecraft character.) But for Lovecraft's type of story this is not necessarily a problem, since though they too often start with trite accounts of persons who are deemed mad but, hideously, are not -- even so, his stories are not really stories of character, or not much. But Aickman does want you to be interested in the psychologies of his characters. The weird stuff that happens to them typically seems to be related in some way to the characters' deficiencies. And frankly this gets tiresome, to me. Aickman is certainly not an indispensable author, so far as I'm concerned, though I expect I'll read him occasionally (and I did go to the trouble of copying "The Houses of the Russians" and "Into the Wood").

*I'm not counting characters who are bizarre creatures such as Wilbur Whateley, the possessed wife in "Thing on the Doorstep," etc.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 8 November, 2019 01:56PM
Aickman, Aickman ... I have never read anything by him but judging by what I can read about him on this forum, I should give him a try.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 November, 2019 02:56PM
I wholly agree with your observations Dale, in comparing Aickman and Lovecraft.

Aickman is a modern writer, not really believing in the supernatural or the fantastic. All romantic illusions have been torn down, and what remains is modern life cynicism. So he uses the supernatural intentionally as a mere symbolical instrument to make a psychological or social statement. But on the other hand he handles the bizarre, and the supernatural medium, so skillfully, that it becomes enjoyable nevertheless. But he is no genuine mystic, such as Algernon Blackwood or Walter de la Mare.


Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Inner Room (that's the one about
> the doll-house, right?),

Yes, that's "The Inner Room". I really enjoyed the part where the family discovered the doll-house in the dilapidated old antiquity shop (the little brother fell in love with the toy railway in the shop window, but couldn't have it because it was part of the "window decoration". He poured his heart out, but to no avail. Really a stubbornly inflexible shopkeeper!) and when the girl later explored its interiors. That was quite phenomenal.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 November, 2019 03:15PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> But he is no genuine mystic, such as Algernon Blackwood or
> Walter de la Mare.


And neither is H. P. Lovecraft, but at least Lovecraft is a romantic dreamer of beauty and the fantastic, the weird and cosmic. Not a cynic.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 November, 2019 05:29PM
I can recommend the Fontana Books of Great Ghost Stories, volumes 1 - 8, which were edited by Robert Aickman. These books have a great variety of high quality supernatural stories, by many different authors, all selected by Aickman.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 November, 2019 07:50AM
I took the trivial statistical effort of counting all the authors in those 8 volumes, and the number ended at 77.

Robert Aickman was well-read. I also learned at Wikipedia that Aickman was a longstanding member of the Society for Psychical Research and The Ghost Club, so I will have to admit being overly hasty and perhaps reevaluate my earlier comment about him not having any actual belief in the supernatural.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 November, 2019 01:29PM
Knygatin, I know of no reason to doubt that Aickman read widely and deeply in the field, and that the selections are indeed his. However, his name as editor doesn't guarantee that. There are anthologies attributed to famous people (e.g. Alfred Hitchcock), but the real work of reading and at least preliminary selection was done by others (eg. Robert Arthur). Aickman wasn't famous like Hitchcock, of course.

It would be interesting to know how those Fontana books were, in fact, assembled. Could be that Aickman did the work all by himself. Maybe friends who knew of his interest helped him by pointing out stories, etc.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 15 November, 2019 03:14PM
Well, I have read some more stories by Bradbury ("Jack-in-the-Box", "In a Season of Calm Weather", "The Dwarf", "And the Rock Cried Out" etc.) and I must say I am not impressed by him at all ... One of the stories, "The Garbage Collector", is really good, but the rest of is not worth its salt. (at least in my case). Maybe I am not "tuned" properly to fully appreciate works by good old Ray.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 15 November, 2019 03:34PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Well, I have read some more stories by Bradbury
> ("Jack-in-the-Box", "In a Season of Calm Weather",
> "The Dwarf", "And the Rock Cried Out" etc.) and I
> must say I am not impressed by him at all ... One
> of the stories, "The Garbage Collector", is really
> good, but the rest of is not worth its salt. (at
> least in my case). Maybe I am not "tuned" properly
> to fully appreciate works by good old Ray.


I think Bradbury is a lot about a romantic sense of the past. The weird is secondary to this. He was a conservative. If you can tune into that, you will find he is gold.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 15 November, 2019 03:46PM
And Bradbury is all in the details of descriptions! He is very exact! Brilliant! That is what you must look for.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 17 November, 2019 05:35PM
Opinions on the following Tolkien books?

The Children of Húrin
Beren and Lúthien
The Fall of Gondolin


The texts in these books are patched together from Tolkien's various uncompleted manuscripts.

I registered as a member at the Barrowdowns forum, to ask for a little more details about these books. But for some reason the moderators would not allow me to become a full member by activating my account, and neither did they reply to my reminders to them about this, and so, because of this I cannot post on that forum.
According to a Barrowdowns discussion thread, the second and third book contain nothing new that cannot already be found in The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-Earth. But the state of the first book appears less clear, of whether it contains anything new by J. R. R. Tolkien, or not. It does contain additions to the text by Tolkien's son, Christopher Tolkien, filled in to make the story flow better, compensating for missing parts, making the story complete. In principle I don't object to this, since J. R. R. Tolkien gave his permission for his son to do this. But personally I would prefer the adventurous exploration of reading the story from Tolkien's original manuscripts, present inside the earlier publications, piecing together the story, although it be incomplete. On a second reading, I would read the full The Children of Húrin, for comparison.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 17 November, 2019 06:25PM
I'm glad that you, Knygatin, mention these books in the context of this thread, because the first two, at least, show Tolkien's weird imagination at work. The Beren and Luthien story is pretty close to sword-and-sorcery; I don't say it IS sword-and-sorcery since the treatment is different from that which we would expect a writer of S&S to use. For example, if the story were written by a typical writer of S&S, Beren might have espied Luthien dancing nude or in filmy garments, and there would be more emphasis on blood when the hound Huan and the wolf Carcharoth are tearing at each other. But the weird element should appeal to S&S readers. In The Children of Hurin, there are also horror-elements enough, e.g. the father compelled from a high viewpoint to watch what happens to his son, and the ravages of the dragon.

As I recall, one of Howard's stories, "The Valley of the Worm," is (it is suggested) represented as being the origin, in the distant past, of the Sigurd-and-the-dragon story (which so captivated the young Tolkien). I'd like to think that Howard would have been intrigued even by the suggestion in Tolkien's Beren and Luthien legend that here is the real origin of the Rapunzel story.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 17 Nov 19 | 06:25PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 24 November, 2019 08:07AM
I very much look forward to The Children of Húrin and the other two in HoME. I have only sporadically dipped in, and a single line of Tolkien's wisdom concerning language or of some lush metaphor, can be very rewarding and lift my spirit into an exalted condition.

I like both the S&S style of Howard or Leiber and Tolkien's more conservative outlook (should we say "prudish", although I think it's really more about having a different focus of interest). I am not shocked or offended by an opulent richness of imaginary details, of visual forms and colors, or by naked flesh. As long as it is good art painted with dynamic representations. If it is bad/false art, then I am bothered.

I don't think Howard and Tolkien are much comparable in a meaningful sense. The only things they have in common are the use of faux historical settings, and the expert handling of big armies and war scenes. A concern with racial/cultural belonging. All set in markedly different fantasies. Otherwise they have nothing in common. Completely different artistic perspectives. I don't like to compare them, they require very different scales of excellency.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 November, 2019 10:17AM
Yes, there isn't a lot of point in comparing Howard and Tolkien -- except that, for some of us who aren't so young as we used to be, that's almost an inevitability. Tolkien, Howard, and Lovecraft were all authors whose fiction fascinated me at an impressionable age. (I suppose I began to read Tolkien when I was 11, and Lovecraft and Howard when I was 14.) Coinciding with one's developing self-awareness as regards other areas, one might well compare and contrast them. (Similarly, I remember conversations with a fellow Marvel comics fan aboutthe merits of or lack thereof of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, etc.)

Another reason people of my age might discuss Tolkien and Howard was.... that publishers did that for a while:

[tolkienandfantasy.blogspot.com]

[tolkienandfantasy.blogspot.com]


You seem to have hesitated over the word "prudish" to describe Tolkien's depiction of sexuality. I'd hesitate to use it, too, because it connotes someone whose attitude to sexuality is defective on account of embarrassment or shame. I don't really think that most people reading Tolkien get that impression; I don't think they get the impression that he was ashamed of sexual feelings in himself or others, didn't like to be reminded of sexuality as evident in bodies, was embarrassed by the thought of sexual intercourse.

A reader today might have to make an extra imaginative effort because he would expect Beren and Luthien to go to bed together prior to Beren winning Luthien by fulfilling her father's demands; but for them to have physically consummated their love on the sly, or in defiance of Luthien's father, would have cheapened themselves and their love and their sexuality. They are noble people, as most of Tolkien's good characters are, and nobility implies living according to a code of ethics that, among other things, prizes sexuality and raises it above the animal level. In our society, you are supposed to grant that people possess personal integrity on whatever terms they wish; how dare you insinuate (in our society) that a boy lacks integrity if he has sexual relations with half the girls in his high school, or criticize those girls who include him in the stable of their partners? But Tolkien is working with a code, or rather two codes, that would look down on such behavior. The first code is that of Christian ethics. The second is that of chivalry, the aristocratic ideal. The former code regards sexual activity outside the marriage of man and woman as sinful, and the latter regards promiscuity as worthy of thralls and the like -- the people who do the dirty work, who are illiterate, who cannot govern themselves, who don't count. (I'm always struck, in Malory, by the bit in which Lancelot fights his fellow aristocrats with sword and spear, but when a peasant made a grab at him, he killed him by striking him with the back of his hand. You don't use your sword on rabble.) I don't think Tolkien holds this second code except in a very modified form. The hobbits save the world, and they are not aristocrats.

More in a moment.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 November, 2019 10:39AM
Now, about sexuality in Howard's stories. I have to say that I have read his Conan, Kull, Bran, and Solomon Kane stories (some of them many times), and some of his horror stories, but not his historicals, his fight stories, etc. In what I'm going to say I'm thinking of the Conans.

The main things that strike me about the sex in the Conan stories are how repetitive the scenarios are and how limited they are in what they deal with. The women are almost all interchangeable, and Howard almost always imagines only two aspects of sexual experience: the original excitement of seeing a beautiful and probably scantily-dressed woman; and the beginning of the first sexual embrace. In short it's rather masturbatory. Howard seems to have almost no notion of what it might be like to be actually living with a woman. There's the exception of Belit in "Queen of the Black Coast," but I'm not sure anyone will try to argue that Howard there exhibits much awareness of the range of experience involved in a genuine relationship.

Yes, I understand that Howard is writing adventure stories. He wants, in a few thousand words, to give the reader an intense (if brief) experience, a fantasy experience. The daily life together of Conan and Belit is "another story." So we don't fault Howard for not including "domestic" scenes, or reporting the pillow talk of Conan and Belit. At the same time, I'm probably not the only one who suspects Howard couldn't have written about any aspect of their lives together except the aspects he depicts.

Howard never deals with the real-world issues that might have come up if Conan had been a real person. For example, suppose Conan, while cohabiting with Belit, had seen some other woman who attracted him a lot? What would have happened?

The issue (that word now becomes a pun) that has often occurred to me over the years is: supposing Conan to have been fertile, he must have left a lot of bastards scattered around the Hyborian world. What about them? he seems to inhabit an adolescent's fantasy-world of endless sex but in which women never become pregnant -- of unchecked sexual gratification without consequences.

We never see Conan, in one story, remembering a woman from one of the other stories -- or anything else from the other stories, I suppose. The Hyborian world of Howard's imagination is thoroughly adolescent. That, of course, is a lot of the reason why some of us relished these stories when we were boys. It is a world without limits on the individual's will: one in which his eyes light upon a conveyor-belt of exciting experiences for him to pluck in turn.

Conan appeals to the young reader as someone who is always able to impose his will. If he wants to take that girl, he can and will. If he wants to fight that foe and beat him (or it), he will. The glittering prizes are always there and always winnable. Any wounds suffered in battle merely make it more interesting; one heals instantly. But, like the adolescent, Conan is basically passive, drifting from experience to experience without any real focus or purpose. His is a world really without love, without attachments of affection, friendship, or even eros. Conan doesn't yearn to be united, body and soul, with a woman. He just goes from sexual prize to sexual prize. For Howard, because Conan is always on the move, he never has to deal with adult responsibilities. And we never stop to think about any of the other characters, like that princess or whoever left holding the baby.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 25 November, 2019 11:51AM
As my experience with Tolkien is limited to his "Fellowship of the Ring" and his short stories (some of which may appeal to admirers of Smith's fantasies), I cannot contribute so much to the comparing of Howard and Tolkien, except that I think it is very much worth comparing the two, both being progenitors of very different yet also weirdly similar sub-genres of heroic fantasy.

What I can say is that as much as I enjoyed the Conan stories when I was still fresh out of high school, I have greater admiration for the Kull stories precisely because they are a little less like the adolescent fantasies of Conan, in which the unbound Conan can go about anywhere, slaying monsters and laying with wenches all over the place. Since the Kull stories almost always emphasize Kull as the king who is reluctantly yet dutifully tied to his throne, we get to explore him and his world a bit more thoughtfully. Of course he still has grand adventures, but there's a greater sense of responsibility and even tragedy in Kull. It's a shame Howard didn't do more with that setting, but I acknowledge the significance (and greater commercial value) of the Conan stories, even if they're no longer my tankard of ale.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 25 Nov 19 | 12:29PM by kojootti.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 November, 2019 11:54AM
I remember liking the Kull stories for similar reasons and should revisit them.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 25 November, 2019 02:56PM
Several good points Dale, and I agree with most of them. On the other hand, Conan was part of a prehistoric barbarian culture, long before Christian traditions. I am not saying that there weren't stable relationships back then, chivalry, nobility, honor, and codes of ethics, and Conan had some of these qualities, in his own rough cut way. The Vikings had such, and they were not Christians, they were proud pagans.
But it was never uncommon for strong, successful, and attractive persons to have several sexual partners. It does cause instable societies however, if such behavior is generally encouraged. Howard mentions, for the record, that Conan had several children by different women, but that none of them were suited successors to the throne of Aquilonia. He surely got his share of tragedy.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 25 Nov 19 | 02:58PM by Knygatin.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 November, 2019 03:40PM
I thought I knew my Conan stories, Knygatin, but I don't know them all -- it must be decades since I read "The Hour of the Dragon." Is that the one you are referring to when you mention Conan reflecting that his children were not suited to the Aquilonian throne? or is it possible that was something de Camp or Carter added?

I was keeping my comments on Tolkien separated from those on Howard, and had nothing to say about Christian beliefs in my comments on the latter. I don't criticize Howard for his lack of Christian morals. But I do try to describe what it's actually like to read Howard when he is writing about Conan and women.

I said that Howard's world is one without love. Thanks in large part, though not exclusively, to the influence of Christian tradition -- which elevated the status of women* in the Greco-Roman world -- our culture has tended to focus on men and women in stories of love. Howard doesn't attempt to depict the love of man and woman in its affective aspect but only its physical, and that almost never in anyway except at the beginning, i.e., in his view, the moment of "conquest."

But also, and I think this is interesting, he doesn't pick up the Classical emphasis on the love of men for men. By this I don't mean physical homosexuality, but rather a kind of romantic friendship based on their belonging to the same aristocratic rank and their appreciation each of the other's accomplishments as warriors. In ancient literature this kind of love might be emphasized more than the love of man and woman. (I'm leaving aside the topic of the warrior's possible affection for his catamite boy.)

Again -- Howard's Conan stories evoke an adolescent sense of sexuality, from a boy's point of view; and his imaginary world is one without love. By the way, I'm not saying that I'm sure love has been important and evident in all societies, although there must, at least, have been some parental or at least maternal affection for small children to be able to survive. After several decades, perhaps, of exposure to the outside world, the Ik whom Colin Turnbull described may have acquired a capacity for love that they didn't have before. I haven't read more than a few words about all that.

Conan comes across as amoral, which of course could be believable of some individual. The thing about Howard's adolescent-type fantasy is that Conan always gets away with it, and we never see anyone hurt by his amorality. That's a bigger fantasy than the giant apes and serpents....

*See the Classicist Sarah Ruden's illuminating book Paul Among the People.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 November, 2019 08:00AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I thought I knew my Conan stories, Knygatin, but I
> don't know them all -- it must be decades since I
> read "The Hour of the Dragon." Is that the one
> you are referring to when you mention Conan
> reflecting that his children were not suited to
> the Aquilonian throne? ...

In the afterword of the book I read, Howard is cited having said this. But its source is not mentioned. I imagine he perhaps said it in a letter to someone. Conan had a goodly number of sons of concubines, but, at the time of "The Hour of the Dragon" at least, he had no male heir, because he had never bothered to formally make some woman his queen.

Conan possessed a primordial form of chivalry and reverence for women. He never forced himself onto women, and only had sexual intercourse with someone he found attractive if she were in on it on equal terms.

The Hyborian Age was a very rough time, several races struggled hard for dominance. Brutal or egoistic actions could have terrible consequences of social upheaval and sudden war. After Conan left his homeland he was a freelancer, and grabbed what opportunities he could find for his own benefit. He had many enemies, and was often on the run. I wouldn't say this was adolescent, it was a rough, struggling life, in a very rough time. Of course, an identical behavior today, transposed onto a more civilized world, is considered very immature and maladaptive. But we must also consider that Conan was no mediocre person, he was an exceptional individual; and those often have to walk lonely paths.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 26 November, 2019 10:34AM
I hope my comments clearly distinguish two things: (1) the character and meaning of the Conan stories as works of fiction, and (2) the character of Conan's world postulated as a real time and place.

So far I've been focusing on (1) -- or anyway have intended to do so. I've mean to say something about the character and meaning of the stories as works of fiction by Robert E. Howard. My main point has been that they are indeed works of fiction, intended to give readers a brief excitement. Howard's "formula" for doing that was to write from a kind of adolescent male viewpoint. (I haven't really gone into biographical speculations about Howard the man.)

Now I'll comment on (2) a little. Knygatin, your comment indirectly reminds me that, along with "The Hour of the Dragon," I haven't read Howard's "Hyborian Age" essay in many years. I thought about your comment that the age was a "very rough time."

From my memory of the stories, I'd say: it was and it wasn't. A fair bit of organized crime was common in the major, richest cities, but I don't have the sense that ordinary people lived terribly anxious lives. It was a rough time in the sense that it was a time, if not of long-lasting wars (as in the European "Thirty Years War"), of frequent raids, skirmishes, battles. I don't have the sense that "national" boundaries are thought of as having changed much in Conan's lifetime.

On the other hand.... I don't have the sense, from my memories of the stories, that Conan's time was a rough one in other senses. The climate was stable. Harvests do not seem to have failed. It doesn't appear to have been a time of famines or epidemics. The characters we meet are usually healthy, strong men and women. (Some of the women who have been living in palaces may not seem strong at first, but they are healthy and quickly adjust to more demanding conditions.) Civilization was advanced and settled enough that the value of currency evidently was stable, and trade between nations was well developed, though caravans of trade goods, and shipping, were always in danger of brigands and pirates. No one kingdom or dynasty seems to have dominated vast territories of subject people. Mental illness seems to have been almost unknown, although certain perversions were liable to develop among the most powerful; but nobody seems to have suffered from deep depression or paranoia; if people were afraid of things, these were usually real things that should be feared. I recall no alcoholism in the stories although occasional bout drinking occurred. In general people seem to have been occupied with work and vocation that they found interesting; I recall little or no suggestion that "alienation" was a problem. It doesn't seem to have been the case that people had to wear themselves out just to scratch a subsistence. People seem to have found life interesting, as suggested, for example, by their arts. Music and sculpture, at least, could be impressive, although oil painting wasn't practiced. The Hyborians may have feared "the gods," but in general they seem to have felt that "the gods" were not very hard to satisfy through whatever the local cults were. Human sacrifice was not characteristic of Hyborian societies; it was unusual enough to be regarded with abhorrence when it was known to occur; it was then seen either as evidence of a primitive, sub-civilized culture, or as evidence of chronic decadence. Religious wars were unknown.

So I'd say the Hyborian Age, or anyway Conan's time, was and wasn't rough.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 November, 2019 12:16PM
Ok. That is a hefty amount of argument for your viewpoint. Although I have not read the book [A Means to Freedom] myself, I would recommend you, Dale, to look into Howard's and Lovecraft's correspondence. They have extensive arguments over the qualities of barbarism and civilization.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 26 Nov 19 | 12:28PM by Knygatin.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 26 November, 2019 01:18PM
I think that, before I'd read those two volumes of Howard-Lovecraft letters, I would want to read historian Richard Overy's The Morbid Age: Britain and the Crisis of Civilization, 1919-1939. I read a fair bit of it a few years ago & recall being struck by how mainstream some of Lovecraft's preoccupations were vis-à-vis his own time, e.g. Chapter 3 "A Sickness in the Racial Body." Of course, the book is focused on Britain rather than the United States.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 November, 2019 03:03PM
kojootti Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As my experience with Tolkien is limited to his
> "Fellowship of the Ring" and his short stories
> (some of which may appeal to admirers of Smith's
> fantasies), I cannot contribute so much to the
> comparing of Howard and Tolkien, except that I
> think it is very much worth comparing the two,
> both being progenitors of very different yet also
> weirdly similar sub-genres of heroic fantasy.
>

Sadly I cannot comment or do much evaluation on Tolkien other than in the most intuitive sweeping sense, it was such a long time ago I read The Lord of the Rings, and I have only read it once as a teenager. The latest I read by Tolkien, a few years ago, was the short "Smith of Wootton Mayor", which I liked a lot.

I think it is a truth that a book cannot be fully appreciated upon its first reading. Because then our senses are at the start a blank, beginning from where we are at present in the mundane world, and then preoccupied with discovering the story, the characters, of which we know nothing before. We hurry forth to see what happens next. It is only on subsequent readings, when we are familiar with the story, the overall pattern is clear, understand who the characters are and the reasons for their actions and reactions, that we can start exploring the terrain more fully and deeply. We don't need to hurry because we already know the continuation, and no worry about the future hinders us from enjoying the present and lingering around especially meaningful and favorite sections.

I am continuing my reading of Dracula, after a break, and it is truly enjoyable. Those descriptions of the female vampires in chapter III, must be the archetype above every other. Masterful.
Also, I am reading it on my screen, a digital pdf of an old book, and this is very special. Since the screen glows it is less straining for the eyes than a real book. I have only read one book digitally before (The Sound of His Horn, by Sarban. A very bizarre book which I recommend.). There is only the story, the words, the sentences; but no paper, no weight of a book, not material object associated. Only the story that goes into you head ethereally, without any form of slag residue left to steal your attention. It is a most satisfying sensation.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 26 November, 2019 03:38PM
"I think it is a truth that a book cannot be fully appreciated upon its first reading. Because then our senses are at the start a blank, beginning from where we are at present in the mundane world, and then preoccupied with discovering the story, the characters, of which we know nothing before. We hurry forth to see what happens next. It is only on subsequent readings, when we are familiar with the story, the overall pattern is clear, understand who the characters are and the reasons for their actions and reactions, that we can start exploring the terrain more fully and deeply."

Bravo, Knygatin!

That's such a good point. We often first read a story with a strong appetite for narrative -- what's going to happen next? Other elements of the literary experience may be just a blur on that first reading.

It's also true, though, that rereadings will sometimes reveal flaws in a work that had strong narrative appeal. The textbook example is Connell's "Most Dangerous Game." On a first reading you may be the plaything of the author as he deals out his hero's adventures. But if you read it again and actually pay attention -- ! The same is true of a better story, Doyle's "Speckled Band." I don't know how many times I have read it, and I always enjoy it, but rereadings reveal some pretty remarkable examples of unbelievableness.

My favorite quick example might be "The Red-Headed League," another Sherlock Holmes story. I used to have my freshman comp students read it along with some other short stories. Now it is a delightful story. But the thing is that they -- like me, like me! -- hardly ever noticed the chronological howler that stares you in the face . . . . once you have seen it. When exactly does Jabez Wilson come to see Holmes?

But the best stories reward attentive reading and rereading. Still, there is room in this world for entertaining stories that are fun to read once.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 26 Nov 19 | 03:39PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 27 November, 2019 03:06AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... That's such a good point. We often first read a
> story with a strong appetite for narrative --
> what's going to happen next? Other elements of
> the literary experience may be just a blur on that
> first reading.
>

I got this from someone else, don't remember exactly who.

When young, many a voracious reader don't consider rereading a book. In the rich landscape of books are thousands of untried roads. A fool who walks them twice!
There is a vital difference between the first and second reading. The first reading corresponds to our normal non-reading life; we don't know what gifts will come, what is around the corner, and not what is on the next page. So we hurry on to find out. We have no idea what meetings and episodes will be vital to our life, and to the invented characters in the book. Not until we are near death, and on the last page; then we know.
On the second reading everything is in clear and meaningful order. It is like reading a dead man's self-biography (such a book was of course never written) or looking back on our own life briefly on the brink of death. In the book we are able to revisit our favorite central moments.
The first reading brings almost unbearable excitement. The second, third, and so on, brings both excitement and the comfort of knowing the outcome.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Ashurabani (IP Logged)
Date: 1 December, 2019 02:07PM
I would highly recommend James Elroy Flecker's "The Last Generation", a bizarre, tour de force about a future where child bearing is punishable by death.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 2 December, 2019 10:51AM
Given the season, I decided to re-read "In Amundsen's Tent." The first two-thirds are still as beautiful and immersive as ever, painting such vivid pictures of the Antarctic otherworld... While the last third was an unintentionally hilarious romp. If it weren't for the publication date, I'd almost think it was a subtle satire on Lovecraft's tendency to pile on the melodrama. I ended up chuckling at the main characters as they suddenly turned into cartoons, begging on their knees and -insisting- that -whatever- is in that tent is TOO HORRIBOBBLE to see! Take their word for it! Ah!!!!

All in all, a beautiful story, up until the end, then it becomes unintentionally(?) hilarious for this reader.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2 Dec 19 | 10:56AM by kojootti.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 2 December, 2019 04:05PM
A lot of horror stories are funny, and one never knows if the humour involved in them is intentional, or not. For example, "Horla" splits my sides whenever I read it. "The Strange Adventures Of A Private Secretary In New York" by Algernon Blackwood, "The Hound" by H.P.Lovecraft, "Tcheriapin" by Sax Rohmer or "The Supernumerary Corpse" by C.A.Smith are also very hilarious, so are a lot of Weird Tales.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 2 December, 2019 07:14PM
That is very true. Smith certainly had a prominent sense of humor in even his most gruesome tales. "Necromancy in Naat" was a very grim and hopeless story with the pulse of a stone-cold corpse, yet that climax was so over-the-top I wondered if he meant for it to be a sudden jolt of black humor and cartoon antics. I'll have to re-read "The Hound" very soon, but I remember that having such a wild, wild, wild ending. I don't remember any other story where Lovecraft's characters break off into mad laughter while running away! And one of the strengths of "Horla" is certainly that it wasn't just a solid block of one tone, which can hinder the longer horror stories for me.

I have a few Blackwood books I haven't finished, so I'll check that one soon. Blackwood used several different tones in his stories, so I can easily believe that. I never even heard of Sax Rohmer, so I'll investigate that immediately!

As for "In Amundsen's Tent", I think the thing which brought me to a little fit of chuckles was just how sudden the tone shifted. It began with this feeling of overwhelming awe and majesty, of deep impressions of the gigantic, monolithic ice-world, and then when we get to that one tiny tent, the characters suddenly start pleading like desperate Looney Tunes characters, begging the main character, and by extension the reader, to leave! flee! go! In the name of God! Please! Ahh!!! The world is not prepared!!! Humanity is doomed! Doomed!!!



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 2 Dec 19 | 07:19PM by kojootti.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 3 December, 2019 04:47AM
Sax Rohmer was a popular author of his day. His stories often take place in exotic locations (Egypt, Chinatown). He is the creator of Fu-Manchu, an insidious and evil Chinese criminal. Rohmer also wrote "the Witch-Queen" Lovecraft mentiones in his "Supernatural horror in Literature". Many of his short stories are a piece of crap but some are really good. ("Tchériapin", "The Master of Hollow Grange" or "The Valley of the Just")
[gutenberg.net.au]
[www.gutenberg.org]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 3 Dec 19 | 04:49AM by Minicthulhu.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 3 December, 2019 12:22PM
Thank you very much for this. Winter for me has always been a prime time for horror and dark fantasy literature, so I'm eager to read these, especially the best of his work that you mentioned, which I can see in that collection.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 14 December, 2019 10:56AM
Speaking of funny moments (or is it unintentional humour?) in horror stories, yesterday I read several short tales by H.P.Lovecraft I had never read before then, "The White Ape" aka "Facts concerning Arthur Jermyn and his Family" among them. What a hilarious little piece of horror! I literally laughed aloud in reading certain sentences and passages. :-)

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 14 December, 2019 12:14PM
Elsewhere I have mentioned the perhaps unintended wacky humor of "The Picture in the House." But the HPL story that has, I think literally, brought tears of mirth to my eyes, was "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" -- specifically the part where the old coot (Lovecraft had a good line in crazy old coots) starts screaming -- and Lovecraft has spelled out the screams.

One gets this vision of Lovecraft in his room sounding out the letters to get the scream just right.

“‘I tell ye I know what them things be – I seen ‘em one night when … EH – AHHHH—AH! E’YAAHHHH…’” and “Another heavy wave dashed against the loosening masonry of that bygone wharf, and changed the mad ancient’s whisper to another inhuman and blood-curdling scream. ‘E—YAAHHHH!...YHAAAAAAA!’”

This made me chuckle and wheeze all over again just now.

In a way, it's regrettable -- I mean, Lovecraft has obviously taken great pains to build up the atmosphere and authenticity and suspense, and then it's like the inner pulpster will out in spite of his efforts.

But then, just now, I find myself thinking: you could make a Porter-at-the-gate-in-Macbeth argument and say that this bit of weird humor was intended by Lovecraft; that he knew he needed to provide a little comic relief so as the ensure that, as the greater moments of terror arrived soon, the reader would not have been too fatigued by mounting suspense in order fully to enjoy them. Could that be?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 14 Dec 19 | 12:14PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 01:33AM
Yes, "The Picture In The Hoiuse" is another example of humour in an horror story, so is "The book" or "The Moonlit-bog".

"Despite their distance below me I at once knew they were the servants brought from the North, for I recognized the ugly and unwieldy form of the cook, whose very absurdness had now become unutterably tragic."

I do not know what impression sentenses like this one make on the reader but I find them very absurd and unatterably hilarious. :-)

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 05:05AM
AN horror story? Of no ...

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 15 December, 2019 12:40PM
"An horror story" did sound a bit awkward, but I admit I'm one who prefers to write "an historian," "an historical event," rather than using a.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: GreenFedora (IP Logged)
Date: 9 January, 2020 02:05PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 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.
>
Haven't read "Declare," but I found two of Powers' other novels to be very good: "The Stress Of Her Regard" (any book that takes its title from a Clark Ashton Smith poem scores automatic points with me; and the novel attached to it is one of my favorites), and "On Stranger Tides" (the basis for a very loose adaptation of one of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies; the book was much better). Powers has a knack for describing impossible-to-describe things.

Also recommended: The Ring Trilogy ("Ring," "Spiral," "Loop") and "Dark Water," by Koji Suzuki, the latter a story collection.



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