Wednesday, April 27, 2016

01 Fungi from Yuggoth - The Book - H. P. Lovecraft read by William Hart ...

Will Hart has had a long love affair with H. P. Lovecraft's Fungi from Yuggoth -- & now he has
releas'd his ultimate treatment of and tribute to HPL's poetry. It is an audio cd disc on which Will reads ye entire sonnet sequence, plus a number of other fine Lovecraft poems such as "In a Sequester'd Providence Churchyard Where Once Poe Walked" and "Nemesis". All the spoken word is accompanied by an amazing musical score by Graham Plowman.  This new recording has been releas'd in a lovely package by Fedogan & Bremer. 
Included is a 12-page booklet that includes a fantastic photograph of modern St. John's Churchyard in colour, with HPL's black&white spectre walking its pathway; and a nice wee photograph of Will. The booklet also features a lengthy (six full pages) Introduction by S. T. Joshi. 

Will's new readings are superb, at times featuring a voice that almoft threatens to quiver with emotion, where some words are strangely whispered and others solidly proclaim'd. These excellent readings bring new life to Lovecraft's powerful and eerie poetry. 

Graham Plowman's music is magnificent. It has, at time, what I want to call a cinematic majesty of sound, waves of powerful music that carry ye listener away with the wonder of Lovecraft's imagination. It's extremely cool the way the music emphasizes points of narrative vibrancy in Will's reading, and yet can also underscore the quiet, dream-like portions of vocal display. 

Will "dedicates these readings to Editor, David E. Schultz, for his annotated version of H. P. Lovecraft 'Fungi from Yuggoth'; and to Artist Jason C. Eckhardt, for his forty illustrations for the book." This annotated edition of ye Fungi will be publish'd in a handsome hardcover edition by Hippocampus Press. Ye publication has been delay'd a bit, but nigh a definitive release date of May 2016 seems assured. I have seen an early arc of this annotated edition, and it is a work of wonder.

Ye Fungi is of great importance to me because of its continual influence on my work. Will's earlier readings of ye sonnets, which were posted on YouTube and may still be heard there, was the event that inspir'd me to finally write the book I consider my finest--Some Unknown Gulf of Night --a book that I dedicated to Will Hart. 

I have a strange feeling . . .that this new recording of Will reading ye Fungi--a recording that so haunts me, will inspire yet another book from mine antient pen..

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ye Complete Cthulhu Mythos Tales

Barnes & Noble will release a new edition of H. P. Lovecraft's weird fiction in their charming leather-bound Collectible Editions series at month's end. Ye tome is 608 pages, and includes a new Introduction by S. T. Joshi. The fabulous artwork is by John Coulthart.

The Nameless City
The Hound
The Festival
The Call of Cthulhu
The Colour out of Space
History of the Necronomicon
The Curse of Yig
The Dunwich Horror
The Whisperer in Darkness
The Mound
At the Mountains of Madness
The Shadow over Innsmouth
The Dreams in the Witch House
The Man of Stone
The Horror in the Museum
The Thing on the Doorstep
Out of the Aeons
The Tree on the Hill
The Shadow out of Time
The Haunter of the Dark

Although S. T. wasn't listed as ye editor of the first Lovecraft collection from B&N, he was in fact ye book's editor. One of the charming aspects of that first book was that each story was prefaced by a wee note concerning the history of its composing, publication, &c.

The front cover illustration is of what John Coulthart calls a "Cthulhu Sphinx," and that phrase is so evocative to me that I want to write a story incorporating it. Writes John, in his blog about ye physical aspects of ye book: "Anyone who's held one of these volumes will know that they deserve to be called tomes rather than mere books; they're heavy and lavishly produced, with detailed designs embossed on the fron and back boards in a variety of metallic inks." And: "The book will be out at the end of the month, and among the extra features there's an introduction by Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi, my drawing of R'lyeh on the endpapers, and (if that wasn't enough) a poster reproduction of my Cthulhu Rising picture."

I wou'd love to see a Barnes & Noble anthology of Cthulhu Mythos fiction, and S. T. wou'd be the perfect editor for such a volume. I'd love to have a new hardcover edition of all those classic tales, whut wou'd also include some of the newer things from recent writers.

The weird fiction of H. P. Lovecraft continues to be astoundingly popular, and new editions of his work continue to come forth. This lovely volume of Mythos tales will hold us over until we can consume the glorious second volume coming from Liveright/Norton, The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft: Beyond the Mythos.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Thank ye, Mr Poftman!

Honey, ye thrill of being an obsess'd Lovecraft fanboy continues to elevate to nameless heights. Our charming poftman has just deliver'd a wee parcel in which three treasur'd volumes were contained in bubble-wrap. I cannot help but go on a bit more about these delightful LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED editions from PS Publishing. Ye brain-child of artist Pete Von Sholly, each volume contains a new Introduction by S. T. Joshi, follow'd by ye Joshi-edited text of that edition's story, colourfully illustrated by Pete. Much to my delighted surprise, when Von Solly ask'd S. T. Joshi to suggest names of people who might be interested in writing new essays on Lovecraft's stories for the books, my name was mention'd; & thus I have been invited to write for a number of these volumes, and that has proved delightful, especially because it returns me to Lovecraft's texts and allows me to study them in ways I have never attempted, thus to express some critical comment regarding them. I confess that I have become "hooked" in ye composition of these essays; & so I was delighted to learn that Pete and PS plan to bring out future editions, until all of Lovecraft's main weird tales are collected in illustrated volumes. This makes me hope that I can write for some of the new ones--I am especially keen on doing an essay for a THE LURKING FEAR volume, shou'd such transpire.

Rereading Lovecraft is an addiction. There are few texts to which I constantly return--the few being Dante, Shakespeare, Wilde's letters, the Book of Mormon--and so it's always nice to have those beloved texts in new editions, thus giving another reading of the stories a sense of novelty. Also, I return to Lovecraft's tales so often because I am forever writing stories that are connected to HPL's original tales--just now I am studying "The Horror at Red Hook" so as to write a new story for a Red Hook anthology. 

Speaking of which, I need to bring this to a close and get back to work. And try to resist ye temptation to dip immediately into these charming new volumes in ye LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED series...

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Life can be so delicious at times. Just last week I sent a wee email to Pete Von Sholly, to let him know how much I have enjoy'd rereading H. P. Lovecraft's excellent tales in Pete's LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED series from PS Publishing. My one regret, I wrote him, was that ye series hadn't included my favourite Lovecraft story, "The Haunter of the Dark." So, my dears, you can imagine my utter delight when I got this morning's announcement from PS Publishing:

                  Following the undreamed of success of the hitherto nine volumes in our
HPL PulpS Library, we've persuaded artist Pete Von Sholly
and Lovecraftian scholar S. T. Joshi to pleasure us yet again
with the definitive versions of three further epic yarns,--namely
THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP. No sooner did I persuade
Mr. Von Sholly than he promptly excused himself and set off
for his tools. Knowing Pete, I figured the first pieces would be
winging its way towards the sepulchral spires and lonely moat of
PS Towers. And sure enough, so it was--take a look-see. Hey, trust me--we're talking 
"stygian"here, ladies and gentlefolk. . .darker than a
cluster of very dark things. More soon.

Ye see, my ducks--prayers to ye Great Olde Ones work!! Ia!! Ia!!

Here is my favourite illustration from ye superb THE CALL OF CTHULHU volume--I think it's amazingly effective:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

An Excellent Edition of a So-So Story

It's amusing to read S. T.'s Introduction to this wee volume--because he must have felt inclined to say positive things about this late story by Lovecraft.I mean, you don't write an introduction to a book you want to see sold and say therein, "Urm, this story rather sucks." Joshi is rather more upfront about ye story's flaws in his entry concerning it in An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia: "While the tale contains vividly cosmic vistas of hyperspace, HPL does not appear to have thought out the details of the plot satisfactorily. What is the significance of the Old Ones in the story? To what purpose is the baby kidnapped and sacrificed? How can HPL the atheist allow Keziah to be frightened by the sight of a crucifix? Why does Nyarlathotep appear in the conventional figure of the Black man? . . . It seems as if HPL were aiming merely for a succession of startling images without bothering to fuse them into a logical sequence."

I have never read a horror story expecting that it will present a narrative of logic and realism; yet "The Dreams in the Witch House" does seem rather a mess. Nyarlathotep is my favourite of Lovecraft's dark beings, and he is utterly wasted in this story, appearing for no reason whatsoever and adding nothing to ye narrative. Some have complained that the story is poorly written, but I find its prose almoft as good as that found in Lovecraft's finest works. Let's take a look at ye opening paragraph.

"Whether the dreams brought on the fever or the fever brought on the dreams Walter Gilman did not know. Behind everything crouched the brooding, festering horror of the ancient town, and of the mouldy, unhallowed garret gable where he wrote and studied and wrestled with figures and formulae when he was not tossing on the meagre iron bed. His ears were growing sensitive to a preternatural and intolerable degree, and he had long ago stopped the cheap mantel clock whose ticking had come to seem like a thunder of artillery. At night the subtle stirring of the black city outside, the sinister scurrying of rats in wormy partitions, and the creaking of of hidden timbers in the centuried house, were enough to give him a sense of strident pandemonium. The darkness always teemed with unexplained sound--and yet he sometimes shook with fear lest the noises he heard should subside and allow him to hear other, fainter, noises which he suspected were lurking behind them."

I see that opening paragraph as near-perfect in setting mood and faintly establishing curious character. I see no evidence of "overwriting," and the language flows with a natural grace. I love the subtle hints of things that will blossom into full horrors as ye tale progresses. The setting may be consider'd Lovecraft's toying with ye "haunted house" genre, as he did with "The Shunned House" and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Lovecraft would then expand on this theme and depict areas of haunted realm, localities of dangerous weirdness.

The story has its defenders, ye moft eloquent and intelligent being Fritz Leiber, whose magnificent essay is publish'd following the story text. There is also a foreword by Stuart Gordon, who filmed the story for Showtime's Masters of Horror series. The illustrations in this PS Publishing edition, by ye fabulous Pete Von Sholly, are for ye moft part excellent--although one of them in particular seems just a bit "over-ye-top," to mine eyes. There is one superb depiction of Nyarlathotep, on page 31. Pete has also supplied a number of illustrations for Stuart Gordon's awesome Foreword, including a macabre portrait of Gordon in a "Dr. West" environment that is beyond cool. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dreamland Novel Completed!

 Above is a wee area on Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island, adjacent to ye Shunn'd House. When I look at this photo, I am struck with how dreamlike my time spent in Lovecraft's hometown now seems. Indeed, I dream of Providence often. Lovecraft evoked his love for Providence in his work, but never more poignantly than in ye climax to his novella of 43,100 words, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. That work has been heavily on my mind this past year, as David Barker and I work'd on our full-length novel set in Lovecraft's dreamlands. I recently wrote my final chapter for our novel--and just a wee while ago I got an email from David announcing that he has finish'd ye final chapter!! Great Yuggoth--our novel is completed! It feels a bit unreal. 
I've been thinking of Lovecraft's novel of late, and dipping into it as I prepar'd to review ye edition of it in PS Publishing's illustrated edition, featuring amazing artwork by Pete Von Sholly. My review is now up at Amazon. Lovecraft destroy'd a lot of stories with which he was displeas'd, and I think we may have lost some really cool tales; so it feels extremely fortunate that, although he never polish'd "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" or prepar'd it for publication, he didn't destroy the manuscript for it--or for that other unpolish'd work, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

It's so compelling, Lovecraft's world as found in his complete fictional oeuvre. I return to it continually, sometimes just to read the stories and enjoy them simply as cool weird fiction; sometimes reading them slowly and studying Lovecraft's prose, his ideas, recurring motifs, &c &c. I never try to write "like" Lovecraft--but I think his narrative tone much have crept into my own prose style, because one of the "compliments" I get in reviews is that my stuff reads as if it were a lost Lovecraft manuscript. A rather dubious accolade, when one is trying to write in one's own personal style.

Writing a novel was hard work, my dears, and I much prefer working in ye short story format. Still, it feels like a wondrous accomplishment, to have work'd on an actual novel with my friend. Maybe someday I'll agree to do it again.