Monday, January 16, 2017

Thriller S1 Ep15 The Cheaters (1960)

To See Beyond

Above is Tom Brown's illustration for "To See Beyond." The illustration will appear in An Ecstasy of Fear and Others, whut will be publish'd by Centipede Press at the end of this year. I love Tom's work, and this drawing is almost perfect--in ye story the lens of these magick glasses are black in hue. My story is a sequel to Robert Bloch's amazing short story, "The Cheaters," which was later turned into an effective episode for Boris Karloff's THRILLER television series. In Bho's original tale, a fellow named Grimm (who narrates the story's final section) prepares to shoot himself while wearing the glasses, thus destroying both himself and the daemonic lens. In my tale--well, I'll let ye read how the fellow is interrupted in his preparation for extinction:

Grimm glanced down at the last page of his manuscript and saw its final word: finis. Yes, this was the end. A chill ran down his spine as he reached for the revolver that sat upon the desk, the metal of which was so horribly frigid to the touch. His fingers raised the tip of the barrel to one of the lenses as the author sought the courage needed to pull the trigger.
"The won't be required, Grimm," spoke a soft voice near his ear. A large hand wrapped its talons around the revolver's barrel. "It would be a crime to destroy those so amusing spectacles. Here, let me take them from your face."

Who is this bold interrupter, and why does he care about the fate of these sinister spectacles? If you've not read my story, you will get a chance when it is republished in my book at year's end. This is not ye first time I have written a story influenced by ye work of Robert Bloch (my favourite weird writer after Lovecraft), nor will it be ye last.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

More HPL

Above is S. T. Joshi and his lovely wife, Mary.
One of S.T.'s newest books is soon to be publish'd: Collected Fiction: A Variorum Edition: Revisions and Collaborations. The book will have a paperback edition only, and cost $25. Included will be an index to Variorum volumes 1 through 4. Ye cover art by Fergal Fitzpatrick shews Lovecraft's detested nemesis--ye typewriter.

from ye Hippocampus Press website:
"Following S. T. Joshi's acclaimed three-volume variorum edition of Lovecraft's fiction, this final collection includes al known revisions and collaborations undertaken by Lovecraft on behalf of his friends and clients. As with previous volumes in this series, the texts preserved herein scrupulously follow archival manuscripts, typescripts, or original publications, and constitutes the definitive edition of these stories.
"Since Lovecraft's customary procedure as a revisionist was to discard his client's draft and entirely rewrite the story in his own words, much of the fiction in this collection represents original work by Lovecraft, including such notable contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos as 'The Electric Executioner,' 'Out of the Aeons,' and 'The Diary of Alonzo Typer.' Supreme among the revisions in this volume is the brilliant novella, 'The Mound,' which embodies Lovecraft's satirical commentary on the Machine Age 'decadence' of his era.
"For the first time, students and scholars of Lovecraft can see at a glance all the textual variants in all relevant appearances of a story--manuscript, first publication in magazines, and first book publications. The result is an illuminating record of the textual history of the tales, in an edition that supersedes all those that preceded it."

Friday, December 23, 2016

Poisonous Nature

Above is ye newest illustration by Tom Brown for my forthcoming collection from Centipede Press. It combines two of my favourite things: eldritch Nature and old houses. I also adore ye feature, with its wicked claw-like tip inside a bottle of macabre ink. I love this illustration more than I can say. Lovecraft was unique, methinks, in his ability to convey the weirdness of sick and tainted Nature; and there have been many fine artists who have aided Lovecraft's fictive language with their own devilish depictions of scenes from H. P. Lovecraft's tales. Santiago Caruso's trees, pictur'd right, are especially delicious. Lovecraft's fiction reminds me that, no matter how humankind may want to think of itself as superior, we are naught but ephemeral nature, and to ye dust and mould we will return. 

Oh, my darlings, I am utterly enchanted with this new edition of Shakespeare from Oxford University Press. A team of textual scholars have worked on an entirely new study of the texts of the poetry and plays. There cannot be any real definitive text of many of the plays because we have them in such a variety of versions. I think there are at least two "main" versions of Lear and more than one of Hamlet. Many decades ago, when I first became an Oscar Wilde fanboy (this happened from watching the mini-series Lillie. in which actor Peter Egan portray'd Wilde), I discover'd--in ye library--a whole slew of books of biography and Wilde criticism. This new passion became a blaze of intoxicated study when I discover'd Shakespeare criticism. Thus I am delighted that PBS is celebrating ye 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death (how superbly morbid!) with Shakespeare specials. I am especially looking forward to to-night's program, Shakespeare Live! From the RSC, filmed at ye Bard's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avonand hosted by David Tennant and Catherine Tate, and featuring appearances by Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joseph Fiennes, Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, and many others. Sometime in March we will have another new volume, the Authorship Companion, wherein the editors will discuss in intense detail matters of textual diversity and authority. So we Shakespeare nuts have much to look forward to and celebrate.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

10 Decembyr 1716

I've been spending ye past few days dipping into THE RIDDLE OF SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS, an anthology of essays publish'd by Basic Books in 1962. I'm half-way through Stephen Spender's "The Alike and the Other", and then will devour "A Poetics of Infatuation" by R. P. Blackmur. Then comes Wilde's "The Portrait of Mr W. H."--an essay that I have read numerous times and always enjoy returning to. Whenever I read the sonnets of Shakespeare or H. P. Lovecraft I am tempted yet again to try my hand at my own sequence. My first sonnet sequence, Songs of Sesqua Valley, was compos'd with much enthusiasm yet little art. 

What is ye riddle of Shakespeare's sonnets? Happily, Shakespeare is a sphinx and does not tell; although plenty of scholars, poets, and lunatics have driven themselves to madness in their psychic investigations of the poems. Did Shakespeare write these for publication and distribution? If so, are they profoundly autobiographical and do they expose extreme romantic/sexual situations? Is the poet's love for the young man of the opening sonnets similar to a father's for his son, or a lover to his sexual obsession? We do not know, we cannot know; & therefore the books I love moft are the ones that discuss the art of the sonnets, my favourite
being ye book at left by Helen Vendler. 

Yet, as much as I can appreciate the sonnets on an artistic and intellectual level, so too can I relate to them emotionally; for I am one who has been self-subjected to the impossible love that dare not speak its name. I have suffer'd this madness keenly twice in life. The first time the fellow died in my arms after having snorted street smack and choking to death. The second time the fellow moved in with me, and is with me still. These boys drove me crazy, and happily that madness is now entirely a thing of the past. I see now that the insanity of obsessive love had nothing to do with the objects of my adoration but was entirely self-impos'd. It was a madness of the mind as much as an aching of ye loins. It has, I think, keenly influenced one of the huge themes of my weird fiction--the longing for the mystical and perhaps unattainable thing. It thrives in Sesqua Valley. 

I've been trying to write a "sequel" to "O, Christmas Tree," that old collaboration with Jessica Salmonson. But I think I have lost ye mood to do an actual sequel and now with to write an entirely original Yule tale set in Sesqua that has no connection to any previous yarn of mine. Thinking of my Sesqua tales of the past, they don't seem weird enough for all the possible potential the idea of the valley contains. Sesqua Valley is an invention that continues to deepen in my imagination, and I want to write tales of the valley that are truly weird fiction

And I want to write a new sonnet for whatever story I compose for the Christmas anthology to which I will be submitting this new thing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

ye House on Tempest Hill

Tom Brown, who has been selected by Jerad to be ye main illustrator for my forthcoming book from Centipede Press, has just completed ye magnificent drawing above, whut depicts ye haunted manse atop Tempest Hill in my story, "Ye Horror on Tempest Hill". The story has been previously publish'd under ye title "The Presence of the Past," a rather boring title that I decided to replace with a more traditionally Lovecraftian one. The story came about when I was invited to write a tale for Fungi, and editor Pierre Comtois requested the tale be 11,000 words in length and divided into chapters, with each chapter individually titled. This is what Lovecraft did when he wrote his sensational "The Lurking Fear," a story that saw its finest reprinting in ye hardcover edition of S. T. Joshi's A Mountain Walked, where ye tale was illustrated. My story is slightly longer than 11,000 words, and is my "Sesqua Valley version" of Lovecraft's originally story. I had a blast writing ye tale, partially because doing so felt slightly illicit: to write one's own version of H. P. Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear" seem'd a frightfully fanboy thing to do--something a professional writer shou'd resist. One attack level'd at my weird fiction is that it is little more than fan fiction--and I completely agree--fan fiction written as professionally as possible. I write my stuff with fannish fervor, with a sense of eldritch fun; but I also aim at writing that is artistic, influenced in this attitude by my passion for the works of Oscar Wilde and Henry James.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sonic Youth - The Empty Page

Ever had that keen desire to write--& yet you can't find the "stuff" inside your noggin that lets your words pour forth? Ain't nuthin' worse than being dumb. I need to begin writing my book of Victorian Mythos fiction, & yet every paragraph I begin becomes a false start. "No, that ain't right; that isn't it." But I do not despair, I have hope that language will win out. It isn't a matter of choice for this old thing, because I am one of those people who needs to write. So, I'm gonna sit here and look at that empty page until the words spill forth...because they will, they must...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Lovecraftian Gathering

I've really been enjoying this new volume in ye LOVECRAFT LIBRARY series from PS Publishing. The book seems slightly thicker than others in ye series, & it is pack'd with excellent essays &c. Ye Contents:
Preface by Pete Von Sholly
Introduction by S. T. Joshi
The Thing on the Doorstep by H. P. Lovecraft
Excised Passages in "The Thing on the Doorstep" by S. T. Joshi
The Haunter of the Dark by H. P. Lovecraft
The Shambler from the Stars by Robert Bloch
Sonnet XXI (Nyarlathotep) from Fungi from Yuggoth by H. P. Lovecraft
The Shadow from the Steeple by Robert Bloch
Nyarlathotep by H. P. Lovecraft
The Spider by Hanns Heinz Ewers
Some Antecedents of the Shining Trapezohedron by Steven J. Mariconda
Thye "Haunter" Letters by H. P. Lovecraft
A Eulogy for the Church of "The Haunter of the Dark" by Robert Bloch

Pete Von Sholly has provided some of his finest artwork for this volume. I especially love his rendition of ye climatic scene

Also included is this charming illustration for Lovecraft's superb prose-poem, "Nyarlathotep" (both prose-poem & sonnet of that title is in ye book). These illustrated volumes are dear to my haunted heart, for I love cool artistic renditions of Lovecraft's fiction, and Pete is so in tune with HPL and his oeuvre that each piece is a delight. The art is varied--some in slid hues, some in a multitude of colours. All of ye art is printed in colour, which must have made these volumes expensive to produce (they are not inexpensive purchases). We have quite a few additional volumes to look forward to!

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I almost forgot to mention ye gathering of last night that gives this blog its title! I spent a wonderful evening with S. T. Joshi and Sunni and Jason Brock. We all met at S. T.'s house, where he has been feeling lonely because his wife is out of town for a wee while. We had some delightful conversation about Lovecraftian matters and things going on in the weird scene (Jason and Sunni go to a huge number of conventions and are amazingly connected with genre notables). S. T. gave me ye newest mailing for the Esoteric Order of Dagon apa, and we spoke as S. T. fought ye temptation to turn on ye telly and watch some sports event. Then we went out to eat at a joint featuring delicious India food and had an amazing meal. I always feel woefully lazy when I'm with these lads and lassie, because they are always working on a multitude of new projects, and I ain't doing much at ye moment. It was a great night.