“Things in the Weeds”

Review: “Things in the Weeds: The Supernatural in Hodgson’s Short Stories”, S. T. Joshi, 2014, 2012.

Voices from the Borderland
Cover by Daniele Serra

While Joshi thinks, with justification, that Hodgson could be formulaic and tried to produce too much to support himself which resulted in slight variations of settings and themes and series characters, his horror fiction is commendable and has memorable moments.
Joshi argues, I think correctly, that much of Hodgson’s fiction features interesting gradations between the supernatural and the natural as explanations for events. This is particularly true of the sea stories but also of the Carnacki stories. Supernatural mysteries often turn out to have natural explanations. Sometimes something like the supernatural is behind things. Sometimes there is a blend. Sometimes the natural is so bizarre (swarms of giant rats and crabs and octopi and massive moving fungus) that it is almost supernatural.
Interestingly, he sees a couple of stories as exhibiting agnostic Hodgson’s hostility to Christianity.
He notes that the shipwrecked man in “The Voice in the Night” is constantly giving thanks to God throughout points of his ordeal and claims it is God’s will that insists he tell his story. But he and his wife get no help from God.
In “Out of the Storm”, a complaint is made by the man on the sinking ship that the storm was created by God, that it is an angry and malevolent God. As Joshi says, the man repents of his blasphemy at story’s end, but it’s the complaint and not the apology that sticks in the reader’s mind.


[Updated on April 30, 2020]

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