Sargasso #2

Review: Sargasso: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies #2, ed. Sam Gafford, 2014.

Cover by Robert H. Knox

The first issue of this journal had lots of material. This one is thinner – whether from a lack of contributors or due to production costs, I don’t know.

Andy Robertson R.I.P. (1955-2014)” remembers the man who sparked a mini-Hodgson revival with his creation of The Night Land website devoted to Hodgson’s eponymous novel, and Robertson also published and wrote stories set in the world of that work.

Under the Skin: A Profile of William Hope Hodgson” by Jane Frank offers a brief look at Hodgson’s personality. By the age of five, three of Hodgson’s brothers had died. Hodgson’s unusual middle name – usually a female name – may have had theological implications for his clerical father and his wife. (They wanted a daughter.) Frank sees Hodgson as, from an early age, energetic, imaginative, and always wanting more. Part of the behavior that some saw as egotistical and self-centered (Frank quotes from editors who met him and letters Hodgson wrote) may have been the result of his desire for attention.

She sees Hodgson’s personality as shaped by the two ages he lived in: the “repressive” Victorian world of his youth where mores were important and the energetic Edwardian age of fortune-seeking and technology. Hence we see Hodgson as an early adopter of the typewriter and photography and his entrepreneurial streak and attempts to support himself after leaving the Mercantile Navy. Hodgson was in boarding school by age eight, and his family had moved five times by the time he was 13. He was a temperamental lad and, around his father, unruly and disobedient. Continue reading

Walking the Night Land: Nightmares of the Fall

Essay: William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands, Volume II: Nightmares of the Fall, ed. Andy W. Robertson, 2007.51fUi7mkKFL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

There is love and reincarnation and existential metaphors for life in the second volume of this skillful and largely seamless extension of Hodgson’s The Night Land. But time is running out for humanity, and this group of stories starts out overlapping with some of the later stories in the first volume and takes us to the fall of the Last Redoubt and beyond. John C. Wright’s tour-de-force, “The Last of All Suns” does the honors for the last bit. His “The Cry of the Night Hound” opens the anthology. I’ve looked at both in depth before.

There were actually three anthologies planned for the series. But one, “The Days of Darkening”, was never done due to Robertson’s death in 2014.

Robertson and Brett Davidson furnish most of the stories, their style synching well in tracing the large currents of technology and culture in the Last Redoubt through the ages. Continue reading

Walking the Night Land: Eternal Love

Our walk through the Night Land looks at the anthology that kicked off a modern resurgence of fiction related to Hodgson’s novel.

Essay: William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands, Volume 1: Eternal Love, ed. Andy W. Robertson, 2003.

Cover by Stephen Fabian

The Night Land website started by the late Andy Robertson in 2001 was responsible for a resurgence of interest, homages, and extensions of William Hope Hodgson’s eponymous novel.

Originally, Robertson just intended the website to collect “pictures, documents, and essays” about that work. But, starting with Nigel Atkinson’s “An Exhalation of Butterflies”, people began to contribute their own stories set in Hodgson’s world. They extended his story or interpolated stories alluded to in it.

Eventually this anthology and a second came out of those contributions as did the James Stoppard and Hodgson collaboration The Night Land: A Story Retold and most of the contents of John C. Wright’s Awake in the Night.

You can read many of the stories in the two anthologies on the website as well as stories that weren’t included. (I won’t be covering those in this series.) I get the impression that a third anthology was planned about “The Days of Darkening”, when the sun was going dim and man was not yet huddled in the Last Redoubt. However, Robertson’s death in 2014 seems to have ended that project. Continue reading