The Ghost Club

This one got downloaded to my Kindle because it contains several stories using the Meikle Mythos of Sigils and Totems.

Review: The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror, William Meikle, 2017.

Cover by Ben Baldwin

Recently the Criterion Club in London found itself placed in receivership and selling its assets off. In a hidden bookcase, this journal, a collection of lost literary works by club members and visitors transcribed (and perhaps touched up a bit) by Arthur Conan Doyle was found.

The quality of Meikle’s imitations of those writers I can’t, for the most part, speak to. I haven’t read all these authors, and some I have only read a few works by. (I’ll put the putative authors of each story in parentheses next to the relevant title.)

I do think I’ve read enough of H. G. Wells to say that “Farside” is a convincing imitation in style and theme. Its narrator tells us about a demonstration of a Chromoscope, a machine of spinning colored plates that light is passed through and projected onto a wall. It’s a creation of his inventor friend, Hoskins. Hoskins and friends find out, by putting their hands between the projector and the wall, that they have rainbow auras about their hands. Well, all except Dennings who has a “sickly glow, all green” around his. Perhaps its no coincidence that he dies three days later. But why is that green glow now around Hoskins’ hand? Being a Wells’ fan, I was inclined to like this.

I enthusiastically liked so many stories (nine out of 14) that I can’t really call them favorites. Continue reading

Solomon Kane

The pulp series continues.

Apart from of Howard’s work in the Cthulhu Mythos of his friend H. P. Lovecraft, the first full book I read of Howard’s was this.

Solomon Kane, wandering Puritan fighting evil, is an idea I’ve longed found fascinating. Sometimes, I think I like the idea of Solomon Kane more than Howard’s actual Kane stories.

I first heard the name Solomon Kane in radio promos for a band out of Rapid City, South Dakota.

It was years before I first encountered the actual stories in some comic book adaptations.

I’ve read a few Conan stories since 2001 as part of the Deep Ones discussion group over at LibraryThing..

Raw Feed (2001): Solomon Kane, Robert E. Howard, 1995.Solomon Kane

“Introduction”, Ramsey Campbell — Campbell explains his connection with Howard going back to early in his writing career when he posthumously finished some Howard fragments. (He helpfully notes which three stories he finished and where, exactly, his writing begins.) He also talks about the historical milieu of the Kane tales, talks a bit about some of the weaponry, and tries to put the stories in some sort of chronological order.

“Skulls in the Stars” — My introduction to the original Solomon Kane. (I’ve read a comic book adaptation of him.) He’s as humorless and ruthless as I hoped. This also features one of my favorite supernatural plot devices — here an idiot ghost who really wants to kill his cousin but can’t tell him apart from other men. Kane solves that problem by capturing his cousin and tying him to a tree — though he thoughtfully arranges the bonds so that the man can slip them in time to meet death “free and unshackled”. Kane, always concerned with his soul’s state, isn’t sure he’s done the Lord’s work.

“The Right Hand of Doom” — Rather superficial tale in which Kane is more of an observer than participant. He witnesses a sorcerer, on the night before his execution, send his amputated hand out to kill a man who betrayed him. Continue reading

Stealing Other People’s Homework: The Return (Reprint) of the Lost Race Novel

A lost race novel by Nero Wolfe’s Rex Stout?

A Hollow Earth invaded by a Brit and a Yank?

Another lost race novel by H. Rider Haggard.

Paul Di Filippo looks at some recent lost novel reprints


Reading Bitter Bierce: Bierce and Science Fiction

If you look up some standard reference works on science fiction, you will see a few Bierce tales mentioned. They always mention “Moxon’s Master” (1909), an early robot story, and “That Damned Thing” (1898), an early invisible menace story.

Robert S. Coulson’s entry on Bierce in the James Gunn edited The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction mentions both as well as “The Realm of the Unreal” which I’ve already discussed. 

The Bierce entry, authored by Peter Nichols and John Clute, in The Science Fiction Encyclopedia mentions several weird tales I’ve already discussed using the justification that “the speculative environment they create is often sufficiently displaced to encourage the interest of sf readers”. But they also mention “John Smith Liberator: (From a Newspaper of the Far Future)” aka “John Smith” (1873), “For the Ahkoond” (1888), and “The Ashes of the Beacon: An Historical Monograph Written in 4930” (1905) which is a radical revision of “The Fall of the Republic: An Article from a ‘Court Journal’ of the Thirty-First Century” (1888). I will be talking about all these stories in future posts except “John Smith” and “The Fall of the Republic”, neither of which I’ve gotten my hands on yet.

For now, though, I want to briefly talk about Bierce’s place in science fiction as an editor, critic, cheerleader and, in a sense, imitator. Continue reading