“Stone Cold Fever”

No, I have not put this blog to sleep.

Things are probably going to be sparse around here for a couple of months for reasons I won’t get into.

For instance, this is a story discussed on LibraryThing’s Deep Ones group three weeks ago.

Review: “Stone Cold Fever”, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., 2009.

Stone Cold Fever
Illustration by Peter Szmer

As is if often the case, I wasn’t too fond of this Pulver story. 

It’s a noirish story that isn’t even a truly weird story, but a crime story about searching for a missing boy..

The story reveals some lazy tendencies of Pulver.

The story is told by a vigilante who works in collaboration with some other people. There’s the possibly psychic Shadow, Shade, and the boss, Toni, conveniently the sister-in-law of a state’s attorney general.

The crime to be investigated and avenged here is the disappearance of Kathy’s son.

Kathy just happens to be the sister of Pam, a possible girlfriend of the narrator’s when he was in a band and before he was drafted for the Vietnam War. Yes, he’s a maladjusted Vietnam Veteran: “They said the War was over, you can lie down now – I told them to kiss my ass.”

Adding to the cliches, when he returns from the war he just happens to come upon “five Nazi creeps” raping Pam with Kathy in a closet. Perhaps, Pulver is speaking metaphorically about the Nazis ‘cause real-life, honest-to-god Nazis are pretty scarce on the ground now and also in the 1970s and 1980s, about the time that scene takes place.

Continue reading

“Witches’ Hollow”

This week’s weird fiction selection.

Review: “Witches’ Hollow”, H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth, 1962.DRKMKHRT3A1962

This, like other “collaborations” between Lovecraft and Derleth I’ve read, was rather lifeless. Derleth’s usual technique was simply to expand on a story note or fragment of Lovecraft’s. On its first publication in the Derleth edited Dark Mind, Dark Heart, he even puts Lovecraft’s name prominently on the story with his own name asterisked in footnote “Completed by August Derleth”.

These collaborations don’t do a thing for me emotionally, and I find them an exercise in just mentally ticking off boxes to see which of the “gods” invented by Derleth he’s going to add to his version of the “Cthulhu Mythos” — a term he coined. There’s also the usual bland domestication of Lovecraft’s vision with what are, essentially, magical relics.

Here Derleth works in some references to Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” and sets the story around Arkham.  Continue reading

The Midnight Eye Files

A few months back, it was the weekend of my birthday.

I’d just finished David Hambling’s Alien Stars, and I wanted another book of a mystery, private-eye, Lovecraftian sort.

It was my birthday, and I didn’t feel like reading anything on my review list. So, after spending some minutes looking at my kindle titles, I latched on to William Meikle’s The Amulet which I had gotten free somehow.

I liked it so well, I bought this omnibus and finished the rest of it the same weekend. (You see, authors, sometimes giving away the free sample does work.)

I first came across Meikle’s work in High Seas Cthulhu, and I’ve liked most of his stories I’ve come across in various anthologies.

Low Res Scan: The Midnight Eye Files, William Meikle, 2013, 2016.Midnight Eye Files

The mean, low-rent streets of Glasgow, Scotland and the hero, Derek Adams, are the strong points here.

Adams is a one-time microbiology student turned wise-cracking reporter turned wise-cracking private eye. He smokes too much, drinks too much, earns too little, and can’t get over the guilt from the suicide of his girlfriend 20 years ago. He’s a self-consciously Philip Marlowe type.

Meikle, a Scot transplanted to Newfoundland, lived and worked a number of years in Glasgow, so depicts the town he knew then though the setting is now an “idealised one“. We see the highs and lows of Glasgow, the pubs and thrift shops, and slums as well as the country and towns nearby.

The usual private eye plots are in place. Meandering questioning of people, some who won’t survive the story, gradual revelations here that involving the occult. Meikle has some continuity in character relationships from novel to novel which is welcome instead of hitting the reset button after each story. Continue reading

Edgar Poe as a Literary Character

I came across, while prowling around on G. W. Thomas’ webpage, a list of fiction featuring Edgar Allan Poe as a character.

There are a whole lot I had not heard much less read.

Oddly enough, he missed two I have read: Charles L. Harness’ Lurid Dreams and the Sam Moskowitz anthology The Man Who Called Himself Poe. The latter has three of the stories Thomas talks about: Manly Wade Wellman’s “When It Was Moonlight”, Robert Bloch’s “The Man Who Collected Poe”, and the Lovecraft-Derleth collaboration of “The Dark Brotherhood”.



Working my way through the works of James Gunn, skilled author, historian, and critic of science fiction, is one of those reading projects I may actually get done before I die. I’ve found his critical writings, especially his Road to Science Fiction series, a great guide to the genre. As a novel writer, he has produced some outstanding books too.

I bought this one when it came out, but, reading Donald M. Hassler’s informative look at it, “The Little Big Book from James Gunn: Real SF and a Huge Body of Work” in The New York Review of Science Fiction, issue #305, inspired me to read it now.

(By the way, it’s been years since I’ve looked at a copy of that magazine. I liked what I saw, but it always seemed too pricey for a subscription and too inconvenient to order single copies. Since you can now buy single digital issues quite conveniently through Weightless Books, it’s worth frequently checking out what they’re offering.)

Hassler notes that one of Gunn’s professional rules as a fiction writer is to never write something that can’t be sold twice. In this case, some of the alien pilgrims’ tales have already been printed in the Frederik Pohl tribute anthology Gateways.

Review: Transcendental by James Gunn, 2013.

After the Galactic War, pack a bunch of aliens into a dilapidated starship, all on a pilgrimage for a rumored Transcendental Machine. Add a human hero blackmailed with a lethal brain implant to go on that pilgrimage to destroy the machine and its Prophet. Throw in some shipboard assassinations, and you have the setting for Gunn’s latest novel. Continue reading

Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth

My review of Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth, the final volume in Stephen Jones trilogy of anthologies that follow up on H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, is up at, where else, Innsmouth Free Press.

You should already be reading everything from Innsmouth Free Press.  And, no, they don’t pay me.