“Children of the Kingdom”

This week’s weird fiction novella being discussed over at LibraryThing.

Review: “Children of the Kingdom”, T. E. D. Klein, 1980.

I suspect this story couldn’t be published as is today.

The word “nigger” is used twice without any coddling elisions or tetragrammatonish substitutions.

Continue reading

“The Lurking Fear”

Review: “The Lurking Fear”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1922.Lurking Fear

Usually, for these posts, I put up the edition’s cover in which I read the work.

Since I’ve already looked at this story, briefly, before, I thought I’d put up the cover under which the world first saw this story.

Home Brew was a humor magazine. Editor George Julian Houtain, for some reason, wanted horror pieces for it, and commissioned Lovecraft to write some.

You could argue that Lovecraft’s earlier work for the magazine, “Herbert West – Reanimator” is sort of humorous in its over the top narration.

Like that story, “The Lurking Fear” was a serial piece which explains it’s four parts.

Like many Lovecraft stories, it’s narrated in the first person and opens with its hero going to the environs around Tempest Mountains in rural New York. In that area, surrounded by

“poor mongrels who sometimes leave their valleys to trade hand-woven baskets for such primitive necessities as they cannot shoot, raise, or make”

several people have died during thunderstorms.

In one incident, 75 of those natives died or disappeared. Continue reading

“The Beast in the Cave”

The Lovecraft series continues with a piece of his juvenalia.

Raw Feed (2005): “The Beast in the Cave”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1905.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

Written when he was 15, this story shows, in its setting in Mammoth Cave, Lovecraft’s predilection for horror set underground.

It also shows, right from almost the beginning of his fiction, a couple of other motifs.

There is what T. E. D. Klein, in the introduction to this collection, termed Lovecraft’s “neurasthenic narrator”. Here the narrator, when reunited with the cave guide, nearly faints.

Second, there is the theme of devolution since the strange beast the narrator meets in the cave turns out to be a devolved man.

 

More reviews of Lovecraft related titles are indexed on the Lovecraft page.

More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

“Under the Pyramids”

Yes, that’s the Harry Houdini on the byline and H. P. Lovecraft is lurking in the brackets because he was the ghostwriter. This is not the last time we’ll see him in that capacity. Most of his pathetic income was actually derived from ghostwriting.

Going from memory (because I’m not going to take the time to fact check) Lovecraft finished this story up during the honeymoon of his disastrous marriage and en route to New York City where he was going to have a horrible couple of years (even if he got to hang around with his friends in person).

But, as S. T.  Joshi noted in his biography of Lovecraft, the New York City exile strengthened Lovecraft as a person. It certainly led to a burst of creativity when he returned to his home in Providence, Rhode Island.

Raw Feed (2005): “Under the Pyramids”, Harry Houdini [and H. P. Lovecraft], 1924.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

I would be curious as to why Houdini had this story ghostwritten for Weird Tales and why he chose Lovecraft as the ghostwriter.  (I’m sure when I get around to reading Joshi’s biography of Lovecraft, he will answer those questions.)  [And it does, and I’ll probably post something about it in the future.] Was Houdini at this point in his career (1924 — he was to die the next year) trying to become a multimedia star? After all, he had already done three movies in 1919. Though he wrote nonfiction, he may have had neither the inclination nor talent to tackle a work of fiction — which clearly is presented with the conceit that its narrator is Harry Houdini recounting an odd adventure he had in Egypt.  However, I’m still curious why he chose Lovecraft.

I’m fairly confident that the basic plot — Houdini going to Egypt, being stranded in some odd passages beneath the Great Sphinx, and escaping (without any revelation of trade secrets as to how he escapes his bonds) — was Houdini’s. However, the language and probably the conceit of elder surviving horrors beneath the Giza plain are Lovecraft’s. Continue reading

“Herbert West: Reanimator”

The Lovecraft series continues

Raw Feed (2005): “Herbert West: Reanimator”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1921-1922.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

Lovecraft claim to not much like this story regarding it as (which it sort of was) serial hackwork written for a humor magazine Home Brew and that debuted in its first issue.

At the beginning of each of the six sections, Loveccraft has to take some time out to summarize the story thus far, but T. E. D. Klein is right.  This story is fun and full of gory wit.

Lovecraft called it “mechanical and unimaginative” and “manifestly inartistic”. However, as Lovecraft biographer S. T. Joshi noted, he protested too much and probably enjoyed it since, by the end, the story has become a conscious parody.

This, like Lovecraft’s “From Beyond“, features a narrator who grows increasingly afraid of the obsessive hero — here the Aryan Herbert West. (Both the narrator and West are graduates of Miskatonic University’s Medical School making this the first reference to that esteemed university.) Lovecraft presents, accounting for the necessary quirks of its serial origins, a good horror story of how 20 years of botched experiments (including one in France with some war dead) come back to haunt Mr. West. Continue reading

“From Beyond”

The Lovecraft series.

Raw Feed (2005): “From Beyond”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1920.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

In his introduction to this collection, T. E. D. Klein notes that Lovecraft’s protagonist are usually solitary figures or, if a friend is shown, the friend is there to show the downfall of the protagonist.

This is such a story, and I liked the change of pace.

Crawford Tillinghast is described by his best friend, the narrator, as a man who should never have studied philosophy or science. He embarks on a plan to make the invisible entities around us visible — and, in turn, we will become visible to them and (as it turns out), prey.

I liked the bitterness of the story as Tillinghast, begged by the narrator not to continue his researches, kicks him away and then, eventually, tries to get one of the newly discovered entities from beyond to kill him, all the while gloating that at last the existence of his “pets” will be proven. Of course, it is Tillinghast they ultimately kill. Continue reading

“The Doom That Came to Sarnath”

Well I work on getting some new stuff out, I’ll continue with the Lovecraft series.

Raw Feed (2005): “The Doom That Came to Sarnath”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1919.

This story seems to feature some of the same places — given the names (and with the questionable assumption that Lovecraft self-consciously created a consistent dream geography) as the later “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath“. It seems Dunsanian in style, but, in the collection’s introduction, T. E. D. Klein makes the point that the plot itself is similar to what Lovecraft’s idol Edgar Allan Poe used in his “The Masque of the Red Death” in that both stories feature the strange deposition of a tyrannical ruler.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

 

More reviews of Lovecraft related material is on the Lovecraft page.

More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.