Friday, October 21, 2016
Someone who has been absent from these pages for far too long is Wilum H. Pugmire - Lovecraftian prose-poet extraordinaire. Today I present Pugmire's Monstrous Aftermath: Stories in the Lovecraftian Tradition, which also contains one of my favourite of his pieces: Some Unknown Gulf of Night - a series of prose vignettes based on Lovecraft's Fungi from Yuggoth sonnet cycle. Nice.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Concluding a veritable Kleinian trilogy of terror, today's offering is The Events at Poroth Farm - one of T.E.D Klein's earliest works, and the short story that was to form the basis for his monumental The Ceremonies. I picked my chapbook copy (illustrated by Jason Eckhardt) from a specialist bookshop (The House on the Borderland in Peterborough, UK) in the early 1990s (although the story was first published in 1972). Whilst it is a bit raw around the edges, this is still great stuff - fortunately it is also available in Kindle/ebook format in the Cthulhu Mythos Megapack via Amazon.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
A follow up to 1984's The Ceremonies, T.E.D. Klein's Dark Gods collects four of the author's short stories/novellas. The first of which, Petey, is another classic of modern weird fiction. I believe that an early draft contained a few Lovecraftian references, but to be honest the tale works better without them. Whilst Petey's premise is fairly straightfoward (a sorcerer's familiar comes looking for its master), Klein nonetheless manages to spin this into a tale of creeping dread by the slow and careful weaving of an intrusion of something utterly otherworldly into the prosaic fabric of middle-class urbanity.
Black Man With A Horn is (as far as I am aware) Klein's one and only addition to the Cthulhu Mythos. It is also one of those rare gems of Mythos fare that achieves literary status. Exploring themes of old age, loss and regret, here the Mythos is revealed - both subtly but realistically - within the interstices of a life lived in Lovecraft's shadow when an ethnological exhibit reveals a horrifying reality lurking behind 'the Master's' fiction.
Like The Ceremonies, The Children of the Kingdom is a further paean to Machen, this time artfully relocating his 'Little People' mythology to the centre of metropolitan modernity, but also playing on inferences found in Machen's The Shining Pyramid and The Novel of the Black Seal in a particularly shocking manner.
Of the four tales, Nadelman's God is the one I least remember; as a consequence I don't have much to say about it here other than it warrants a further perusal on my part before I make any final judgement. Regardless, though, Dark Gods is another classic of modern weird fiction from a writer who is, sadly for us readers, far from prolific - but whose work thus constitutes a rare vintage worth savouring.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Probably of the best weird novels of the late 20th Century, T.ED. Klein's The Ceremonies is about to see a new re-release in hardback from PS Publishing. More Machen than Lovecraft (at a push The Ceremonies could be almost be treated as a kind of sequel to Machen's The White People), the novel does, nonetheless contain a strong thread of cosmicism running through it, and is a must-read if you are new to weird fiction or haven't yet encountered this. Sadly, this is the only novel Klein has thusfar published, although (and I may be misremembering this) I seem to recall that S.T. Joshi mentioned recently that Klein has finally returned to finishing his long-anticipated second novel Night Town...
Monday, October 17, 2016
I've just been listening to the larest podcast edition of the Lovecraft eZine show where the topic was Lovecraftian films available to stream, and was reminded of Die Farbe, an adaptation of The Colour Out of Space (and one of the better Lovecraftian movies out there). The Colour Out of Space highlights one of the key difficulties of translating Lovecraft's work Into a visual medium, insofar as his tales often deal with that which is both inconceivable and unrepresentable (although this is open to question, given the detailed desriptions he sometimes provides for his monsters). In any case, Die Farbe addresses the problem of how to show a previously unknown colour in a rather original manner. Definitely wort watching.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Modiphius' Achtung! Cthulhu WW2 setting (for both Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds) provides another massive 350+ page Antarctic campaign setting where we return, once again to the Mountsins of Madness - in this instance to try and stop Nazi occultists calling up something very nasty and world changing indeed. in sctual fact, Assault on the Mountsins of Madness adheres fairly closely to key plot elements found in Chaosium's Beyond the Mountsins of Madness - although in this instance the denouement feels a little closer to what Lovecraft infers in the original work. The book is beautifully produced in full colour, and contains some amazing and awe-inspiring art. Even so, the pulpiness of the Achtung! Cthulhu setting doesn't quite fit with the bleak cosmicism of AtMoM, and as a consequence the feel of the piece doesn't entirely live up to what some of the art suggests. However, this is less the fault of Modiphius' excellent efforts, and more a consequence of the roleplaying medium, which I'm still not entirely convinced is an oeuvre capable of replicating the mood and feel of Lovecraft's writing.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness is not only my favourite of Lovecraft's work, but I consider it to be a landmark in weird fiction. As an avid roleplayer (at least back in the day), news that Chaosium were releasing a massive Antarctic campaign which effectively functioned as a sequel AtMoM meant that this was an automatic purchase. Indeed, Beyond the Mountsins of Madness is a formidable piece of rpg writing at 400+ pages in length, with lots of incredibly well-researched information detailing the minutiae of polar expeditions of the period - not forgetting an attempt to tie in various of Lovecraft's influences (notably Poe and Roerich) into the campaign's narrative - this has all the makings of an rpg classic. An, indeed, it has every right to be considered as such. However, Beyond the Mountains of Madness ultimately highlights for me the limitations of rpgs as a medium within which to replicate the experience of reading Lovecraft; but, in fairness, this is not what playing rpgs are about. Even so, I ultimately found the denouement of this campaign to be a disappointment. Indeed, I had anticipated this on beginning my initial read of the book, insofar as I knew that it could never offer, as a player experience, anything comparable to what AtMoM suggests in its final paragraphs. Indeed, the book's explanation as to exactly what lies within the needle-like peaks beyond those Mountsins of Madness falls short of what Lovecraft himself indicates in one of his letter. Yet, whilst a failure on this sccount, Beyond the Mountains of Madness remains a marvellous snd rematkable one at that. Bravo.