Thursday, March 31, 2016
I seem to be on a bit of a Ramsey Campbell kick at the moment - and because I'm also a bit stretched for time as I'm of for a final run-through of the talk that Phil Hine and myself are giving tonight at the London Fortean Society - here's another quick Lovecraftian Thing A Day by way of Mr. Campbell: his recent return to Cthulhu Mythos fiction, The Last Revelation of Gla'aki (with a fine cover by Pete von Sholley). Campbell is currently writing not one, not two, but three new Cthulhu Mythos novel for PS Publishing (who also released this volume). I was fortunate to be present for a reading from one of the novels at NecronomiCon 2015 (I know, I'll try to stop banging on about this!). In any case, fans of Ramsey Campbell's Mythos work have plenty to look forward to.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Today I present Michael Bukowski's Illustro Obscurum - The Revelations of Glaaki as something of a continuation from yesterday's subject matter. The original series of Illustro Obscurum volumes sought to illustrate every single monster and entity in Lovecraft's fiction (including, I think, his Commonplace Book). What was remarkable about this enterprise is that it included monsters and entities mentioned in passing, but not described. As I recall, this resulted in over 750 separate illustrations. Since completing that mammoth task, Mr. Bukowski has moved on to other projects, including this first volume of illustrations depicting the various beings (including the Great Old One Gla'aki, shown here) from Ramsey Campbell's Lovecrsftian tales. The Illustro Obscurum volumes tend to be issued in limited runs due to the partially-handcrafted nature of the books. I was fortunate enough to pick this up during NecronomiCon 2015.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Of all the modern contributors to the Cthulhu Mythos, Ramsey Cambell is without doubt one of my favourites, Many of his Mythos tales merge a sense of urban alienation and neurosis with gritty social realism, which give his spin on the Mythos a very contemporary feel. Campbell's first book, presented here (and which I had signed by him at NecronomiCon 2015!) was published by Arkham House in 1964, when Campbell was only 18 years of age. Bearing that in mind, many of the tales in The Inhabitant of the Lake do lack a maturity of style; but even so, I think that many of them still pass muster. The stories also set out Campbell's UK-based Brichester and Severn Valley locales which has now become an established part of the Cthulhu Mythos, and which are also some of my favourite Lovecraftian settings.
Monday, March 28, 2016
Regular readers of the Ghooric Zone will know of my interest in Lovecraftian interventions into the hobby gaming arena, so for today's Lovecraftian Thing A Day I present my copy of Hornet Leader: The Cthulhu Conflict. This is a supplement for the solitaire tactical/operational-level wargame of modern air combat/bombing sorties, Hornet Leader. This is one of my favourite solitaire games, and of course, as far as I'm concerned, pretty much anything Lovecraft-related has my name on it - quite literally, in this case (I was an early pre-order backer of the supplement, which meant my name ended up on the box).
The Cthulhu Conflict offers a number of scenarios involving US Airforce/Naval operations in response to the speculated rise of R'lyeh and the return of the Great Old Ones in the near future. Your pilots can go insane, and you can even use drones to drop nukes on Great Cthulhu - for all the good that will do you...
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Henry Beckwith, Jr.'s Lovecraft's Providence & Adjacent Parts has been an invaluable guide during my trips to that fine city over the years. I also had the opportunity to see Henry Beckwith give a talk on Lovecraft at the Providence Art Club at NecronomiCon 2013. Whilst somewhat battered from its travels, this book occupies a very special place in my collection: thank you, Henry Beckwith, Jr.!
Saturday, March 26, 2016
A few copies of this rare monograph - which translates a portion of a pre-Columbian codex produced by an as-yet unidentified Central American culture - have fallen into the hands of the good folks over at the HPLHS. The codex outlines a supposedly-prehuman and alien mythology involving the Earth's habitation by monstrous beings during some vastly ancient epoch. Intriguingly, some of the pictoglyphs found in the codex bear a startling resemblance to various objects in my collection - to which a similar prehuman origin has also been attached. In any case, the correlated contents of this diverse body of data increasingly leads me to suspect not only that that humanity is not the first of the Earth's masters, but also that it will not be the last...
Friday, March 25, 2016
Today's item is a collection of Lovecraft's essays and various travelogues, including his famous description of Quebec. To Quebec and the Stars is a particular favourite HPL book of mine, in part because I've always found the title to be wonderfully evocative of the Lovecraftian milieu, but also because the travelogues put paid to the lie that Lovecraft was some sort of antisocial recluse who spent his life locked away in a musty attic feverishly penning weird tales. The essays in this volume are (I think I'm correcting in stating) now all available in the Collected Essays which Hippocampus Press offer in both hardcopy as well as in electronic format.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
A few weeks ago Jason McKittrick, Professor Emeritus of the Dept. of Archaeology at Miskatonic University, forwarded this item: an idol depicting Tsathoggua, the primordial toad god of fabled Hyperborea. Until recently this peculiar artefact could be found in the Special Collections of the Miskatonic University's small but excellent museum; however, subsequent to a number of unfortunate and disturbing incidents involving the relic (including the disappearance of the Special Collections curator), Prof. McKittrick has deemed it to be in the best interests of his institution - and, indeed, of the museum staff - to place the grotesque little idol in my care.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
I can't quite remember where this came from, which is surprising given how ugly it is. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this thing definitely hit all of the branches on the way down after falling out of the Ugly Tree. But it is the Dunwich Horror after all, so I suppose we should love the damned thing (pun intended) regardless.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Joe Broers unearthed this artefact during his travels, and kindly forwarded it to me for safekeeping: a strange wooden effigy - possibly Neolithic in origin - carved with cephalopodic features. Proximity to the object has been known to provoke waking visions of a titanic sunken city whose architecture appears to follow an unwholesome and wholly alien order of geometric precepts. Fortunately the item is now safely ensconced with others of its kind in my collection of bizarrerie, restrained by the force of various esoteric wards and sigils which protect myself - and indeed the rest of humanity - from the archaic horrors that lurk within.
Monday, March 21, 2016
Today's item has a little bit of a mystery surrounding it, and it is something of an oddity in my collection (I'm not sure how well known this is in Lovecraft circles). Apparently Other Nations was scheduled to be published by Chaosium under the author's actual name (Tani Jantsang) as part of their Mythos fiction line. The book never appeared, but was eventually published in this POD edition under the pseudononymous authorship of T & P Marsh. As I understand it, Tani Jantsang was and is involved in the contemporary Satanist scene, and may have had some association with Anton LaVey's The Church of Satan. I can't help wondering if Chaosium, learning about this, may have decided not to publish: given the fact that they were then and are now primarily an rpg company, they may have understandably wanted to avoid any association with Satanism (and of course as a consequence of the 'Satanic Panic' of the 80s and 90s, rpgs have had a very troubled history of [erroneously] assumed association with the occult). It's been years since I read Other Nations, and all I recall about it is that it was a very odd book.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Today's entry is a follow up to yesterday's, and effectively completes my current collection of Neville Spearman editions of the Lovecraft Circle: Robert E. Howard's Skull-Face Omnibus. Whilst in the 1970s I was already familiar with Howard's work via his Conan tales, it was this book - again found upon the shelves of my local public library - which introduced me to his weird fiction. Cracking stuff.
Saturday, March 19, 2016
In previous posts I've noted that my earliest encounters with Cthulhu Mythos fiction were via various Arkham House titles which Neville Spearman reprinted in the UK (more of which in a later entry), and which were also available in the local public library library. Whilst these included volumes by Derleth, Bloch, and Howard, my initial recollection was that there was nothing by Clark Ashton Smith on the shelves. Indeed, I recall that my first encounter with Smith was by way of a paperback edition of The City of the Singing Flame. However, yesterday I picked up these two Neville Spearman editions of Smith from a second-hand bookshop in central London (and for a ridiculously low price) - and the covers seem awfully familiar. I now suspect that they probably were on the shelves of said public library, but for some reason I never bothered to read them. In any case, this has awoken a fervent nostalgia for Spearman editions of the Lovecraft circle, such that I'll probably pick up the remaining Smith volumes in the series. Such is the burden of being a collector...
Friday, March 18, 2016
As discussed in a previous post, I was an early adopter of the whole Thomas Ligotti thing - largely thanks to Carl Ford's Dagon. Whilst I missed out on some very early Ligotti choice cuts - specifically the Silver Scarab Press first edition of Songs of A Dead Dreamer - I've also managed to acquire a fairly substantial collection of Ligotti rarities. In light of the recently resurrected X Files, today I present the (sadly) unfilmed script of Crampton: an X Files episode written by Thomas Ligotti and Brandon Trenz. Given that this is Ligotti, any meaningful attempt to describe or outline here the narrative of the script would be pointless (or at least beyond the art of the present writer). However, some idea of the theme and content of this speculative episode is helpfully provided by The Unholy City - an accompanying CD soundtrack which you can listen to freely on YouTube, and which is performed by Ligotti himself. Here I include a link to one of the tracks (and what may be my favourite Ligotti piece of all time): Nobody is Anybody.
Nobody is Anybody has a calmingly nihilistic beauty which has, frankly, carried me through some of the bleakest hours of my life - abetted by the revelation that, despite the pretense of the prosaic, coherent selfhood I present daily to the equally well-crafted doll-like visages of those around me (who despite an implicit awareness of the dramaturgical rigmarole in which they participate, nonetheless seem intent on maintaining the muddled illusion - to paraphrase Thomas Metzinger - that anyone is or ever has been a self), the thing which I call myself can never be anything more than an epiphenomenon - a hollow and anonymous shadow dwelling forever and always within the desolate and decrepit limits of the Unholy City.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
This was another item I acquired at NecronomiCon 2015 from Jason McKittrick of Cryptocurium: a wall plaque depicting a manifestation of Yog Sothoth above some standing stones, presumably atop one of the mysterious domed hills of the Dunwich region.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
This Moonbeast paperweight was gifted to me a few years ago, and is primarily of interest as it is one of the only pieces of Moonbeast statuary I've so far encountered. I'm not sure of its provenance, although the person who gave it to me claimed that the item appeared mysteriously after they had dreamed of strange cities on the lightless side of Earth's companion orb.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
I was unsure as to whether or not to post this lest it be considered disrespectful, but in remembrance of H.P. Lovecraft I present a rubbing from his headstone I made during my first visit to Providence in September 2001. At that time, the member of the Cemetary police who guided me to the grave seemed OK with me doing this, but I think today it would be frowned upon by Swann Point Cemetary. In any case, this is one of my most treasured possessions.
Monday, March 14, 2016
In October 1979 Heavy Metal magazine celebrated Hallowe'en with a special issue devoted to Lovecraft. Of note (and remaining true to the magazine's French roots) this included a tribute by Phillipe Druillet, whose work was also formative of my early interest in sci-fi, fantasy, and the weird. In fact, I anticipate a return visit to the work of Monsieur Druillet for a later entry in this series.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials proved to be one of the earliest fixtures in my collection of things Lovecraftian - the copy pictured here is the very same one I picked up in 1979. The book is, in fact, only minimally Lovecraftian to the extent that it only contains one entry from the Cthulhu Mythos, regarding the Old Ones/Elder Things of Antarctica. Even so, this was yet another volume that proved influential in inducting my younger self into the world of weird fiction.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
I picked up this quaint piece of Lovecraftian-occult paraphernalia a year or two ago. Lovecraft's materialistic universe (The Thing on the Doorstep, The Shadow Out of Time and perhaps Charles Dexter Ward aside) does not really admit to the idea of consciousness existing beyond the death of the physical body; thus the idea of a Lovecraftian ouija board seems rather anomalous. Indeed, all my attempts to commune with the Other Side (or perhaps, in this case, the Outside) using this device have only ever met with one reply: the hideous, interminable and unresponsive indifference of the silent, staring void.
Friday, March 11, 2016
This is an ornamental piece produced by Arkham Studios as part of their Kickstarter to create a full sized bust of Lovecraft, which was unveiled at the Providence Athenaeum during NecronomiCon 2013. Notably, the item incorporates a version of the silhouette for which Lovecraft sat during March 1925. It is both apposite and an irony that the original silhouette - one of the more famous and enduring artistic representations of Lovecraft - was, in fact, produced by an African-American artist by the name of Perry.
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Another one from the dungeon vaults: TSR's Dwellers of the Forbidden City scenario for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, published in 1981. Actually less of your standard dungeon crawl and more of a sandbox setting, Dwellers of the Forbidden City was another rare instance where TSR largely abandoned the tired Tolkienesque tropes that had, even at this early time in the hobby, become such an intrinsic part of fantasy roleplaying. Instead we get a Lovecraftian/Howardian set up involving ancient tentacled horrors lurking deep beneath the earth, frog-like humanoids, and demon-worshipping serpent people - all inhabiting the crumbling jungle ruins of a prehuman city (which, if you look closely at the maps, is replete with Cthulhoid statuary). Nice.
Wednesday, March 09, 2016
I bought these issues of Cthulhu Sex more out of curiosity than out of a salacious desire to indulge in the viewing of seedy tentacle porn. At least that's the story I'm sticking with. I picked these up in Arkham – the long lamented shop in Brighton, UK, of which I've previously spoken. Interestingly Cthulhu Sex has a something of an occult/Chaos magickal/TOPY-like tenor, but is much less exciting and transgressive than it sounds (or indeed tries to make itself out to be). These are without doubt rather odd – as well as slightly embarrassing – additions to my collection.
Tuesday, March 08, 2016
The Art of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos is Fantasy Flight Games’ entry into the field of Lovecraftian art books, collecting many of the images and art pieces that have been used to illustrate various of their Cthulhu mythos-themed games. Whilst much of its contents is not what I would consider ‘classic’ Lovecraftian art, this is nonetheless a colourful collection of professionally produced illustrations containing some evocative examples of the genre. A regular go-to for when I want to envelop myself in visual Cthulhuvian weirdness.
Monday, March 07, 2016
I picked up this print during a visit to the Nicholas Roerich museum in New York post-NecronomiCon 2013. I'm pretty sure this must be one of the Roerich pieces Lovecraft mentions as having inspired At the Mountains of a Madness. It is both weird and sublimely beautiful, and a fantastic visual complement to Lovecraft's tale. If the Plateau of Leng was real, I'm sure it would look like this.
Sunday, March 06, 2016
Something lighter by way of a palette-cleanser after yesterday's overblown weirdness: I'm prone to pimping out my games - even moreso when it comes to Lovecraftian gaming. Typically, I try to ensure that I never leave the house when embarking on Cthulhuvian gaming endeavours without my Elder Sign polyhedral dice and dice bag, along with my Elder Sign dice cup. On which point, my dice cup glows in the dark. Does yours?
Saturday, March 05, 2016
Today I present another original Dave Carson sculpture. This is in fact one of two of Mr Carson's shoggoth pieces which currently reside in my collection (I understand that there are at least three more shoggoth sculpts in the hands of other collectors). I try not to spend too much time pondering this particular object d'art - otherwise my dreams are haunted for days afterward by horrid visions of monstrous mutations and hideous permutations of the flesh.
Indeed, on more than one occasion I've awoken from such a nightmare with the utter conviction that my own body has allowed itself to become the traitorous subject of such awful transfigurations, only to cunningly resume its usual morphology mere moments.before my waking. So convinced had I become of this conceit that, during a certain season of these horrible dreams, I decided to film myself during the hours of my troubled slumbering. After the first night, all that the cheap video camera I purchased for this purpose showed was black static. However, closer scrutiny revealed something more terrible: behind the monotonous hiss of the static, I began to clearly discern the words 'tekeli-li, tekeli-li' chanted repeatedly in an oily, glutinous voice - one that, though weirdly distorted, bore a frightening resemblance to my own.
Friday, March 04, 2016
More Old School Renaissance gaming goodness today with Goblinoid Games' Realms of Crawling Chaos - a most excellent sourcebook for running Lovecraftian-themed sword-and-sorcery games using OSR systems like Labyrinth Lord or Basic/Expert D&D.
Thursday, March 03, 2016
In honour of the Welsh visionary's birthday, I present my collection of Machen's autobiographies (recently republished in beautiful new editions by Three Imposters). Happy Birthday, Arthur Machen! Please do also check out The Friends of Arthur Machen (of which I am a proud member) and consider supporting them.
Wednesday, March 02, 2016
Like Nightgaunts, statuettes of your common or garden Lovecraftian ghoul turn out to be something of a rarity amongst purveyors of contemporary Lovecraftian material culture - so I was pleased that Gage Prentiss was able to provide me with this rather disturbing piece of ghoulish netsuke during NecronomiCon 2015. I'm not sure what it is about this item, but if I spend too long admiring it I find myself driven by a curious need for the kind of vitals ye can neither raise nor buy...
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Just a quick one for today: the remnants of my Grafton editions of Lovecraft, published in the UK back in the 1980s. These were the first editions of Lovecraft that I owned. As I recall, my Grafton copy of At The Mountains of Madness ending up getting immolated in some bizarre ritual...