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Whistle and I’ll Come For You My Lad – by M.R. James

by on Jun.18, 2013

The great Montague Rhodes James has bequeathed a real treat in this piece. How often are we shown a ghost on a windy beach under the wide open sky? Where would the thrill of the unheimlich be, that qualm of the uncanny, with the bright heavens all unfurled above our spector? All I can say is M.R. JAMES had MY spine nailed. Between the wide, wild sea and windy sky it came seeking, darting left and right as it advanced like a hound tracking spoor, and the great James had done the deed: I’d seen a ghost, a blind appetitive thing with a vile, unearthly energy had just crawled through my mind! Thank you MRJ. You rock.

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Marc Laidlaw’s LENG/ Lovecraft Unbound

by on Jun.14, 2013

Marc Laidlaw is ace enough to know what near neighbors horror and humor are.
The grotesque is the soul of both. In Leng we see the two strains impeccably entwined. Our narrator, newly alighted in Leng: “Never have I visited a culture where mushrooms were of such great ethnic and economic importance.” (!) “… For myself, a mere mushroom enthusiast ” (as opposed to a real mycologist!) “it was an intoxicating stroll.”
To quote Leng at length is hard to resist, but would mar the delight awaiting the unwarned reader. The narrator is penetrating the high fastnesses of Leng in search of Schurr and Perry, two renowned mycologists who have gone before him.
Our seekers at length encounter Heinrich Perry at a temple situated just below the great plateau of Leng. Evasively he indicates that his wife Danielle Schurr is not immediately on hand because, “she has been recognized as a superior practitioner of the mushroom cult.”
These initial disclosures discohere into a yet more alien landsape, a narrative tour de force of transmutation of our characters and their setting alike. In this narrative as in all good horror, the floor caves in beneath us, again, and again, and at last.

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Voice From The Ooze

by on Jun.14, 2013

Me and the computer. Think the beginning of 2001. The chimp with the femur. In that movie, the femur, with one toss twirled like a baton to become a space station. For me, I’m still figuring out one end of that bone from the other. But I am now realizing how rewarding a dialogue can be had through this “new” (to me) medium. So, I’m going to start posting reviews of literature, contemporary and/or permanently relevant. The first one will be of Marc Laidlaw’s LENG, originally appearing in Ellen Datlow’s anthology LOVECRAFT UNBOUND. I also have a piece in the this collection, THE RECRUITER.

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Tribute to Jack Vance

by on Jun.04, 2013

Jack Vance died in his 96th year on the 26th of May, 2013, in the city of Oakland, California. He was a native San Franciscan, born in 1916. The reason the world cares about Vance can be tersely stated: The Dying Earth, 1950; Eyes of the Overworld, 1966; Cugel’s Saga, 1983; Rhialto the Marvellous, 1984; Big Planet, 1952; Showboat World, 1975–and these are but a fraction of his titles, and the genres he had mastered.
I first encountered him in a flop house in Juneau, Alaska, whence I had hitched from L.A. in the summer of 1967. Trashy paperbacks abounded in the lobby, but I was lucky enough to grab a golden nugget from that heap, THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD.
I was essentially a poet til I read this book. A strictly metric poet who scorned “free verse” which I couldn’t see as verse at all.
The graceful opulence of Vance’s language was a revelation. Here was untethered imagination. More. Here was prose as rich in rhythm and inflection as verse. I was agog. I was delighted. Two years later, back in L.A.–upon finishing my hommage to Vance–a sequel to Overworld called A Quest for Simbilis–I was able to get his address from Don Wollheim at DAW. I wrote Vance a letter asking if it was OK to publish my hommage and promised him a percentage of the take. His reply was sober and straight-faced, “I’m a trifle flummoxed by your proposal, but I don’t see why not.” He tactfully added that no skim off from my profits was necessary. I made sure the book began with an acknowledgement of my debt to him.
Since Vance, there has appeared no equal in his mastery of the comic, fantastic picaresque. Who has excelled him in devising such a variety of rogues, rascals and sly rapscallions? Who has matched his inventiveness of situation or his exquisite ironies? The intricate elegance of his prose stands to this day unequalled in “the genres”.
Thank you Jack!

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Comment from S.T. Joshi

by on May.31, 2013

Michael Shea has long been one of the most vital writers of horror, fantasy, and science fiction.

The imaginative scope of his work is exceeded only by the gripping and evocative vibrancy of his prose.

Every new book of his should be greeted with cheers by his many devotees.

S.T. Joshi

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