" It is new, indeed for I made it last night in a dream of strange cities: and dreams are older than brooding Tyre, or the
contemplative Sphinx, or garden-girdled Babylon" The Call of Cthulhu

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Documents in the case of Elizabeth Akeley by Richard A. Lupoff


Upon arriving at the cabin this summer I began mining the bookshelves at the family farm (it is just down the grid road) for any SF my wife had left behind. As well as books I found one magazine, a tattered copy of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction from March 1982. Imagine my amazement when I realized the cover story was "Documents in the case of Elizabeth Akeley" by Richard A. Lupoff. Yes I am afraid to admit that as unlikely as it seems Mr Lupoff has drawn us yet again into the dark orbit of Yuggoth. This rather stylish young man is brought to us by cover artist Duncan Eagleson.


We are immediately told that "Surveillance of the Spiritual Light Brotherhood Church of San Diego" (126)  began in the mid to late 1970's.  The church was founded by George Goodenough Akeley who immigrated to California from Vermont, founded the Spiritual Light Brotherhood Church and served as it's Rediant Father until his death in 1971. Our story takes place in 1979 when his  18ish year old granddaughter Elizabeth Akeley now serves as Radiant Mother.  The church doctrine is not extensively discussed, it seems be be a mixture of conventional religions and modern physics. The most interesting aspect of the church services occurs when Elizabeth enters a seance like trance to answer a limited number of requests submitted earlier by Congregants,  mainly asking to communicate with deceased relatives. Everything is fine until June 13th, 1979 when Elizabeth receives an unexpected communication that begins “ Wilmarth … Wilmarth … back. Have come … Antares … Neptune, Pluto, Yuggoth …,” etc. 

The action now shifts to a newsletter received by “the authorities” the Vufoi or Vermont Unidentified Flying Object Intelligencer published on an old mimeograph machine by it’s 19 year old editor Ezra Noyes in his parent’s kitchen. The issue in question concerns recent sightings of bat winged moth man like creatures in Vermont. We are then provided with a history of the Akeley family which includes  a Sarah Philips, spiritualists, at least one involved in the Starry Wisdom cult of New England, fascists, and others of even less savoury natures. This genealogy also provided a direct link between Elizabeth and Henry Akeley of Windham County who disappears mysteriously in 1928. Much of the information needed to reconstruct events is provided by the negro sexton of the church, one Vernon Whitehead who is actually monitoring the church for a “Men in Black” type organization tasked with monitoring cults. Whitehead is also able to supply Elizabeth and her boyfriend Marc Feinman with miniature recording devices later in the story. 

Eventually Elizabeth, convinced that she needs to follow up on these communications contacts Ezra Noyes about the Vermont sightings and decides to travel to Vermont with Whitehead, her boyfriend Marc Feinman being temporarily involved in a family emergency. It is with her trip East to Vermont that Elizabeth enters Lovecraft’s territory. 

Spoilers and Quibbles



All of Lupoff’s Yuggoth stories are pastiche’s or rifts on Lovecraft’s “Whisper in the Darkness”, however this story goes full bore. In "Discovery of the Ghooric Zone - March 15, 2337” see my post here
http://dunwichhorrors.blogspot.ca/search/label/Richard%20A.%20Lupoff Lupoff subtlety wove illusions to many Lovecraftian elements within an interesting future history. Here names and other elements seem to be dumped in willy nilly,  Sarah Phillips HPL’s mom, Whitehead HPL’s friend Henry S. Whitehead, the Starry Wisdom Cult from “The Haunter of the Dark”, while fans normally love this type of thing I just felt it a bit intrusive in this story. The inclusion of American fascists also seemed a bit odd until I remembered the Lupoff had written a novel called Lovecraft’s Book, which I have not read, in which Lovecraft is asked to ghostwrite a political tract by a fascist sympathizer. I am not sure if these references relate to events in that book or if this is a coincidence. 

Vernon Whitehead is useful as he can supply ”bugs” modern equivalents for the field telephone with really long cord that Harley Warren takes on his subterranean explorations in “The Statement of Randolph Carter”,  but overall his organization seems fairly ineffectual, “being particularly sensitive to criticism of the agency for alleged intrusion upon the religious freedoms of unorthodox cults, the representatives of the agency were constrained to accept Feinman’s offer.” (156) 

I did enjoy Ezra Noyes and his mimeographed Vufoi newsletter, a nice nod to Lovecraft’s time in amateur journalism and a interesting foreshadowing of the type of plot element made popular by the X-Files. 

But overall felt this story was a bit predictable and did not offer as fresh a look at Yuggoth as Lupoff did in "Discovery of the Ghooric Zone - March 15, 2337” or ” Nothing Personal” my post here http://dunwichhorrors.blogspot.ca/search/label/Richard%20A.%20Lupoff .

Friday, May 13, 2016

Horror Anthologies, the art of Richard Powers Part 2


Another batch of horror anthologies with covers by Richard Powers. 
Whereas all the Powers covers in the first group were released by Ballantine, this lot features three different publishers.


Br-r-r-!, editor Groff Conklin, Avon, 1959

Intro. Groff Conklin
It by Theodore Sturgeon
Nursery Rhyme by Charles Beaumont
Doomsday Deferred by Murray Leinster
Warm Dark Place by H.L. Gold
Legal Rites by Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl
An Egyptian Hornet by Algernon Blackwood
White Goddess by Margaret St. Clair
The Handler by Ray Bradbury
The Sound Machine by Roald Dahl
The Worm by David H. Keller


 Tales of Love and Horror edited by Don Congdon, Ballantine Books, 1961

No Such Thing as a Vampire by Richard Matheson
The Love Letter by Jack Finney
The Horsehair Trunk by Davis Grubb
Lucia's Kiss by Roderick MacLeish
The Sign of Scorpio by Charles Mergendahl
Clay-Shuttered Doors by Helen R. Hull
Various Temptations by William Sansom
The Nature of the Evidence by Mary Sinclair
Tactical Exercise by Evelyn Waugh
The Illustrated Woman by Ray Bradbury
The Shout by Robert Graves
Not Far Away, Not Long Ago by John Collier


Ghosts and Things, edited by Hal Cantor, Berkley Medallion, 1962

The Romance of Certain Old Clothes by Henry James
Caterpillars by E.F. Benson
Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Ghost Ship by Richard Middleton
The Novel of the White Powder by Arthur Machen
The Night-Doings at Deadman's by Ambrose Bierce
Running Wolf by Algernon Blackwood and Wilfred Wilson
The Music on the Hill by Saki
Phantasy by Oliver Onions
The House by Andre Maurois
The Lovely House by Shirley Jackson

Monday, May 9, 2016

H.P. Lovecraft and Others; The Horror in the Museum


A few days ago I was searching ABE for more anthologies with Powers covers, I did find some, that I will post at a later date. Then I came across a Lovecraft edition which I have wanted for many years. Thanks to the great store, Book Ends in Winnipeg Manitoba (a pleasure to deal with), this wonderful book with a spectacular cover by Bob Fowke has quickly become my favourite HPL paperback. 


Beyond fear's farthest frontiers …

Friday, April 29, 2016

Horror Anthologies, the art of Richard Powers and others


I have been enjoying a series of posts on horror anthologies on https://unsubscribedblog.wordpress.com/ which prodded me to put together a post I have been planning on horror anthologies with cover art by the well known SF illustrator Richard Powers, okay a couple of others slipped in.  I find it interesting that a number of SF writers also appear in these anthologies. Ramsay Campbell notes in the introduction to his collection Cold Print, that he first encountered HPL in the collection Cry Horror, purchased in Bascomb's a sweetshop when he was 14, so this is a good place to start. What better recommendation could you have.


Cover by Emesh
The Phantom-Wooer (poem) by Thomas Lovell Beddoes
The Crawling Horror by Thorp McClusky
The Opener of the Way by Robert Block
Night Gaunts (poem) by H.P. Lovecraft
In Amundsen's Tent by John Martin Leahy
The Thing on the Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft
The Hollow Man by Thomas Burke
It Will Grow On You by Donald Wander
The Hunters from Beyond by Clark Ashton Smith
The Curse of Yig by  Zealia Bishop and H.P. Lovecraft 
Geregeerd (poem) by Ray H. Zorn
The Cairn on the Headland by Robert Howard
The Trap by Henry S. Whitehead and H.P. Lovecraft 


The Dweller (poem) by H.P. Lovecraft 


Cover by Powers
Sweets to the Sweet by Robert Bloch 
The Strange Children by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
The Likeness of Julie by Richard Matheson
It Will Come to You by Frank Belknap Long
A Gnome There Was by Kutter and Moore
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson
In the Midst of Death by Ben Hecht
Gabriel-Ernest by Saki
Banner's Imp by August Derleth
Enoch by Robert Bloch
For the Blood is the Life by F. Marion Crawford


                                           Cover by Powers
The Claws Exposed (essay) by Whit Burnett and Hallie Burnett
The Birds by Daphne du Maurier
The Cats by T.K. Brown
The Cocoon by John B.L. Goodwin
Baby Buntings by Radcliffe Squires
The Red Rats of Plum Fork by Jesse Stuart
Butch by Oreste F. Pucciani
The Salamander by William B. Seabrook
The Return of the  Griffins A.E. Shandelling
Congo by Stuart Cloete
The Cat Man by Byron Liggett


Cover by Powers
Intro by Conklin
The Screaming Woman by Ray Bradbury
A Bottomless Grave by Ambrose Bierce
The Cart by Richard Hughes
The Graveyard Rats by Henry Kuttner
Skin by Roald Dahl
Night Court By Mary Elizabeth Councilman
Free Dirt Charles Beaumont
Listen Children by Charles Beaumont
Special Delivery by John Collier
The Child That Loved a Grave by Fitz-James O'Brien
The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft
The Graveyard Reader by Theodore Sturgeon


Cover by Powers
Sorry, Right Number by Richard Matheson
Share Ailke by Jerome and Joe E. Dean
Talent by Theodore Sturgeon
Listen Children by Charles Beaumont
The Whispering Gallery by William F. Temple
The Piping Death by Robert Moore Williams
The Ghost by A.E. van Voght
Carillon of Skulls by Lester del Rey and James H. Beard
Pile of Trouble by Henry Kuttner


Cover by Jeff Jacks
The Gifts of the Gods by Raymond F. Jones
Turn of a Century by James Blish
Courier of Chaos by Poul Anderson
Mind of Tomorrow by Lester Del Rey
In the Beginning by Damon Knight
little Green Men By Noel Loomis

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Nothing Personal - Richard A Lupoff







DAW Books, Inc. 2010, cover artist uncredited

I have made no secret of my admiration, for Schweitzer's anthology Cthulhu's Reign, one of the best mythos collections I have read, quality wise, most stories are good to excellent. There are a few, so so stories, but as the old saying goes if you have nothing nice to say …, 

Which brings me to Mr Lupoff, his "Discovery of the Ghooric Zone - March 15, 2337" was the first story I discussed on this blog, and I loved it. It is fair to say I liked his contribution to this volume "Nothing Personal". I thought it was okay on first reading, even better when I read it again for this post, but I also found even more  quibbles with the story overall on the second reading. 

Yes we are off to Yuggoth again. Mankind has been exploring the solar system and the good news is there is life everywhere, but no obviously intelligent life. 

  " It took the exploration of dozens of moons to find jungles and prairies, natural gardens of unimaginable colors and forms, schools of swimming things that were surely not fish, and flocks of flying things that were anything but birds.
   But no people. Not merely no humans, like those whose robot explorers first landed on Callisto and Mimas, Miranda and Proteus and Galatea and all the others. The people of earth both longed for and feared the discovery of alien intelligences, whether they looked like giant grasshoppers, self-conscious cabbages or whales with hands, whether they wrote epic treatises on the meaning of life or built machines to carry them across the dimensional barrier to other universes even stranger than the one from which they had come. "p.238

Until Yuggoth,

"That huge planet and its four satellites, Nithan, Zaman, Thog and Thok, rolled eternally in a counter planar orbit, crossing the plane of the solar ecliptic only once in a thousand years. No wonder it had gone undiscovered for so long," p. 237. 

And on Yuggoth there are signs of intelligent life and Earth's robotic probes have sent back the images to prove it,

" images of structures that were undoubtedly artificial, yet that resembled no city ever built upon earth. They stretched for thousands of miles across the ruddy, pulsing surface of Yuggoth. They rose for hundreds of miles into the roiling, cloudy atmosphere of the planet. At the poles of the monstrous globe, black, glossy areas that must be ice caps reflected the light of a billon distant stars." p,239

And huge shapes move across the landscape. But all attempts at contact are in vain. So the Beijing 11-11, an observation satellite, ten years in the making is launched. It's two person crew, Dr. Chen Jing-quo and crewman Kimana Hasani have been sent from Earth's moon. Chen has trained for this type of mission her entire life. It seems children are selected as toddlers and sent to the moon to be trained as staff for Earth's ongoing scientific projects. Chen has been observing Yuggoth for the decade it has taken to build the Beijing 11-11. Upon arriving at Yuggoth, attempts to contact inhabitants of the planet, "Yuggothi"  again go unacknowledged and there is no indication that the Beijing 11-11 has even been observed. So Kimana Hasani announces that he will take one of the External Excursion Pods for a closer look. These pods are intended for maintenance or as lifeboats, and this excursion is not part of the mission protocol. Despite Chen's protests Hasani leaves and it is here we will also leave our intrepid explorers. 

Overall I enjoyed the story and, as I mentioned above, even more on my second reading. I liked the passages discussing mankind's discoveries in the exploration of the solar system and those concerning Yuggoth. There were obvious similarities with Lupoff's story "Discovery of the Ghooric Zone - March 15, 2337" as both concern small crews of explorers dispatched to Yuggoth. One difference that is apparent is the length this story, it is 11 pages long the earlier story was over thirty. This meant that in the "Discovery of the Ghooric Zone - March 15, 2337" Lupoff was able to offer us intricate explorations of the history of the various cultures of the explorers, similar to the long passages in HPL's "Mountains of Madness" or "The Shadow Out of Time". This much shorter story simply cannot accommodate the wonderfully atmospheric world building of the earlier tale. For all I know Lupoff may not have intended to create this type of back story to avoid comparisons with the earlier story. Whatever his intent "Nothing Personal" seems a bit short or rushed and there were, for me, some problems with the plot I had trouble with. I will discuss these under spoilers. Still I enjoyed the scope of the story, the interstellar arc of the work mirrors HPL's "Whisperer in the Darkness" where we first encounter Yuggoth With both of Lupoff's Yuggoth tales it is obvious we aren't in Arkham or even New England anymore.

Spolier/Quibbles

These are some things I noticed that bothered me, maybe it is nitpicking, please don't judge the story by them, read it first. Remember I had lots of nice things to say.

That Yuggoth is made of anti-matter, this reminded me of  Larry Niven's "Flatlander" in which Niven's character Bey Shuffler encounters an antimatter planet which damages his indestructible puppeteer built General Products hull.

There is no reason Lupoff cannot have an antimatter planet and I felt it was a nice plot twist. Chen is in the shower when the explosion caused by matter, the External Excursion Pod containing Kimana Hasani, contacts antimatter, Yuggoth's atmosphere. This explains why she is not blinded but wouldn't she be observing Hasani's progress? She also is able to watch and listen to what happens to Kimana Hasanibut it is not clear to me, is this supposed to be this taped? The "Yuggothi" indicate by their actions that they immediately associate the pod with Earth but not the larger satellite? 

Things I liked, the fact that Earth uses hyper-lightspeed communications and avoids any time delay, this is good because I loved the speed at which things unfold, that while Chen and her moon based supervisor Jerom are still discussing what happened we are told, "They're here!" p.244 and we realize that the "Yuggothi" have already responded.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

More New Eldritch Tomes

After offering up my credit card, yet again, still more accounts of the dark deeds and secret histories; that will one day rise to claim, more than just our peace of mind; have appeared.


While I didn't love all of Joshi's choices in the first 3 volumes I enjoyed them enough that I have purchased Volume 4. That said, I loved all four covers, illustration Gregory Nemec, background by Jason Van Hollander. So far I have read two stories, the first was "Black Ships Seen South of Heaven" by Caitlin R Kieran. In this tale we are treated to a post-rising story of the last days of earth, as good as or better that anything in the excellent anthology Cthulhu's Reign edited by Darrell Schweitzer. This story alone was worth the price of this anthology in my mind. But the second story I read was the very good "Half Lost in Shadow" by W.H. Pugmire. His Pickman inspired story " Inhabitants of Writhwood" in Volume 1 was a  powerful story that has certainly stuck with me. In "Half Lost in Shadow" we make a visit to Kingsport and the bottle collection of HPL's "The Terrible Old Man" which I though was a bold choice. Pugmire then infused HPL's ideas with the bleak nihilism of Thomas Ligotti and a bracing touch of a fantastic sea port reminiscent of those found in the work of James P. Blaylock, whose contribution to the mythos, "The Shadow on the Doorstep" appeared in the Arkham house volume, Cthulhu 2000. So two for two so far.



These stories written in 1917 and 1918 feature Professor Arnold Rhymer, an occult detective and doctor, as their protagonist. As a man who invested a hefty sum for the 6 volume, Popular Library set, of the Adventure of Jules de Grandin, by Weird Tales stalwart Seabury Quinn, concerning the adventures of another occult detective and doctor, how could I resist? Warning the author lost a son in World War One and the anti-German rhetoric is certainly strong in one of the two stories I have read so far.


Ralph E. Vaughan maintains the wonderful Book Scribbles blog on genre fiction  see Blogs I Follow. I have only dipped into this volume, but I am glad I did not read "The Woods, The Watcher & The Warding" at night while staying at our cabin with all the trees of the Aspen Parkland drawing branches across the roof and throwing shadows against the curtains.

Monday, March 21, 2016

New Eldritch Tomes




Lavisly illustrated, by Shasta Phoenix 
Forward by Rowena, Written by Stephen D. Korshak with J. David Spurlock


As a lover of Weird Tales I could not resist this book on the preeminent Weird Tales cover artist Margaret Brundage. I have to admit my favourite pulp magazine cover artist is probably Frank R. Paul with a nod to Virgil Finley, but you cannot deny that she did some of the most iconic covers for stories by the likes of Robert Howard,  Seabury Quinn, David H. Keller,  Edmond Hamilton and of course C.L. Moore.

Howard never had any luck getting on a Weird Tales cover during his life time. although he did get some lovely covers from  Astounding, maybe some covers would have sweetened him a bit on Margret, of course he would have needed to add more naked women and whips to the mythos.

From the back cover
" The human figure is as worthy a subject matter as any other object of beauty. But I don't see what the hell Mrs. Brundage's undressed ladies have to do with weird fiction."

H.P. Lovecraft