S. T. Joshi's Blog

March 24, 2020 — Two New Anthologies from PS Publishing

I am happy to announce the publication by PS Publishing, after considerable delays, of two of my anthologies of original fiction: Apostles of the Weird and His Own Most Fantastic Creation. Here is the description of them from PS’s weekly newsletter: https://preview.mailerlite.com/n4g4d4. The newsletter does not give the full table of contents of the books, so I shall provide them here. Here are the stories in Apostles of the Weird:

His Own Most Fantastic Creation (a volume of stories that feature Lovecraft as a fictional character) are as follows:

I have not yet received any copies of these books, but hope to soon—and will offer any spare copies I have to interested customers.

Speaking of Lovecraft, I was interested to receive copies of a book entitled Les Carnets de Lovecraft: Dagon (which can loosely be translated as “Lovecraft’s sketchbooks”), illustrated by Armel Gaulme (Bragelonne, 2019). This proves to be an exhaustively illustrated edition of the story “Dagon,” with a paragraph or so of text on the verso and a line drawing by Gaulme on the recto. I now see that the publisher has also issued a volume of this same sort for “The Nameless City.” Indeed, the publisher’s array of Lovecraftian publications (which includes a translation of Black Wings I under the title Chroniques de Cthulhu) is impressive: https://www.bragelonne.fr/catalogue/collections/les-grands-anciens/. I have one spare copy of Carnets and would be happy to let it go for a mere $10.

Another volume of great interest is Donald Tyson’s The Skinless Face and Other Horrors, just published by Joe Morey’s new press, Weird House (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/the-skinless-face/). This large (401 pp.) and superbly designed hardcover book contains fourteen of Tyson’s Lovecraftian stories, several of which I published in the Black Wings series and elsewhere. An incredible bargain at the price!

I have now received copies of the Clark Ashton Smith bibliography that I compiled with David E. Schultz and Scott Connors. This 586-page compilation was years in the making—and sports a superb cover illustration by Jason Van Hollander. I still have two copies for sale at $25.

In terms of my own work, I have been spending a great deal of time on a vastly augmented edition of R. H. Barlow’s weird fiction and poetry (to which we are now adding his essays and other nonfiction). The original edition was one of Hippocampus Press’s earliest volumes: Eyes of the God (2002). Now that book has been expanded to more than twice its size, coming to close to 550 pages and including a number of unpublished works of fiction and much other matter, including several essays on Barlow written in the 1950s and 1960s. Expect this volume later this year (I hope)!

I am slogging through the index to Born under Saturn: The Letters of Clark Ashton Smith and Samuel Loveman. This volume will appear subsequent to Eccentric, Impractical Devils: The Letters to Clark Ashton Smith and August Derleth, which may appear in the coming weeks. The Smith-Loveman letters are of consuming interest in their detailed discussions of poetry and general literature—not only their own work but the work of Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Symons, and of course their mutual friend George Sterling.

I was delighted to appear on a podcast with the brilliant young writer Curtis M. Lawson. We spoke for well over an hour on a wide range of subjects—weird fiction, atheism, music, and much else. Here is a link to an audio of the broadcast: https://www.spreaker.com/user/12166256/wyrd-transmissions-episode-2. I believe Curtis is working on uploading a video as well.

And so, as the strange and disorienting period of history continues, I and my household remain healthy and productive.

On a melancholy note, let us all remember that March 26 is the first anniversary of the passing of William Hopfrog Pugmire. But he and his work continue to live and flourish in our memories!

March 12, 2020 — Life in the Time of Coronavirus

We are, to be sure, living in strange times. I am writing while the coronavirus seems to be spreading inexorably around the globe—although it would appear that fear and even hysteria are spreading even faster. As I am living in (or, more precisely, near) one of the epicenters of the virus, I feel obliged to say something about what has been happening around here.

In the first place, it should be noted that the severest outbreak in this area has been restricted to a nursing home in Kirkland, a separate city quite a distance away (on the other side of Lake Washington)—and in a facility that, apparently, had previously come under criticism for failure to contain exactly this kind of spreading of infection. That said, it does not do to be either overly cautious or excessively reckless in one’s words and actions. Mary tells me of an isolated case (in another nursing home) only fifteen blocks from this house.

Nevertheless, we are attempting to lead our lives as normally as possible—with, of course, due precautions. We went to the theatre (Seattle Repertory Theatre) on Sunday, March 8, where we saw the powerful August Wilson play Jitney. But the very next evening, at my usual choir practice, it was reluctantly decided that the Northwest Chorale would cancel its spring concerts (May 9 and 16), simply because of potential dangers in large groups of people rehearsing week after week. In my judgment this was a somewhat hasty and ill-advised decision—but given that a fair number of our choir members are elderly, I suppose an excess of caution is not unwarranted. No doubt you have heard that the University of Washington has temporarily suspended in-person classes for all students, although I see that the libraries are still open.

Meanwhile, I carry on as well as I am able. I have just issued, through Sarnath Press, a combined edition of R. H. Barlow’s two early periodicals, The Dragon-Fly (1935–36) and Leaves (1937–38) (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0851LL4QM). [Please forgive the fact that the cover has no type on it; the various other cover templates that Amazon offered would have resulted in a poor reproduction of the photograph, such as having Barlow’s head being cut off.] These important periodicals contained all manner of work (much of which was unpublished at the time) by Lovecraft, C. L. Moore, Donald Wandrei, August Derleth, J. Vernon Shea, and numerous others. I had momentarily considered a facsimile reproduction, but Leaves in particular would have reproduced very poorly (it was run off on mimeograph, and there was a lot of bleed-through from the other side of the page), so I reset the entire text. David E. Schultz lent a huge amount of effort in the undertaking and should really have been listed as a coeditor. I have several spare copies of the publication available for sale at the bargain price of $15.

I have just received a number of copies of The Best of Black Wings from PS Publishing (https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/best-of-black-wings-trade-paperback-edited-by-s-t-joshi-4913-p.asp). This well-produced paperback has lots of fine stories by Jonathan Thomas, W. H. Pugmire, John Langan, and numerous other contributors to the six volumes of the Black Wings series. I would be happy to sell these at $15 each to interested customers.

I am in receipt of a fascinating item: Lovecraft’s Notes and Commonplace Book, a facsimile by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society of the Futile Press edition of 1938, as edited by R. H. Barlow (https://store.hplhs.org/collections/frontpage/products/the-notes-and-commonplace-book-of-h-p-lovecraft). This booklet is reproduced (I believe) in the exact dimensions of the original. As a bonus, the Historical Society has added a facsimile of Barlow’s typescript of Lovecraft’s “Weird Story Plots,” a series of plot synopses of major works of weird fiction that were written in 1933 as Lovecraft was struggling to regain his inspiration (and confidence) as a fiction writer. This document was not published until it appeared in my edition of Lovecraft’s Collected Essays, Volume 2 (2004), and is still quite little known. This whole booklet is well worth the price!

I was delighted to read Ramsey Campbell’s new novel, The Wise Friend (Flame Tree Publishing), and write a review of it for the next Dead Reckonings, which should be out in a few months. The novel is one of Ramsey’s quieter efforts, perhaps, but it contains a sense of dread and unease that is virtually unmatched in his work. Go read it!

My work continues to be published abroad. I have just received a copy of an edition of Lovecraft in modern Greek for which I wrote the introduction. This is actually the third volume of what announced as a fifteen-volume edition of Lovecraft’s fiction, this one titled ΤΟ ΧΡΟΜΑ ΑΠΟ ΤΟ ΔΙΑΣΤΗΜΑ, containing “The Colour out of Space” (the title story) and two other tales. The publisher is Brainfood in Athens, and the book dates to 2019. I believe my introduction will now be featured in the remaining volumes of the series.

Black Wings IV has been translated into Czech (as the three previous volumes have been) as Cerna krídla Cthulhu 4 (Euromedia, 2019). It would appear that this publisher is now contemplating a translation of my biography, I Am Providence.

Henrik Möller has been diligently interviewing the “Providence Pals” (Jason Eckhardt, Donald R. Burleson, myself, and others) for a podcast; he is waiting for Marc Michaud to recover from a recent bout of illness (which he is doing, albeit slowly) to issue a major podcast. In the interim he has released a podcast of an interview with Steve Mariconda that I daresay is full of enlightenment: https://soundcloud.com/henrik-moeller-180995804/101-secrets-of-lovecrafts-prose-style-steven-mariconda. Happy listening!

February 20, 2020 — New Books from Hippocampus Press

Several tempting new books have appeared, or are about to appear, from Hippocampus Press. First up is Stephen Woodworth’s long-delayed and exemplary collection of short stories, A Carnival of Chimeras (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/a-carnival-of-chimeras-by-stephen-woodworth). For years I have found Stephen’s stories to be among the most scintillating and powerful contributions to my Black Wings series, and in this book there are several luminous Lovecraftian tales, including “Revival,” “Voodoo,” “A Tour of the Catacombs,” and others. Stephen excels in all types of weird fiction, and his prose is among the most fluid and evocative of anyone writing in the field today.

Then there is the Clark Ashton Smith bibliography (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/clark-ashton-smith/nonfiction/clark-ashton-smith-a-comprehensive-bibliography), co-compiled with David E. Schultz and Scott Connors, another long-delayed book but out at last, at close to 600 pages. This is the first comprehensive bibliography of works by and about Smith since Donald Sidney-Fryer’s Emperor of Dreams (1978), and I will say that it required an immense amount of effort on the part of the three co-compilers. This is the eighth bibliography I have published (following those for Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, Ramsey Campbell, Ambrose Bierce, Gore Vidal, H. L. Mencken, and William Hope Hodgson). My bibliography of George Sterling (co-compiled with Alan Gullette) may appear later this year, in conjunction with my edition of the joint correspondence of Sterling and Ambrose Bierce. Anyway, the Smith bibliography is an invaluable source for the study of this pioneering author, who is finally receiving his due as a poet and fantaisiste.

And of course there is the twelfth issue of Spectral Realms, with an extraordinarily enticing cover design by Dan Sauer, using a work of art by Albert Joseph Pénot that dates to around 1890 (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/journals/spectral-realms/spectral-realms-no.-12). I urge readers to indulge in this extraordinary bounty of weird poetry, which includes exceptional work by Christina Sng, Leigh Blackmore, Wade German, Nicole Cushing, K. A. Opperman, Ashley Dioses, and many others, including my beloved spouse. I also have a review of Wade German’s new collection, The Ladies of the Everlasting Lichen and Other Relics (Mount Abraxas Press, 2019). The volume (only 88 copies of which were printed) is already out of print, but a new and expanded edition will appear next year from Hippocampus.

I have only a limited number of copies of the Woodworth volume, and my copies of the Smith bibliography have not arrived yet. I am prepared to let these go for $15 and $25, respectively, and will toss in a copy of Spectral Realms for only $5 for any who purchase either of these books; if you purchase both, you can have Spectral Realms for free.

I am working hard on several other projects, including the joint correspondence of Smith and Samuel Loveman, not to mention enormously expanded editions of our previous editions of the writings of Loveman (Out of the Immortal Night) and R. H. Barlow’s Eyes of the God. The Loveman volume may appear quite soon, while the Barlow book will probably appear late this year or early next.

Among volumes of Lovecraft’s letters, the Letters to Alfred Galpi and Others (including letters to Edward H. Cole, Adolphe de Castro, and John T. Dunn) is imminent. Within the next few months we will release the enormous Letters to Family and Family Friends, probably in a two-volume paperback edition of about 600 pages each. This will be one of the most remarkable volumes in the series, containing his complete letters to his aunts, covering his critical New York years (1924–26) but also his extensive travels in the later 1920s. A volume of Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner and Others (also containing letters to Arthur Harris, Winifred V. Jackson, and others) is also in the offing.

I have been quite remiss in posting notices of recent publications on the Sarnath Press page of this website, but I believe my talented webmaster has now updated the list. Many choice items are available! I may have one or two copies of some of them here, but the majority of them will have to be ordered from Amazon.

February 1, 2020 — Huge Sale of Pugmire Books!

I am here to make a momentous announcement: For the entire month of February, all books from the library of W. H. Pugmire will be offered at 50% off the list price! There are many choice (and collectible) items still available, and it would behoove all interested parties to put in a request to purchase them as soon as possible. So don’t hesitate to contact me if any item appeals to you. Here is a link to the most current version of the website: http://sesqua.net/pugmire-book-sale.html.

Among my own projects, I can announce that I have a few copies available of my edition of the Bram Stoker volume in the Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction (http://www.centipedepress.com/masters/stokerlwf.html). I am prepared to let these copies go for the bargain price of $40.

I am pleased to see that two books in which I was involved have made the preliminary ballot of the Bram Stoker Awards (http://www.thebramstokerawards.com/news/the-2019-bram-stoker-awards-preliminary-ballot/). One is Curtis M. Lawson’s scintillating novel Black Heart Boys’ Choir, for which I wrote the foreword. (I still have a number of copies of this book available for $10 a copy.) I am now reading a new work by Lawson, a novella written in collaboration with Dave Rinaldi entitled Those Who Go Forth into the Empty Place of Gods (https://www.amazon.com/Those-Forth-into-Empty-Place/dp/1713299844/). I am not quite finished with it, but so far it is proving to be a highly engaging work of over-the-top horror fused with Lovecraftian cosmicism. Well worth securing in its own right!

The other book that made the Stoker ballot is Kyla Lee Ward’s scintillating poetry collection The Macabre Modern and Other Morbidities, for which I wrote the afterword. Best wishes to both Curtis and Kyla on making the final ballot and actually winning the award! I see that John Langan’s Sefira and Other Betrayals, which Hippocampus Press published, has made the preliminary ballot, and a number of poets who appear regularly in Spectral Realms—Frank Coffman, Deborah L. Davitt, and Marge Simon—have poetry collections on the preliminary ballot.

I continue to be busy with Hippocampus Press projects. Within days or weeks, we shall see the appearance of Spectral Realms #12, Stephen Woodworth’s superlative story collection A Carnival of Chimeras, and—at long last—the Clark Ashton Smith bibliography assembled by David E. Schultz, Scott Connors, and myself. Stay tuned for further announcements of these and other projects!

January 15, 2020 — 300 Books by S. T. Joshi Available

The long gap between this blog and its predecessor is only partly the result of my own indolence and the general hubbub of the holiday period. My webmaster, Greg Lowney, took an extended vacation (Dec. 19–Jan. 11) to China, to see his son (who is working for the State Department), and so I was unable to update my website in any fashion—not that there was any urgency to do so. I am looking forward to meeting Greg (at a scheduled dinner of our local “gang” of weird fiction devotees on Jan. 25) to get the lowdown on his trip to the Far East.

My big news (if it qualifies as such) is the publication of 300 Books by S. T. Joshi via my Sarnath Press imprint (https://www.amazon.com/300-Books-Joshi-Comprehensive-Bibliography/dp/165465406X/). In conjunction with this volume, I have assembled a volume entitled Bits of Autobiography and Interviews (https://www.amazon.com/Bits-Autobiography-Interviews-Compiled-Joshi/dp/1654636320/), with my ugly mug on the cover. The great bulk of the book consists of interviews (most of them online) I have given over the decades, from the early 1990s to the present day. Both books are priced at $15.95, but I will very soon have a supply of copies in hand, so I’m prepared to sell them for $15.00 each on the usual terms (i.e., media mail postage covered by the price). Should some masochists wish both volumes, I am prepared to let them go for a total of $25.00.

Another highly enticing item is the issuance of a complete audiobook of Lovecraft’s complete revisions and collaborations (essentially, the texts contained in volume 4 of the variorum edition of Lovecraft’s Complete Fiction): https://www.hplhs.org/collaborations.php. Now you can have HPL’s complete fiction in two convenient thumbdrives! I have always found that hearing a Lovecraft story heightens my appreciation of it and provides new insights that a mere reading cannot always supply.

A colleague informs me that BBC Radio has followed up its production of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward with a version of “The Whisperer in Darkness”: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06spb8w/episodes/player. This will in turn be followed by a version of “The Shadow over Innsmouth.” I have no idea of the quality of these productions, but the mere fact that the BBC is undertaking them is an important sign of Lovecraft’s worldwide celebrity.

My essay on Michel Houellebecq from Lovecraft Studies No. 12 (2018)—“Why Michel Houellebecq Is Wrong about Lovecraft’s Racism”—has now appeared in a Polish translation by Mateusz Kopacs: https://www.hplovecraft.pl/2020/01/09/s-t-joshi-dlaczego-houellebecq-myli-sie-co-do-rasizmu-lovecrafta/. Kopacs has added some further criticisms of Houellebecq, covering issues I did not address in my short piece. It appears that Houellebecq carries far greater weight in Europe as an “authority” on Lovecraft than he deserves, and Kopacs and others believe it is long overdue that the record be set straight on Houellebecq’s distortions and misinterpretations of Lovecraft, especially on the racism angle (he was the one who has most notably propounded the false view that the entirety of Lovecraft’s writing is infected with racism).

On a more personal note, I may mention that I dusted off my violin (thanks in no small part to my wife’s purchase of a new bow for it) and participated in my choir’s “Messiah Sing-along/Play-along” on December 28. I was assured that I would be only one of several violinists playing at the event. What was my alarm when I discovered that there was only one other violinist—and he opted to play the second violin part, since I only knew the first violin part! There is a key section in the finale (“Amen”) where the first violins are playing all by themselves for about four bars—a petrifying experience for someone so out of practice as I was. Even though I thought I was horribly out of tune, this was nothing more than a fundraiser for our choir and not a “performance” in any meaningful sense of the term. Perhaps next time I will do more practicing ahead of the event—or, better still, not play at all!

Entries from 2019…