I am on the verge of publishing yet another collection of my miscellaneous essays, reviews, introductions, etc. This one will be called The Progression of the Weird Tale. It may not appear until next month, as I have to wait for a review (here titled “Three Poets, Three Visions”) to appear in Spectral Realms. Otherwise, the volume contains a number of entries, long and short, that I wrote for Supernatural Literature of the World: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2005)—indeed, the section on “Weird Writers: Brief Assessments” contains a whopping 83 articles (some of these, actually, appeared in other encyclopedias to which I’ve contributed). Other pieces in the book are introductions to books that haven’t even been published yet. Here is the complete table of contents:
On to other matters. … My novella, Something from Below (PS Publishing, 2019), will be reissued by Hippocampus Press sometime this spring. Already I have come to terms with a Czech publisher, Laser Books, for a Czech translation of it (along with three other stories: “The Recurring Doom,” “Incident at Ferney,” and “Some Kind of Mistake”). A Polish publisher is now negotiating for the translation rights to the same batch of stories, but this deal hasn’t been officially signed yet. I guess I’m well liked in Eastern Europe! (A Polish publisher issued a translation of H. P. Lovecraft: A Life in a huge doorstopper of a hardcover edition in 2010.)
The second volume of my edition of Leslie Stephen’s essays has now been published by Sarnath Press (https://www.amazon.com/Essays-Religion-Edited-Collected-Stephen/dp/B08RC4BKLJ/). This contains the balance of his essays on religion; these address certain specific religious figures, and there are devastating critiques of such thinkers as John Henry Newman, Frederic Denison Maurice, Blaise Pascal, Jonathan Edwards, and others—as well as defences of the secularism of Charles Bradlaugh (an atheist M.P. who was not allowed to take his seat in Parliament because he refused to swear his oath of office on a Bible), Voltaire, and Thomas Henry Huxley. I continue to admire Stephen’s incisive logic and his fluent and idiomatic style. Lots more volumes to come!
I am in receipt of Inflections in Horror: The Weird Worlds of Carl E. Reed, Volume 1, a CD that contains a wealth of Reed’s readings of his own poems and other matter. One of the items included is “HPL: A Brief Introduction to the Man, His Work & His Lasting Influence.” Some of the poems on the CD were published in Spectral Realms. The CD can be purchased on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Inflections-Horror-Weird-Worlds-Carl/dp/B08MKYQ6SZ. I have a few spare copies of the CD that I will be happy to part with for $10.
Another tempting item that has shown up is Donald Tyson’s The Red Stone of Jubbah, just published by Weird House in an attractive hardcover edition (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/the-red-stone-of-jubbah/). This is a Lovecraftian novella featuring Abdul Alhazred, and presumably constitutes a sort of sequel or follow-up to Alhazred: The Author of the Necronomicon (2006), one of the most scintillating novels of Lovecraftian terror that I have ever read. Virtually everything by Donald Tyson is worth reading, and I daresay this new item is also.
Jackanapes Press continues its fine work with the publication of Ashley Dioses’s new poetry collection, The Withering (https://www.jackanapespress.com/product/the-withering). As with its predecessor, K. A. Opperman’s Past the Glad and Sunlit Season (which I have reviewed in the issue of Spectral Realms due out this month), this volume is lavishly illustrated with black-and-white line drawings by Jackanapes’s publisher, Daniel V. Sauer. I will be writing a formal review of this book for the Summer 2021 issue of Spectral Realms, in conjunction with a new poetry book by Ann K. Schwader coming out soon from Weird House.
Speaking of books—I can hardly overlook a splendid Christmas gift that I received from my niece, Anjeli Elkins. It is perhaps the finest picture book about cats that I have ever seen: Walter Chandoha’s Cats (https://www.amazon.com/Walter-Chandoha-Cats-Susan-Michals/dp/3836573857/). This magnificent hardcover volume features photographs, taken over decades (1942–2018), by Chandoha for a variety of purposes. Every cat lover must have it!
I have been notified that a documentary on Karl Edward Wagner, in which I appear briefly, is now available for viewing: Brandon D. Lunsford’s The Last Wolf: Karl Edward Wagner (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/296318). I have myself not viewed it as yet, but I’m sure it is a fine production. I am by no means an authority on Wagner’s work, but I imagine I provided some background on the weird fiction of his era. I am also hoping that a documentary on Arthur Machen, for which I was interviewed several years ago at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, will someday emerge.
I am very belatedly noting a minuscule token of my ascending fame: a passing mention of me in Charles Stross’s Lovecraftian novella Equoid (Subterranean Press, 2014). This is part of Stross’s Laundry Files series, where members of a shadowy branch of the British government battle Lovecraftian monsters. In this volume, the protagonist, Bob Howard, comes upon correspondence by Lovecraft to the actual Bob Howard (i.e., Robert E. Howard), in which Lovecraft warns of the dangers of unicorns—who are not the appealing creatures of benign fantasy that we all assume they are, but are evil entities with titanic powers. I find myself mentioned on page 16: “You’re probably thinking: WHAT THE HELL, H. P. LOVECRAFT? And wondering why I’m reading his private letters (most certainly not found in any of the collections so lovingly curated by Lovecraft scholars over the years, from August Derleth to S. T. Joshi) …” Thank you, Charles! I met Stross at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton (UK) in November 2013 and sat on a panel discussion with him, Ramsey Campbell, and others. Did he mention me as a result of this minimal association?
I will say that the protagonist does not have a very high opinion of Lovecraft, repeatedly castigating the Providence writer for his purpose prose, prolixity, etc. etc. At one point he refers to Lovecraft’s “ghastly prose.” And the long extracts from letters purporting to be by HPL to REH really read like parodies of Lovecraft—full of obvious errors (such as split infinitives, modern usages, American as opposed to British spellings, and the lack of the diaeresis in the invented utterance “Iä!”) that Lovecraft would never have made, even in correspondence. Well, regardless of whether Bob Howard’s views of Lovecraft mirror the author’s own views, Equoid is an entertaining read in its lurid way.