S. T. Joshi’s Blog

May 23, 2024 — Work on Various Fronts

I am obliged to begin this blog post on a sad note. The great Lovecraft scholar Robert H. Waugh died on April 13. Here is an obituary from the funeral home handling Waugh’s funeral: https://www.copelandhammerl.com/obituaries/Robert-H-Waugh?obId=31194353. I had been acquainted with Waugh since at least the late 1980s, when he started submitting long, ruminative articles to Lovecraft Studies. A few years thereafter he began hosting an annual H. P. Lovecraft Forum at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where he was a professor of English. It was at one of these gatherings—I believe in the early 1990s—that I met John Langan, who was then a graduate student who apparently had no thought of writing weird fiction. I continued to attend Waugh’s forums as often as I could. I then arranged for the publication of his first volume of critical essays on Lovecraft, The Monster in the Mirror (Hippocampus Press, 2006). Two further volumes appeared over the years. I was tickled when W. H. Pugmire noted that Waugh had become his favourite Lovecraft critic; I was demoted to second place. I did not mind: Waugh’s work is certainly vibrant and suggestive, even if at times the train of thought is a bit hard to follow.

Also in the necrology is Roger Corman (https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/12/movies/roger-corman-dead.html), who (I suppose) deserves to be commemorated by the Lovecraft community for his directing the first film adapting a Lovecraft story, The Haunted Palace (1963), a very loose adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, with a screenplay by Charles Beaumont. I met Corman once when he came to Seattle to commemorate an expansion of the Science Fiction Museum (now called the Museum of Pop Culture or MOPOP). I doubt that he remembered me (I was in the company of Jason Brock) for more than five seconds.

I have written the first new short story within memory. It is called “The Kittens,” and it was inspired by Lovecraft’s letter to James F. Morton (late Dec. 1936) about his visit to Neutakankanut Hill, where he encountered two kittens. (A similar letter, written to August Derleth, led Derleth to write “The Lamp of Alhazred.”) I rather like this story. It will appear in the Lammas 2024 issue of Lovecraftiana.

Otherwise I continue working on numerous fronts. In my history of atheism (volume 2) I am well into the twentieth century. My chapter will be divided into at least two main parts (with further subdivisions within them), one part covering the century up to World War II, the second part covering the period from then to the present day. That’s the current plan, at any rate. I have already covered scientific, philosophical, and other developments of the period 1901–1945, and I am now tackling the literary figures of the period, both religious (Evelyn Waugh, Aldous Huxley, Graham Greene) and secular (James Joyce, W. Somerset Maugham). Lovecraft will come in for some discussion here. I read Sinclair Lewis’s scathing attack on evangelical religion, Elmer Gantry (1927), then saw the 1960 film starring Burt Lancaster—a hoot!

Another Derleth reprint that I have prepared for the August Derleth Society is the novel
Sweet Genevieve
(https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0D3RLRC1Z), a poignant novel first published in 1942. There now remain only two Sac Prairie novels remaining to be reprinted: Restless Is the River (1939) and Shadow of Night (1943), although there are five novels of what he called the Wisconsin saga that have not been reprinted. All in good time! Right now I am assembling a volume (still in a somewhat nebulous state) of Derleth’s character sketches and autobiographical writings.

I am hopeful that new Hippocampus Press publications will emerge soon. On the agenda for the near future are:

All but the last should be out for the NecronomiCon (August 15–18), if not earlier.

May 9, 2024 — A Trip to the United Kingdom

Before I plunge into the main subject of this blog post, I want to take note of the announcement of my first book for Conversation Tree Press, a specialty press located in Canada. It is William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland & Others (https://conversationtreepress.com/collections/all/products/weird-house-borderland-hodgson-joshi-mckean-collectors). The book, as you can see, will be available in three states. I am confident that it will be a beautiful job of book production, rivalling or even exceeding Centipede Press in that regard. Better place your orders without delay!

Now to our trip. I had long wished to venture to the United Kingdom—not so much London (which now fatigues me) but the north of England and Scotland. We had initially thought to include Oxford and Cambridge into the mix (the former chiefly because of my passion for the TV series Endeavour, which is set there; I actually believe Cambridge is intrinsically more beautiful—both the city and, especially, the university), but we found that covering those sites would be logistically difficult. So we opted for three main locales: Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland, and Liverpool in England.

Our trip did not begin auspiciously, as Mary forgot her cell phone, then tried to go home to fetch it, got caught in a hideous traffic jam in I-5 and had to rush back to the airport, where we barely caught the flight to Glasgow. After a change of planes in Reykjavik (we flew on Icelandair, an airline we like), we arrived at the Glasgow airport on the morning of April 22. But we did not stay there long: a bus took us to the city centre, and then we boarded a train to Dumfries, where we were met by my old friend Margaret (Miggy) Hall, whom I have known off and on for more than thirty years. She lives in a charming house in the small town of Creetown, and we spent two nights with her. On the 23rd we toured the Bladnoch Distillery, and I satisfied both my interest in the whole process of making Scotch whiskey and my fondness for the golden-hued elixir itself. (Mary, not having a taste for the beverage, let me consume most of the samples we were given.)

On the 24th we took a train to Edinburgh. We immediately engaged in a tour of the main attractions. It is a city full of literary associations, and we were struck by the pseudo-Gothic monument to Scotland’s most illustrious novelist, Sir Walter Scott:

Monument to Sir Walter Scott

I was delighted to see a fine statue of the philosopher David Hume, who was about as close to being an atheist as one can get without actually being one (or, more specifically, without coming out and stating so):

Status of David Hume

This statue is only a stone’s throw away from St. Giles’ Cathedral, an edifice that dates (in part) to the early Middle Ages. We explored that site also, but the photos I took on my rotten phone didn’t turn out so well.

The next day we continued our canvassing of Edinburgh. We had hoped to tour Edinburgh Castle (which also dates to the Middle Ages)—but, absurdly, one is required to purchase tickets ahead of time, and only online. But we did explore a curious attraction near the castle, called Camera Obscura—a place where all manner of illusions and other curious phenomena derived from science are exhibited, including an unnerving hall of mirrors. The place actually did have a camera obscura—which made me think of Basil Copper’s story of that title as well as the splendid Night Gallery dramatisation of it.

At the other end of the so-called “Royal Mile” in Edinburgh lies another impressive structure, the Palace of Holyrood House. This edifice—some of which also dates to the mediaeval era—we did manage to explore thoroughly. Here is a photo of me in front of one of the more ancient parts of the place:

S. T. at the Palace of Holyrood House

On the 26th we took a train to Liverpool, where we had a wonderful dinner with Ramsey Campbell and his wife Jenny. We repeated the experience the next night, when we went to a superb Nepalese restaurant not far from their home in Wallasey:

Jenny and Ramsey Campbell with S. T. and Mary

I was also privileged to take a peek at Ramsey’s third-floor workspace—the place where such masterworks as The House on Nazareth Hill and the Daoloth Trilogy were composed.

But of course my other chief purpose in visiting Liverpool was to take in sites associated with The Beatles—the musical group that has captivated me since I was six years old and continues to do so. Mary signed us up for a “Magical Mystery Tour” that took us to many of the key landmarks associated with The Beatles in the Liverpool area. Here, for example, is the boyhood home of George Harrison:

The boyhood home of George Harrison

Here is Paul McCartney’s home:

Paul McCartney's home

Here is a sign depicting the actual street that The Beatles wrote about in the song “Penny Lane”:

Penny Lane

We are interested to learn (from the excellent and voluble tour guide) that many of the specific sites mentioned in the song (the barbershop, the roundabout, etc.) are still extant. And of course we had to go by Strawberry Fields:

Strawberry Fields

All in all, this Beatles tour was an extraordinarily moving experience for me—one not soon forgotten.

On Sunday the 28th we had to catch a combination of a train and two buses to get back to Glasgow. We saw relatively little of the city on that day and the morning of the next day, but vowed we would come back someday for a more thorough examination.

As early as next year we are going back to England to focus on Oxford and Cambridge. There is so much to see in those two cities that they are worth detailed study on their own.

April 19, 2024 — Shunned Houses Accepted for Publication

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the anthology Shunned Houses, which I edited in collaboration with Katherine Kerestman, has been accepted by Wordcrafts Press. I can now present the complete table of contents:

You can gauge the wide range of the book—both in terms of genre (fiction, poetry, essays) and in terms of chronological range (from Pliny the Younger [1st century C.E.] to contemporary writers) from this list. The publisher promises to bring the book out by the NecronomiCon, or mid-August. I believe at least a handful of contributors will be there, so we may have a publication party if that can be arranged.

I have now published the second volume of my edition of John Martin Leahy’s weird tales, this one entitled The Living Death and Drome (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0D1NY9RRJ). These are two novels. The former appeared in Hugo Gernsback’s Science and Invention (October 1924–June 1925) and involves an expedition to the Antarctic. It’s unclear whether Lovecraft read it or was influenced by it for At the Mountains of Madness; I rather doubt it. The second, Drome (serialised in Weird Tales, January–May 1927), is curiously set under Mt. Rainier, where two explorers discover an entire civilisation there. It is not terribly plausible, but is an entertaining read. Lovecraft presumably read this novel, but I am not aware of any comments he made about it. I will not be offering copies for sale myself, so please order directly from Amazon.

A final offering is my edition of Lovecraft’s A Little Silver Book of Supernatural Stories, just out from Borderlands Press (https://www.borderlandspress.com/shop/books/hardcover/a-little-silver-book-of-supernatural-stories-by-h-p-lovecraft-limited-edition-signed-by-the-editor/). This is part of a long series of “little books” that the publisher has issued; and I am informed that this Lovecraft volume is already nearly out of print. I am happy to offer copies of this volume for the bargain price of $20 each.

Another book that has come out is the newest volume in the August Derleth Society’s reprints of Derleth’s work, this one titled Moira and Others (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0D15FXMKS). It contains two previously published novellas (“Any Day Now” [1938] and “A House Above Cuzco” [1969]) and two previously unpublished novellas (“Moira” and “Dacey Stevens”). All four—but particularly the last three—deal with the problematical issue of an older man becoming intimate with a younger (and, in fact, teenage) female. “Dacey Stevens” is pretty hot stuff, I can tell you! But Derleth’s writing remains sensitive to the emotional complexities of the situations involved.

Stark House has just released the latest of its line of reprints of Robert Hichens’s work, The Folly of Eustace and Other Satires and Stories (https://starkhousepress.com/hichens.php). All four of its Hichens titles have introductions by me. The publisher plans at least one more book (partly suggested by me, as there are still some superb weird tales by Hichens that have not appeared in the current four books), for which I have already been asked to write an introduction. Someday I hope to persuade Jerad Walters to issue a large volume of Hichens’s collected weird tales with Centipede Press.

Speaking of Centipede, I have been informed that my edition of Guy de Maupassant’s weird stories has been delayed until late May. A paperback edition will probably appear next year with Hippocampus Press.

I have been alerted to the appearance of Perry Grayson’s long-awaited edition of Frank Belknap Long’s collected poetry, When Chaugnar Wakes (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CYXVYSJW). As of this writing, only the Kindle edition is out; but I imagine a print edition will be forthcoming in due course of time.

I have been doing quite a bit of work on the writings of the late Mark Samuels, who died unexpectedly last December. I have just completed going over a book, Charnel Glamour, which the author submitted to Hippocampus Press some months before his passing. He had expressed the wish to include a story, “Dedicated to the Weird,” that had appeared early in his career (in the anthology The Derelict of Death and Other Stories, edited by John B. Ford and Steve Lines [Rainfall Books, 2003]), but which he said he had extensively revised. It took some effort for the parties concerned (specifically, Mark’s brother Justin, who has possession of his computer, and Quentin Crisp, who is working with Justin on various matters) to find the story; but find it they did. The book is relatively slender, about 200 pages, and probably won’t come out until next year.

I was asked by Crisp to write an article on Samuels for Nightlands, a periodical published by Jonathan Dennison of Cadabra Records. Jonathan is venturing into publication of books and magazines—a welcome development. I wrote an article on the four Lovecraftian tales that Samuels wrote for my various publications: “A Gentleman from Mexico” (in A Mountain Walked, 2014), “The Crimson Fog” (in The Red Brain, 2017), “Death in All Its Ripeness” (in His Own Most Fantastic Creation, 2020), and “An Elemental Infestation” (in Black Wings VII, 2023).

April 12, 2024 — Some Books to Offer

I am happy to provide further information on that facsimile of the handwritten manuscript of At the Mountains of Madness that I briefly referred to in my last blog post. The edition was published by a French publisher, Editions des Saints Pères, and it is certainly a beautiful thing to see (https://www.lessaintsperes.fr/155-at-the-mountains-of-madness-9791095457152.html). It is an oversize volume (about 10″ x 13″), enclosed in a slipcase, the whole being a lovely shade of green (perhaps indicative of the green ichor-like blood of the Old Ones?). In the US, the edition sells for $220, but I am happy to offer my spare copies (I have two) for the bargain price of $150. I wrote the introduction to the book.

I am also informed that, at long last, Hippocampus Press has released the first two volumes of my edition of Algernon Blackwood’s Collected Short Fiction. Here is the publisher’s page for the firt volume: https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/the-willows-and-others-collected-short-fiction-of-algernon-blackwood-volume-1?zenid=n261be857iq6920p84vva6eop1. I do not have copies yet, but I will be getting them soon, and can take orders for the books ($25.00 each) now and will send them on when they arrive. I will also be receiving copies of the latest Dead Reckonings (issue no. 34, Fall 2023), which contains my review of Ramsey Campbell’s new novel, The Lonely Lands, along with much other interesting material. Also out is the new issue (no. 20) of Spectral Realms, which contains a full index to issues 11–20. I am happy to offer these two items at $5.00 each, or free to anyone who orders either of the Blackwood volumes.

One final item to offer is Nate Pedersen’s The Dagon Collection, just out from PS Publishing (https://pspublishing.co.uk/the-dagon-collection-hardcover-nate-pedersen-6205-p.asp), a most amusing volume that purports to be “An Auction Catalogue of Items Recovered in the Federal Raid on Innsmouth, Mass.” The book contains contributions by all manner of leading Lovecraftians (Daniel Harms, Donald Tyson, F. Paul Wilson, Gemma Files, Lisa Morton, John Langan, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., Michael Cisco, Ramsey Campbell, etc. etc.). I wrote the introduction to the book. I have exactly one copy for sale, which I can offer for $20.

Also in is Leigh Blackmore’s Nightmare Logic (IFWG, 2024) (https://ifwgpublishing.com/title-nightmare-logic-tales-of-the-macabre-fantastic-and-cthulhuesque/), which I believe is Leigh’s first full-length volume of weird tales. The author is justly celebrated for his weird poetry, but I am confident that his weird fiction is just as riveting. Here’s hoping the volume is readily available to US customers!

C. P. Webster passes on to me his novel The Horror Beneath (https://www.amazon.com/Horror-Beneath-C-P-Webster/dp/B0BW3BDFW3), which I gather has some delectable Lovecraftian elements and promises to be an entertaining read.

As for me, I have completed the compilation (with Katherine Kerestman, my co-editor) of Shunned Houses, an anthology of stories, poems, and essays on weird houses. (We don’t wish to refer to this as a “haunted house” anthology, for the scope of the book is wider than that.) We have dug up some fascinating stories from the past (by John Greenleaf Whittier, A. E. W. Mason, M. A. Manhood, W. W. Jacobs, and others); poetry by such classic poets as S. T. Coleridge (“Kubla Khan”), Edgar Allan Poe (“The Haunted Palace”), H. P. Lovecraft (“The House”), Robert Frost (“The Ghost House”), and many others; and original tales and poems by Stephen Mark Rainey, Ann K. Schwader, Jonathan Thomas, Michael Aronovitz, Maxwell I. Gold, and others. We will offer it to Wordcrafts Press, which published our previous anthology, The Weird Cat. We are already working on numerous other anthologies for the future.

I continue to work (with David E. Schultz) on Letters to R. H. Barlow, which is proving to be a fascinating volume. Recently I discovered some letters from Kenneth Sterling to Barlow. Both writers at the time (late 1930s) were fervent communists, but Sterling also discusses Lovecraft, Derleth, and other topics of interest. Barlow also received numerous letters from one George Tupper, about whom I know nothing, but his correspondence seems of unusual interest.

We are now contemplating a volume of Letters to H. P. Lovecraft. Our multi-volume edition of Lovecraft’s own letters is now approaching completion with the publication (later this year, one hopes) of A Sense of Proportion: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Frank Belknap Long. This volume does include Long’s side of the correspondence, and previous volumes have included letters by C. L. Moore, August Derleth, and others to Lovecraft. But there are a great many other letters to Lovecraft that for one reason or another we didn’t include—Ernest A. Edkins, E. Hoffmann Price, James F. Morton, Maurice W. Moe, etc. etc. A volume of such letters would shed much light on Lovecraft’s relations with these individuals.

Upcoming issues of the Lovecraft Annual and Penumbra are approaching completion, as are other volumes that Hippocampus Press will publish for the NecronomiCon this summer, ranging from Heather Miller’s treatise on Lovecraft and True Detective; Jason C. Eckhardt’s scintillating supernatural novel about Ambrose Bierce, The Legions of the Sun; a reprint of Jonathan Thomas’s The Color over Occam, one of the finest Lovecraftian novels ever written; Ken Faig Jr.’s More Lovecraftian People and Places; and much else besides. Let’s hope we can get all these titles (and still others I can’t even remember right now) out in time!

March 17, 2024 — A Podcast on Atheism

I was pleased to have participated in a podcast on my atheism book—and on the general subject of atheism and related subjects—with David Rigsbey (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8jqNDvmlAE), with whom I’ve done several engaging podcasts in the past. This one is relatively short, but I believe I hit upon the highlights of volume 1 of The Downfall of God as well as the broader issue of the decline of religion as a factor in Western culture over the centuries. Do give it a listen!

My 420th book has appeared: the first of two volumes of the weird tales of John Martin Leahy, Draconda and Others (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CXY5WSP3), graced by superb cover art by Allen Koszowski. Leahy’s work appeared almost exclusively in Weird Tales with the exception of a novel (to appear in volume 2) that was serialised in Hugo Gernsback’s Science and Invention. The current volume contains an introduction, for which I was the recipient of much interesting background information on Leahy unearthed by Sunni K Brock. It turns out that Leahy lived in the Seattle area for much of his life—and, indeed, many of his tales reflect this locale. This volume includes the memorable tale “In Amundsen’s Tent” (Weird Tales, January 1928), which almost certainly influenced At the Mountains of Madness to some degree. I have no spare copies to sell, so please order the book directly from Amazon.

Quite some time ago I received what looks like a splendid volume, Monsters in the Bush, a collection of “Lovecraftian Military Tales” written by David Rose and published by Screaming Banshee Press (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CP6LNDGN). I have not read this book, but the author is a reliable producer of sound work, so the volume is likely to prove rewarding to the devoted Lovecraftian.

A much more recent arrival is Arithmophobia: An Anthology of Mathematical Horror, edited by Robert Lewis and published by Polymath Press (https://polymathpress.com/products/arithmophobia-an-anthology-of-mathematical-horror-edited-by-robert-lewis). My colleague Miguel Fliguer has a story (written in collaboration with Mike Slater) in the book, entitled “Splinters.” Miguel tells me this tale was originally titled “Splinters of Azathoth,” so its Lovecraftian undercurrent should be evident.

The newest reprint of August Derleth’s work undertaken by the August Derleth Society is the novel Still Is the Summer Night (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CXQ5F6NS). This book appeared in January 1937, and Derleth sent a copy to Lovecraft at that time. Whether Lovecraft read it is unclear; I tend to doubt it, given the state of Lovecraft’s health. But it is a touching historical novel, set in the Wisconsin of the 1880s, and dealing with the domestic tribulations of a farming family. Many more works by Derleth are being planned for reprinting or for publication for the first time.

The ever diligent Katherine Kerestman has written a lengthy review (far lengthier than the subject matter warrants) of the paperback edition of my memoirs, What Is Anything?, as well as the three volumes of my Journals. This has now appeared in the online journal Dissections, issued by Flame Tree Publishing in England (https://dissections.co.uk/Dissections%202024/dissections_page_18.html). I may note that an extensive anthology of fiction, poetry, and essays about witches and witchcraft coedited by Katherine and myself will appear next year from Hippocampus Press.

I am enduring enforced bachelordom at the moment, as Mary has gone off to Arizona to visit select members of her family. But, as the photo below attests, she is spending her time in entertaining pursuits. Here she is (along with her sister Katie and Katie’s husband Arnie) at a winery called Javelina Leap, named after a rather hideous swine-like creature. Well, to each his own!

Mary and family at Javelina Leap Vineyard and Winery

March 6, 2024 — History of Atheism Announced

I am thrilled to see that the first volume of The Downfall of God: A History of Atheism in the West has now been announced by Pitchstone Publishing (a member of Independent Publishers Group): https://www.ipgbook.com/the-downfall-of-god-products-9781634312585.php. I am not entirely sure why the announcement gives the page-count of the book at a whopping 800 pages. I have not seen proofs of the book yet, but my double-spaced typescript was only (!) 650 pages, so you would think that would come down to about 500 book pages. Well, no matter.

I have made substantial headway on volume 2, which I hope to finish well before the end of the year. In fact, I am so close to completing the long chapter on the nineteenth century that I can provide a breakdown of its numerous sections:

  1. IX. The Nineteenth Century
    1. A. Europe and America in the Early Nineteenth Century
    2. B. The Romantic Movement
    3. C. Religion and Philosophy in the Early Nineteenth Century
    4. D. Biblical Criticism
    5. E. Darwin’s Revolution
    6. F. Socialism and Slavery
    7. G. Politics and Religion in the Later Nineteenth Century
    8. H. Women and Atheism
    9. I. Philosophy in the Later Nineteenth Century
    10. J. The Emergence of Secular Organisations
    11. K. The Rise of Anthropology and Scientific History
    12. L. Anglo-American Literature in the Post-Romantic Era
    13. M. European Literature in the Later Nineteenth Century
    14. N. Art, Architecture, and Music

Once this is done, there will only be the (very long) chapter on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to go. The book is already close to 170,000 words.

A brief follow-up to my previous blog post, where I made note of the French documentary on Lovecraft. Gilles Menegaldo reminds me that there is a trailer for it with English subtitles: https://vimeo.com/904227430. I’m sure the documentary is well worth watching, although I myself have not seen it yet.

Hippocampus Press is straining to bring out some overdue books—chief among them being the first two volumes of my collected edition of Algernon Blackwood’s short stories. I have heard that the first volume is actually in print; the second volume isn’t, but it soon will be. Other volumes that should appear in the coming months are: a collected edition of George Sterling’s essays; a volume of the joint correspondence of Sterling and Ambrose Bierce; Michael Shea’s unpublished novel Momma Durtt (a novella version appeared decades ago, but not the novel version); Alan Dean Foster’s original Lovecraftian novella The Moaning Words; Jason Eckhardt’s scintillating historical/supernatural novel about Ambrose Bierce, The Legions of the Sun; etc. etc. So many books to bring out, so little time to get them ready!

I understand that my edition of Guy de Maupassant’s weird tales should appear from Centipede Press by the end of this month. I may have exactly one spare copy to offer.

A facsimile of Lovecraft’s manuscript of At the Mountains of Madness has just appeared from a French publisher, but the publisher does not seem to have a web page for it yet, so I will not provide any further details until that page is up. I have several copies available for sale.

I am delighted to see that an audio version of my story “The Recurring Doom” has now been released by HorrorBabble as a YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mpX_ZEd7yI. The audio takes up a full hour! When Ian Gordon, the head of HorrorBabble, initially made the offer to tape my story, I surprised him by telling him that I had written the first draft when I was seventeen—and that the story is, even after several revisions, largely what I wrote at that tender age. I haven’t heard this recording myself, but I trust it is entertaining—insofar as a story of this sort can be.

February 25, 2024 — Work, Work, and More Work

It has been more than three weeks since I’ve written a blog post. I’ve been extremely busy, but don’t seem to have a great deal to show for it. One item that has appeared is another August Derleth volume, The Dark House and Cassandra: Two Badger Prairie Novellas (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CW63S4JT). This volume presents two previously unpublished novellas that are in the August Derleth Papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society. They are set in Badger Prairie, the location of two other novellas that were published in the 1940s (“Gina Blaye” and “The Wife with the Mona Lisa Smile”), and which I included in my recent compilation of uncollected Sac Prairie stories, Gently in the Autumn Night. (Badger Prairie is a fictitious town near Sac Prairie.) David E. Schultz did the initial transcription of the two unpublished novellas and probably should have received editorial credit; but I decided to hog it for myself.

David, for his part, is diligently assembling all the stories that Derleth wrote about an eccentric character named Gus Elker. Curiously, he never made an attempt to gather the 44 stories into a book. Peter Ruber attempted to do so in the volume Country Matters (1996), but he omitted nine unpublished stories in the August Derleth Papers. This volume will bear David’s name as sole editor.

As for myself, I am struggling to finish the proofreading of the first two volumes of my Algernon Blackwood edition, which has been unconscionably delayed, but which should now be appearing from Hippocampus Press in the coming weeks.

Another project on which I have been devoting much time is a volume of Letters to R. H. Barlow. Barlow was in correspondence with a fascinating array of individuals, both in and out of the weird/fantasy/science fiction field, including H. G. Wells, A. Merritt, George Allan England, C. L. Moore, Ernest A. Edkins, August Derleth, and many others. But, aside from his letters to Derleth and to Donald and Howard Wandrei, not many of his own letters survive. The letters he received—many of which are found on a set of three microfilm reels made after his death by his literary executor, George T. Smisor—are full of interesting matter, especially relating to events following Lovecraft’s death in 1937. The volume may not be completed until next year, but it will be well worth the effort.

I am in receipt of Azathoth and Other Horrors (https://ifwgpublishing.com/title-azathoth-and-other-horrors-the-collected-nightmare-lyrics-by-edward-pickman-derby/), a volume of poetry that purports to be the book that Edward Pickman Derby wrote, as cited in “The Thing on the Doorstep.” The volume is in fact written by Leigh Blackmore, and an accomplished collection it is. I supplied a blurb for the back cover. Blackmore is one of the very finest weird poets of our time, and anything he writes—and this volume in particular—is worth securing.

My colleague Gilles Menegaldo has assisted in the making of a splendid new documentary on Lovecraft. The documentary was prepared by Marc Charley under the title Le Monde de Lovecraft (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt27803167/). Gilles writes: “The documentary (two one-hour parts) was screened in several French festivals and public reception has been quite positive. We also had two screenings in Paris so far and attendance has been good too.” That’s all to the good! Here is the superb poster for the French version:

Poster for Le Monde de Lovecraft

Marc and Gilles are in the process of preparing a version with English subtitles, to be titled The World of H. P. Lovecraft.

February 1, 2024 — Mortality in the Weird Ranks

I am sorry to report on a number of deaths that have struck the weird field of late. First on the agenda is David A. Drake, who died as far back as December 10, 2023, but of whose passing I only recently heard. Back in the 1980s I was in fairly frequent contact with him; he was a member of the Esoteric Order of Dagon amateur press association, and he was kind enough to look over a number of the essays on Lovecraft that I was writing at that time. I did not care for the general tenor of his literary work, but I did find his story “Than Curse the Darkness” (in Ramsey Campbell’s New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos) grimly effective. He was one of the last members of a distinctive cadre of North Carolina weird writers that included Manly Wade Wellman, Karl Edward Wagner, and others.

The New York Times has reported the passing of Fred Chappell, a mostly mainstream writer and poet who dabbled in the weird, including the striking Lovecraftian novel Dagon (1956) and a collection of weird tales, More Shapes Than One (1991). I first met him at the H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Conference, where he was on a panel on “The Craft of the Horror Fiction Writer.” He delivered a brief lecture on the writing of Dagon; I subsequently transcribed this lecture for The H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Conference: Proceedings (1991). Decades later I worked closely with Chappell in compiling a large volume of his weird work for the Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction (2014); he was also kind enough to supply a brilliant and lengthy story, “Artifact,” for Black Wings IV (2015).

Also among the recently deceased is the scholar David J. Skal, who died on New Year’s Day after being involved in a car accident. I met Skal only once, some decades ago at a convention, during which he asked me about the peculiar story of Edith Miniter being asked to revise a draft of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I told him I knew nothing of the matter aside from what Lovecraft wrote in various letters, in which he kept telling the same story—that the manuscript was a mess and that Miniter declined to work on the revision. It does seem odd that Miniter (1867–1934)—who would have been only in her twenties in the early 1890s, when Stoker or his agent made this offer (presumably well prior to the novel’s publication in 1897)—would have been asked to perform this revisory task. Her only commercially published novel, Our Natupski Neighbors (1916), was issued decades later.

On to other matters:

My work on August Derleth continues, and I have now edited a volume of his uncollected stories about the Sac Prairie region, Gently in the Autumn Night (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CTCQPZMT/). This is the first Derleth volume that bears my name as editor, since the earlier books—reprints of Place of Hawks (1935), Evening in Spring (1941), and The Shield of the Valiant (1945)—are straight reissues of the original editions without any editorial content. I am now working on a reprint of Still Is the Summer Night (1937); a pair of novellas set in the nearby region of Badger Prairie, Cassandra and The Dark House; and a second volume of uncollected Sac Prairie stories.

My friend and colleague Katherine Kerestman has made an interesting observation regarding the Hammer film Horror Hotel (1960; titled The City of the Dead in the UK). She believes it to be an uncredited adaptation of Lovecraft’s “The Festival”! Consider the overall plot, as Kerestman relayed it to me: “The woman [Venetia Stevenson, playing the character Nan Barlow] is studying history and she tells her prof (Christopher Lee) that wants to do her senior paper on the Massachusetts witch trials, goes to a small town there, which is not on the maps and is covered in mists (of course), which is made up of 17th-century buildings, and which is full of Satanic witches who have gathered for the Feast Day. She finds the witches (occasioning her demise as a Candlemas Feast sacrifice) by lifting a trap door in her room at the inn and descending into a subterraneous tunnel. Before she makes the descent, she is reading an antient volume on Satanism in New England, which she has borrowed from the bookstore owner.”

This is “The Festival,” indeed! I myself saw Horror Hotel ages ago, but in my blindness never noticed the Lovecraftian overtones.

An interview that Katherine conducted of me has just appeared in (and is announced on the front cover of) the Candlemas 2024 issue of Lovecraftiana: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CTM9RL5V/.

And, to end this blog on a happy note, I present a recent picture of our ageless and adorable cat Mimi, who wears her sixteen years (the equivalent of eighty human years) well:

Mimi in January 2024

January 13, 2024 — More Choice Books for Sale

Once again, in an attempt to get some books out of here, I offer a selection of some of the choicer books from my library, which I find I can easily spare. Most of these titles were listed earlier (in my blog post of October 10, 2023), but the prices have now been reduced; and two Robert E. Howard books have been added to the list:

Prices on the more expensive of these items are negotiable.

Meanwhile, I am proceeding full speed ahead on the reprinting of August Derleth’s Sac Prairie saga. Derleth’s first mainstream book, Place of Hawks (1935), is finally available in both a print edition and a Kindle edition, after some annoying delays (https://www.amazon.com/Place-Hawks-August-Derleth/dp/B0CPW12N7M/). The mammoth novel The Shield of the Valiant (945), is also available: https://www.amazon.com//dp/B0CRQNCQGP/. This is a sprawling account (more than 200,000 words) of the intertwined lives of several residents of Sac Prairie, including an older Stephen Grendon (a stand-in for Derleth). As such, it is something of a sequel to Evening Spring (1941), which we have already reprinted. I have now completed work on a volume of previously uncollected Sac Prairie stories, Gently in the Autumn Night, which includes the 46,000-word short novel The Wife with the Mona Lisa Smile. This work appeard in Redbook in 1943, and although it is somewhat along the lines of the “women’s fiction” of that era, it remains a significant and richly textured work. And there will be much more to follow!

Entries from 2023…