Lovecraft ezine!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in the Lovecraft ezine’s weekly pod- and videocast, as the kickoff event for the launch of Sefira and Other Betrayals.  As ever, I had a blast talking with Mike Davis and the other participants who were kind enough to give up a couple of hours of their Sunday afternoons and evenings to be there.  Here’s a link to the videocast, if you’re so inclined.  Our conversation embraced such topics as who will win in the inevitable fight among myself, Laird Barron, and Paul Tremblay; whom you should lay you money on in a battle between Godzilla and Cthulhu; and what Godzilla would sound like with a French accent.

Barron vs. Tremblay, or Godzilla vs. Cthulhu? (Painting by the ever-brilliant Bob Eggleton; buy a poster of the image here).

 

During the show, I mentioned a number of novels, collections, and journals that are worth a look.  I wanted to link to as many of them as I can remember, so here you go:

Dan Chaon  Ill Will

Glen Hirshberg  Nothing to Devour (also Motherless Child and Good Girls).

Laird Barron  Black Mountain

Nathan Ballingrud  Wounds

Carrie Laben  A Hawk in the Woods

A.C. Wise  Catfish Lullaby

Navin Weeraratme  Zeelam

S.P. Miskowski  The Worst is Yet to Come

Molly Tanzer  Creatures of Will and Temper (and Creatures of Want and Ruin)

Paul Tremblay  Growing Things

Vastarien

Thinking Horror Vol. 2

Robert Wilson  Ashes and Entropy

Ellen Datlow  Echoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Projects Recent and Forthcoming

Also during the past several months, I’ve had a couple of pieces appear in print, and a couple more accepted to appear in 2015.  So:

The Recent (1):  “Kore,” an autobiographically-inflected story masquerading as a Halloween memoir, which appeared in Shock Totem‘s Halloween special (available here).  At the end of this past summer, Barry Dejasu contacted me to ask if I’d consider writing a holiday recollection for Shock Totem magazine’s upcoming Halloween special.  Of course I said yes.  I was already thinking about the Halloween walk my wife and I have been putting on for the last several years, and how I wanted a chance to write about it.  As I did, though, the story took on a life of its own, inspired by one young boy who found the experience of the Walk a little bit too much.  Which is to say, only most of the events in the piece actually happened.

(As an aside:  this issue of Shock Totem comes in the form of a little paperback that is just about pocket-sized.  It’s quite charming.)

Shock Totem Cover

The Recent (2):  Entry for Les Mysteres du Ver, a description of a fictitious book for auction as part of a larger catalogue of occult books, which appeared in The Starry Wisdom Library:  The Catalogue of the Greatest Occult Book Auction of All Time, edited by Nate Pedersen (available here).  A couple of years ago, Nate Pedersen contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in a project he was putting together.  It had been inspired by one of H.P. Lovecraft’s last stories, “The Haunter of the Dark.”  In the story, there’s mention of a cult, The Church of Starry Wisdom, which possessed a vast library of occult tomes (i.e. Lovecraft’s famous Necronomicon).  Nate’s conceit was to imagine that the cult might have put its library up for auction as a way to raise funds.  He proposed putting together the catalogue for that auction, which would combine physical descriptions of the individual books with short essays on their contents.  I signed on immediately, this kind of pseudo-historical invention being something I love to do (as you may have gathered if you’ve read my story, “Technicolor”).  I had thoughts about selecting the infamous Black Guide, which my pal, Laird Barron, has written so much about since I first told him of its French original, but ultimately decided on Les Mysteres du Ver.  This was a book I first introduced in my second published story, “Mr. Gaunt;” it was my take on one of the Lovecraft circle’s invented books, De Vermis Mysteriis.  In my subsequent essay, I had some fun tying the book together with my stories, “Renfrew’s Course” and “Mother of Stone,” as well as to M.R. James’s “Count Magnus” and Elilzabeth Kostova’s The Historian.

I have to say, though, that I was unprepared for just how much care Nate was going to lavish on the production of the book. This is a marvelous reproduction of a late nineteenth century auction catalogue, its attention to detail of the highest degree.  In addition, its list of contributors is a who’s who of contemporary horror, from Ramsey Campbell and F. Paul Wilson to Livia Llewellyn and Molly Tanzer.  It may be about the strangest anthology I’ve ever been part of; it’s certainly among the most weirdly wonderful.

the-starry-wisdom-library-jhc-edited-by-nate-pedersen

The Future (1):  “The Communion of Saints,” a story to appear in Giallo Fantastique, edited by Ross Lockhart (not yet available for pre-order).  In my stories, “City of the Dog” and “Children of the Fang,” there’s an Albany, NY, police detective named Calasso.  I thought it would be fun to write a story about him facing a series of gruesome kidnappings apparently committed by some of the more infamous, if cliched, monsters of recent movies.

Giallo Fantastique

The Future (2):  “Homemade Monsters,” a story to appear in The Doll Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow (available for pre-order here).  Sure, I called them action figures, but I played with dolls all the time as a kid.  At first, I thought I might write about the 8 inch Spider-Man figure who was probably my single favorite toy when I was about nine; then I remembered how I had transformed a number of my Star Trek figures into monsters, especially Godzilla.  More autobiographically-inflected fiction, with kaiju.

Doll Collection

The Future (3):  “The Underground Economy,” a story to appear in Aickman’s Heirs, edited by Simon Strantzas (not yet available for pre-order).  During the 2013 Necronomicon and immediately after, I encouraged Simon Strantzas to put together this anthology.  That was so I could submit a story to it.  I love Robert Aickman’s work; though I’m far from understanding it.  I had re-read “The Swords,” recently, and that came together with comments made by Simon and folks on the All-Hallows Message Board about the role of the erotic in Aickman’s fiction into this story.  The piece felt like a chance; I’m happy it worked for Simon.

aickman1

There’s one other project that I haven’t been given leave to speak about, yet; more as soon as I can say it.  And I’m hopeful that 2015 will see my third collection making its way into the world; fingers crossed!

Godzilla!

If there’s any way for me to kickstart this blog back to life, it’s with a post about the new Godzilla movie!  The Big G was one of the constants of my young life, both via the badly-dubbed and -edited films shown on the local TV stations, and the 24 issue comic that Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe did for Marvel.  Godzilla toys were harder to find at that time; although I did manage to find both the Shogun Warriors Godzilla toy and much smaller versions which were built around a flexible wire skeleton.  (In fact, I’ll have a story in Ellen Datlow’s anthology, The Doll Collection, which takes its inspiration from my childhood desire for a Godzilla figure.)  As both my older son and his much younger brother have grown up, I’ve done my best to introduce them to the wonder that is the gigantic radioactive monster.

Which brings me to Gareth Edwards’s new film.  As spectacle, I enjoyed the heck out of it:  the giant monsters look about as good, as massive, as menacing, as I could have hoped for.  Godzilla’s roar is so loud, so enormous, that it actually frightened me, a little, despite the fact that I knew it was a special effect.  The final battle among Godzilla and the other monsters in San Francisco is wonderful, what I always imagined I was seeing when I watched one of the older Godzilla films.  After this, it will be hard to return to men in rubber suits.  For this reason alone, it’s a film that demands to be watched on the big screen.

Where the movie stumbles a bit is in its human characters and their actions.  Without wanting to give too much away, I think the filmmakers err in their decision to employ Bryan Cranston in a supporting role.  For the time he’s on screen, he gives the film an emotional heft that really helps it; I would have made him the film’s central character, and arranged the others around him.  Without such a character, a lot of the human action becomes little more than a series of Maguffins, designed to allow scenes that look great, but don’t always make the most sense.  Similarly, Ken Watanabe’s character seems onscreen purely to deliver aphorisms about nature and balance, which I think could have been put to better use, i.e. rather than portraying nature as a mildly benign force that’s looking out for us, he could have framed it as something that is terrifyingly indifferent to us (which is an idea the film hints at, but never fully embraces).  I suppose this may sound like a lot to ask of a summer blockbuster, but the film clearly wants us to feel that it’s trying to be something more substantial.  

Given the success of this Godzilla film, more are clearly on the way.  For the spectacle alone, I’m looking forward to them.  And who knows? maybe the next one will build on the character successes of this one.