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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 11:59 am 
 

Have you read Shadows Bend by David Barbour and Richard Raleigh?

According to the cover, the main characters are Lovecraft and R.E. Howard on cross-country quest.  It sounds pretty good, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

Another good collection is Shadows over Baker Street by Michael Reaves and John Pelan.  It's a series of Holmes/Watson stories where they encounter Lovecraft's mythos.  I found it quite good, especially the story by Neil Gaiman.

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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 12:02 pm 
 

Other speculative fiction writers from the Golden Era who I've always enjoyed include Frederick Brown and Avram Davidson.

Brown is just too funny for words, and Davidson's stuff is definitely a diamond in the rough.


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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 1:05 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
Lumley is actually quite a bit better when he's NOT abusing Lovecraft's themes and creations. Unfortunately, he doesn't stray from the cash cow very often....

Mike B.


The best of his mythos based stories is the Arkham House book Horror at Oakdeen, but I believe that has been out of print for a number of years now.


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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 1:37 pm 
 

jasonw1239 wrote:
The best of his mythos based stories is the Arkham House book Horror at Oakdeen, but I believe that has been out of print for a number of years now.


I've seen it once or twice at a bookstore in Birmingham that specializes in OOP books.

Here's a link to an online shop that has it for sale for $125:
http://www.biblio.com/books/24119150.html


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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 1:51 pm 
 

Your are welcome, Keith the Thief, and I hope you enjoy the Green Gods book. One other book I might suggest somewhat along the same lines is H. Ryder Haggard's When the World Shook. For some reason, it reminded me quite a bit of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, except that the lost city discovered is that of the ancient Atlanteans and not the Great Old Ones. An added bonus is that H. Ryder Haggard, in literary technical ability, at least, greatly outshines the horse-faced one. Unlike Lovecraft, Haggard's stories possessed great characterization and dialogue to go along with the otherworldly wonder. As an aside, the Haggard book should be quite a bit easier to find than the Henneberg one. Most university libraries stock most of Haggard's book, being as the author is considered one of the major exponents of romantic literature. Heck, I remember taking a literature course in college where Haggard's masterpiece She was the principal text -- how cool is that!


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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 8:09 pm 
 

Keith the Thief wrote:
My advice regarding Lovecraft is to read his stuff slowly.  His prose is dense.  It's not "beach reading".  

Character development was not Lovecraft's strong suit, but his mythology, for me, greatly outweighs any drawbacks in characterization.

Those stories are a great place to start.  Do you happen to know which "best of" anthology it is (i.e., who's the editor?).

If you like those, I strongly encourage you get the Arkham House anthologies edited by S.T. Joshi and read those.  It's a four volume set, and, IMHO, contain the stories in the order in which they should be read.

Enjoy.

Keith


I first read Lovecraft slowly, over a number of years, starting when I was (maybe) in the 6th grade.

The first story I read was The Dunwich Horror.  It impressed me both with the frightening proposition of an invisible behemoth, but also with the sense that there are things close-but-not-visible that our feeble human minds would rather not know about...enormous presences, looming over our shoulders, that we have always sensed, but do not want to see.

I became a Lovecraft fan when I was in college and I read Lin Carter's biography, Lovecraft; A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos.

I accordingly set out to collect every publication on Lin Carter's list of Cthulhu mythos stories in the appendixes of that book.  (It was still possible in those days...when 1950's-70's editions of the classic paperbacks were still on used bookstore shelves...as opposed to the current glut of fantasy re-hash novels apparently written by, for and about lesbian tree-huggers).  I had nearly entirely succeeded when the game Call of Cthulhu appeared and made Cthulhu a pop star.

Lovecraft's genius was not in his writing skills or in his brilliant story-telling.  Most of his stories run a fairly typical route:

1)  Find book/learn secret
2)  Discover the awful truth
3)  Write about it in a journal...preferably one that starts by warning everyone not to read it.
4)  Go mad/run screaming/die/disappear - or all of them at once.

Where Lovecraft was brilliant was in achieving his major goal...to invoke in the reader a sense of cosmic horror (an over-used phrase today, but new when Lovecraft started)...a sense that creation and everything in it is not really the way we think it is...and that mankind does not know everything and by God doesn't want to know everything.

His writings are a wonderful relic of the first half of the 20th century...when science had begun to make lives better and less bearable at the same time.  Science had begun to create monsters as well as miracles...which was the theme of almost every horror and science fiction movie of the century.  Essentially, every sci-fi/horror genre film of the era owes something to Lovecraft...which is why virtually every writer in the twin genres has written some sort of Lovecraft homage story.  Very few writers can claim to have had so much influence...possibly only Tolkien and Howard.

(Judging by the commercials I see on TV, we are no longer so much afraid of science.  We apparently have gone back to being afraid of witches and the restless dead.  Also, we have the wierd new theme that vampires are sexy and everyone needs an erotic experience with a blood-bloated walking corpse.  It strikes me that we have more to fear from science...and possibly from whatever makes sex with the leering dead attractive to so many people.)

Most recently, I have been interested in reading the works of the author who most influenced Lovecraft.  One could argue that the entire inspiration for all of Lovecraft's work can be found in two poems by Edgar Alan Poe:  Dream-Land and The City in the Sea.  Toss in Robert Chambers and Ambrose Bierce and you pretty well have the soil where Lovecraft's ideas took root.

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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 8:48 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:It impressed me both with the frightening proposition of an invisible behemoth, but also with the sense that there are things close-but-not-visible that our feeble human minds would rather not know about...

One of the reasons I do not like the current Del Rey editions of his fiction is because of this intangible, unseen horror.  Their artists attempt to depict his themes with gore, and by doing so, they damage one of HPL's strengths: His ability to conjure an image in your mind that is very personal.

FormCritic wrote:I accordingly set out to collect every publication on Lin Carter's list of Cthulhu mythos stories in the appendixes of that book.  (It was still possible in those days...when 1950's-70's editions of the classic paperbacks were still on used bookstore shelves...

My sister-in-law went to Prague a few years ago and bought me 7 musty HPL paperbacks in German.  It's an awesome part of my collection.

FormCritic wrote:Lovecraft's genius was not in his writing skills or in his brilliant story-telling.

HPL was an Anglophile, and he attempted to replicate 19th century style prose, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  It's evident even in the spelling, e.g., "The Colour Out of Space".

FormCritic wrote:His writings are a wonderful relic of the first half of the 20th century...when science had begun to make lives better and less bearable at the same time.  Science had begun to create monsters as well as miracles...which was the theme of almost every horror and science fiction movie of the century.  

HPL's writings are indeed a relic of the early 20th century, warts and all, including racism.  Much of his fiction is self-indulgent and self-conscious, but for whatever reason, I am able to overlook this in his work.  

To his credit, he did have a fairly strong grasp of scientific principles, notably in the newly (then) emerging field of quantum mechanics.

Keith


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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 9:15 pm 
 

Lovecraft was not any more or less racist than a lot of people in his era.

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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 10:22 pm 
 

Joel Rosenberg has a series that somewhat parallels a campaign I ran. The characters were in a world that had been taken over by humanoids who weree enslaving humans. They liberated slave caravans, set up a  home base, and in the end destroyed the creature generating the humanoids. Then they had to deal with running a civilization. It was definitely one of the better campaigns I've run. The hit and run mentality gets players thinking about intangibles.


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Post Posted: Sun May 13, 2007 5:11 pm 
 

Keith the Thief wrote:Have you read Shadows Bend by David Barbour and Richard Raleigh?

According to the cover, the main characters are Lovecraft and R.E. Howard on cross-country quest.  It sounds pretty good, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

Another good collection is Shadows over Baker Street by Michael Reaves and John Pelan.  It's a series of Holmes/Watson stories where they encounter Lovecraft's mythos.  I found it quite good, especially the story by Neil Gaiman.

Keith


Shadows Bend is absolutely abominable. Throwing aside the fact that nothing happens, and nothing makes sense, and more time is spent on a completely silly and useless secondary character that seems to be a Mary-Sue for the author, the characterization of REH and HP seems forced and silly.  Now, the idea is quite interesting and I would love to read a story like this that made sense, but skip this one.....

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Post Posted: Sun May 13, 2007 5:16 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:

Where Lovecraft was brilliant was in achieving his major goal...to invoke in the reader a sense of cosmic horror (an over-used phrase today, but new when Lovecraft started)...a sense that creation and everything in it is not really the way we think it is...and that mankind does not know everything and by God doesn't want to know everything.



What I always enjoyed about HP's stories was that not only did humanity NOT triumph, but in the end there wasn't even the POSSIBILITY we could triumph.  I'm not generally a nihilist, but the view is intriguing and makes you think.  One of the things that made the old Call of Cthulhu gaming sessions so great!

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Post Posted: Mon May 14, 2007 8:35 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
Shadows Bend is absolutely abominable. Throwing aside the fact that nothing happens, and nothing makes sense, and more time is spent on a completely silly and useless secondary character that seems to be a Mary-Sue for the author, the characterization of REH and HP seems forced and silly.  Now, the idea is quite interesting and I would love to read a story like this that made sense, but skip this one.....

Mike B.


Bummer.  I was hoping it would be a good account of HPL's and REH's personalities, but that is quite obviously not the case.  Thanks for the tip.


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Post Posted: Mon May 28, 2007 4:07 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
Luckily the new Del Rey REH collections are pretty definitive.  Man, I REALLY envy those that haven't read any Conan/REH yet!!!
 Don't forget the Solomon Kane collection...IMO that's some of his best stuff.  Wings in the Night is my all time favorite REH story, and one of my top ten fantasy stories EVER.

Mike B.


Well, I bought the first Del Rey REH anthology the other day and so far I'm really pleased.  I like the editor's introductory comments about staying faithful to the author's original published mss.  I also like the fact that they are not attempting to put the stories in chronological order.

The stories have really piqued my interest.  Conan's character reminds me a little of ERB's John Carter, but the mythology adds an extra dimension, as it were.  I keep wanting to call the stories "Lovecraftian" but that wouldn't be right given the fact that REH and HPL were contemporaries.

I need to start poking around for a good map of REH's Hyperboria.  I found one on wikipedia, but if you know of another/better one, let me know.

Thanks,
Keith


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Post Posted: Mon May 28, 2007 8:11 pm 
 

It would be accurate to call Howard's stories "Lovecraftian."  First, he wrote a number of stories in that genre.  Second, he continually incorporated Lovecraft's ideas in his other stories.  They corresponded...and HPL was clearly a large influence on REH.


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Post Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 11:24 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:It would be accurate to call Howard's stories "Lovecraftian."  First, he wrote a number of stories in that genre.  Second, he continually incorporated Lovecraft's ideas in his other stories.  They corresponded...and HPL was clearly a large influence on REH.


Do you know whether REH's Lovecraftian stories have been compiled as well?  I've read a number of non-Lovecraft collections, but aside from CAS and Lumley, I simply forget the names of the authors.  It's possible I've read more REH than I realize (although, having read about half of the first Del Rey Conan collection, I definitely do not remember having read these, so it's been quite a treat  :D  ).

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Post Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 11:48 am 
 

I have a paperback of REH's mythos tales.  I don't recall the title, but it is not all that uncommon.

There was also a collection printed originally by Arkham House called (I believe) The Dark Man and Others.  It is sometimes available in paperback.  (Don't try to buy the Arkham House original...$$$$$)

Or, maybe it was just The Dark Man.

The stories are relatively easy to collect as part of other anthologies as well.

If you locate and acquire Lin Carter's, Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos you will find an index of all the mythos stories that existed at the time of that book's publication (the book is not a bad read either).  Carter lists all of the REH stories that he considers a part of the mythos.

Since Carter's book, Lovecraft has come back into prominence...particularly among our own sub-culture.  When I first read the book I was the only one I knew who had even read a mythos story or knew what it was...outside of the section in the  Gods and Demi-Gods hardback.  There have been many, many more additions to the mythos since then.

I would not describe REH's Lovecraftian stories as his best writing.  They are interesting...and they do give perspective on the influences that shaped his Conan stories.  A couple of them are just plain bad.  REH was deliberately imitating Lovecraft...and he reads more like an imitation of Robert Jordan imitating L. Sprague DeCamp imitating August Derleth imitating Lovecraft.  Still, a couple of the stories have merit.

Part of the charm of REH is that he sometimes does Lovecraft with sort of an Indiana Jones vibe...cosmic horror and shooting crafty Arabs with six guns.

For those who wish to really learn Lovecraftian lore, check out Powell Books in Portland, Oregon (reachable online as well...one of the first local bookstores to go online, in fact).  Powell's has a pretty good Lovecraft collection on its shelves...including volumes of Lovecraft's letters.   Lovecraftian lore is pricey, but you could check it out online to see if there is anything that interests you.

If you happen to be in Portland, Oregon, you should not miss a visit to Powell's...on Burnside, downtown.  It is a new/used bookstore of the gods...a multi-story city block of literary goodness....they actually give you a map to help you find your way around the place!  (You realy can get lost there!)  My best friend and I travel to Portland once a year to go there together.

Powell's also has pretty good sections for REH and Michael Moorcock.  

(Now, if I could just go back in time and snap up that ratty Powell's copy of Midnight Sun , by Karl Edward Wagner, for $10 I could sleep better at night!)

Mark


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Post Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 12:01 pm 
 

Chaosium has a nice collected works of REH's Lovecraftian mythos stories.
It is still in print and available from their website.

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Post Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 12:01 pm 
 

Keith the Thief wrote:
That's part of the Del Rey series of Lovecraft books, and works well as a starting point.

Of all the non-Arkham House publishers, I prefer the newer Penguin series, but it's not like the stories are any different among the various editions, just the order and supplementary material from the editors.

I'm a little envious.  I would love to be just now starting on Lovecraft.


Going back to this earlier post: I've heard rumours of a 4th Joshi-edited Penguin compilation of HPL's work that's in the pipeline.  Anyone heard anything about it?

(I've personally been replacing my previous collections with the Penguin ones.  For starters, they don't duplicate stories between volumes -- I have three Del Rey HPL collections, and all of them have at least one story found in one of the other volumes.)

And, switching topics: anyone had a chance to check out the new Night Shade Books collections of Clark Ashton Smith?  (I think the second volume is out now, but I may be wrong.)  I'd like to expand beyond my old Ballantine Adult Fantasy paperbacks, but not certain if these volumes are worth the money.

  

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Post Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 1:41 pm 
 

Joshi's editing would be interesting to read.  I wonder what comments he would have.

I like the older anthologies because the stories they include by other mythos writers are often quite good.  HPL was a talented creator, but some of the stories by more talented writers have been excellent.  (But, I just read one by Stephen King last night that was dreadful...it is in Nightmares and Dreamscapes, the same compilation of second-rate King stories that includes The Night Flier.  Not up to King's usual standards.)

The mthos is a trail I have not hiked in more than a decade.  I need to go back over my Cthulhu Mythos collection and re-read some of those stories.

Which HPL mythos story is it in which the protagonist dies writing, "The three-lobed gleaming eye!" ?

The church that HPL based his story on is gone, but the church tower remained...at least as recently as two years ago.  I saw it online.


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Post Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 2:08 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:Which HPL mythos story is it in which the protagonist dies writing, "The three-lobed gleaming eye!" ?

The church that HPL based his story on is gone, but the church tower remained...at least as recently as two years ago.  I saw it online.


The Haunter of the Dark, though I think the eye is "burning" instead of "gleaming".  It also has a connection to Robert Bloch -- it's a quasi-sequel to one of his stories and followed by another Bloch story, or something like that. I don't remember either of the other story names though.

The house from the story about the vampiric mold (The Shunned House, perhaps?) still exists as well.  I recall seeing photos of it a year or two ago.

  
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