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Shameless Self-P: Tales from the Black Chamber—A Supernatural Thriller

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#1 billwalsh

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 04:55 AM

Hey, folks,

 

Long-time lurker, sometime CoC contributor, and very occasional poster Bill Walsh here. Just wanted to let you know that a short, fun novel of mine that I wrote to amuse some friends (including four of my original CoC players) was serendipitously picked up by a publisher, and has received some nice notices. It's called Tales from the Black Chamber, and it has more than a few structural similarities to Call of Cthulhu adventures, and might have been distantly and unconsciously inspired a bit by Delta Green, but be warned: it’s much lighter in tone than pretty much anything Pagan Publishing put out, and was written for fun, rather than for a genuine, hard-core horror audience.

 

I've received some nice reviews on Amazon, including two that very kindly invoked HPL:

 

Of all the Lovecraftian pastiches that I've read in the last 40 years, this book blew the rest of them away like dust! That's how good it was.

—Fred Phillips, Contributor, Sword & Sorcery Weird Fiction Terminus Amateur Press Association

 

Abbadon the Destroyer; Ashmodai, King of Demons; Agrat bat-Malat the Dancing Roof- Demon; Shamazai; Azazel; Alukah the Vampire. Why, you’d have to go all the way back to HP Lovecraft to find a more sinister and deliciously mouth-filling set of demonic syllables. And in a few ways (at least), Bill Walsh’s monsters have the edge on the twentieth century’s master of horror.

 

1. You can pronounce Walsh’s names on the first attempt. Just try Lovecraft’s ((Chthulu, Yomagn’tho, Y’golonac). I mean, how do you pronounce an apostrophe?
2. Lovecraft’s names are made up. Walsh’s are straight out of primordial literature; everything from Babylonian, to Mongolian, to Egyptian, to primeval Hebraic. And what’s more, Walsh doesn’t just appropriate the names, he actually hews to their ancient resumés. (I know; I looked ‘em up!)
Tales from the Black Chamber (title not withstanding, this is not a set of stories, it is a single, well-put-together novel) is not yet another Lovecraftian knock-off. In fact it is not a horror novel at all. I guess I’d call it a puzzle mystery, because an intricate linguistic puzzle is at the heart of it--a sort of “Gold Bug” for modern sensibilities. If you enjoy that kind of thing, you’ll love it. If you don’t enjoy it, just skim over the thorny, intricate deductions and logic, and you’ll love it anyway.


There’s lots of wit and plenty of erudition, and yet it’s a user-friendly story that doesn’t take itself too seriously. No sex, no gory details. A fun read

—Aaron Elkins, author, the Gideon Oliver mysteries (et al.)

 

Anyhow, should a light romp through shadows and grimoires and the threat of the end of the world sound like fun reading, I'd be flattered if you picked up a copy and intensely gratified if you liked it.

 

Iä, iā,

 

Bill Walsh




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#2 dce

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 11:24 AM

Sounds like a great read -- I was sold as soon as I saw the combination of "by Bill Walsh" and "plenty of erudition". Just placed my order with Amazon for a print copy -- BTW Bill, you seem to have forgotten to give folks an easy link to follow, so here it is.

 

Hopefully other Yoggies will also give this title a go: Bill has been quite modest in his writeup -- he's actually been a major part of the creative team behind quite a number of Call of Cthulhu publications, in particular things that have been translated from foreign languages. He has a rare eye for detail in the written word and meticulous linguistic and historical accuracy ... so I'm quite looking forward to seeing what his original fiction is like.

 

 

Dean (from Adelaide)


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#3 Mograg

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 02:02 PM

Sold! (followed link from here to Amazon.com; read 'Look Inside!' preview feature; liked what I read; ordered a copy)



#4 AdamAlexander

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 04:42 PM

And another sold!

#5 achab

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 05:11 PM

One more here!



#6 billwalsh

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 06:15 AM

Hey, thank you all very much for picking up copies! I'm very grateful you'd consider spending a couple bucks on my work. I very much hope you enjoy it!

 

And thank you, Dean, for the kind words—and the link! I am apparently bad at marketing!



#7 dce

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 02:38 AM

For anyone that is curious about Bill's novel ... my printed copy of "Tales from the Black Chamber" arrived a few weeks ago, and I have just finished reading it. Overall I thought it was a great read, and an excellent example of how to do a modern-day occult thriller type of tale. It reminded me of the scholarly vibe of something like Eco's "Focault's Pendulum", but told in a breezy and fast-flowing style that is more like a conspiracy/espionage action tale.

 

While the novel is certainly set in the "universe" of HPL's mythos tales -- by virtue of sly references to events at Innsmouth -- I don't think I would bundle it into the (alarmingly huge and ever-expanding) pool of Lovecraft pastiches. And that's a good thing: where this novel really shines is in depicting a plausible-sounding circumstance in which a perfectly-ordinary person comes into contact with a shadowy society of occult "troubleshooters". Yes there are lots of grimoires and allusions to obscure occult rites from medieval times, but it is in no way caught up in the simplistic name-dropping of Cthulhu Mythos gods or tomes. In that sense it feels a lot more inspired by the *spirit* of Lovecraft's fiction rather than the literal creations themselves.

 

Recommended reading for Call of Cthulhu keepers interested in interesting ways to bring new characters into the world of supernatural horror, intriguingly evocative depictions of supernatural phenomena, and a great sense of authentic linguistics and occult history. Plus -- Voynich. :)

 

 

Dean (from Adelaide)


Edited by dce, 19 May 2017 - 02:39 AM.

FREE high-quality Call of Cthulhu scenarios in PDF: cthulhureborn.wordpress.com


#8 billwalsh

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 03:22 AM

Dean,

 

Thank you very much for the kind words for ​Tales from the Black Chamber. Your review is very perceptive: it's not a Mythos novel per se. It's sort of Lovecraft-adjacent. It's not cosmic horror, and the hat tips to HPL (and CoC, specifically in some of the details of the Innsmouth Raid) were both affectionate and to retain a little leeway to bring in something Lovecraftian at some point. But you're right, it's not a Lovecraft pastiche in that it does not exist within the cosmos and metaphysics of Lovecraft. That's been done, often way better than I ever could, so I didn't try. I tried to build something with the spirit of a Call of Cthulhu adventure with, as you say, a little bit of historical funkiness thrown in. But it's a rich vein of weirdness that I reserve the right to mine, should the mood strike… ; )

 

I’m very gratified you liked it! Thank you for posting!

 

Bill Walsh







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