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Preparing to start reading some Clark Ashton Smith

After my recent read through of many Lovecraft stories, both better known and lesser known ones, I'm now looking ahead to my next foray into Weird fiction. And I've settled on Clark Ashton Smith, specifically the Robert Weinberg edited collection The Return of the Sorcerer, which is available in Kindle form.   I chose this book because it looks to be a nice collection of some of his short stories and shorter novels. To see the contents listing look at the Kindle listing for the preview

yockenthwaite

yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: Eldritch Tales review sum-up

I've now finished reading through the fiction in the second Gollancz collection of Lovecraft stories. This includes most of his lesser known works and collaborations. And in the same way that I did for the Necronomicon collection I thought I'd post some overall thoughts.   Generally I enjoyed it. The standard was higher than I expected, and I recommend reading these stories. They are certainly generally less known among most Lovecraft fans. Having said that there were some stories

yockenthwaite

yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Transition of Juan Romero

Now onto my final - I think - Lovecraft story read, and it's one that he wrote himself, not a collaboration, dating from 1919.   The narrator, an English-educated man who spent time in India, is working in a gold mine in the Cactus Mountains, and runs into a curious Mexican man, and then stranger events happen.   It's quite a light story, without too much plot, and fairly short. There's an extended descent underground that fills quite a big chunk. Much of the unknowable and u

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Thing in the Moonlight

Ok I gather that this was written mainly by J. Chapman Miske, based on another dream that Lovecraft had.   But reading it is confusing. It starts talking about Morgan and what he wrote. Morgan then writes that his name is Howard Phillips, he lives at 66 College Street in Providence, and had a dream he can't wake from. So I guess the implication is that HPL is dreaming that he's Morgan. Or other people call this mystery dream character Morgan. I'm confused!   Much of the text

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Very Old Folk

Another Roman one, this is an account of a dream Lovecraft had, of an expedition to deal with an unknowable threat in Roman Spain.   It's extremely heavy going writing. I'm thinking that he maybe wrote it down fast, while he could remember the dream, and clarity wasn't the priority. Maybe I'm just really tired, but the words are proving resolutely laboured for me. I find if I read quickly that helps, getting less bogged down. A bit.   Oh but "yellow, squint-eyed" is used as a

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Evil Clergyman

What a fantastic title! I gather this is an excerpt from a letter Lovecraft wrote, recounting a dream he'd had. So, again, it's not a finished short story, though it was published as one after his death in Weird Tales.   The tale is of a narrator who inadvertently, and to be honest rather stupidly, releases the trapped soul and more of the titular clergyman. If you're told not to do anything with a mysterious box, whatever you do, follow those instructions! Though to be fair, if he'd d

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Book

Moving on to another unfinished fragment, this is a simultaneously frustrating and intriguing read. Frustrating because at the start it doesn't get on with the plot quickly enough, albeit in a typical Lovecraftian way, and I know while reading that it's going to be very short. But then when it does start properly it's a real page turner, and belies its short length.   I really like the idea of the narrator finding a strange book, whose title he can't see, in a curious bookshop. Then ta

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Descendant

Another fragmentary tale, this is somewhat of a disappointment after the previous two.   Refreshingly it is set in London, captured moderately well, though some of the names jar rather. The vision of a man and his cat howling at the sound of church bells is a strong one, but a rare highlight in the story.   The way another character gets hold of a copy of the Necronomicon stretches belief almost to breaking point. Nor is the book really that essential to what follows, and I'm

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: Azathoth

This is incredibly short, but I rather like it. It's the tale of someone living in the grimness of the modern world, who looks up to the stars, and dreams of other places. And his wish comes true. It's rather a lovely combination of a grim, real life introduction crossed with the interstellar sci-fi of Lovecraft and the feeling of his Dreamlands stories. Really rather nice, and an extremely quick read. It also feels very close to Lovecraft's own situation.   Checking Wikipedia I see th

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: Ibid

I considered skipping this, because it's not a conventional story, and I am already skipping the poems (sorry poetry lovers!) But it's so very short, that I thought I'll give it a go. It's also, of course, reminiscent of Lovecraft's other piece about the Necronomicon.   I'm pleased that I did, because it's very, very funny. A spoof biography of a Roman author, riffing off lots of linguistic jokes and also nicely inventing a Roman history. To a modern reader who's not so familiar with t

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Challenge from Beyond

This is a curious piece, a round robin story, written by all of C.L. Moore, A. Merritt, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long, taking turns to write sections following on from each other. For more background discussion of this collaborative story see here.   Lovecraft's middle section is clearly an expansion of some of his sci-fi ideas in The Shadow Out of Time, and the concept of an alien race from afar switching bodies with humans. Interestingly both pieces by Love

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Quest of Iranon

This story starts off much better than the previous one, written directly, and to the point, with plot and movement. It's clearly set in a similar quasi Dream Cycle world. And the description is rich and imaginative.   The idea of a singer recounting his memories in song greatly appeals to me, even if the first audience in the story is less enraptured. It also gives Lovecraft another opportunity to describe in words a magical Dreamlands type world, filling the reader's mind with images

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Other Gods

Back now to some of Lovecraft's own stories, not revisions / collaborations. And first up is The Other Gods.   This one seems very like a Dream Cycle story, with Kadath and Ulthar etc. though it is based on Earth. I'm also minded of the Greek gods as I read, remembering how many stories Lovecraft wrote with Greek mythological elements.   The writing is often clumsy, though. For example Lovecraft repeats "they are grown stern" within quick succession. And other things are repe

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Trap

Moving on to this one, another collaboration, this time with Henry S. Whitehead.   The start with a mysterious antiquarian mirror, which is the engine behind the plot, feels almost MR James like, as do some other aspects of the story.   Lovecraft seems to have left little sign of his hand in any revisions he did in the story. I'm assuming that it is almost entirely Whitehead's work. The narrative is somewhat clumsy, and needed tightening in many places. The dialogue though, w

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Electric Executioner

Pushing ahead with this, I wasn't relishing it, because it's another collaboration with Adolphe de Castro. It was published in Weird Tales in 1930, and I'm assuming that Lovecraft revised it, and it's essentially de Castro's work. And from Wikipedia I see that's it a revamped version of a much earlier story by de Castro first published in the 1890s. So I'm not holding up much hope, after the last story by him I read. But here goes ...   The story starts as a hunt for a missing man and

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Last Test

Another collaboration, and I gather in this case that this was another story that Lovecraft revised, for Adolphe de Castro, before it was published in Weird Tales in 1928.   The writing is often strange, with an odd grammar throughout. This doesn't feel as though it's been revised as much by Lovecraft as I might expect. Perhaps he was reluctant to change too much. But it reads oddly.   And, more worryingly for me, it is grossly over long. Not because it has a lot of plot to t

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: Two Black Bottles

Another collaboration, this time with Wilfred Blanch Talman. The story follows the narrator investigating the death of his uncle, the clergyman of a remote country church.   It's a curious opening, feeling very direct, and to the point. Not very Lovecraftian at all. I'm also intrigued by some of the language used. In Scotland in the past a "Dominie" would usually be the schoolmaster. Here it seems to apply to the clergyman too. But doing a quick bit of digging online I see it's a term

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yockenthwaite

 

Update about my interactive fiction games

I wrote an article for the first issue of Yoggie’s Patron zine IOTSOTOT about interactive fiction games, including how to write your own games in Inform 7, and various games I’m writing at the moment. As an update to that, here is the current status of all three of my current games, all parser games in the traditional text adventure style:   John Napier one (“Napier’s Cache”) now - today! - entered into the 2018 IntroComp, for the opening portions of games. I would be aiming to

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Green Meadow

Ah another collaboration, this time with Winifred Virginia Jackson. My limited understanding is that Lovecraft wrote all of the text, which was based on a dream that Jackson had.   Written as a supposedly real account of an event in Maine, the story starts with an introduction, explaining that a meteorite crashed to Earth, and was retrieved by fishermen. Upon examination the meteorite was found to contain within it a notebook, about 5x3 inches in size, 30 sheets within. The main part o

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: He

The opening part of this story is over written, and hard to read. Too long sentences, and too many words. Lovecraft is hardly known for simple writing, but he can do better than this.   I know that it's set in New York, but I guess New York has changed since Lovecraft's day, with curving streets replaced, old buildings knocked down, and replaced by more modern buildings. Or at the very least I don't recognise the New York I've seen on the television in this description. That television

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Moon-Bog

Getting off to a rather mixed start with this one. On the one hand I like the Irish setting. I can't remember reading another Lovecraft story set in Ireland. But I don't like the feudalism overlord-ness of it re grateful peasants happy to see their quasi ruler back. I can't help myself but I already want something bad to happen to that character! That says as much about me as anything else, I'm sure. Sorry. It's also problematic in the context of Ireland breaking away from Britain around this ti

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Temple

Oh this one has an intriguing start, with a German WW1 U-boat commander, and location somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. I sort of want to get out a map, or fire up Google Earth, to see exactly where it is.   There's something very appropriate about a submarine as a setting for a Lovecraftian story. The potential for terror in a confined space is increased greatly, and the ways in which people could die numerous and nasty. Though I am rather amused, in a black comedy kind of a way, that

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Festival

I thought I might have read this before, but no, it's new for me.   I really like the imagery of Kingsport in the snow. There's a descriptive passage in there that is one of the most evocative pieces of writing I've ever read by Lovecraft. I'm almost sad to leave that part, and go into the building. I wish I could wander around the town as described and explore it more.   The household with the strange inhabitants is well described too, and there's a nicely growing sense of m

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: The Horror at Martin's Beach

Ah, a collaboration with his wife. I wonder how much of it was by HPL and how much by Sonia.   There are passages that are typical Lovecraft, some of the horrors described. But the way the story gets on with things, and is full of plot, is very atypical for him, so I'm guessing those aspects were mainly done by Sonia. The writing is rather clumsy here, and needed a polish. It's also very unusual for a Lovecraft story to start at the end of the story with a survivor, and then look back. It's fa

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yockenthwaite

 

yock's Lovecraftathon: What The Moon Brings

Pushing ahead quickly onto this very short piece.   It's all about atmosphere, and I'm not sure the writing fully works. There are clunky sections for me, and bits which seem to have strange phrasing. For example Lovecraft writes "strange oceans that are not in the world", whereas, rightly or wrongly, I'd rather expect his take on that to end "of this world". I know the meanings are different, but it was a slightly jarring moment for me on first reading.   I do like the idea of the terror of

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yockenthwaite

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