Tag Archives: william hope hodgson

Carnacki: The Second Great Detective

Here’s a thought. Astonishingly, there are more stories written in homage to Carnacki the Ghost Finder than there are of any Victorian or Edwardian detective save Sherlock Holmes. That’s not just occult detectives, that’s all of them, from the amateur investigator to the perspicacious policeman. He may be a niche interest to some, but he’s an impressive one. His creator William Hope Hodgson would probably be shocked, and H P Lovecraft a little puzzled (he wasn’t fond of Carnacki).

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copyright m s corley 2016

There were rumours of C Auguste Dupin (from Edgar Allan Poe) in the side-wings, but as you’ll see below, I think we can show that Carnacki has the distinct edge over any other detective of the period. We’re discounting multi-authored characters such as Sexton Blake or Nick Carter. Sexton Blake first appeared in 1893, and was a ‘house’ character written by dozens of people (including even the SF author Michael Moorcock, later on) for various magazines.

Nick Carter, first appearing in 1886, was the same, a ‘house’ character with at least a dozen authors, though this series does bear the distinction of being one of the first of its kind to have one or two female authors contributing over the years.

a_great_conspiracy_by_nicholas_carter

Last October we had a month-long celebration of William Hope Hodgson, in which we ran a series called The Inheritors, covering writers who had taken his themes or characters and written new, related fiction. Today we’re concentrating only on the Ghost Finder and those who follow in his footsteps. You’ll find some cracking stuff below, if you haven’t already been there before us.

inheritors

We’ve argued elsewhere why Carnacki might be so popular, so here we’re only going to do a head-count. But given that we’ve pitted Carnacki against Holmes, it may be worth reminding ourselves of their approaches, which must be part of the attraction. Both Great Detectives believed in:

  • Looking for logical, realistic explanations for unusual or unlikely events
  • Utilising the latest scientific methods when pursuing a case
  • Drawing on a collection of monographs and papers for key aspects of their work

As to their views on investigation and the supernatural:

“I am what I might term an unprejudiced sceptic. I am not given to either believing or disbelieving things ‘on principle,’ as I have found many idiots prone to be, and what is more, some of them not ashamed to boast of the insane fact. I view all reported ‘hauntings’ as unproven until I have examined into them, and I am bound to admit that ninety-nine cases out of a hundred turn out to be sheer bosh and fancy. But the hundredth! Well, were it not for the hundredth, I should have few stories to tell – eh?”

Thomas Carnacki, The Thing Invisible

“If Dr. Mortimer’s surmise should be correct, and we are dealing with forces outside the ordinary laws of Nature, there is an end of our investigation. But we are bound to exhaust all other hypotheses before falling back upon this one.”

Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Holmes does not state that such things cannot be (although he debunks much superstition as nonsense in other stories). He says that it is outside of his concept of scientific deduction. The crucial difference, of course, is that Carnacki believed that you could apply deduction to a situation where ‘forces outside the ordinary laws of Nature’ were at work. He categorised and studied what he called ab-natural phenomena, and investigated them, when they were genuinely present, with the same keen eye. Holmes Plus, as it were.

(You can find more reflections on Holmes issues and pastiches in this posts: shades of sherlock holmes )

There are stories written since which include both characters. In Kim Newman’s short stories about the Diogenes Club, from the Holmes stories, it is mentioned that Carnacki was a member of the Diogenes Club as a special occult investigator; when he retired, his position was taken by Newman’s character Richard Jeperson. Carnacki is also mentioned as having investigated several cases alongside Sherlock Holmes.

Barbara Hambly and A F (Chico) Kidd have both written stories which feature Carnacki aiding Sherlock Holmes in occult investigations (The Adventure of the Antiquarian’s Niece and The Grantchester Grimoire respectively, whilst Spanish author Alberto López Aroca wrote the short story Algunos derivados del alquitrán (Some Coal-tar Derivatives) which apparently featured Carnacki visiting a retired Sherlock Holmes in Fulworth.

sh_breath-of-god_cover-1

Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God (2011) is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel by Guy Adams which concerns a mystery involving the supernatural deaths of people. In the course of his investigation, Holmes meets Aleister Crowley and Thomas Carnacki.

But back to the main Inheritors. Since we last brushed on this, the number of stories has grown yet again, and so we’ll freshen our ab-natural glasses. We won’t mention comic book or graphic novels appearances today, except to remind you that we recently featured M S Corley, who is producing a new illustrated series specifically about Carnacki, with some spectacularly stylish artwork. More about that when it’s available (you do, however, have a chance to get an M S Corley mini-poster if you support the Kickstarter for Occult Detective Quarterly  – see end of article).

Let’s see if we can do some number-crunching. We’ll have to re-mention people we’ve covered over the year, but we’ve added latest tallies and publications.


meiklestich

The most prolific author is Willie Meikle, who has now written nearly forty stories of Carnacki, with more on the way. Willie says of this work:

“Carnacki resonated with me immediately on my first reading many years ago. Several of the stories have a Lovecraftian viewpoint, with cosmic entities that have no regard for the doings of mankind. The background Hodgson proposes fits with some of my own viewpoint on the ways the Universe might function, and the slightly formal Edwardian language seems to be a “voice” I fall into naturally. I write them because of love, pure and simple.”

We’ve featured Willie before, but you can now find a full list of his Carnacki stories here:

william meikle: carnacki and me

His latest collection, Carnacki: The Watcher at the Gate, has just been released in e-book format.

carnacki: the watcher at the gate

BALLPARK TOTAL: 40

joshstitch

Joshua M Reynolds is the other most prolific writer in this area, having started with Carnacki and taken the concept further with his tales of Charles St. Cyprian, The Royal Occultist, who is Carnacki’s successor in that role. Josh has produced, so far:

  • Several pure Carnacki stories
  • Three tales of Carnacki and St Cyprian
  • A host of stories going through 1919 to 1925, revolving around St Cyprian and his ‘assistant’ Ebe Gallowglass

“I first came across Hodgson in an anthology called Grisly, Grim and Gruesome. The story was “The Horse of the Invisible”, which is still perhaps my favourite Hodgson story – Hodgson’s descriptions of the sounds the eponymous phantom makes still creep me out a bit, even today. Even then, I was drawn to the idea of someone investigating a haunting as if it were a mystery. I credit that story with sparking my love of not just Hodgson, but occult detective fiction as a whole, really.”

Joshua’ latest full-length Royal Occultist novel is The Infernal Express.

the infernal express

You can find a fairly exhaustive and useful list of Royal Occultist adventures, including Carnacki’s direct appearance, here:

royal occultist chronology

BALLPARK TOTAL: 45

brandonstitch

Brandon Barrows wrote The Castle-Town Tragedy last year, three novellas covering new exploits of Carnacki (illustrated by the terrific Dave Felton), and has further Carnacki stories in the pipeline. We recently asked Brandon what his Ghost Finder roots were:

“One of the reasons I wanted to write Carnacki was that, while he’s very much steeped in the occult, he was first and foremost a man of science. He went in wanting to DISBELIEVE and only allowed himself to consider the supernatural when all other options were pushed aside. So many classic occult-detectives seem like little more than vehicles to get to whatever neat demon or ghost the writer has thought up, but with Carnacki, WHH brought an element of real detective work into the mix that I’ve always found immensely satisfying.”

Castle-Town is a great read, available as a limited edition first run at the moment, but we hear that it may also be available in e-book next year, along with a possible trade-paperback.

the castle-town tragedy

BALLPARK TOTAL: 5

Chico Kidd and Rick Kennett have separately or in collaboration written more than a dozen Ghost Finder tales, the bulk of which are collected in No. 472 Cheyne Walk.

no. 472 cheyne walk

BALLPARK TOTAL: 15

grantstitch

John Linwood Grant, late as always, has written a number of Carnacki stories, and is in process of writing and getting published a rather larger number of his Tales of the Last Edwardian stories, which concern the activities (and fates) of the four men who listened to the Ghost Finder’s own recounting of his investigations all those years ago at Cheyne Walk.

a study in grey

BALLPARK TOTAL: 10

So from six authors alone, we have some 115 stories related to Carnacki. That’s not counting further works in the pipe-line, the Holmes/Carnacki crossovers mentioned at the start, or those writers who have written individual Carnacki stories for other anthologies. If we add Carnacki: The New Adventures, and Carnacki: The Lost Cases, anthologies edited and published by Sam Gafford, we have maybe another 25 entries by numerous authors.

samstitch

And we could add in David Langford’s excellent Carnacki parodies, with his character Dagon Smythe, for another 5.

We’re talking 150 or more stories which are either specifically Carnacki in action, or which continue his work in the early part of last century and reference him regularly. Given that the larger part of these were written a century after Hope Hodgson penned his original stories, we think we proved that The Second Great Detective deserves a certain amount of recognition.


It would be foolish not to point out that some of the above authors will be appearing in the forthcoming Occult Detective Quarterly – advertising rarely hurts – and that there may even be a story or two relevant to this article.

odqillo5occult detective quarterly kickstarter

If you support the Kickstarter, not only will you be in at the start with generous subscription offers, but there are some excellent rewards available, including an M S Corley mini-poster and FREE e-books from 18thWall Publications (see Kickstarter Updates), who have published both Joshua M Reynolds and the tragic John Linwood Grant.

Pledge now, and get happy…

scarlet

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Author Writes Book: No Comment from William Hope Hodgson

Yes, we has writted a book. And now we is supposed to tell you. Oh Gods, spare us! Self-promotion is far more tedious for the author than it is for you, dear listeners. “Look, I’m a bricklayer. I did bricks in a row.” “Yep, so you did.” “They is good bricks.” Etc. So today we offer you a free extract from House of Clay, the novel that started it all. At least that’s almost proper content.

and this is where it all ends up
and this is where it all ends up

If this makes no sense, then harken unto us, but only briefly. Four Tales of the Last Edwardian are now available for the discerning – including lurchers – to read. These are stories of psychic unease, period mysteries and underlying horror. They are moderately accurate in their historical setting (says we), and draw on William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghostfinder for a degree of background. Occasionally they get real dark, but not always. If you like Sherlock Holmes, Edwardian horror, Carnacki, John Silence or classic ghost stories, you might enjoy them.

Three short stories are already free from Smashwords (see link on right-hand sidebar or go here The Last Edwardian), and are gaining 5 Star reviews on Goodreads from very kind people.

  1. The Intrusion – A tale of Mr Dry, the Deptford Assassin, and his first encounter with Carnacki’s successors.
  2. A Loss of Angels – In which alienist Dr Alice Urquhart is confronted with a killer who may or may not be insane.
  3. One Last Sarabande – A investigation by Henry and Abigail into strange disappearances around a Sussex village.
dry1ad
the character people really want to see

And now comes the much more substantial novella  A Study in Grey, from 18th Wall Productions and available from them (in North America) or from Amazon UK and US. Here’s our own quick blurb:

“An Edwardian thriller, with a dark secret. The psychic Abigail Jessop and her companion Henry are drawn into a circle of seances and spies by a man who cannot afford a conscience – Captain Redvers Blake of British Military Intelligence. Assisted from the shadows by an ageing Sherlock Holmes, these three face an unknown foe and discover what lies behind the painted mask.”

12517126_10209039147156962_2048152109_o
ninety nine pages of sheer… words

UK link to the right, North America links here:

science of deduction 4: a study in gray 18th wall

a study in gray amazon us

There, that’s got that over with. So, House of Clay. This novel was written many years ago, gained interest from a publisher and was then deemed too uncommercial to risk. So we abandoned it. The same thing happened with horse-riding after we fell on our headses rather painfully. During the intervening years, we lost the entire middle segment (of the novel, not the horse). Physically. It disappeared during moving house. Now that there is interest again, the whole thing needs rewriting, in effect. Pah!

Here’s an unpolished extract for fun…

Three of Carnacki’s circle have attended his funeral in Yorkshire. Carnacki is presumed dead, although the corpse is annoyingly absent. Henry Dodgson, accompanied by Abigail Jessop, endeavours to follow the dictates of Carnacki’s will. They are to make contact with a local psychic who dwells at Hathering, a house in the wilds and a place of which Dodgson has never heard, much to his puzzlement. Carnacki, it seems, had many secrets…

Quiet Beasts

The trap lurched on a pothole, and for a second I was thrown nearer to her than I had anticipated. My face inches from hers, her look pierced me with an intensity which I could scarcely bear, and a strange herbal scent prickled at my nostrils. Abigail’s eyes were an iridescent grey like burnished steel.

I regained my seat and covered up my discomfort by leafing through “The Keighley Courier”, until I found the report of yesterday’s funeral. There was a list of mourners, not difficult given the numbers, in which both my name and Arkright’s were spelled incorrectly, and then a curious entry on Carnacki himself, which I read out to her.

“Whilst he had not resided in this parish, the late Mr Carnacki was perhaps best known around Keighley and Ilkley for his sponsorship of the noted local medium, or “spirit channeller”, Miss Catherine Weatherhead of Hathering. This paper has in the past been convinced of the danger which such activities can pose to those of unsettled mind, and it is to be hoped that Hathering remains a respectable institution now that it is sadly no longer able to profit from the deceased’s patronage.”

“You knew nothing of this?” asked Abigail.

“Afraid not. It looks as if none of us knew him as well as we thought.”

“But were you never aware of his visits to Keighley?”

I thought back, remembering again those comfortable dinners at Cheyne Walk, evenings pottering through the library while Carnacki expounded on some principle or other and Arkright coughed out refutations. Carnacki had little patience for interruption, and always seemed to have directed the evening’s talk, whilst we had generally been tolerant to follow the flow.

“He may have mentioned the odd journey up north. Generally he seemed to visit Lancashire. Had some connections on the coast, I think.”

“And you never asked him about more personal things?” she persisted.

“I suppose not. Usually I was more interested in his latest case.”

It was strange to reflect again on those evenings in a different light, and I felt a sudden irritation. Carnacki had certainly known a considerable amount about me, personally and professionally, and yet he had never responded to such questions in return, always closing the conversation or bringing up another subject.

“Mr Dodgson?” she asked after a minute of silence. “Have you thought of something?”

“Hmm? No, I was just letting my mind wander.”

But the truth was that I had begun to confront an unwelcome fact – for all my bravado in the Clubs and in those circles at social gatherings, I had not known the Ghostfinder. I may have inhabited part of his world, and yes, I was one of only four who were permitted to learn of his latest exploits, but what did that amount to? Only distraction from the truth that my own life was a hollow thing with little purpose.

“I can’t answer any of these questions,” I said finally, watching the churned earth spatter up from the horse’s hooves and add further to the filth along the sides of the trap. “I’m not even sure that my presence at Cheyne Walk was based on anything other than that I amused him occasionally.”

“You amuse me, Mr Dodgson. That doesn’t seem so worthless an ability in times such as these.”

I thought that she toyed with me, but when I looked up, there was no trace of mockery. I smiled.

“Perhaps not. Look, I keep blowing hot and cold on this thing, damn me. I can’t imagine why Carnacki wanted us to check up on this Weatherhead woman, and it’s probably none of our business – some domestic problem of his.”

“Now you let your feelings speak. Whoever Carnacki was, a larger mystery is still at our doorstep. Don’t forget your letter, and that which accompanied it.”

“I don’t see that as anything to do with the Weatherheads. The old Ghostfinder was always following up leads, no matter how queer they seemed; he had some damned odd contacts. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is just another psychic crackpot.”

Abigail brushed her neck swiftly. Her cameo was there, almost hidden under a high lace collar. “Oh no – it’s more than that, believe me. Something watches us, or possibly just you, I don’t know. I hear the breath of it wheezing at our backs.”

I frowned, automatically reaching under my coat in case trouble was upon us. Even as my fingers touched the grip of my revolver, the trap jerked and slowed, the driver tugging on his reins.

“Whoa, y’buggers,” he muttered, and we creaked to a halt. Around us stood nothing but trees; the track had petered out completely.

“‘Atherin’.” he said, with no more feeling than when we had started our journey. We were at the end of a small lane between rows of decrepit trees. Polled once, they now sprouted a confusion of branches from the foreshortened ugliness of their trunks, branches which hung leafless and gaunt. The only signs of real vitality were the suckers which struggled up from their roots to challenge the crowns.

Beyond them, I could see an overgrown path through thicker foliage.

“Tha goes up theer.”

“We’ll want you back here by three,” I said, handing him the fare and a shilling beside. Understand?”

“Three. Aye.” The coins disappeared into his coat. I shook my head, and applied myself to the trail which Abigail had already begun to explore. As the trap rattled away behind us, I made my way to her side, cursing as cold mud squeezed its way over my boot top.

“They should sack the gardener, that’s all I can say.”

We wound our way through a tunnel of trees, the sunlight dripping through occasionally to highlight a lone cobble or the remnants of an ancient wall. The ground was rising under our feet, and I had almost relaxed into the walk when the path twisted to the east and we stepped out into a clearing.

“Good heavens.” I murmured. To either side of us stood two enormous, weathered stone lions, towering my own height and more above the leaf-carpeted path. Although patchworked with the grey and green of lichen, the tawny stone from which they had been carved gave them an uncomfortable semblance of life.

lion-65423_960_720

“Impressive.” Abigail moved up to the statue on our right and gently laid her hand against its flank. Her eyes closed for a moment, and then sighed.

“What is it?” Peering beyond the lions, I could see an unkempt expanse of lawn which must surely belong to Hathering itself. Abigail let her hand slide away from the stone.

“Just something old , something watchful, Henry. But these fellows are too well set in their ways to care about small mysteries and our comings and goings.”

“I should think so.” I gestured to the grass beyond the last straggling trees. “‘Atherin'”

My imitation of the driver brought a faint smile to her lips.

“I hope, Mr Dodgson, that you don’t think yourself too far above the local people to have dealings with them?”

“It’s not their intellect which confounds me, but their vocabulary. I swear I never met a bunch so short on words.”

We stepped out into a place where the grey of November gave way to a more mellow autumnal pallet. A multitude of stacked chimneys rose beyond the tall hedge of beech at the end of the lawn. In five minutes we found ourselves before a house which, if not neglected, had certainly been allowed to slump into its dotage. I can best describe it by saying that it would not have looked out of place on the flyleaf of a Stoker novel, all brooding turret rooms and whatnot.

As to its age, I could not say, but ivy crawled around the portico and seemed to cling to every nook of the architect’s fancy until it fumbled for the eaves themselves. Some windows were entirely overgrown, and it would have needed radical surgery to uncover the true face of the building. It was easily twice the size of Cheyne Walk, itself no clerk’s lodgings, and regarded us with manifest disinterest.

“How do you feel about this, then?” I asked lightly. Abigail looked around to where we had emerged from the trees.

“The lions were silent.”

I bit off a humorous rejoinder, realising that she spoke in all seriousness. “Ah.”

It was time to knock on Hathering’s door.

####

Subscribe to greydogtales or follow me, and you’ll be updated on Tales of the Last Edwardian news as we stagger along.

Next time on greydogtales: Longdogs, interviews, supernatural fiction, weird art – anything but my bloody book…

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Lurchers, Carnacki and other Bulbs

Welcome, dear listeners, to our usual mid-week medley. Lurcher versus daffodil, the new Carnacki audio reviewed, weird scout badges and odd links. No change there, then.

We start with Django and the daffodils, mainly because it’s driving us mad at the moment. He is a large dog, a fine dog, but he has an issue which may be verging on OCD. In fact, verges are part of the problem. Let us explain…

daffodils-716847_960_720

We live in what you might call a market town sellotaped onto the edge of a city. And in this little town, people plant daffodils. Everywhere. The roundabouts, the sides of roads, the bits of grass outside their houses, the municipal displays, the pots along the high street… it never ends. We suspect there are even locals walking round with daffodils growing in their jacket pockets at this time of year. In case someone’s been missed out, or not got the message, the local shops sell masses of cut daffodils as well. All very nice, we suppose, if somewhat obsessive.

But anyway, Django. He is a dog who counts. He counts the hours and he uses numbers. Impressive for a dog who runs into trees and can’t find his teddy.

You may remember we posted a chart of his daily routine some while ago( see days of whine and lurchers ). He knows what time of day it is, and he knows what he wants in each time-slot. What we didn’t mention is that he counts his treats. His supper-time treat, which cannot be missed, runs to three pieces of whatever has died recently or is lounging in the fridge – liver pieces, chicken slices and so on. The other dogs stand there with gaping maws and take as much as they are given, presumably until one of them explodes. Django eats three pieces every night, and then assumes that’s it. Time to go and pee. A longdog of very precise habits.

Unfortunately he also counts daffodils, and this habit is out of control. Every single walk now consists of patrolling from one eruption of daffodils to the next and christening them. Sniff sniff, cock leg, move on. There are least two hundred plantings of these bloody bulbs on our street alone. We’re not kidding. Every verge has a line of them in separate clumps, and every clump has to be tallied.

djangotongue

This may sound mildly amusing, until you have to do it twice a day with another (disinterested) longdog in tow and all the pedestrians and motorists staring at you. We weave backwards and forwards, smiling awkwardly at the people who planted the bulbs outside their own houses, or explaining Django to staring schoolchildren. We tremble for the moment when someone shouts “Daffodil killer!” and the mob reaches for its pitchforks.

Worse, naturally, is the fact that each night other dogs smell his mark and decide they’ll add their own little note. So the next day Django has to start all over again, either answering their comments or obliterating them. A twenty minute walk takes an hour, until you wonder just how large his bladder is. How can he possibly contain enough pee to mark the one hundred and eighty fifth clump? Surely he’ll get bored soon?

He doesn’t. Another few weeks of this and we may go out one night and dig up the damned plants, but this is a risky and heretical thought. They say that an old lady was burned at the stake around here in 1958, just for saying she preferred tulips.

There are, we expect, daffodils planted on her grave.

####

houseamongthelaurels

Now, for our weirder listeners, a quick review of the Carnack audio collection which came out last week from Big Finish Productions. Last week we had the producer Scott Handcock talking to us about its making  (see carnacki lives! ). In a couple of weeks we’re delighted to say that we will have Dan Starkey, the lead actor, saying his own piece in another exclusive interview. So, is it any good?

Uh, yes. It’s great.

We don’t usually do reviews, so we’ll keep it short. There are six stories, as listed before, with a run-time which varies between forty two and fifty seven minutes, so a good five hours of Ghost Finder pleasure in total.

The stories are perfectly framed as separate sound files, with a nicely understated score which only serves to enhance the general mood at key points of each story. You might hear the gentle crackle of the fire behind Carnacki’s voice as he recounts his adventures after dinner, or a subtle eeriness on the air which reminds you of what he is facing. The score is always there to support the narrative, never to detract from it.

thethinginvisible

This is a straight, very faithful rendition of the original stories by William Hope Hodgson, and very well produced. No unnecessary updating, no loss of Hodgson’s period language or descriptions. Spot on.

Dan Starkey is, to be honest, fantastic in the role. He has given a definitive voice to the Ghost Finder, one which has you believing immediately that you’ve met the real Thomas Carnacki. Starkey shares the detective’s feelings of funk at facing monstrosities, his suspicions and his courage with equal facility, and his performance breaths new life into the text.

He is also very good at giving character to the people Carnacki meets. He has a talent for accent and delivery which involves you in an extremely satisfying way, and again this only enhances the whole story. The nearest equivalent we can think of is one of those classic one-man shows.

Without being mean to Joseph Kloska, who provides a fine Dodgson where the original introductory or interrogative sections need to be included, buy this for the new Ghost Finder.

Dan Starkey is Carnacki.

####

Those of you who dared to read our latest Sandra’s First Pony story, ‘The St Valentine’s Day Mascarpone’, may have noticed that the local Girl Guide troop played a larger part than usual (see  bad love: the return of sandra’s first pony). In the process you will have met their leader Adelaide Cleggins, whose addiction to ginger beer and Brasso has often worried Sandra. Adelaide is “a big girl, with three badges for unarmed combat and one for advanced police driving, which was unusual for a twelve year old.”

Subsequent to posting that, our invaluable ICT guru Trevor provided us with a rather appropriate link. Alternative Scouting badges, by artist Luke Drozd. We feel that Adelaide would approve.

set3_photo_setluke drozd

####

A last word for Matt Cowan and his blog Horror Delve, a hoard of weird fiction articles and reviews. Matt recently asked a number of writers and enthusiasts to comment briefly on their favourite weapons in fantasy. greydog crept in somehow, choosing Terminus Est from the Gene Wolfe novels, and it was rather fun. Check out Matt’s blog here:

horror delve

executioner-sword

Tired now, as Mr Bubbles would say. If the winds blow fair, then we’re back later this week with Stranger Seas 3, featuring a terrific interview with ace horror writer Ray Cluley!

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The Writer on the Borderland 12: All Hallows Exhaustion

It’s All Hallow’s Eve, and we’re down to the dying embers of our conflagration, our month-long tribute to William Hope Hodgson. Just as the daoine sídhe can enter this world more easily at Samhain, so can the longdogs begin to lurch back into the world of greydogtales. The last week has been mainly about critical views and oddities, so we leave you with a melange of memorials and myth-enforcing minutiae. That’s writer-talk for the bits that couldn’t be fitted in before.

But before we place a few trivia on the fire, we must thank our ancestors and point out that our blogfest has been made wondrous, and indeed possible, by the contributions of the following authors, artists and enthusiasts, to whom we are indebted:

Sam Gafford, Willie Meikle, Tim Prasil, James Bojaciuk, Julia Morgan, Chico Kidd, David Langford, Sebastián Cabrol, Kate Coady, Georges Dodds, J Patrick Allen, John C Wright, Wayne June and Django the longdog (Chilli and Twiglet were asleep for most of it).

Of course, if you enjoyed the month, then I’ll take as much credit as I can get as well. I’m not proud.

####

In this last Hodgson entry, I’ve picked a few unconnected critical quotes quite deliberately, to illustrate the way in which his reputation lived on (and I’ve thrown in a word or two of my own).

Our first quote comes from a friend of Hodgson’s, one who went to great lengths to continue publishing and promoting Hodgson after his death. Arthur St. John Adcock was a journalist, poet and later editor of The Bookman, a magazine of publication news and reviews. For those of a weird or ghostly bent, Gertrude Atherton, W B Yeats and M R James were among its contributors. In fact, James wrote his article ‘Some Remarks on Ghost Stories’ for the December 1929 edition of The Bookman.

by Walter Benington, for Elliott & Fry, chlorobromide print, 1920s
by Walter Benington, for Elliott & Fry, chlorobromide print, 1920s

Adcock was steadfast in his support for a number of years, support which might be summarised in this from The Bookman (1920):

“…In (his) three novels, in The Night Land, and in some of his short stories, he showed a mastery of the bizarre, the mysterious, the terrible that has not often been equalised outside the pages of Edgar Allan Poe.”

More on Adcock and Hodgson can be found in Sam Gafford‘s WHH site, through the link given yesterday.

For a more contemporary view, the author China Mieville, in his essay M R James and the Quantum Vampire (Collapse, 2008):

“A good case can be made, for example, that William Hope Hodgson, though considerably less influential than Lovecraft, is as, or even more, remarkable a Weird visionary; and that 1928 can be considered the Weird tentacle’s coming of age, Cthulhu (‘monster […] with an octopus-like head’) a twenty-first birthday iteration of the giant ‘devil-fish’ – octopus – first born to our sight squatting malevolently on a wreck in Hodgson’s The Boats of the ‘Glen Carrig’, in 1907.”

I was interested, re-reading Mieville’s essay, to be reminded of his take on M R James’s ghosts. I recently mentioned elsewhere that the Hodgson collection Carnacki the Ghostfinder has virtually no ghosts in it, and that the title is therefore somewhat misleading. Mieville points out that M R James’s own ‘ghosts’ are for the most part actually unnatural creatures, be they demons, poisonous spider-things, slinking remnants or whatever.

Ab-natural, as Hodgson might say, but not ghosts. It seems to me that although the writing is so temperamentally and stylistically different, many of the antiquary’s terrors and the psychic detective’s monsters have aspects in common.  And, of course, they are of a time. Hodgson’s The Whistling Room was published in 1910, James’s More Ghost Stories in 1911. Sadly, I fear that given James’s views on the “overtly occult” in ghost stories, M R would not greatly have appreciated Carnacki.

And for my third record, Sue, I wanted to include a comment by T E Grau, author of weird fiction and the recent collection The Nameless Dark. In his enjoyable Cosmicomicon blog essay on Hodgson (2011), Grau posed a question:

“Lovecraft is always cited as the Father of Cosmic Horror. So, would that make William Hope Hodgson the Grandfather of the same?”

His final answer is:

“Perhaps the weighty title “Grandfather of Cosmic Horror” is too generous, but certainly Grand Uncle isn’t too far off the mark. This inspired and talented innovator deserves a prominent spot, and his share of the cake, at the grown ups’ table.”

I’ll buy that. Grau’s piece can be found here:

Cosmicomicon

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We’re about done. There is so much that we haven’t covered, but it’s time to wrap it up. I did consider quoting some of Hodgson’s poetry, but much of it is long and frankly rather depressing. It dwells overly on death and insignificance. Had I known the old chap, I would have probably told him to get a dog, take long country walks and drink more pale ale with a few mates. So I’ll leave the poetry for the die-hards and the curious to explore.

Instead, another audio link, to three audiobooks published by Blackstone Audio. David Ian Davies narrates The Whistling Room, The Thing Invisible and The Haunted Jarvee, all jolly good Carnacki stories.

{B8BF5DC4-400D-4CC6-903F-70A31FB21735}Img400Carnacki audiobooks

And so I leave you, brave souls that you have been, with a thought from my notorious work, now banned on three continents, Sandra’s First Pony. In the words of Mr Bubbles, not long after the appalling and bloody events at the Knaresborough Gymkhana:

“You call that a Hog? I call it time to make sausages…”

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Oh, and my vignette Chicago was just picked as one of the top free horror stories this October by The Parlor of Horror blog. Which is nice.

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