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Old 08-29-2005   #1
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The White Hands

I have known Mark Samuels since around 1987 (in fact he wrote an article for the DAGON DFL Special in 1989 together with his photo!) -- and I can safely say that THE WHITE HANDS is a wonderful masterpiece of a book. Traditional Horror but with a cosmic dimension (Ligotti and Lovecraft only being two of the influences I recognise) -- all laced with certain indefinable Samuels ingredients which make it very very special indeed.
Has anyone else read it?
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Old 08-29-2005   #2
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You bet I've read this book. I consider it to be a superlative example of weird fiction at its finest. Mark and I have been friends since around 1999 or 2000, when we first came in contact via email and shared some of our respective writings. Then we hooked up in person at a couple of World Horror Conventions and I came to consider him one of my best friends, although over the last couple of years I've failed to keep in regular contact with him.

Interesting thing: When he and I first shared some of our stories with each other, I was so caught up in the surge of inspiration and energy that eventually became the stories in my DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP collection that I didn't pay proper attention to his work. I mean, I read and enjoyed it and was truly and deeply impressed, and in a little corner of my brain I realized that this was really significant stuff that I had clutched in my greedy fingers, but even so, it was as if I didn't possess the complete measure of energy or cast of mind that would enable me to appreciate the full significance of his work. The first of his stories that I read was "Dedicated to the Weird" (currently available in his collection BLACK ALTARS), and when he read my "An Abhorrence to All Flesh" around the same time, we were both struck by the explicit thematic similarity shared by the two stories. Even some of the details of horrific imagery are virtually identical. So maybe this had something to do with the fact that I was blinded in some small but significant way to the literary importance of his stories. Maybe I was laboring under some sort of unconscious defensive mental block.

Then THE WHITE HANDS AND OTHER WEIRD TALES came out in 2003 -- I was blessed to receive my autographed copy directly from Mark at one of the WHC's -- and when I spent a rather long span of time rereading the stories with which I was already familiar and reading for the first time the ones that were new to me, I was just bowled over, and I mean in a very big way. A second reading of the book some months later only augmented and confirmed this high opinion.

Sorry for the possibly tedious extended anecdote, but for me the experience of reading this wonderful book cannot be separated from my experience of coming to know Mark and cherish our friendship, and from my odd and, I suppose, revealing experience of being unable to appreciate these stories in full until I had discharged an idiosyncratic authorial urge from my own psyche.

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Old 08-29-2005   #3
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Re: The White Hands

I don't imagine Mark and I are at all what one would call friends, but we have chatted on occassion through the wonders of email and I've found him, as a person, to be quite remarkable. How envious am I that he's a fabulous writer to boot? I enjoyed THE WHITE HANDS immensely, and was quite happy for Mark when Tartarus produced the paper variant as well (for who else have they done that?). I bought both editions, just to lend my support. Mark's story, "Apt 206", stuck with me long after I read it, and I'm thrilled to know it was the basis for his novella, THE MARK OF TWILIGHT, due out from PS Publishing this year (I hope!)

So, yes, I've read THE WHITE HANDS, and suggest anyone who hasn't do so soon.
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Old 08-30-2005   #4
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Re: The White Hands

My copy of The White Hands is on its way to Poland. I hope it won't take too long as i'm getting really impatient!

"In my imagination, I have a small apartment in a small town where I live alone and gaze through a window at a wintry landscape." -- TL
Confusio Linguarum - visionary literature, translingualism & bibliophily
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Old 09-01-2005   #5
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Re: The White Hands

It IS a truly remarkable collection! Re-reading it is high on my reading schedule, and I just love the format of the hardcover version (don't know about the softcover), I also own Elizabeth Jane Howard's Three Miles Up which is the same size. Do anyone know if Tartarus have issued other books in this format?

OK, my post is not very informative about The White Hands, and more than slightly off-topic, but I'll get back to it as soon as I have re-read the stories!

"How he made them laugh... sometimes"
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Old 09-02-2005   #6
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Re: The White Hands

I've only read the title story, which was reprinted in the 15th Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. Great story, with an intriguing note from Samuels:

"For editorial reasons it was not possible to include the complete text of this story in my Tartarus book, so I'm therefore delighted to see it finally appear here in the form which I consider most satisfactory."

For those who've read both versions, what differences are there?

"When the emptiness in you grows too large
You fill its vaulted chambers with the ash of memory
With the dust of desire."
- PZB
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Old 09-02-2005   #7
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Re: The White Hands

I can't answer that question, as I've not read the 'Mammoth' version. But did you know the first public version of this story was entitled 'Amelia' in a UK Small Press mag in 1994 called BLACK TEARS, which I am proud to say was signed for me by Mark on 3 Jun 95.

Only boastin'! ;-)
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Old 09-02-2005   #8
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Re: The White Hands

Sounds like Samuels can benefit from a book full of "outtakes" of his stories. Sort of like a special edition non-DVD. Anyway...

Des, someday, I'll do what I call a book-signing tour in reverse. I'll find a way to bring a whole stack of books with me and try to track down some of the authors whose work I've enjoyed. You're included, though the only print copy I have of your works is "Kites and Kisses" from an earlier Mammoth anthology.

When I get back home, then I'll be boasting as well. :lol:

"When the emptiness in you grows too large
You fill its vaulted chambers with the ash of memory
With the dust of desire."
- PZB
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Old 09-03-2005   #9
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Regarding the differences between the full and slightly abridged versions of "The White Hands," Mark once sent me a Word document of the full version featuring blue highlighting on the parts that had been cut from the shorter version. But at present I'm unable to locate the thing on my hard drive. It's been a long time since I examined this material, but as I recall, the material in question included several passages of philosophical rumination/exposition about the story's horrific metaphysical premise. I don't remember any major plot points or other narratively central elements being cut from the shorter version. But please be aware that I might be wrong about this.

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Old 09-03-2005   #10
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The other story in THE WHITE HANDS to have suffer alterations is "Mannequins In A State of Terror".

The orginal could once be found on the Eddie's "Art of Twilight" website. Maybe Google's got it cached? Otherwise, Mark sold it for issue three of STRANGE ATTRACTOR, but I can't tell if that's still a viable market or not. The website confounds me.

Simon Strantzas

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