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Old 10-09-2013   #51
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Re: Recent Reading

Top ten horror novels huh? Let me give it a spin. Throat Sprockets, The Blind Owl, The Drowning Girl, I Am Legend, Crash, House of Leaves, Story of the Eye, War of the Worlds, Malone Dies, Something Wicked This Way Comes.
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Old 10-09-2013   #52
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Re: Recent Reading

Quote Originally Posted by luciferfell View Post
Top ten horror novels huh? Let me give it a spin. Throat Sprockets, The Blind Owl, The Drowning Girl, I Am Legend, Crash, House of Leaves, Story of the Eye, War of the Worlds, Malone Dies, Something Wicked This Way Comes.
I like your eclectic list Luciferfell, I`ve only read War of the Worlds and Malone Dies on it which are both, of course, excellent; I prefer the short stories of both Wells and Beckett, strange as that may sound.
That`s the second mention of The Blind Owl in as many days...hmm. I`ve been looking for a copy of Throat Sprockets for some time to no avail--it is by the same fellow who was published recently by Tartarus with Frankenstein`s Prescription, no?
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Old 10-09-2013   #53
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Re: Recent Reading

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
He wrote four Lovecraftian bits of fiction. His novel The Space Vampires (not Lovecraftian) has an excellent first half…it was filmed as Lifeforce by Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame.
We agree on so many things. Lifeforce isn't a candidate for that list of Movies Better Than The Book, is it? I have never watched it but, again, I completely agree with you on the first half of the book being stronger than the second---I can remember being pretty let down by the book as a result honestly. Is the film any improvement?

Also: Thanks for the info on "the Wilson debacle" or "The 'Poo-pooing' of Colin Wilson by Academia", it makes a lot of sense--you need to be able to pigeon-hole everyone--it also makes so sense why William Burroughs would have been interested in his work besides the fact that The Mind Parasites is practically Nova Express/The Soft Machine as straight prose SF.

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Old 10-09-2013   #54
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Re: Recent Reading

Throat Sprockets is by famous film critic Tim Lucas.
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Old 10-09-2013   #55
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Re: Recent Reading

Quote Originally Posted by luciferfell View Post
Throat Sprockets is by famous film critic Tim Lucas.
My mistake, I confused Tim Lucas with Tim Lees.
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Old 10-09-2013   #56
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Re: Recent Reading

Murony, I like your lists. Several of the books I am unfamiliar with or know only by reputation. But the ones I have read deserve an honorable place on any list of Best Horror.
Charles Ward is Lovecraft’s most impressive work, seeing how he managed to sustain the brilliance of his short stories and novelettes over the course of a surprisingly complex novel (even if it’s a short one). Some of Your Blood is a great psychological horror tale but told by a writer who had a well deserved reputation as a stylist; the book is written brilliantly, the polar opposite of Robert Bloch’s stripped down prose. The single authors collection list is good and would somewhat resemble my own. I’m glad to see Bob Lemen there; his stories were always enjoyable in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Straub’s Ghost Story was a genuinely creepy book and I applaud its inclusion. (I enjoyed his fiction tremendously in the beginning, his first four novels magnificent, but after Floating Dragon I found his books to be verbose and disappointing.)
Two novels that I would include: Hodgson's The House on the Borderland and Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. I would also include Blackwood's The Willows and Campbell's Who Goes There? in a list focused on short stories.
I wish the woes of the Joseph Payne Brennan estate would be cleared up (maybe they have, he's been dead a long time!) and some publisher could bring out an omnibus of his best fiction and poetry.
In the Single Authors Collections I'd place Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges and Selected Writings, Volume 2, Fictions by Friedrich Durrenmatt...They would be sitting in a very high position.

Only in the SF list would we see some big differences. Of Dick’s novels, I would probably choose Ubik; Sturgeon’s The Dreaming Jewels would be inescapable for me, one of my favorite books of all time with perhaps the greatest opening sentences I’ve ever encountered in a novel. Wells' The Time Machine and Wyndham’s Re-birth would also not escape my list. Gore Vidal's Messiah would likely be a candidate. As would novels like The Edge of Running Water (Sloane), Radix (Attanasio), I Am Legend (Matheson) and The Drowned World (Ballard).

All in all, some very thought provoking choices you’ve made! You're making me think. Stop. It hurts.

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Old 10-09-2013   #57
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Re: Recent Reading

In my list I didn't include Songs of Maldoror or Cyclonopedia because I didn't think they counted. But they are not short fiction collections either. Hm...
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Old 10-09-2013   #58
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Re: Recent Reading

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
Murony, I like your lists. Several of the books I am unfamiliar with or know only by reputation. But the ones I have read deserve an honorable place on any list of Best Horror.
Charles Ward is Lovecraft’s most impressive work, seeing how he managed to sustain the brilliance of his short stories and novelettes over the course of a surprisingly complex novel (even if it’s a short one). Some of Your Blood is a great psychological horror tale but told by a writer who had a well deserved reputation as a stylist; the book is written brilliantly, the polar opposite of Robert Bloch’s stripped down prose. The single authors collection list is good and would somewhat resemble my own. I’m glad to see Bob Lemen there; his stories were always enjoyable in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Straub’s Ghost Story was a genuinely creepy book and I applaud its inclusion. (I enjoyed his fiction tremendously in the beginning, his first four novels magnificent, but after Floating Dragon I found his books to be verbose and disappointing.)
Two novels that I would include: Hodgson's The House on the Borderland and Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. I would also include Blackwood's The Willows and Campbell's Who Goes There? in a list focused on short stories.
I wish the woes of the Joseph Payne Brennan estate would be cleared up (maybe they have, he's been dead a long time!) and some publisher could bring out an omnibus of his best fiction and poetry.
In the Single Authors Collections I'd place Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges and Selected Writings, Volume 2, Fictions by Friedrich Durrenmatt...They would be sitting in a very high position.

Only in the SF list would we see some big differences. Of Dick’s novels, I would probably chose Ubik; Sturgeon’s The Dreaming Jewels would be inescapable for me, one of my favorite books of all time with perhaps the greatest opening sentences I’ve ever encountered in a novel. Wells' The Time Machine and Wyndham’s Re-birth would also not escape my list. Gore Vidal's Messiah would likely be a candidate. As would novels like The Edge of Running Water (Sloane), Radix (Attanasio), I Am Legend (Matheson) and The Drowned World (Ballard).

All in all, some very thought provoking choices you’ve made! You're making me think. Stop. It hurts.
I liked House on the Borderland in theory but not in practice...every time I say something like this, I wish I could read the book again immediately to verify and justify my negative impression of the book in question. Too many books...
Back to Hodgson's House: I usually like this sort of thing--the haphazardly sequenced novel with framing effect---and many of images and "set pieces", if you will, are effective but, alas, the bloated cosmic imagery (the idea of it is wonderful) sequence tested my patience and lost (or did I lose?). Actually that part put me to sleep and if it wasn't as long--I actually felt like I was travelling through the eons (so, maybe it did work after all)---I would have had a higher opinion of it. Some props certainly for being written in 1912, Hodgson was definitely ahead of his time, but I don't have to like it. This is pretty glib and my feelings towards this work are in reality more ambiguous. I do understand its appeal among buffs of the genre. It's actually a deceptively pulpy affair (I usually see that as a fun plus). Do you think he wrote this very carefully or did it just roll out of his head in this manner?

Re: Wells, etc.
Ah...but I said SF Horror not just SF. I love the Time Machine (despite mostly preferring Wells' short stories) and it would certainly turn up on my list of SF novels, I just don't consider it especially terror-inducing. I'm sure many people who look at my list will say the same thing about some of my inclusions. Few books are genuinely scary, hell, few have trouble even being creepy--plus these feelings are usually fleeting and fear doesn't in itself make a book a good one.

Speaking of SF:
Has anyone read a lot of Norman Spinrad? Would Bug Jack Barron be a good one to read first...er...second, I mean next...I read The Iron Dream which is a stylistic joke book. I don't think its actually meant to be read (Just the Introduction, some of the chapters and then the Afterword). It is a fine piece of metafiction.

Also, thank you as always for your thoughts and keep the titles of books coming...I just noted down your SF switches.
I also need conflict! Is there anything on my list you absolutely detest? I want to know.
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Old 10-09-2013   #59
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Re: Recent Reading

When I was young I got a copy of Classics Illustrated. The Time Machine. The Morlocks in those illustrations scared the crap out of me. That plus the subterranean world where horrors unspeakable were perpetrated (they liked their human flesh, apparently). A little later I read the actual novel and delighted in the haunting dreamlike images--from the great terrifying Sphinx-like structure that leads into the world of Machinery and cannibalism to the final glimpse of a terrible future and a dying planet, that vast beach with threatening crablike creatures...for me that was easily Wells finest work. And I suspect I'll always regard it as much a work of horror as science fiction.(I've always wondered if Lovecraft didn't have the Morlocks in the back of his mind when he wrote of the subterranean dwelling cannibals in The Lurking Fear...)

It's interesting that Wells often combined horror with science fiction but never as I recall supernatural horror. Hodgson did, however, and he was truly Lovecraft's precursor...and a pioneer in the blending of supernatural horror and science fiction; the very type of fiction Lovecraft would perfect so brilliantly in the last decade of his life.


BTW, I agree with you that there are some dull spots in the Hodgson novel. I never found the Cosmic passages particularly effective; but the brooding atmosphere at the start of the book, the dark poetry of the desolate landscape, the deliberate and careful introduction of the Swine Things, the strange and isolated building besieged by these foul creatures...the overall effect of all this, at least for me , is a cumulative one: a slow buildup of atmosphere and suspense hinting at nightmarish horror unimaginable. It's as Lovecraft said, Even the best of fabrics have their dull spots; and it's true of this work. But if you can get past these roadblocks, you may find the effort intensely rewarding. As you mentioned in an earlier post, some works may need to be read in a conductive atmosphere in order to be fully appreciated. For Hodgson, the conductive environment may simply be one of a sympathetic nature, where the reader accepts the book's limitations but manages to appreciate the many moments when Hodgson's vision comes close to being fully realized...

One thing that Hodgson does better than any other writer I've encountered is to convey a haunting, terrible sense of loneliness, of hopeless solitude, of isolation both physical and emotional. I'm not talking about alienation; no high-falutin' existential crap, just the sense of being utterly and desolately alone. If you read "Son of Man", a short and unforgettable piece, you can feel the intense loneliness that fills the mysterious voice that cries out the three words of the title...

I suspect—and I’m guessing here—that Hodgson was a writer of great natural ability like Robert E. Howard or Stephen King. I don’t think he did much in the way of revision, at least not in his short stories, simply because he didn’t need to. His aim was to put food on the table and probably to just produce a good tale and I think he could do that without a lot of tinkering. His novels may be a different matter. The House on the Borderland seems quite polished compared to some of the shorter works. However he did it, it worked. Some of his short stories are absolutely remarkable accomplishments.

My leg is again putting an end to my typing for the time being. Time to elevate it...and check out the package that came today: Outer Dark! All right!!!
BTW, I saw nothing on your list that I detest. I saw some books I have no first-hand knowledge of...but that may change. You know it's inevitable that I'll now hunt some of them down.
Bug Jack Barron was a highly praised novel from the sixties but I never read it...Isn't The Iron Dream supposed to be a sword and sorcery novel written by Adolf Hitler? Something like that, right?

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Old 10-09-2013   #60
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Re: Recent Reading

Quote Originally Posted by Murony_Pyre View Post
Re: Wells, etc.
Ah...but I said SF Horror not just SF. I love the Time Machine (despite mostly preferring Wells' short stories) and it would certainly turn up on my list of SF novels, I just don't consider it especially terror-inducing. I'm sure many people who look at my list will say the same thing about some of my inclusions. Few books are genuinely scary, hell, few have trouble even being creepy--plus these feelings are usually fleeting and fear doesn't in itself make a book a good one.
I agree so far as the The Time Machine not being overtly scary, but the novel certainly treats time travel as something sublime rather than just a "golly, ain't that neat" form of transportation. There's also some missing historical context; when Well's wrote the novel, time travel was more associated with the occult than science. Most modern readers associate time travel with Special Relativity, whereas Well's was using a much more bizarre (and I'd say troubling) conceit that time is a fourth spatial dimension. And aside from that, there is witnessing the devolution of the human race and the pathetic state of the final life on Earth - certainly more shocking to 19th century reader's than us, but dark thoughts still. I think the problem is more that SF has worn these concepts down into tropes and numbed a good many readers to just how horrific they'd be in actuality.

..and on that note, I've actually been reading quite a bit of classic 19th century horror. I am currently switching between Oliver Onion's Widdershins and Sheridan Le Fanu's In a Glass Darkly, as well as Arthur Machen's The Three Imposters. I'm also reading a collection of E.F. Benson's horror stories (a bit later than the rest - some of his work is still under copyright I believe) - who's turning out to be my favorite. Probably because his work is obscure enough that I haven't witnessed his best ideas copied enough to diminish their effect on me.
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