"Welcome to Count Gore De Vol's Tomb of Dark Delights. I'm J. L. Comeau, horror writer and resident Tomb Keeper. I have been charged with the daunting task of sorting and cataloging the Count's vast library of horror, science fiction and fantasy. Take a torch from the wall and follow me down the stone stairway into the darkness deep beneath the Dungeon. It's cold and damp down here--perfect for the kind of reading we're going to do. Never mind the shambling figures in the shadows, they're probably just some friends of ours looking for a good book. If you click on the cover, you'll be taken to a wonderful place where you can buy the book.
Now, let's reach into the musty stacks and see what we can find..."
(Clicking on the covers gives you more information and prices from Amazon.com and other outlets.)
Cosmic terror is still a big thing and the fiction of Lovecraft continues to dominate. Here’s what I think: his narratives were labored and his dialogue was truly awful, but the terrifying dark cosmos he created is as powerful as any ever devised. So, let’s take a look at authors who took the Lovecraftian ethos and ran with it, often outrunning its original creator by miles.
THE MADNESS OF CTHULHU, VOLUME TWO Edited by S. T. Joshi
Celebrated Lovecraft scholar and expert S. T. Joshi brings together esteemed authors from a range of speculative fiction with brand new stories inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. Science fiction authors Kevin J. Anderson, Erik Bear and Greg Bear, Cody Goodfellow, Brian Stableford and others join horror authors Laird Barron, Nancy Kilpatrick, Jonathan Maberry, Steve Rasnic Tem and others to create a modern mélange of Lovecraftian fiction. The theme here is that all stories are tributes to one of Lovecraft’s most well-known stories, “At the Mountains of Madness”, often considered Lovecraft’s masterpiece and certainly one of my personal favorites. Lovecraft’s story was a tale of horror in which the explorers in an expedition to the icy wastes of Antarctic finds ancient ruins and a race of monsters. The bleakness and doom of that doomed expedition stalks the pages of this anthology, but you’ll also find some surprises, such as Verne’s Captain Nemo making a shocking discovery in his submarine, the Nautilus, vampires, the undead, and more! This is a marvelously wide-ranging anthology for fans of speculative fiction, and as author Kim Newman states in his Foreword, “…Lovecraft knew he was grist for the mill…”, and what a mill of imagination we have here! Enjoy!
THE END OF THE STORY, THE COLLECTED FANTASIES VOL. I by Clark Ashton Smith (edited by Scott Connors and Ron Hilger)
I was excited to see this first volume in an ambitious five-volume series of perhaps my favorite author of cosmic terror, Clark Ashton Smith. This collection covers Ashton’s stories from the period 1925 to 1930 when pulp fiction ruled, and Ashton penned some of the most memorable and pivotal dark fantasies of the Lovecraft school. His first story, “The Abominations of Yondo” (how cool is that title?) kicks off a veritable feast of fantasy featuring demons, monsters, weird worlds, and all manner of supernatural goings-on. There’s a whiff of early steampunkery to some of these tales, wherein strange science roots the narrative in a gaslit murk. Recluses rambling through haunted houses, deadly beings ensconced in high mountain lairs, pokey men of letters unleashing all manner of horror, and voyagers to far-flung planets encounter the terrible unknown. The editors, Scott Connors and Ron Hilger, have included a complete set of notes to accompany these tales, and the great Ramsey Campbell introduces the volume with a thoughtful and very personal essay. Kudos to Night Shade Books for publishing these wondrous, unforgettable stories! I look eagerly forward to the rest of the series.
Hot summer days don't bring out the best of the TombKeeper, so this week
I feel kind of punky…steampunky, that is. Come punk out with me!
THE LAZARUS GATE by Mark A. Latham
In addition to being an author and editor, Mark A. Latham is also games designer with an interest in nineteenth century history, which I assume is the reason that THE LAZARUS GATE is so detailed and believable. Set in a Victorian London, a jaded and disillusioned army veteran, Captain John Hardwick, has recently been released from imprisonment in Burma, and has returned home to England with nothing the horizon to occupy him other than a very active opium addiction. When Hardwick is invited to attend a clandestine gentlemen’s club, he learns that a supernatural threat endangers the British Empire, and he is called upon to join the battle to save his country. John enters the fray, which is an interdimensional battle waged by elite secret agents between parallel worlds, a war that will never be acknowledged by countrymen or government, but will, nonetheless, determine the survival of the world. This is a ripping good start to what promises to be a grand series.
GIDEON SMITH AND THE MASK OF THE RIPPER by David Barnett
Gearheads will love this newest installment of the adventures of Gideon Smith that finds him pitted against that most monstrous of all Victorian monsters, Jack the Ripper. The Metropolitan Police is having no luck at all finding the elusive serial killer, and Gideon, Hero of the Empire, is just the man to put on the case. Gideon and his colleagues—airship pilot Rowena Fanshawe, journalist Aloysius Bent, and Gideon’s love, the mechanical girl, Maria—find themselves enmeshed in the investigation even though it was the last thing in the world they wished. The city is fearful, on edge, and ready to break loose into riots and mayhem. Gideon and his friends arrive just in time. London needs a hero. Dashing derring-do is the order of the day and Gideon Smith to the rescue! Set in an esoteric steampunk London, this is an adventure mystery built to order for Victorian fantasy fans.
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About the Tomb Keeper (Or, who is this person of mystery)
J. L. (Judy) Comeau is an award winning short story writer whose work has appeared internationally in major horror and dark fantasy anthologies such as the Borderlands series, Best New Horror, The Years' Best Horror, the Hot Blood series, and the Dark Voices series in the UK. She is an active member of the Horror Writer's Association, and she lives in the Washington, DC area where she also teaches short story writing. Click on FIREBIRD to read one of her most anthologized stories.
To learn more about the Horror Writer's Association, just click on their logo!