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review 2017-10-10 14:50
The Best of HP Lovecraft ★★★☆☆
The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre - H.P. Lovecraft,August Derleth,Robert Bloch

This is my first Lovecraft, so I can’t judge whether this particular collection has all his “best”. It did have the stories that were recommended to me as being representative of his work: The Dunwich Horror, The Colour Out of Space, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and of course, The Call of Cthulhu. I enjoyed all of these. The quality of the other stories was variable.

 

Rather than trying to review the stories individually, I’ll just offer a few random thoughts. Yep, now that I’ve read the source material, the influence of Lovecraft on several of my favorite modern authors is pretty obvious, especially Stephen King. Lovecraft does seem to have a wide variance in style, with stories ranging from so floridly verbose that they’re almost unreadable (a la EA Poe) to more straightforward, but still atmospheric, little horror stories. I like his monsters, which seem to run from mundane creatures acting in supernatural ways, to crazy mixes of various creature parts, to creatures who aren’t even entirely corporeal. One common choice of style that I don’t care for is how they narrator always seems to be telling you a story of something that happened a while ago – this puts too much distance between the reader and the horror experienced, IMO.

 

Last, and specific to this edition, is the truly excellent foreword by Robert Bloch. I learned something about the author, who is interestingly defensive on the subject of moral hygiene and authors. I also learned a bit about the evolution of the horror genre.

 

Previous Updates:

Foreword 1/24/15 (yes I started this ages ago, then reshelved until this month)

Pg 33/406 10/4/17

Pg 98/406 10/4/17

 

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review 2017-10-07 17:13
The Hospital ★★★★☆
The Hospital - Keith C. Blackmore,R. C. Bray

Zombies are my least favorite horror sub-genre. Ridiculous as this sounds, I just can’t suspend disbelief with all the biological impossibilities. But this short story was really good in spite of that, mostly for its unusual twist, and for the little flash of post-apocalyptic humor when the protagonist comes across a supply room full of toilet paper.

 

Audiobook, which I picked up as a freebie on Audible ages ago and am just now getting around to. RC Bray’s performance was okay, using a sort of classic noir deadpan approach.

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text 2017-10-04 23:35
The Best of HP Lovecraft - 98/406pg
The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre - H.P. Lovecraft,August Derleth,Robert Bloch

Ahhhh, finally we have us some Cthulhu!

 

It seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful.

 

 

And more new (to me) vocabulary words:

 

Theosophist colony (donning white robes in California): “Theosophy is a collection of mystical and occultist philosophies concerning, or seeking direct knowledge of the presumed mysteries of life and nature, particularly of the nature of divinity and the origin and purpose of the universe. Theosophy is considered part of Western esotericism, which believes that hidden knowledge or wisdom from the ancient past offers a path to enlightenment and salvation.”

 

Cyclopean architecture (apparently Cthulhu’s city): “Cyclopean masonry is a type of stonework found in Mycenaean architecture, built with massive limestone boulders, roughly fitted together with minimal clearance between adjacent stones and no use of mortar. The boulders typically seem unworked, but some may have been worked roughly with a hammer and the gaps between boulders filled in with smaller chunks of limestone.”

 

hysterical Levantines (who were mobbing NYC policemen): the Levant is the eastern Mediterranean region.

 

Antiphonal responses (to a “braying, bellowing, and writhing” ritual by an “indescribable horde of human abnormality”: Alternating call and response style singing

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text 2017-10-04 13:32
The Best of HP Lovecraft - 33/406pg
The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre - H.P. Lovecraft,August Derleth,Robert Bloch

Well, it didn't take long for me to see why everyone points out that Lovecraft was a racist. However, I'm certainly expanding my vocabulary:

 

Antediluvian: "the time period referred to in the Bible between the fall of humans and the Noachian Deluge (the Genesis Flood) in the biblical cosmology. ... The term found its way into early geology and lingered in science until the late Victorian era. Colloquially, the term is used to refer to any ancient and murky period."

 

Nepenthe: "fictional medicine for sorrow, literally an anti-depressant. ... In the Odyssey... nepenthes pharmakon (i.e. an anti-sorrow drug) is a magical potion given to Helen by Polydamna the wife of the noble Egyptian Thon; it quells all sorrows with forgetfulness." 

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review 2017-07-11 14:07
The Time Machine and Other Stories ★★★☆☆
The Time Machine and Other Stories: Library Edition - H.G. Wells,Ralph Cosham

I haven’t read HG Wells since I received a collection of his stories for my 16th birthday. Of course, what I mostly remembered was The Time Machine, and being fascinated by the Eloi and Morlocks but bored by the rest of it. This particular edition is an audio collection of 10 stories of various quality, including The Time Machine. I expected that my experience with TTM would be entirely different as an adult, but was surprised to find that once again, the section following the encounter with the Eloi and Morlocks was a snoozefest, this time with a little eyeroll over the giant crab things. The difference is that I felt a little sorry for the Morlocks this time around, rather than sharing the narrator’s visceral disgust. I was much more interested in the author’s theories regarding the evolutionary outcome of the current (late 1800s Britain) political, social, and economic climate. I wonder why it never occurred to him that the oppressed industrial workers would revolt and take over as the balance of power shifted with the ruling class becoming increasingly weak and ineffectual with indolence and soft living?

 

The remainder of the short stories were mostly entertaining. Standouts were The Country of the Blind, The Man Who Could Work Miracles, and The Flowering of the Strange Orchid. The Cone was satisfactorily gory.

 

Stories in this collection:

  1. The Time Machine
  2. The Country of the Blind
  3. The Diamond Maker
  4. The Man Who Could Work Miracles
  5. Aepyornis Island
  6. The Flowering of the Strange Orchid
  7. The Cone
  8. The Purple Pileus
  9. The Truth About Pyecraft
  10. The Door in the Wall

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library. This is the first time I’ve borrowed a book in the playaway format, and I didn’t like it. For one thing, I had to supply my own battery. For another, the rudimentary playing controls made navigating through the short stories somewhat difficult. And lastly, I’m just plain old spoiled by reading apps on my phone, and appalled by how quickly technology becomes obsolete. It wasn’t that long ago that we would have been delighted by an audio coming already loaded in a (sort of) portable digital format, rather than having to keep inserting the CDs into our heavy Sony Walkman/Discman.

 

Ralph Cosham provides a very good performance. His somehow old-fashioned stylings really fit the stories.

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