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review 2020-05-30 15:01
The Ghost Pirates
The Ghost Pirates and Others: The Best of William Hope Hodgson - William Hope Hodgson,Jeremy Lassen

by William Hope Hodson


This is an old sea story with the tone of the nineteenth century style of relating such tales. It tells of a ship reported to be haunted and the protagonist's experience of seeing shades on deck that seems to prove the tales are true.


Nineteeth century writers often put in a lot of detail and the story can drag a bit, but at the same time it's an interesting ghost story and the sort of thing that has a lot of atmosphere. Fans of traditional ghost stories won't be disappointed!


The story is relatively short, under 200 pages, and plenty happens to keep the reader interested despite the apparently slow pace. The characters are especially well defined and readers should not miss the Appendix at the back!

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review 2019-03-17 12:09
The Night Land - William Hope Hodgson


Nope.  Even if we ever get to the scary part I probably wouldn't notice.  I swear he was paid by the word.  


How many different ways did he think he repeatedly needed to say/describe/explain the same thing over and over and over.  Pages apparently.  

YES!  We know you love her.  

YES!  We get it! You're strong and vain over it.

YES!  We get that your are seeing the dream from 2 different perspectives at the same time. Current and future even though in the future you are younger.  At least that's how it appears.


Your readers aren't as stupid as you seem to think they are.



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review 2017-10-29 19:06
What does it all mean? Read this for the Journey not the Characters
The William Hope Hodgson Megapack: 35 Classic Works - William Hope Hodgson,H.P. Lovecraft,Darrell Schweitzer
“What does it all mean?” – narrator of House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

I bought Wildside Press's The William Hope Hodgson Megapack: 35 Classic Works primarily to read one of his most well cited works: The House on the Borderland. In the US, the Kindle version is only $0.99, and conveniently organizes 35 of William Hope Hodgson ‘s work with introductions from Darrell Schweitzer and Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Being a Megapack, it may take a while to read the whole thing, so I check in now to review. The collection is a great value. 

The House on the Borderland (1908) was written by William Hope Hodgson(1877-1918) who influenced many weird fiction writers. In the introduction, we have NOTES ON HODGSON, by H.P. Lovecraft which is telling: 

”Of rather uneven stylistic quality, but vast occasional power in its suggestion of lurking worlds and beings behind the ordinary surface of life, is the work of William Hope Hodgson, known today far less than it deserves to be. 

.... The House on the Borderland (1908)—perhaps the greatest of all Mr. Hodgson’s works—tells of a lonely and evilly regarded house in Ireland which forms a focus for hideous otherworld forces and sustains a siege by blasphemous hybrid anomalies from a hidden abyss below. The wanderings of the Narrator’s spirit through limitless light-years of cosmic space and Kalpas of eternity, and its witnessing of the solar system’s final destruction, constitute something almost unique in standard literature. And everywhere there is manifest the author’s power to suggest vague, ambushed horrors in natural scenery. But for a few touches of commonplace sentimentality this book would be a classic of the first water.”

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath seems similar to the strange quest presented in House on the Borderland. Sidebar, I am a huge fan of HPL’s Pickman’s Model and have been motivated to read the Dream-Quest novel since it has Pickman and his ghouls appear again, but the journey is so extended and unfocused, I have failed three times to finish that tale. 

WHH’s House on the Borderland is very similar in style, but I could finish this one! The story is more plot-centric than character-driven; the meandering journey can easily lose the reader, at times becoming repetitive. However, it’s unique strength is its epic tale and flowery language interlaced with mystery & terror. The scope is truly epic. The tale concerns two adventurous hikers who go to remote Ireland, discover a enormous pit and ruined house. In the ruins, they find the titular manuscript: The House on the Borderland. The remaining story switches narration to the writer's perspective. The recluse narrator encounters lots of terror: his haunted house, the swine-things stalking him in the gardens, evils floating up from the Pit, disease corrupting his body, and being extracted from his body to lose one’s anchor in reality…. and have one’s soul float across the cosmos into heavenly and hellish worlds.

Characterization is weak & distant, but read this for the Journey: The main narrator is nameless, and his relationship with his sister is bizarre. At times when she should be involved, Mary is marginalized or disregarded to the point I thought she may be a ghost. Several instances have the narrator securing himself in a locked room with no concern about Mary who is left elsewhere prone to attack. WHH seems to be aware of this and writes: “She is old, like myself; yet how little we have to do with one another. Is it because we have nothing in common; or only that, being old, we care less for society, than quietness?” But this does not make up for her floating in and out of the story so oddly. 

There is also the “dear One”, a nameless love interest of the narrator. She mysteriously appears in the middle of the story (which is weird because the House is very remote) but her prime story is literally left out as “unreadable fragments”? WTH? Why? It seemed as easy out for WHH to avoid real storytelling than it did for driving any story line. I any event, this approach deflates the cool/weirdness of the narrator searching and finding remnants of his "dear One’s" soul. It was confusing, and I was convinced for a while that she may have been Mary. 

Pepper, the dog, is a splendid character and plays a larger role than Mary. And there is “Tip,” Mary’s cat which is abruptly introduced and then disregarded. Why Tip got a name and the dear One did not, I have no idea. Names are important, but in this story, the characters are simply less important than the places. 

The names of the strange geography resonant like a Jack Vance novel: Plain of Silence; The Sea of Sleep; The Pit; House in the Arena; and Green Sun. Reading this will be more pleasurable if you focus on the trippy geography than the characters. The language is captivating; excerpt below. At times, WHH seems to be blatantly ironic, like when he uses the word “Presently?” in the middle of a timeless adventure. Really? Like most weird fiction writers of the early 20th century, they peppered their prose with the transitional word “Presently.” WHH did so ironically throughout the trippy, disembodied adventures across time & outerspace. 

"What does it all mean?" : I don't know. Nevertheless, the journey is very weird and very fun. A must read for weird fiction aficionados. 


It might have been a million years later, that I perceived, beyond possibility of doubt, that the fiery sheet that lit the world, was indeed darkening. 
Another vast space went by, and the whole enormous flame had sunk to a deep, copper color. Gradually, it darkened, from copper to copper-red, and from this, at times, to a deep, heavy, purplish tint, with, in it, a strange loom of blood. 

… Gradually, as time fled, I began to feel the chill of a great winter. Then, I remembered that, with the sun dying, the cold must be, necessarily, extraordinarily intense. Slowly, slowly, as the aeons slipped into eternity, the earth sank into a heavier and redder gloom. The dull flame in the firmament took on a deeper tint, very somber and turbid. 

… Overhead, the river of flame swayed slower, and even slower; until, at last, it swung to the North and South in great, ponderous beats, that lasted through seconds. A long space went by, and now each sway of the great belt lasted nigh a minute; so that, after a great while, I ceased to distinguish it as a visible movement; and the streaming fire ran in a steady river of dull flame, across the deadly-looking sky. 

…An indefinite period passed, and it seemed that the arc of fire became less sharply defined. It appeared to me to grow more attenuated, and I thought blackish streaks showed, occasionally. Presently, as I watched, the smooth onward-flow ceased; and I was able to perceive that there came a momentary, but regular, darkening of the world.”
Source: www.selindberg.com/2017/10/house-on-borderland-review-by-se.html
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review 2017-02-06 00:00
Carnacki, The Ghost Finder
Carnacki, The Ghost Finder - William Hope Hodgson The first story was enjoyable, but the rest of the collection (which included six short stories) were simply more of the same thing: same structure, same approaches by the "ghost hunter," same less than suspenseful scenarios. I picked this title to read because I've read Hodgson's more well known works (The Night Land, The House on the Borderland, etc.) and enjoyed those. However, I won't be chasing down any more Carnacki stories.
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review 2016-08-27 00:00
The Night Land
The Night Land - William Hope Hodgson It has taken me about 30 years to finish this book. My parents bought it for me ages ago (because the blurb on the back had a recommendation by HP Lovecraft, that I read a lot of back then) and I've tried several times over the years to get through it. Finally got all the way through, but it was a massive chore.

I never want to read "And lo!" again - its the most overused phrase in the repetitive, crawling morass of text that has to be got through.

It's meant to be about a love spanning ages, into a dark and sunless future where humanity is enclosed in a great pyramid while evil prowls the land outside.
Told in the first person, and that person is egotistical and annoying, apparently has a foot fetish and is not averse to whipping his true love when she gives him some grief.

This is an example of the writing
"And I caught her up again; and I kist her, and told her that I did be surely her Master, in verity, and she mine own Baby-Slave"

The author also wrote Carnacki the Ghost Finder, which I don't recall being as dreary as this.
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