Jobs From Hell Would Be An Improvement: David Liss’s “The Doors that Never Close and the Doors that Are Always Open”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading David Liss’s “The Doors that Never Close and the Doors that Are Always Open,” first published in 2015 in Aaron J French’s The Gods of H. P. Lovecraft anthology. Spoilers ahead.

“It is devastation,” Jacks told him. “The devouring of worlds. Things that have abstract value or don’t yet exist or are entirely unnecessary being bought and sold and bet on or against. It is ritual.”

Summary

Artur Magnusson despises Wall Street, but he also needs a job badly. So when his previously tepid employment agency waxes enthusiastic about CapitalBank, he goes for an interview. Things start unpropitiously: He has trouble finding the building; the security guard locks him in an imposingly secure ...

Old Gods and Older: Premee Mohamed’s “Us and Ours”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Premee Mohamed’s “Us and Ours,” first published in Jennifer Brozek’s 2019 anthology A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods. Spoilers ahead.

The dancing fire people stepped smoothly over unclaimed corpses, not covering them or moving them out of the way.

Summary

Fourteen-year-old Raydeene and her BFF Eli have stolen a Honda Accord and are on the run from their sleepy hometown of Edenderry—but what’s a little rule-breaking at the end of the world? They have more immediate worries, like the monsters crowding the highway and throwing pulsing red tentacles across their path. Ray reluctantly runs over their “legs.” The monsters don’t seem to mind, just as they haven’t seemed to mind every other ...

Still the Worst Color: Anya Martin’s “Old Tsah-Hov”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Anya Martin’s “Old Tsah-Hov,” first published in Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.’s Cassilda’s Song anthology in 2015. Spoilers ahead.

After tasting the bread of the City of the Sun, no other food could ever fully satisfy…

Summary

Narrator wakes in prison, with two adams staring at him through the bars. He’s been here a while, has heard one adam call the other “Archer” long enough to know that’s the white-coated pricker-prodder’s name. Archer wears a six-pointed sun-colored pin, like the one she used to wear. The pin angers narrator, because it reminds him of her, and how he’s not with her, not in the city where he longs to be. He lunges at ...

Avoiding Angles is Still Harder Than it Sounds: Adam Gauntlett’s “New Build”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Adam Gauntlett’s “New Build,” first published in The Private Life of Elder Things in 2011. Spoilers ahead.

The massive coiled hound, its red eyes gleaming, was new to her. It lurked near the tunnel entrance, posed in such a way that it seemed to be staring at the train as it went by.

Summary

Maidah, a junior at her London architectural firm, is working on her first solo rebuild, an 1880s Victorian in the gentrifying Hoxton District. She and Mike, boss of the clean-up crew, inspect the property. What would look a wreck to most people smells like money to Maidah, who envisions a trendy restaurant. Mike worries about damp and asbestos. Damp probably, ...

The Amphibious Weird: Mercè Rodoreda’s “The Salamander”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Mercè Rodoreda’s “The Salamander,” first published in Spanish in La Meva Cristina I altres contes, Barcelona: Edicions 62 in 1967. Our translation is by Martha Tennent, and first appeared in The Review of Contemporary Fiction: New Catalan Fiction in 2008. Spoilers ahead.

With my back I crushed the same grass that I hardly dared to step on when I combed my hair; I used to tread lightly, just enough to capture the wounded smell. You alone.

Summary

Unnamed narrator strolls to the pond, “beneath the willow tree and through the watercress bed.” As ever when she kneels, frogs gather around her; as she combs her hair, they stroke her skirt or pull at ...

Run Your Fingers Down My Spine: Inoue Masahiko’s “Night Voices, Night Journeys”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Inoue Masahiko’s “Night Voices, Night Journeys,” translated by Edward Lipsett. This version is first published in Asamatsu Ken’s 2002 Night Voices, Night Journeys anthology; the publication date of the original Japanese version is surprisingly difficult to track down—or at least we haven’t managed it. Spoilers ahead.

His fingers, newly elongated, bizarrely entangled one in the others, made his hands like a soft-bodied organism in shape as well as translucency. She felt the touch of countless tiny suckers on her face, but what she felt was not fear.

Summary

Unnamed narrator lies on the backseat of her master’s limousine, awash in his beloved jazz, spread out to his touch. He’s far from the first man ...

The Normal(ish) Lovecraft: Wilfred Blanch Talman and H.P. Lovecraft’s “Two Black Bottles”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Wilfred Blanch Talman and H. P. Lovecraft’s “Two Black Bottles,” first published in the August 1927 issue of Weird Tales. Spoilers ahead.

The sun, now hanging like a red ball upon the crest of the mountain, was beginning to dip low, and there, some distance ahead of me, bathed in its bloody iridescence, stood the lonely church.

Summary

Following the death of a never-met uncle, narrator Hoffman travels to Daalbergen, a “dismal little village” in the Ramapo Mountains of New York. There grocer Mark Haines describes Johannes Vanderhoof’s last years.

Vanderhoof was pastor of the village church. Ten years ago he hired sexton Abel Foster, an uncanny old man whose servile bows at the ...

You Can Learn a Lot From Ugly Fish: Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Donald”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Donald,” first published in The Private Life of Elder Things in 2011. Spoilers ahead.

“I remember thinking when I first saw him—well, there’s a man who’s not going to win hearts and minds just by smiling at them.”

Summary

Unnamed narrator, a professor of ichthyological taxonomy, sits in a study walled with glass cases of finny specimens. An agent for one of “certain little branches of the intelligence agencies” is interviewing him about Donald Toomey. Strange, narrator muses, that he and Donald should have become such good friends, and he’s not just talking about Donald’s off-putting appearance, his stooped posture and bad skin and wall-eyes. When they first met at a ...

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Tomes: Tanith Lee’s “Red and Yellow”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Tanith Lee’s “Yellow and Red,” first published in the June 1998 issue of Interzone. Spoilers ahead.

“And the things which so many would find intriguing – old letters in bundles, in horrible brown, ornate, indecipherable writing—caskets of incenses and peculiar amulets—such items fill me with aversion.”

Summary

Gordon Martyce has inherited his uncle William’s country house, a valuable property, but his long-time lady friend Lucy is more excited about the windfall than he is. Gordon likes his London job and his London flat, and he’s not at all sure he wants to marry Lucy and let her redecorate the old place. Though the gloomy green-shuttered building would certainly need redecorating.

He makes the ...

Ten Things You Won’t Find in the Necronomicon: Frank Belknap Long’s “The Space-Eaters”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Frank Belknap Long’s “The Space-Eaters,” first published in the July 1928 issue of Weird Tales. Spoilers ahead.

“Suppose there were a greater horror?”

Summary

Horror comes to Partridgeville in a blind fog and eddies around the farmhouse where narrator Frank and friend Howard sit. Howard, a tall, protuberant-chinned fellow of a “wildly imaginative nature held in restraint by a skeptical and truly extraordinary intellect,” writes furiously. His weird tales hold considerable evocative power—one purportedly sent a young college student to a madhouse. But tonight Howard’s struggling; though he “intuitively” grasps the monster he’s trying to describe, he can’t find the words to convey “the strange crawling of its fleshless spirit.”

...

Fast Times at Miskatonic High: Molly Tanzer’s “The Thing on the Cheerleading Squad”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Molly Tanzer’s “The Thing on the Cheerleading Squad,” first published in the 2015 anthology, She Walks in Shadows, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles. Spoilers ahead.

“There’s no heaven. There’s no hell. There’s only you, me and this.”

Summary

Veronica Waite, fresh from Bible Camp, is starting her junior year at Miskatonic High. She can’t understand why her friend Natalie’s in a bad mood. Just because Natalie had to work all vacation at the First Methodist day care and hasn’t made the varsity cheerleading squad (like Veronica) is no reason for her to get sore. Then Veronica’s cousin Asenath doesn’t get on the bus at her stop. Top student and ...

Sleep Deprivation of the Gods: Jeremiah Tolbert’s “The Dreamers of Alamoi”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Jeremiah Tolbert’s “The Dreamers of Alamoi,” first published in Jesse Bullington and Molly Tanzer’s Swords V. Cthulhu anthology in 2016. Spoilers ahead.

“The dream plagues are the dreams of Them—those titans and gods from before language and song, the horrors banished outside by the first fires and spears.”

Summary

The madman is called Garen the Undreaming, among other less flattering names. He “leaves stories in his wake like petals from a dying flower,” and by this trail those who need his services find him, whether in a brothel, a winery or a temple–the places where he seeks relief pleasure for his “fractured mind.”

Scholars Meldri and Besthamun root out Garen ...

No Bargains at the Used Tome Store: Karl Edward Wagner’s “I’ve Come to Talk With You Again”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Karl Edward Wagner’s “I’ve Come to Talk With You Again.” You can find it most easily in Lovecraft’s Monsters; it first appeared in Stephen Jones’s 1995 anthology Dark Terrors: The Gollancz Book of Horror. Spoilers ahead.

“The music box was moaning something about ‘everybody hurts sometime’ or was it ‘everybody hurts something.’”

Summary

Jon Holsten is an American writer hailed as the “finest of the later generation of writers in the Lovecraftian school,” which earns him a modest living and an annual trip to London. He meets five of his old mates at a pub called the Swan, where the smell of mildew and tobacco irritate his nose, the racket of ...

Save the Whales, or Else: Nibedita Sen’s “Leviathan Sings to Me in the Deep”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Nibedita Sen’s “Leviathan Sings to Me in the Deep,” first published in the June 2018 issue of Nightmare. Spoilers ahead (but go ahead and read it first, because it’s both short and awesome).

“7 Rivers: Troubled night. Heard whalesong through the portholes before sleep and thereafter continued to hear it in my dreams. It is hardly unusual to hear whalesong in these waters, but this was of an uncanny and resonant nature; deep elongated beats that that seemed to vibrate in my marrow and bone.”

Summary

Being the journal of Captain James Bodkin, commander of the whaling vessel Herman. The Herman’s current voyage has been sponsored by the Guild of Natural ...

Hope is a Thing With Scales: Samantha Henderson’s “Maybe the Stars”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Samantha Henderson’s “Maybe the Stars,” first published in the August 23rd 2012 episode of Drabblecast. Spoilers ahead—but it’s short and awesome and we highly recommend reading/listening to the original first. Follow those links!

“My people came from the stars in the beginning, and the older I get, the louder they call.”

Summary

Little Useless has worked so long for Dimar’s crew on Midnight’s Lady, she can’t be sure whether her memories of dry land and a full belly are real or dreams cobbled together from passenger conversations. Either way, she drives such thoughts away. Safer to go about her duties of cleaning up the nastiest messes humans at sea can ...

Dreams Come True (Unfortunately): E.F. Benson’s “The Room in the Tower”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading E.F. Benson’s “The Room in the Tower,” first published in Benson’s The Room in the Tower and Other Stories in 1912. Trigger Warning for suicide, treated as a symptom of Evil. Spoilers ahead.

“Jack will show you your room: I have given you the room in the tower.”

Summary

Narrator, a constant and lucid dreamer, isn’t surprised that things dreamt sometimes come to pass in waking life. After all, dreams are largely concerned with people and places we know in “the awake and daylit world.” However, for the story he’s about to relate, he can find no natural explanation. It “came out of the dark, and into the dark ...

Poetic Raptures, Opium, and Necromancy: Edgar Allen Poe’s “Ligeia”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Edgar Allen Poe’s “Ligeia,” first published in the September 1838 issue of The American Museum of Science, Literature, and the Arts. Spoilers ahead.

“Here was indeed the triumph of all things heavenly —the magnificent turn of the short upper lip —the soft, voluptuous slumber of the under —the dimples which sported, and the color which spoke —the teeth glancing back, with a brilliancy almost startling, every ray of the holy light which fell upon them in her serene and placid, yet most exultingly radiant of all smiles.”

Summary

Narrator’s memory has grown feeble through years of suffering and opium addiction, so he cannot precisely say how or when or even where ...

Financial Tips From the Dreamlands: Lovecraft and Barlow’s “The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast”


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Lovecraft Reread Hoard of the Wizard Beast

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Lovecraft and R.H. Barlow’s “The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast,” written in 1933 and first published in Necronomicon Press’s The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast and One Other in 1994. Spoilers ahead.

“Unconcernedly munching something the priests had given It was a large pudgy creature very hard to describe, and covered with short grey fur. Whence It had come in so brief a time only the priests might tell, but the suppliant knew that It was Oorn.”

Summary

Though many-towered Zeth, um, towers over strange vegetation prowled by strange beasts, yet it is subject to the same administrative ills as earthly capitals. In this case, embezzlement. When the giphath Yalden opens the ...

Get Ready to Twirl Your Mustaches: H.P. Lovecraft’s “Sweet Ermengarde”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Lovecraft’s own “Sweet Ermengarde, Or, The Heart of a Country Girl,” written between 1919 and 1921 and first published in Arkham House’s 1943 Beyond the Wall of Sleep collection. Spoilers ahead.

“She was about 5ft 5.33…in tall, weighed 115.47 lbs. on her father’s corn scales—also off them—and was adjudged most lovely by all the village swains who admired her father’s farm and liked his liquid crops.”

Summary

(Ethyl) Ermengarde Stubbs of Hogton, Vermont, is the daughter of Hiram Stubbs, poor but honest farmer and bootlegger. Her years are but sixteen (despite scurrilous rumors she’s as much as thirty), her hair’s blonde (as long as the local drugstore doesn’t run low on ...

Dependency! Dependency! Joanna Russ’s “The Little Dirty Girl”


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Joanna Russ’s “The Little Dirty Girl,” first published in 1982 in Terri Windling and Mark Alan Arnold’s Elsewhere, volume 2 anthology. Spoilers ahead.

“Oh yes I do,” said the Little Clean Girl. “I live up the hill and under the hill and over the hill and behind the hill.”

Summary

Narrator writes to an unnamed correspondent. Does correspondent like cats? She’s allergic to them, yet they flock to her, twine around her ankles, demanding. She dislikes children (no, she feels awkward around them), yet little boys often make her their confidante. She’s exposed to these aggressive felines and youngsters on her daily therapeutic walk. The doctor says her back will eventually heal, but ...