The program for the 2002 World Fantasy Con shows a strong swing toward Tolkien (3 programs) and away from HPL (1).


“The gods worshiped at this site were certainly not the gods of the American Indians. In fact, some researchers believe the site was dedicated to the ancient god Baal. After visiting the site in 1937 [sic], H. P. Lovecraft was inspired to write his famous short story, “The Dunwich Horror.”--from Haunted Places, The National Directory, p. 269, under the entry for North Salem, NH, Mystery Hill. The same volume, under Block Island, RI, refers to “the phantom known as Burning Eyes.” Not three-lobed, I presume.



Originally a rock band, the Rhode Island Forcefield has expanded into art, and one of their favorite scenic locations is Swan Point cemetery, “home” of HPL. (Artforum, 22 July 2002, p. 65). *** I no longer recall Lovecraft’s attitude about smoking, but this is arresting. See carved pipes that have names such as “Shoggoth” and “The Dagon.”


If my citing evidence is correct, The Guardian (17 August 2001) refers to the director of the movie The Devil’s Backbone, the Mexican-born Guillermo del Toro, as someone who “has set himself up as a kind of Latino H.P. Lovecraft.” Beside Hellboy, he is working on At the Mountains of Madness with the co-writer of Mimic, Matthew Robbins; and perhaps Gahan Wilson will be involved. Fangoria has a short article. *** An HPL fan gives a very positive—ecstatic—review of the recently, barely released Dagon in Ain’t-It-Cool-News. The film’s director is Stuart Gordon, known best for his Lovecraft adaptations, and how many people can you say that about? One story that Gordon would like to film is “The Thing on the Doorstep.” *** An animated version of “In the Vault” is available at the site of Techtv, which also showed it on its program Eyedrops, where I saw it a second time. Its character reformation ending jars against the actual story. That is, people who survive their experiences in Lovecraft do not become better, more moral men as a result (which happens in this animation); so there is no conventional moral in his horror stories. This is less certain in his Dunsany work. Thanks, Gavin, for pointing out this link. *** There may be a third Re-Animator, and it will have Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West. *** Now available is a longer version of the classic M.R. James/Jacques Tourneur “Night of the Demon,” which a reviewer reports has a “Lovecraftian aura of ancient evil.”


A review in The Scotsman of HP Lovecraft’s Azathoth “relies on the audience answering the actors' questions of what constitutes existence” (13 August 2002). Total Fear is the company putting this on. *** A play with music (cello, drums, and upright bass), Herbert West: Re-Animator, was presented by the Seattle Fringe Festival in September. Each of the five performances were to be “personally” introduced by HPL.


Along with Ray Bradbury, H. L. Mencken, and others, he appears in The Muse in the Bottle: Great Writers on the Joys of Drinking (Citadel Press). It is well known he was against liquor, writing essays that were pro-teetotalerism. Probably even better known is that swinging “Drinking Song” from “The Tomb,” and I bet that is how he represented in this anthology, though I do not know at this time.



Based on his dissertation, Bradley Will has “H.P. Lovecraft and the Semiotic Kantian Sublime” in Extrapolation (Spring 2002). *** The French language GERF, a group which studies fantasy, has produced in its Les Cahiers du GERF, the article “Le Corps Fantastique chez Lovecraft.” *** A review by Choice (Sep 2002, p. 137) of Victoria Nelson’s The Secret Life of Puppets (referred to in several earlier issues of my ‘aster) states that “especially valuable is her discussion of the grotesque, H.P. Lovecraft, and expressionism” and calls the book “an absolute must for every library.”



John Long, the paleontologist who wrote At the Mountains of Madness, appeared in the news (e.g., National Geographic) when a number of Pleistocene fossils were discovered in a cave in Australia.



There’s a search engine, a Lovecraft-inspired Google that is called Cthuugle. (Thanks, Gavin) Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with Netscape 4.7 L



At the Gen Con Game Fair in Milwaukee “Black T-shirts bearing airbrushed images flew off sales tables, with the hot seller this year proving to be "KFC: Kids For Cthulhu,” according to the 8 August edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. *** Read 21 pages of "Tales of the Plush Cthulhu”.


The Necronomicon

“the most notorious nonexistent book in history.” –USA Today, Web Guide, 22 May 2002.



Author of the novel Dagon and the short story “Weird Tales,” Fred Chappell is the subject of a book of criticism entitled Understanding Fred Chappell by John Lang (South Carolina, 2000). *** “Haruki Murakami, one of the most famous postmodern Japanese writers in English-speaking countries, started writing in the late seventies by re-creating the literary styles of H. P. Lovecraft, Scott Fitzgerald, and Kurt Vonnegut.”-- Takayuki Tatsumi, “The Japanoid Manifesto: Toward a New Poetics of Invisible Culture” in Review of Contemporary Fiction (summer 2002). Taking a look at what has been written about HPL and Japan, I find “Hobby Japan's manga magazine Comic Master also published a Lovecraft manga by Kentaro Yano, which have been collected in Jashin Densetsu Series ("The Evil God Legend Series "), a 5-volume graphic novel series.” *** Ramsey Campbell has made available his rejection letter from Peter Ruber of Arkham House. For the letter and a discussion of it, see Arkham House’s Rejection  (Thanks, Ben).



The late collector William Gibson has donated to the University of Calgary “a massive collection of science fiction and pulp magazines … University staff were stunned by the size of the donation: upwards of 35,000 volumes dating back to the 19th century, much of it bought at second-hand stores across North America and Britain.”—The Globe and Mail (1 Aug 2002).



There are lots of ways to search for information about the original Twilight Zone


Life and Times

“All the elements of romance and tragedy seem to have been combined to make Lovecraft’s life and death the central features of a series of episodes beside which the most fantastic imaginings of the novel writers are pale and insignificant.”—The New York Times

I have access to the complete New York Times digital database, so I thought it would be instructive to look at the name “Lovecraft” and see its occurrences through the start of the paper in 1851 to HPL’s demise. I have followed a strict chronological order, even at the expense of narrative clarity.
While the first mention of our Lovecraft is the well-known one documenting his death in 1937, the first mention of the name in the Times is a “Miss LOVECRAFT,” one of several who assisted for a “musical entertainment” at the Home of the Friendless Chapel, east 29th street. (19 Jan 1871, p.8).The second mention concerns a destructive fire discovered in the “planing-mill” of Joseph Lovecraft in Rochester, NY (26 July 1872, p.1). This was noteworthy enough to make the first page.


Next comes the introductory appearance of the major person of this time to bear the surname, F. A. Lovecraft, who is voted secretary for the Jerome Park Villa Site and Improvement Society ( 14 Nov 1882, p.8). A second appearance shows “Mr. Lovecraft, business manager of the Star Theatre,” as one of the few friends to see “Mr. Arthur Wallack” (30 Mar 1884, p.2).

Since I am following the name chronologically there is a digression from F. A. to a more familiar Lovecraft. Under a column dated 19 July, “Notes from Newport,” among the arrivals at hotels on that date is, “W.S. Lovecraft.” I presume this is the father of HPL and one among a barrel-full list of names (20 July 1884, p.7).

The rest of this history belongs to F.A. There’s minutiae here, but it grows into melodrama, as one can deduce from the quote I used at the beginning (“All the elements of romance and tragedy…”). Before I continue on, let me place F.A. Lovecraft’s genealogical relation to WSL and HPL, as I deduce it. Although FAL does not appear on Ken’s chart, the name of his mother was Althea. Unless there be two Althea’s in the Lovecraft family, this must be FAL’s mother, and since another of her children was George, the father of Winfield Scott, FAL was the great-uncle of HPL.

To continue. A jocularly worded article concerns racing on election day at Jerome Park, unrecorded horse racing bets, an assistant of Messr. Lovecraft, and Lovecraft himself who, “producing two crisp five-dollar notes, offered to bet them on one of the horses in the fifth race.” He and another man were taken to a police station and jailed, though the whole narrative suggests it was all in fun (3 Nov 1886, p.3).“Subway Secretary Lovecraft” and others call on an ex-subway commissioner (22 Dec 1886, p.5). “Mr. Lovecraft” is chosen as assistant to the secretary for the Board of Electrical Control, which is concerned with the subway (6 Jul 1887, p.8).“F.A. Lovecraft of Wallack’s Theatre” is among an assembly of theatrical people at the Polo Grounds (4 Aug 1887, p.5). F.A. is “unanimously elected” as secretary and treasurer of the Board of Directors of the American Jockey Club. The article goes on to discuss why he is fitted for the role and lists several other positions he holds, plus representing interests of the “Hon. Theodore Moss” in “Wallack’s and the Star Theatres” (29 Dec 1887, p.8).

F.A. is elected director of the Jerome Park Villa Site and Improvement Society (31 Dec 1887, p.8). He is to serve on “the American Jockey Club’s Executive Committee,” and a bit of background is repeated about him (26 Jan 1888, p.2). “Secretary Lovecraft” of the American Jockey Club says that entries have filled well (13 Feb 1888, p.2). There are other mentions of him connected with horseracing (1 May 1888, p.2 and 17 May 1888, p.3). Land is transferred to him (19 May 1888, p.7); he has a seat in the opera (21 May 1888, p.5); more on horseracing (29 June 1888, p.8); at a businessmen’s meeting (25 Oct 1888, p.5); subway-related assistant secretary “A. F.” Lovecraft resigns (14 Jun 1889, p.8); an announcement of the American Jockey Club meeting (30 Sep 1889, p.3); adjusting weights for horseracing (2 Oct 1889, p.3); more Club business (5 Nov 1889, p.2); he attends a breakfast for a comedian (19 Nov 1889, p.9); he temporarily fills a theatre position involved with greeting people (1 Jan 1890, p. 8); he is owed money by a scene painter (4 May 1890, p.10); he attends a police parade (1 Jun 1890, p.13); he is on the board of directors of Jerome Park (17 Oct 1890, p.8); he is secretary of the Club (9 Jan 1891, p.8); for the Club secretary “Mr. Lovecraft is certainly able to fill the bill, and his selection will be a popular one” (9 Mar 1891, p.2); under the (presumably New York) Supreme Court calendar is the case of 2184, Barton vs. Lovecraft (29 Nov 1892, p.9); he is Jerome Park secretary and treasurer (21 Dec 1892, p.2); under the Supreme Court is 2736, Lovecraft vs. Kay (17 May 1893); there are public announcements by him about the Allen Advertising Agency, which he may purchase (8 Oct 1893, p.2).

I will skip over the first mention of him on 27 October 1893 (p.5) in what I’d identify as a table of contents, for it is just a mention. However, he bursts out in a headline that reads, as from a pulp, “Driven Crazy by his Losses Frederick A. Lovecraft Resorts to Poison and Bullet,” and continues in smaller print “He Swallows a Bottle of Carbolic Acid and Then Shoots Himself—Engaged in Many Ventures Which Had Recently not Proved Profitable—Imagined He Had Lost his Fortune—One of the Best-Known Men in Theatrical and Racing Circles—His Life Insured for $100,000” (p.9). For information about his life, this is the article to go to. It continues, “For a week Mr. Lovecraft acted so queerly that his friends seriously contemplated putting him under restraint.” Apparently fearful of being assigned to an asylum, he killed himself, at age 42. Originally from Rochester, he moved up in the world, like Horatio Alger, as the 16 March 1894 story will show below. He had married, but separated, and his wife died in Paris, an only daughter dying young. H.P. was three at the time, and I wonder if this had any affect on him, for probably the death of so well-known a relation would have been discussed in his household.

A short (50-word) will leaves all to sole heir and executor (Colonel) Henry S. Kearney, an engineer and “intimate friend” (quoting a previous article) who was staying with FAL (7 Nov 1893, p.5); Kearney discharges from the Allen Advertising Agency, Isaac Liebmann, who threatens to shoot him (29 Dec 1893, p.9); the will is to be offered for probate and almost certainly contested by F.A.’s mother and sisters, who (note this) were not mentioned (2 Jan 1894, p.2); Lovecraft’s name is listed under the surrogate’s court for probate (4 Jan 1894, p.12); an article describes the will as written on “a scrap of paper” and gives it in its entirety. His mother’s name is Althea Lovecraft, and the sisters are Florence L. Salmons and Martha Chase, addresses given. His holdings are included (5 Jan 1894, p.9); another article, calling FAL’s “one of the most interesting lawsuits on record,” re-states much from the 27 October article, noting that his normal working hours were from 8 a.m. to after midnight, and that his insanity had to be allayed or he would become “a hopeless lunatic.” He wrote his will 26 August 1893 at the racetrack (23 Jan 1894, p.3); surrogate’s court lists the will as number 926; another mention is in the court calendar (5 Feb 1894, p.10); Kearney wins a “partial victory” in a wrangle over the estate (13 Feb 1894, p.1).

A new figure appears. Said to be engaged to FAL (who died insolvent, according to Kearney), actress May Brookyn commits suicide in San Francisco, also taking carbolic acid (17 Feb1894, p.2). FA’s will is on the court calendar (12 Mar 1894, p.10) and (13 Mar 1894, p.6).The same date (p.2) has an article on the trial where Kearney offers to give up half of the estate, between $150,000 to $170,000, to the mother and sisters. Second cousin George A. Lovecraft of Olean, New York gives testimony, stating that FAL said that his mother was taken care of in a will and commenting on his irrational behavior. The witness is quoted in a questioning session. (As an aside on the vocabulary of the time, I note that “flat” is used instead of “apartment,” and there is a reference to “Decoration Day.”) The next day (14 Mar 1894, p.9) testimony is from brother-in-law Robert H. Salmons, secretary of the Rochester Bunging Company. He talks about meeting Kearney and about FAL’s shaky mental condition.Kearney offers to pay the mother $100 a month for life, and there is a discussion about FAL’s business dealings. On 15 March 1894 (p.6) the court calendar again simply announces the will, but (p.9) there is another major article on the case. Speaking with a Scotch accent, attending physician Dr. Thomas S. Robertson found his patient “practically a lunatic,” in the words of the Times. Despite objections by Kearney’s lawyer, the doctor describes his patient’s worsening mental conditions, designating them as “acute dementia,” with symptoms of great depression, nervousness, and delusions.

The next article (16 Mar 1894, p.9), from which I have taken the head quote (“All the elements…”), depicts FAL coming to New York as “a poor, friendless boy” who succeeded through hard work in several different businesses, such as “head of a big jewelry manufacturing concern,” head of an advertising agency, and director of many other undertakings. These “make him appear as the ideal hero whom the writers of boys’ stories love to employ as the leading characters in their romances.” He was secretly engaged to be married to May Brookyn, who persuaded him to be placed under a doctor’s care. There is a photographic copy of a letter from Dr. Robertson to Brookyn, where the former states “we” are going to “fix him” (Kearney). Much hostility takes place during the cross-examination of the doctor by Kearney’s attorney. At his first meeting with Robertson, Lovecraft “was trembling all over.” The doctor is unhappy with the colonel, Considering that FAL had threatened suicide, only a few hours before the suicide the doctor told Kearney to watch FAL, but this was not done. Kearney admits he is responsible for his friend’s death. Also, he was not on good terms with Brookyn.

May Brookyn leaves personal property valued at $300 (17 Mar 1894, p.8). On 29 March 1894 (p.9) businessmen testify that FAL was rational and could answer how much stock he had in certain companies. He is typified as a quiet man, so there was nothing to flag his “nervous prostration.” He was especially concerned about the Allen agency. At the time of his death, his account at the Garfield Bank held about $70. The same date features the court calendar (p.6). Albert M. Palmer of Palmer’s Theatre is among those who testify to his sanity and reliability in business. Lovecraft had worked for him as a bookkeeper and “confidential manager” for several years (30 Mar 1894, p.9). His case is on the court calendar for that day (p.11). In a final article on the case (31 Mar 1894, p.9), witnesses continue to testify that he appeared rational. It is judged that FAL was competent to make a valid will, which is admitted to probate. An appeal is planned.

Since the Times ceases to follow the story, what eventuates must remain a blank. However, FAL’s name continues to appear for a short time. There is a property listing that shows 30th Street, 450 feet west of 5th Avenue, and other property, is linked with “Frederick A. Lovecraft to Octavia A. Moss, one-half part … 40,000.” Following this is: “SAME PROPERTY; Theodore Moss and wife to Frederick A. Lovecraft, one-half part…40,000.” (30 Apr 1895, p.15) Then comes an item that was listed in my last issue. This is the suicide of Will Palmer, brother of Albert M. The article notes that this is the third suicide in Palmer’s theatrical group, Lovecraft and Brookyn being the others (11 Sep 1895, p.8). The court calendar has FAL for surrogate’s court (28 Sep 1897, p.10).

In the meantime, a George E. Lovecraft has not done well. A judgment is filed against him by T.H. Babcock for $136 (7 Oct 1898, p.9). Was he the brother of FAL, or is it yet another George?

The next mention of the name “Lovecraft” is not until 1922. It is under “New Incorporations, New York Charters.” I quote the first part of it: “Lovecraft Safety Pocket Corp., Manhattan, $10,000; E. G. and D. E. Lovecraft, S. W. Ferzon.” (16 Sep 1922, p.24). I naturally wonder if HPL was aware of the existence, since he would be living in New York soon. What is a “safety pocket”? I found what I presume to be the answer in the same newspaper, decades earlier, under a collection of anecdotes that have been given a humorous twist: “What is called ‘a safety pocket’ is a recent device to protect one’s purse from being extracted by the dexterous digits of the pickpocket” (27 Aug 1887, p.3).

Finally, HPL enters the Times with the 1937 death notice. I conclude with the next three mentions of the Lovecraft name in the Times—that is, up to the end of 1937. Under “Public Notices and Commercial Notices”: “Green—Mrs. Sonia (Lovecraft): Kindly communicate re news of Howard Lovecraft; very important. Samuel Loveman, care of Bodley Book Shop, 104 5th Av.” This was 10 Apr 1937, p.3, and it re-appeared the next day (p.44). Due to these notices, Sonia is listed in a later round-up under the heading “Persons Sought in 1937” (25 Nov 1937, p.43). These did not reach her eye, since she only learned of her ex-husband’s death in the 1940’s.

Folkways by William Graham Sumner

This work, one of those social science classics, appeared around 1906. As a person frequently “seeing Lovecraft” in many things, I was reminded of both his style and attitude when I began this work. There is an academic character and formality to the writing plus the treatment of humans as a kind of animal, something that is looked upon from an objective distance. It is how humans see other humans that they regard as primitive or different. I thought of “The Rats in the Walls” when I read in this book that cannibalism “may reasonably be believed to be a custom which all people have practiced.”
The book was written by Yale professor William Graham Sumner, who taught courses that included economic issues and who, in 1890, had a mental breakdown. I was reminded of the narrator’s situation in “The Shadow Out of Time.”Yet, corroborating evidence is against me that the book or this circumstance influenced HPL. There is no mention in his letters about Folkways, nor is it listed in his library. The single connection that I found was an allusion to it is in “Suggestions for a Reading Guide” (The Dark Brotherhood).

The Dealings of Daniel Kesserich by Fritz Leiber
Characters are three former college chums and the wife of one of them. In a blurb Ramsey Campbell speaks of Leiber’s ability to parcel out horror and wonder, which implies a Lovecraftian atmosphere. Leiber was very much his own author, and the best writer after HPL of cosmic terror, but in this short work there are two obvious nods to a single Lovecraft story, “The Thing on the Doorstep.” Although it probably isn’t necessary for the plot, a distinctive knocking on the door is a custom between the friends. Less allusive is what happens to the wife, though it is given a very different twist (my ambiguity is purposeful, so as not to be a spoiler).


The illustrations vary from good to inspired. There’s one of the wife unknowingly picking a poisoned orange, with each fruit represented as a partial skull. In another, a bar called “The Black Cat” has in the background the best-known portrait of HPL, though you have to recognize it by the outlines. Yet, in another illustration there is an inattention to detail when Leiber’s use of the name “Posten” is rendered on a sign as “Poston.”

Dunsany’s Times

Continuing my search in the New York Times, I have chosen Lord Dunsany as my subject.The first mention of this name is in the law case of Chamley vs. Lord Dunsany (5 Jul 1866, p.6). I presume this is the grandfather of the author, as are those citations that follow. Under a medical ad, a Dr. J. McVeagh is quoted: “in a most fearful attack of asthma, Lord Dunsany had scarcely smoked the Datura Tatula for more than a minute or so, when the symptoms abated” (4 Jul 1873, p.6; 20 Sep 1873, p.6; 20 Dec 1873, p.11; 21 Mar 1874, p.8).He is among a list of peers who have died, and has left £137,880 (26 Jan 1890, p.6), and he is mentioned again among the departed (23 Feb 1890, p.6). Dunsany Castle is mentioned in passing (5 Jul 1894, p.10). H.C. Plunkett is the brother of Lord Dunsany (1 Jun 1897, p.3). Son Horace Plunkett arrives in the U.S. (3 Dec 1897, p.10). John William Plunkett, Baron Dunsany, has died (16 Jan.) in his 46th year. “He is succeeded by his son, the Hon. Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, now in his twenty-first year” (17 Jan 1899, p.4). He will attain his majority (2 Feb 1899, p.7). The Gods of Pegana is going to be published by Elkin Mathews (9 Sep 1905, p.BR593), and a year later it will be the turn of Time and the Gods, “a collection of parables and anecdotes, illustrated by G. H. Sime” (15 Sep 1906, p.BR569). Later articles refer briefly to his plays. However, there is one report from this time that is worth noting, if only because HPL mentions it in his essay “Lord Dunsany and His Work.” This is a short article about boats overturning in Hyde Park’s Serpentine with the result that Dunsany and a policeman attempt to rescue one of the men thrown in the water. Despite their efforts, they were unable to find him (15 May 1912, p.4).

Machen and the Times

There are early nods to Arthur Machen in the New York Times. The first appearance is an ad for The Great God Pan and the Inmost Light (11 Dec 1894, p.5), and later “The Three Imposters; or The Transmutations” in the “Books Received” column (30 Nov 1895, p.3). Skipping past a few citations, I note a critic takes issue with Machen’s Hieroglyphics which has a theory about “the highest excellency in literature” (10 May 1902, p.BR8). A review of The House of Sounds appears as if it were describing Lovecraft, in that the stories “are weird enough, and most of them deal in horrors—quite inexpressible horrors” (22 Sep 1906, p.BR578). A review of Algernon Blackwood’s Centaur begins by pairing the writer with Machen. (4 Feb 1912, p.BR54). In 1912 a page has several columns (reprinted from The London Outlook) again discussing Hieroglyphics (8 Sep 1912, p.BR492). (The same page has a short article that begins “L. Frank Baum has written another of his very amusing fairy stories [Sky Island]”).

William Hope Hodgson and the Times

The first mention I could find of a “Hope Hodgson” was an ad for Putnam’s Magazine, the title of the section being “The Wireless Cry for Help.” It links the actual sinking of the liner Republic and the rescue of her passengers and crew to Hodgson’s fictional “Out of the Storm,” which concerns the foundering of a vessel, “and we are given a description of the dreadful aspect of the scene, the sickening horror, and the mad struggle for a few moments more of life, frantically told by the man at the ‘wireless’ on the doomed vessel” (29 Jan 1909, p.9). In the Times it was not until 1946 that Hodgson received a book review—or even another mention after 1909.

Weird Tales and the Times

The words “weird tales” conjures up the magazine or perhaps a sub-genre, but the two words accompany one another before there was this pulp. One example can be found in the headline from 4 January 1920 (SM3), “The Ghost of Poe Returns to Broadway; A New York Stage Will be Peopled From the Weird Tales of This Scion of Actors…” Dunsany is fleetingly mentioned in the article.

Whitehead, et al. and the Times

The earliest I can find Henry S. Whitehead in the Times is for the year 1923, where he has two letters to the editor—though more correctly they are articles—about the Virgin Islands (19 Aug, p.XX8; 7 Oct, p.XX8). *** The first appearance of the name Wandrei is for Donald, as a 10th honorable mention under the Bynner Prize given by the Poetry Society of America’s Undergraduate Contest. The winner was Sterling North, later of Rascal fame (6 Nov 1927, p.BR10). Excluding allusion to Wandrei the racehorse, Donald’s brother next receives brief recognition about a batik hanging at an art exhibition. “Especially successful is one by Howard Wandrei picturing a mermaid and an octopus” (31 Dec 1933, p.SM12). The racehorse gets a number of mentions. Then, Howard E. Wandrei leases an apartment at 319 W. 14th Street (29 Sep 1937, p.41 and 17 Aug 1938, p.33). Donald is listed as an editor for The Outsider and Others under “Latest Books Received” (3 Dec 1939, p.124). *** Clark Ashton Smith’s first appearance in the Times is the most impressive of all. He has an article about him, reviewing The Star-Treader and Other Poems. The title is “A Young Poet—He Has Quality, but also the Faults of Youth.” It is signed by “S. O’S” (26 Jan 1913, p.BR38). *** The first mention of Ambrose Bierce in the New York Times seems characteristic of this cuddly author. The headline is “Sharp Criticism of Mr. Howells” and the subhead follows with “Ambrose Bierce of San Francisco Says Harsh Things of Him.” Then comes the first sentence: “Ambrose Bierce, who is regarded as the leading critic and literary light of the Pacific coast, makes a vicious attack over his own signature on William Dean Howells in a Sunday newspaper to-day” (23 May 1892, p.5).


Ben: I did get the Bond collection The Far Side of Nowhere as a result of his good story in Arkham’s Masters of Horror. I trust it will approach the story in quality. The Cthulhu cover by Alan Hunter reminds me of a gargoyle, partly because there is no squid head. For my gain or loss, Thomas Ligotti’s weird work has no attraction for me. Several years back I passed on buying his The Nightmare Factory on sale for about four dollars.

Doug: J. U. Nicolson “translated Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales from Middle English.” I wonder who could have been next—Shakespeare, Milton, Joyce? There’s an announcement of the publication of Nicolson’s Chaucer in The New York Times (where else?)for the 25 Sep 1934 edition (p.17) and a reference to it 26 Dec 1948, p. BR5, and doubtlessly other places. I enjoy your dips into the past, highlighting many artists and books I have never heard about. However, I wish you had told the premise of the novel Fingers of Fear.

David: I wanted your review of The Children of Cthulhu to have been longer, with examinations of all the stories therein. In reading about the editors’ submission call and their mention of HPL’s cosmology and vision, it has occurred to me that an underlying theme in a Lovecraft story is “loss of innocence,” something very linked to literature for adolescents. A passage to adulthood could be a sense of terror from the loneliness, or whatever, that comes with the transition. To continue my harping from an earlier review, I will add some advice to would-be Lovecraft authors. One way to avoid looking like HPL caricature fiction is to ignore him and follow the Lovecraft-inspired work of Fritz Leiber, who gets the cosmic effect without the conventions. He offers a better way to find one’s own voice. See, for example, “The Dreams of Albert Moreland,” collected in Night’s Black Agents. *** As you know, Dunwich is (was) also a real town in England. *** The reprint about HPL and the comics is most welcome. Author Abramowitz knows his background stuff.

     David G.: Rhyme and reason are in some abeyance when I consider the story named on the cover for the second Penguin collection. I can understand The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories as the title of the first collection, since Cthulhu is a recognized name. But why did “The Thing on the Doorstep” (The Thing on the Doorstepand Other Weird Stories, the second collection) beat out, say “The Dunwich Horror” for this recognizable spot? And how was the selection of stories made for the two collections—they are not chronological nor thematic.

Derrick: Thanks for the attractive, color cover. Henrik Harksen makes a statement which I judge would have better been omitted, viz., “my suggestion is more sound than Airaksinen’s, primarily because my suggestion is founded on traits we all know from our own lives, which Airaksinen’s is not.” Majority of intuition is a basis for being right? Not in dispute, I believe every person has numerous contradictory elements, for people do not need to be logical or consistent. Likewise, ideas may sound find, but their implementation is something else.

An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia

     That the title begins with “an” and not “the” could be a suggestion that this work is not an ultimate resource with everything now known, but one view of the author. Partial support of this idea comes in its selection of poems and essays. As I read through it, skipping only the plot synopses and the character identifications, I am most excited by the information provided by the individuals more peripheral to HPL, notably the correspondents, a few of whom are new to me. While I could have wished more personal information about these folks, I at least find out their separate identities, including birth and death dates. Something else I like is what the authors admit they omit—opinions and judgments about the writings, which annoyed me in S.T.’s excellent Lovecraft. Maybe proof-reading could have polished this more. There are gaffes. The calendar in front quavers in consistency, with “The Tomb” under the year 1917 and “Dagon” under 1923, with a 1917 parenthesis; while a reference to Robert E. Howard’s mythos fiction (the Howard entry) refers just to the title Cthulhu, although I surmise the book is actually Nameless Cults: The Cthulhu Mythos Fiction of Robert E. Howard. [In a 28 March 2007 e-mail to me Larry "Deuce" Richardson wrote that the book is likely Cthulhu: The Mythos and Kindred Horrors (Baen Books, 1987), edited by David Drake. Thanks, Larry.] And yes, the encyclopedia is a hunk of money, and much in it will be familiar to this group.

This has been the 34thissue of The Criticaster (Autumn 2002, mailing 120) by Stephen Walker. Published eventually on the Net as The Limbonaut (no. 5).