Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Xeethra" by Clark Ashton Smith

This short story is the first in the collection ZOTHIQUE, which was part of Ballantine's Adult Fantasy line, coming out in 1970. The story itself was first published in "Weird Tales" in 1936. I'm slowly working my way through ZOTHIQUE which may take a while, as a little CAS can go a long way.

Smith's Zothique is our own world, thousands of years in the future. Civilizations have risen and fallen, technology has been forgotten, and mankind is now dominated by sorcery and dark gods. Perfect for the D&C reader, eh? It's a ripe setting for Smith, who was one of the few American authors to successfully bring the European Decadent tradition to U.S. readers, and only quite a while after the Decadent movement sputtered out.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Quiet weekend least for this blog. The heat's ungodly, I've been busy with work, and I've had other stuff to do as well, including occasional volunteer work. Next weekend is DC's gay pride festivities, and the week after that is Monster Bash in Pittsburgh, so I'll be busy but I'll try to post when I can. If I can manage it, I'll do some posting from the Bash.

So, what I've got going on...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

TO WALK THE NIGHT by William Sloane

The Maila Nurmi-esque photo on the cover, and the lurid copy on the back, would make one think this was a story of some supernatural temptress. ("From those who inexplicably survived her loathesome evil comes this terrifying story of a time when men's souls and bodies were hideously tortured to sustain the life of a fiendish woman." Seriously, it says that on the back.) But TO WALK THE NIGHT (1937) is far different, an almost delicate and definitely tragic story that walks a line between horror and science fiction. And it's one of the few novels I've encountered that deal with spontaneous human combustion.

The story is told in flashbacks by Berkeley Jones (called "Bark" by his friends) to his best friend's father, who he often calls "Dad." Jerry Lister, the best friend, has committed suicide, and his wife had something to do with it.

In flashbacks, we hear the story of how Bark and Jerry go to a football game at their alma mater, and after the intense game, pay a visit on their friend Prof. LeNormand in the observatory. But when they arrive, the prof is dead, burning to death with no apparent cause. All the questioning and investigation turns up nothing, until the two go to visit the prof's widow, of whom they're shocked to learn, thinking he was never the marrying type. And thus we meet Selena.