My favorite Barron story, “The Men from Porlock” (collected in The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All), which I am re-reading tonight, is the creepy tale of a logging operation in the Pacific Northwest, and what may be waiting in the deep dark of the woods for a group of men who venture out from the periphery of the logging camp; some things in the world are older than time…and don’t like to be disturbed.
There are no words to adequately describe the quality of this man’s vision, execution, style, & prose. Suffice it to say you should be reading the work of Alaskan author, Laird Barron…
Following, is a nifty little review of some of Barron’s short fiction over at Slate Magazine; and the full covers of 5 of his other books of outstanding and creepy fiction…these are all available in affordable Kindle editions at Amazon.com (see link above); and Kindle apps are now free, so get on over there and feed your intellect and learn about what really scares you…
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And CLICK BELOW to CHECK OUT the COVERS…!!
Table of Contents
1 • Introduction (Ghosts by Gaslight) • essay by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers
6 • The Iron Shroud • novelette by James Morrow
29 • Music, When Soft Voices Die • novelette by Peter S. Beagle
57 • The Shaddowwes Box • short story by Terry Dowling
70 • The Curious Case of the Moondawn Daffodils Murder • short story by Garth Nix
85 • Why I Was Hanged • short story by Gene Wolfe
103 • The Proving of Smollett Standforth • (2011) • short story by Margo Lanagan
116 • The Jade Woman of the Luminous Star • (2011) • novelette by Sean Williams
141 • Smithers and the Ghosts of the Thar • short story by Robert Silverberg
161 • The Unbearable Proximity of Mr. Dunn’s Balloons • novelette by John Langan
184 • Face to Face • (2011) • short story by John Harwood
196 • Bad Thoughts and the Mechanism • novelette by Richard Harland
217 • The Grave Reflection • novelette by Marly Youmans
239 • Christopher Raven • (2011) • short story by Theodora Goss
257 • Rose Street Attractors • novella by Lucius Shepard
315 • Blackwood’s Baby • (2011) • novelette by Laird Barron
347 • Mysteries of the Old Quarter • (2011) • novelette by Paul Park
368 • The Summer Palace • [The Well-Built City Trilogy] • novelette by Jeffrey Ford
390 • About the Editors (Jack Dann & Nick Gevers) • essay by uncredited
In the course of a career that has spanned more than three decades, Jeff VanderMeer has emerged as one of the most elegant, intelligent literary fantasists of the modern era. His best work bears comparison to such established masters as John Crowley and Ursula K. Le Guin, and he keeps getting better, book after book. In 2017, he followed his groundbreaking Southern Reach Trilogy with the powerful dystopian fantasy, Borne. In The Complete Borne, VanderMeer expands that novel’s original vision through supplementary narratives that enlarge our understanding of his astonishing fictional world.
The centerpiece of this collection is the original novel itself. Borne offers a portrait of a broken, toxic future dominated by three elements: the immense flying bear known as Mord, an elusive figure called simply the Magician, and the remnants of a once powerful organization called The Company. Into this dying world come Rachel, a woman who survives by scavenging food and discarded “biotech,” and Borne, a bizarre and protean figure unlike any you have ever encountered. Their evolving relationship forms the heart of the novel and leads to a conclusion you will never forget.
Borne is filled with strange, often misbegotten creatures, the products of unchecked Company experiments. In a heavily illustrated supplement called “Teem’s Bestiary,” we learn a great deal about the nature and history of such singular creatures as memory beetles, mudskippers, damsel flies and red salamanders. Of special note is the perhaps mythical creature known simply as “Strange Bird,” the title figure of the harrowing—and deeply affecting—novella that follows.
“Strange Bird” begins with the nameless bird’s escape from a sinister laboratory—the only home she has ever known—into a world of unaccustomed freedom. She is a purely innocent creature searching for love, a sense of purpose, and a place to call home. What she finds is something very different. Her journey through assorted hazards toward an unforeseen transformation has the feel of a tightly compressed epic. Like everything else in this volume, it is original, enthralling, and impossible to forget.
The Complete Borne ends with “The Three”, a brand-new story. The tale is typically engaging, readable, and beautifully written. It also adds a crucial layer to the fictional edifice that VanderMeer has built.
Taken individually, the pieces in this collection all offer their own self-contained pleasures. Taken together, they form a sort of narrative mosaic in which the whole truly is more than the sum of its dazzling parts. The Complete Borne takes us to a world that is grim, frequently frightening, and paradoxically beautiful. This is literary fantasy at its deepest and most developed. It doesn’t get better than this.
Lettered: 52 signed leatherbound copies, housed in a custom traycase
Limited: 500 signed numbered hardcover copies
Table of Contents
- Borne (novel)
- Strange Bird (novella)
- The Three (short story)
- Teem’s Bestiary (illustrated, including never-before-published-entries)
“For it is of old rumour that the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth’s pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl.”
– Abdul Al-Alhazred, The Necronomicon (H. P. Lovecraft)
The Last Feast of Harlequin
My interest in the town of Mirocaw was first aroused when I heard that an annual festival was held there which promised to include, to some extent, the participation of clowns among its other elements of pageantry. A former colleague of mine, who is now attached to the anthropology department of a distant university, had read one of my recent articles (“The Clown Figure in American Media,” Journal of Popular Culture), and wrote to me that he vaguely remembered reading or being told of a town somewhere in the state that held a kind of “Fool’s Feast” every year, thinking that this might be pertinent to my peculiar line of study. It was, of course, more pertinent than he had reason to think, both to my academic aims in this area and to my personal pursuits.
Aside from my teaching, I had for some years been engaged in various anthropological projects with the primary ambition of articulating the significance of the clown figure in diverse cultural contexts. Every year for the past twenty years I have attended the pre-Lenten festivals that are held in various places throughout the southern United States. Every year I learned something more concerning the esoterics of celebration. In these studies I was an eager participant—along with playing my part as an anthropologist, I also took a place behind the clownish mask myself. And I cherished this role as I did nothing else in my life. To me the title of Clown has always carried connotations of a noble sort. I was an adroit jester, strangely enough, and had always taken pride in the skills I worked so diligently to develop.
I wrote to the State Department of Recreation, indicating what information I desired and exposing an enthusiastic urgency which came naturally to me on this topic. Many weeks later I received a tan envelope imprinted with a government logo. Inside was a pamphlet that catalogued all of the various seasonal festivities of which the state was officially aware, and I noted in passing that there were as many in late autumn and winter as in the warmer seasons. A letter inserted within the pamphlet explained to me that, according to their voluminous records, no festivals held in the town of Mirocaw had been officially registered. Their files, nonetheless, could be placed at my disposal if I should wish to research this or similar matters in connection with some definite project. At the time this offer was made I was already laboring under so many professional and personal burdens that, with a weary hand, I simply deposited the envelope and its contents in a drawer, never to be consulted again.
Some months later, however, I made an impulsive digression from my responsibilities and, rather haphazardly, took up the Mirocaw project. This happened as I was driving north one afternoon in late summer with the intention of examining some journals in the holdings of a library at another university.
Once out of the city limits the scenery changed to sunny fields and farms, diverting my thoughts from the signs that I passed along the highway.
Nevertheless, the subconscious scholar in me must have been regarding these with studious care. The name of a town loomed into my vision. Instantly the scholar retrieved certain records from some deep mental drawer, and I was faced with making a few hasty calculations as to whether there was enough time and motivation for an investigative side trip. But the exit sign was even hastier in making its appearance, and I soon found myself leaving the highway, recalling the roadsign’s promise that the town was no more than seven miles east.
Table of Contents
13 • Introduction (The Secret of Ventriloquism) • essay by Matt Cardin
19 • The Mindfulness of Horror Practice • (2016) • short story by Jon Padgett
23 • Murmurs of a Voice Foreknown • (2016) • short story by Jon Padgett
33 • The Indoor Swamp • (2015) • short story by Jon Padgett
37 • Origami Dreams • novelette by Jon Padgett
61 • 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism • (2013) • novelette by Jon Padgett
103 • The Infusorium • (2015) • novelette by Jon Padgett
143 • Organ Void • (2016) • short story by Jon Padgett
153 • The Secret of Ventriloquism • short fiction by Jon Padgett
193 • Escape to Thin Mountain • short story by Jon Padgett
Introduction by Matt Cardin
S. T. Joshi has famously argued that the truly great authors of weird fiction have been great precisely because they use their stories as a vehicle for expressing a coherent worldview. I would here like to advance an alternative thesis. I would like to assert that one of the characteristics of great weird fiction, and most especially weird horror—not the sole characteristic, of course, since weird horror is a multifaceted jewel, but a characteristic that is crucial and irreducible in those works of the weird that lodge in the reader’s mind with unforgettable force and intensity—is a vivid and distinct authorial voice.
Can you imagine Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” without the sonorous narrative voice that speaks from the very first page in tones of absolute gloom and abject dread? Can you imagine Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zann” minus its voice of detached, dreamlike trepidation tinged with cosmic horror, as generated by the author’s distinctive deployment of diction and artistry of prose style? Or Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House without the striking establishment of voice in the classic opening paragraph (“ No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream…”), which then develops over the course of the novel into a sustained tone of mingled dread, loneliness, and melancholy?
Reblogged from Shiny New Books @ http://shinynewbooks.co.uk/the-earlie-king-the-kid-in-yellow-by-danny-denton/
The Earlie King & the Kid in Yellow by Danny Denton
Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies
At the close of James Joyce’s moving and magisterial story ‘The Dead’ the reader learns that ‘snow was general all over Ireland… falling faintly through the universe … on all the living and the dead’, and the settling, drifting whiteness is given its full emotional force in a tale of imprisoned passions. In Danny Denny’s début novel, which makes free, updated use of Joycean wordplay and stream-of-consciousness effects, it is rain – a perma-rain – that envelops a degraded future Ireland, a soggy, drenched, inimical environment through which characters struggle in pursuit of their obsessions. It’s an omnium gatherum, mix-and-match, jazzy sort of a narrative stitched around some adversarial high jinks between the two eponymous figures, a royal hegemon or gangster chief and an early-adolescent boy who has fathered a child by the King’s daughter.
This interwoven thread of conflict supplies an element of plot in the shape of a quest/pursuit structure, but overall Denton aims for a ‘polyphonic’ style in which a range of narrative inputs, like a chorus of discordant voices, combine with a very contemporary mash-up of genres, mythology, history and fantasy often arranged, literally, in bits (‘Bit by…’, ‘Bit from…’, ‘Bit called…’, and so forth). As a visual supplement to this eclectic choice there are typographical variations: oblique strokes substitute for quote marks, slanting dashes like descending rain spatter the ‘Mister Violence’ pages, ’Bit from THE PLAY’ appear as photocopied pages of a typescript. Playful or significant? Or both? It’s up to you.