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  1. #16

    Bradbury-like

    DEADFALL HOTEL by Steve Rasnic Tem (Solaris, 2012)

    Deadfall Hotel. A curtain of gnarled, skeletal oak and pine hides it from the rest of the world. The hotel is not well-lit, there is no sign, and night comes early here. The main highway bypassed its access road nearly half a century ago. From the air (and a few private pilots still venture over, out of curiosity) the hotel appears to follow the jumbled line of a train wreck, cars thrown out a all angles and yet still attached in sequence. Additions have been made haphazardly over the years, torn down, rebuilt, fallen into disuse. Repairs have not always been effective. From the back, facing the lake, boarded-up windows, doors, even entire discarded sections may be seen, coated in slightly different shades of paint, constructed of a miscellanea of materials and in a range of styles. But the owners have always tried to maintain a uniform appearance in the front of the hotel, facing the road; they have established facades, like film-sets, over some sections of the structure.
    -- first paragraph


    After the death of his wife, Abby, in a house fire, Richard Carter and his young daughter Serena go to live in the Deadfall Hotel, which is surrounded by forest and the deadfall there from, where rooms appear and disappear and the hallways sometimes start on one floor and end on another, and sometimes stretch the length of the hotel and sometimes farther, and the cellar is filled with items previous proprietors left behind. Richard has been chosen as the new proprietor under the guidance and tutelage of the Hotel's former proprietor, Jacob Asher, who has become the caretaker of Deadfall Hotel.

    In the process of learning his job, Richard learns more about grief and its management, about loss and love and the resiliency of children. Each chapter is an independent story, in each Richard and Serena face something that puts one or both at risk – something rather like a vampire or a ghost or a werewolf or memories – something that demands their inventiveness and stretches their ability to carry on, and in particular pushes and challenges the attachment between father and daughter as Jacob looks on and mentors Richard.

    At Weirdfiction.com comments by Jeff Vandermeer allude to Bradbury, Peake, Edward Gorey, Peter Straub, and John Gardner. Heady company. I'd suggest especially that line of descent could probably be traced to Something Wicked This Way Comes; the first chapter is titled, "Funhouse" and that's a recurring allusion not far from Bradbury's carnival, and the father-daughter relationship harks back to the relationship between father and son in Bradbury’s novel. But Deadfall Hotel also reminded me of Gaiman's Coraline and The Graveyard Book if those novels had been written from the perspective of an adult rather than a child.

    I would not say Deadfall Hotel is on a par with Bradbury’s novel. For instance, while Jacob is fleshed out well, at times he does verge on becoming Tem’s spokesman. And Serena is not well developed, having neither quite the independence of thought nor of action that Will and Jim had in Bradbury’s novel: While Tem gives her some good scenes and some choice moments, on the whole I finished the novel feeling she was less likely to act on her own than to act as Richard’s reason for action. This is largely Richard’s story, and so really a novel for adults about how an adult contends with loss, how a man faces becoming the sole parent of a daughter and copes with her maturing; and whether or not it measures up to Bradbury’s novel, that’s a good thing and, in my reading experience, in a supernatural fantasy/horror novel a rare thing.


    Evoking Bradbury


    Next: Bag of Bones by Stephen King
    Last edited by Randy M.; October 2nd, 2012 at 09:05 AM.

  2. #17
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Tem's not an author easy to get in the UK.

    One for the list!

    Mark
    Mark

  3. #18
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit View Post
    Tem's not an author easy to get in the UK.

    One for the list!

    Mark
    Solaris, however, is a UK publisher

  4. #19
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    I read the Annotated Dracula a few years ago. One of the absolute most beautiful books I own


  5. #20
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Solaris, however, is a UK publisher
    Yeah, I was thinking of his older work. I've only really ever come across the odd short story in an Anthology rather than earlier novels or collections. Agreed: the Solaris book *should* be easier to get hold of...

    Hadn't realised though that its been many a year since anything new of his appeared generally: any idea why, Randy?

    Here's a picture of the new one:




    Must admit that that covers a bit disappointing to me, but I guess it might look better in real life.

    Let's add a sample, for those who are interested.... http://weirdfictionreview.com/2011/1...e-cats-part-1/

    Rob: that Dracula edition looks like a nice one, too!

    Mark
    Last edited by Hobbit; October 2nd, 2012 at 04:15 PM.
    Mark

  6. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit View Post
    Yeah, I was thinking of his older work. I've only really ever come across the odd short story in an Anthology rather than earlier novels or collections. Agreed: the Solaris book *should* be easier to get hold of...

    Hadn't realised though that its been many a year since anything new of his appeared generally: any idea why, Randy?
    Tem's primarily a short story writer, with only a few novel length books -- even Deadfall Hotel is structured more like linked short stories; according to the Weird Fiction Review website, one story in Deadfall Hotel was originally published as a novella in 1986, and the book has expanded off of that. Double-checking at ISFDB confirms my impression that a lot of his work has been through small press publishers:
    Excavation -- Avon Books, 1987
    Daughters (w/Melanie Tem) -- iPublish, 2001 (this may have had national distribution; I don't recall seeing it, though)
    The Book of Days -- Subterranean Press, 2003
    The Man on the Ceiling (w/Melanie Tem) -- Wizards of the Coast Discoveries, 2008 (this had national distribution)

    His story collections have all been through small press: Necronomicon Press, Silver Salamander, Ash-Tree, Dark Regions, Centipede. Note: His collection from Ash-Tree Press is now available as an e-book: The Far Side of the Lake. The actual book has been on my shelf a while and I'd hoped to get to it this last summer, but that didn't happen.

    Here's a picture of the new one:




    Must admit that that covers a bit disappointing to me, but I guess it might look better in real life.

    Let's add a sample, for those who are interested.... http://weirdfictionreview.com/2011/1...e-cats-part-1/
    I rather like it, and I think the actual physical item does look better. And thanks for the link.

    Rob: that Dracula edition looks like a nice one, too!

    Mark
    It does indeed.


    Randy M.
    Last edited by Randy M.; October 3rd, 2012 at 08:34 AM. Reason: Getting my facts straight.

  7. #22
    BAG OF BONES by Stephen King (Scribner, 1998)

    On a very hot day in August of 1994, my wife told me she was going down to the Derry Rite-Aid to pick up a refill on her sinus medicine prescription – this is stuff you can buy over the counter these days, I believe. I’d finished writing for the day and offered to pick it up for her. She said thanks, but she wanted to get a piece of fish at the supermarket next door anyway; two birds with one stone and all that. She blew a kiss at me off the palm of her hand and went out. The next time I saw her, she was on TV. That’s how you identify the dead here in Derry – no walking down a subterranean corridor with green tiles on the walls and long fluorescent bars overhead, no naked body rolling out of a chilly drawer on casters; you just go into an office marked PRIVATE and look at a TV screen and say yep or nope.
    -- first paragaph


    Mike Noonan loses his wife, apparently to natural causes. A writer, he glides by for four years on the manuscripts stored away during his productive years, each maintaining his foothold on the middle of the best-seller list, bringing in some money. But for those four years he grieves, unable to forget Jo, unable to absorb and contend with the knowledge that Jo was pregnant at the time of her death, unable to comprehend why she had not told him, why she seemed to have a secret he hadn’t even suspected. He finds evidence that suggests a lover; that he and Jo hadn’t been able to have a child earlier in their marriage leaves him hurt and trying not to think the worst.

    Shortly before her death Jo had travelled to their summer vacation home on Dark Score Lake, a house known as Sara Laughs. In trying to learn Jo’s secrets, Mike comes to realize that the answers to his questions, the settling of his doubts and his only chance at coping with his loss lies in returning to Sara Laughs and unraveling the mystery surrounding Jo’s death. Meanwhile, he dreams of Sara Laughs, and he dreams of death.

    Although unraveling the mystery of Jo’s doings before her death and the mystery surrounding the community around Sara Laughs powers the story-line, it's the characters and their interactions, and the history of the community that makes the novel addictive reading. From Mattie and Kyra Devore, to Bill Dean, to Royce Merrill, to the long dead singer Sara Tidwell, to Max Devore and the community known as TR, King creates a believable town and a credible haunting.

    This was advertised as the most “literary” of King’s novels and he directly references Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” and Ray Bradbury’s “Mars is Heaven,” among other works, but I’m not sure he does much beyond what he usually does: Scrounge literature and pop culture for examples of themes and tropes he constantly refers to and credit those works which inspired him. King has always been generous that way, and here his preoccupations seem to merge the Bradbury story with Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and “The Summer People.”

    I'd rank Bag of Bones as one of the best I've read by King, nearly on par with Pet Semetary and The Shining, a textured, emotionally layered and resonant ghost story that shares King’s preoccupation with family, both the good and the bad. The A&E network televised a four-hour miniseries based on the novel in the Spring of 2012. I watched the first episode and did not watch the second because the first had to pare away so much and alter so much, it seemed nearly unintelligible, in spite of Pierce Brosnan’s strong presence as Mike.


    Other King works I’d strongly recommend: Salem’s Lot; Pet Semetary; The Shining; “The Mist” (Skeleton Crew, 1985)

    The first television adaptation of Salem’s Lot starring David Soul and James Mason was excellent; the second, starring Rob Lowe, satisfactory but not as powerful. The Stanley Kubrick version of The Shining is powerful, in spite of King’s repudiation of it; the television mini-series, satisfactory but not as powerful, in spite of King’s connection to it and his blessing. The film of Pet Semetary is controversial among fans, some love it, some dislike it, but almost everyone agrees Fred Gwynne’s performance is very good; I found the movie barely satisfactory, a lesser film version of a good King novel. I haven’t seen The Mist yet, perhaps a little wary because the novella is one of my favorite King’s stories.


    Evoking Bradbury: http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showt...ury#post600030

    A Novel Experience: http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showt...nce#post600653

    Hill House, not sane …: http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showt...use#post663265


    Next: Ghost Storeis by Walter de la Mare

  8. #23
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    If my memory is correct, the town of Derry also appears in 11/22/63, It and a number of other books by King.

    Just an interesting aside.

  9. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Loerwyn View Post
    If my memory is correct, the town of Derry also appears in 11/22/63, It and a number of other books by King.

    Just an interesting aside.
    Your memory is working on all cylinders, Loerwyn. King's Maine includes Derry and Castle Rock, both of which, like Lovecraft's Innsmouth, Dunwich and Arkham, if you find yourself there, get out. Leave now. Run, if you have to.

    Other writers have created fictional places to locate their stories in, too. For instance, I mean to visit Charles L. Grant's Oxrun Station, but haven't found the time, yet.


    Randy M.

  10. #25
    GHOST STORIES by Walter de la Mare (The Folio Society, 1956)

    Walter de la Mare was a significant figure in early 20th century British literary circles, primarily as a poet (Of interest, “The Listeners”). I believe his poetry is no longer as highly regarded, but his short stories have shown continuing life, perhaps because many of them are ghost stories. This book, published by the London Folio Society in the year of de la Mare's death, holds seven of those ghost stories, including one of his better known tales, "Out of the Deep" (well-known perhaps because it is included in Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural). The other stories are, "The House," "Revenant," "The Green Room," "Bad Company," "The Quincunx," and "An Anniversary."

    These stories range from the serious to the somewhat less serious, de la Mare letting his sense of humor loose early in "The Quincunx." And most of them are influenced more by Henry James than by M. R. James, the telling sometimes oblique (even elusive) rather than direct, though the story becomes clearer as it progresses and the ways in which de la Mare weaves his ghosts with the concerns of his characters become more apparent.

    I hesitate to recommend such an old and hard to find book, but the stories are still available in the set, Walter de la Mare: Short Stories 1895-1926 and Walter de la Mare: Short Stories 1927-1956, used copies of which may still be available or copies of which may be found through inter-library loan programs. One thing that makes this volume interesting in and of itself, though, is the progression of the stories from internal, personal, subjective hauntings that evoke nostalgia and regret and melancholy (“Out of the Deep” and “The House”), to more external hauntings that still somehow engage the characters’ sense of right and wrong, and what is owed the dead (“Revenant,” “The Green Room,” “Bad Company” and “The Quincunx”), to a final story of a husband haunted and how it stems from his marriage and weaves into the relationship between him and his wife (“An Anniversary”).

    The only story that did not work for me was “Revenant” which starts and builds well, but the appearance of a familiar deceased literary figure complaining about the use of his work by a literary critic feels forced and maybe too much a mouth-piece for de la Mare. Also, “Bad Company” seems conventional compared to the others, but more directly addresses issues of redemption and atonement that are only indirectly addressed in “The House” and “The Green Room.” Perhaps the strongest story in the collection, “An Anniversary,” employs the (Henry) Jamesian approach: While all of the stories ask, “What do the dead want from us? What do we owe the dead?” “An Anniversary” is the most complex, showing a marriage breaking down and the cause of it.

    I would recommend these for reading at any time of year, though I found them good end-of-year, Christmas reading. De la Mare's approach was a bit more challenging than, say, King's in Bag of Bones, but the sense of melancholy and, in several of the stories, nostalgia, were appropriate for a season during which, if we get any spare time at all, we tend to assess our previous twelve months and from there our past and our probable future.


    A Warning to the Curious: http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showt...ing#post664518

    More Curious:
    http://www.sffworld.com/brevoff/855.html

    Hungry House: http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showt...use#post663347


    Next: Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder by William Hope Hodgson

  11. #26
    Hi, all. I'm not going to be on-line from later this afternoon until next Monday, so I thought I'd drop in one more ...


    CARNACKI, THE GHOST-FINDER by William Hope Hodgson (Sphere, 1981)

    “Carnacki had just returned to Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. I was aware of this interesting fact by reason of the curt and quaintly worded postcard which I was re-reading, and by which I was requested to present myself at his house not later than seven o’clock on that evening.”
    -- first paragraph, “The Thing Invisible”


    Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder is a collection of stories about the titular psychic sleuth, one of several created in the wake of the popularity of Sherlock Holmes and to a degree the precursors of Garrett, P.I. and Anita Blake. The Carnacki stories, along with Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence stories, are among the few still read and are probably a bridge between fantasy and early s.f., since Carnacki goes to lengths to explain his theories on hauntings and sightings of the unnatural and to offer "scientific" means of dealing with them, in this prefiguring works like Richard Matheson’s Hell House.

    Essentially the Carnacki stories combine the ghost, detective and club stories stories popular late in the 19th century and around the turn of the 20th century, each beginning with a variation of the above paragraph informing the reader that once again Jessop, Arkright, Taylor and the narrator are dining with Carnacki, an event glossed over quickly so Carnacki may settle in his chair and launch his recital of his most recent adventure with his latest client.

    Hodgson’s creations are often clever and he was smart enough to give a couple of these stories natural causes rather than supernatural answers, making it harder to predict the outcome of any one story. Still, Hodgson's strength as a writer is his invention of the weird and outré as he describes intrusions into our realm by the "Outer Monstrosities." Unfortunately, as I’ve found in other works by Hodgson like The House on the Borderland, his weakness is that his prose is uneven: While one passage may awe the reader, the next can be awkward and repetitive. Anyone reading this collection might want to space out their reading of the stories.

    I found all of the stories entertaining, but the most effective were “The Whistling Room” and “The Hog,” though the latter goes on rather long. “The Whistling Room,” situated deep inside an old English manor house, late at night emits an eerie whistling. Almost by happenstance, Carnacki gains a view of what happens in the room when the whistling reaches its peak, a view that tests his courage and determination.

    “The Hog” is the longest story in the collection (46 pages in the Sphere paperback edition) in which Carnacki’s client comes to him fearful of the dreams he has whenever he sleeps, dreams of another place in which he hears a fearsome grunting coming ever closer, dreams from which he is having increasing trouble escaping. Carnacki is convinced his client has come into contact with the Outer Realms. “The Hog” feels like a trial run for The House on the Borderland, it’s phantasmagoric moments reminiscent of portions of Borderland’s extended dream sequences. But there is some controversy around the story. It was first published in the Arkham House edition of the collection in 1947, 29 years after Hodgson’s death in 1918, and some have speculated that it was not a found story but a story written by August Derleth, Arkham’s founder and editor and a talented writer of pastiches (see his Solar Pons stories playing off Sherlock Holmes). I am unaware of any evidence that answers the question either way, and the story, whoever its writer, is deftly imagined and entertaining.

    The most recent edition of the Carnacki collection was part of the Night Shade publication of the complete works of fantasy of William Hope Hodgson.


    Another (though reluctant) sleuth: Kyle Murchison Booth

    More ghosts


    Other club stories:
    Henry James: “The Turn of the Screw” (Penguin Books, 2011 – among many, many other editions)

    Peter Straub: Ghost Story (Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1979; G. P. Putnam’s Sons/SFBC, January 2012)


    Next: "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" by Robert A. Heinlein

  12. #27
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Thanks for suggesting two, Randy.

    The de la Mare I've been fancying for a while, weirdly, but only seen in the two other editions you suggest. Must look for the Folio edition.

    Again, another author I know more of for his non-genre fiction (and poetry!) than genre. I have read separate stories in anthologies but not a collection of his own.

    and Carnaki.... I prefer Carnaki to some of Hope Hodgson's other (weirder) fiction. Much shorter, more straightforward and great fun. An author who sadly died before his time, as a casualty of WW1 at the criminally young age of 40. I didn't know about The Hog controversy.

    Mark
    Last edited by Hobbit; October 4th, 2012 at 11:48 AM.
    Mark

  13. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit View Post
    Thanks for suggesting two, Randy.

    The de la Mare I've been fancying for a while, weirdly, but only seen in the two other editions you suggest. Must look for the Folio edition.

    Again, another author I know more of for his non-genre fiction (and poetry!) than genre. I have read separate stories in anthologies but not a collection of his own.
    I have the first volume of the full collection and a Best of ... that I've read in fits and starts over the years but never finished. Probably about time to read all of the "best of"; he's a great ghost story writer.

    and Carnaki.... I prefer Carnaki to some of Hope Hodgson's other (weirder) fiction. Much shorter, more straightforward and great fun. An author who sadly died before his time, as a casualty of WW1 at the criminally young age of 40. I didn't know about The Hog controversy.

    Mark
    I can understand that, and I've liked his short stories as a whole. I found The Boats of the "Glen Carrig" a little underwhelming -- not bad, really, just not as engaging as I'd hoped -- and The House on the Borderland good, and in spots terrific, but not a sustained effort. One of these days I will tackly The Night Land but I'm still building up to it.


    Randy M.

  14. #29
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Since we've been talking Bradbury: The last thing Ray Bradbury wrote. And it is as wonderful a tale of books, reading and libraries as you'd expect it to be....

    I will never forget the many magnificent autumn nights, running home with books in my hands and the October winds driving me home towards discovery. I found books on Egypt and dinosaurs, books about pirates, and books that took me to the stars.
    Mark
    Mark

  15. #30
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    And whilst Randy's away, I'm going to highlight one I'm reading...



    Originally published 1960. Has dated in places but still quite good overall. More winners than losers so far... tha stories are -

    Piece-meal by Oscar Cook;
    The Fly by George Langelaan,
    The Vertical Ladder by William Sansom,
    Pollock and the Porroh Man by HG Wells,
    The Inn by Guy Preston,
    The Judge’s House by Bram Stoker,
    The Speciality of the House by Stanley Ellin,
    The Last Séance by Agatha Christie,
    The Black Creator by Vernon Routh,
    By One, By Two and By Three by Stephen Hall,
    Boomerang by Oscar Cook (again),
    Our Feathered Friends by Philip Macdonald,
    Taboo by Geoffrey Household,
    The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe, and
    Leiningen Versus the Ants by Carl Stephenson.


    Mark
    Mark

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