Thursday, February 22, 2007


To my great dismay, it has been a while since I posted anything. Whether that is to anyone else’s dismay is an open question. Alas, my computer has gone belly-up. I am reduced to using my work computer on my lunch break. Lunch breaks were not meant to be spent at one’s desk (an open invitation to co-workers and supervisors to send work one’s way). They were made to be as far away from anything resembling as possible.

Check out the new design on the REHupa site: That’s the on-line presence of the venerable Robert E. Howard United Press Association, a swell bunch of guys, so long as you keep ‘em away from online discussion groups.

Also of note is a nifty serial running in, wait for it, the New York Times. The world’s most venerable mullet-wrapper has a ripping yarn by Michael Chabon (of Kavalier and Klay fame) called Gentlemen of the Road.

It’s set in Khazaria during the early Middle Ages. What’s a Khazaria, you may ask. It’s the homeland of the Khazars, now known as the Ukraine and Southern Russia. Which of course begs the question, what’s a Khazar? The Khazars were a horde of warlike nomads that split off from the Huns and forged their own empire of merciless, horse-riding, arrow-shooting barbarians. They were also Jewish. Genghis Kahane anyone? Since they were situated between the Christian Byzantine Empire and the Muslim caliphate both of whom were perpetually at war, the Khazars split the difference.

Chabon has done a cracking job so far. Basically you take a pair of footloose adventurers, an exiled prince with a price on his head, and a whole lot of bloodthirsty killers and there you go. There is also Chabon’s dark, ironic humor. It’s a little bit Isaac Bashevis Singer and little bit Harold Lamb. Check out the Q&A where Chabon lists his favorite authors.

-Dave Hardy

PS. Check out , the blog of fellow Black Sails contributor, Joel A. Sutherland (of "The Death of Captain Eugene Bloodcake and the Fall of The Horrid Whore") -dh

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I have some announcements on exciting writing from yours truly that will be coming to a high-class publication near you soon.

First up my story “The Black Curse of the Noose” will be appearing in Black Sails, and anthology of pirate stories published by 1018 Press. Other tales lined up for the collection include "The Ghost Ship" by Charles Edward, "The Death of Captain Eugene Bloodcake and the Fall of The Horrid Whore" by Joel A. Sutherland (ultra-cool title!), and a special appearance by Washington Irving ("The Storm-Ship"). I’m pretty stoked as this will be my first appearance in an anthology rather than a periodical. “Noose” is a tale of piracy on the high seas and the difficulty of escaping justice when one has committed great crimes. Look for Black Sails in May, 2007.

Also I will have an essay appearing soon in The Cimmerian, the premier magazine of Robert E. Howard scholarship and fandom. It’s a short piece on a gift given to young REH that had a very big impact on his life. It was the Arabian Nights, one of the world’s most influential collections of fairy tales and adventure stories ever written. Robert Irwin (in The Arabian Nights, a Companion) makes the argument that its impact on modern literature is deep and significant. Certainly it influenced top-level Weird Tales writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, as well as noted pulp writers Edmond Hamilton, E. Hoffman Price, and Jack Williamson to name a few.

For news and discussion forums on 1018 Press go to You can visit the excellent blog on The Cimmerian’s website at, where you’ll find lively and informative commentary by writers such as Leo Grin, Steve Tompkins, Rob Rhoem, and Mark Finn.
-Dave Hardy

Monday, February 05, 2007

By H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft is undoubtedly the most significant writer of horror fiction to come out of the pulps, if not the most significant horror writer of his generation. Even so, the magazines he wrote for rejected many of his best stories. Although he is often imitated, few have been able to create the cosmic fear his literary theory called for.

The Best of H.P. Lovecraft brings together his most developed stories of what is often called “the Mythos”. They range from the very simple and effective “Pickman’s Model” (a story about just where a certain artist derives his inspiration) to the complex and far-reaching implications of “The Call of Cthulhu” where all of the history of life on this planet is called into question.

“The Dunwich Horror” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” bring the nightmare of miscegenation with non-human entities home to the tidy New England countryside with chilling effect. “The Shadow Out of Time” is in some ways less a horror story than a science fiction “secret history” that reaches deep into pre-history to relate the rise and fall of undreamed of star-travelling races. “The Colour Out of Space” is also science fiction, but in a more truly horrific vein. It relates the strange doom that overtakes an isolated farm family when a meteor strikes their farm.

The title is a bit of a misnomer, not that any of these tales are a bit less than the best, it is simly that I think a few of his best works were left out. Only “The Silver Key” represents his Dreamlands tales. I’d put my money of “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath” as not just one of Lovecraft’s best stories, but as one of the best fantasy short stories of all-time.

If you want to see just why Lovecraft is still remembered nearly seventy years after his passing, then read The Best of H.P. Lovecraft.
-Dave Hardy

Sunday, February 04, 2007

By H.P. Lovecraft

This collection provides a look at Lovecraft’s early tales. It is a grab bag of HPL’s work, and shows some of the various directions he went in.

The title tale and “The Festival” are vintage HPL, obsessed with ancestral curses and an unhealthy interest in the past on the part of the young. These themes would later bloom in the form of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. “In the Walls of Eryx” is a straight up science fiction tale, set on an old-school Venus filled with jungles and hostile natives. “Imprisoned with the Pharoahs” is an example of HPL’s ghost-writing, it is an adventure tale featuring none other than Harry Houdini in the starring role.

“He” and “The Horror at Red Hook” come from HPL’s New York phase. In the most ultra-modern of American cities HPL searched for the antique. In “He” he revealed it, giving the settling of America a very dark turn. “The Horror at Red Hook” is a good story, but so pervasive is the loathing of immigrants and Middle-Eastern types that it falls only slightly short of Ann Coulter.

The Tomb and Other Tales is a good set of stories, but probably most of interest to an HPL collector.
-Dave Hardy

Saturday, February 03, 2007

By H.P. Lovecraft

While Lovecraft is best known for his tales of Cthulhu and other beings that might have been demons, extra-terrestrials, gods or all three, he wrote many stories that defied genre limits by mixing fantasy, horror, and science fiction.

This collection pulls together quite a few of these. “The Lurking Fear” is classic HPL with a strange race of inbred hill-billies in an even stranger part of New York. “Dagon” and “The Temple” both mix allusions to classical civilization with u-boat warfare in the Great War.

HPL was a genealogist by avocation and an antiquarian at heart. His own family had had been destroyed by corruption of the blood (literally, his father contracted syphilis and later passed it to his mother). Tainted bloodlines and ancestral degeneracy figure prominently in “Arthur Jermyn”. HPL moved from looking down on the freaks of “The Lurking Fear” to finding them in the most refined company. “The Outsider” takes adolescent angst to a new level, with one of HPL’s most poignant tales and most appealing narrative voice.

The book winds up with a very strong closer: “The Shadow over Innsmouth” surely one of HPL’s all-time best tales, reprising the horror of “The Lurking Fear”, but in a far more advanced and challenging way. It just might have the reader looking at his own family tree.

While few of these stories will make the top ten list of HPL stories, they are all effective in their own ways, little windows on the creative, multi-faceted mind of H.P. Lovecraft.
-Dave Hardy

Friday, February 02, 2007

By H.P. Lovecraft

Lovecraft’s fantasy is, in my opinion, a greatly underestimated area of his work. Surely if one were listing the best American fantasy stories, Lovecraft’s novelette, The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath would surely rank high. Lovecraft’s fantasy was indebted to the work of Lord Dunsany, but Lovecraft sculpted his own vision of wonder and fear.

The tale is part of a cycle concerning Randolf Carter, a dreamy, New England gentleman of distinguished lineage and fantastic imaginings. He accesses the “Dream Lands”, a truly fantastic land that Lovecraft evokes with that overused and seldom merited epithet, dreamlike. Carter is searching for a beautiful city, glimpsed in dream, and now hidden by jealous gods. His quest takes him through the many realms, cities, and haunted ruins of the Dreamlands.

The ways of Ghouls and the nature of the cats of different planets are explored. Carter explores the mountain known as Ngranek and the Plateau of Leng. Strange battles between even stranger creatures are fought. In the process Carter discovers much about the Dreamlands, and somtething about himself.

This volume is ably rounded out by other Dreamlands short stories, “The Silver Key”, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”, “Celephais”, “The White Ship”, and “The Strange High House in the Mist”.

Lovecraft’s output of fantasy (as opposed to his very closely related field of horror) was small compared to Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, or J.R.R. Tolkein. But Lovecraft’s fantasy was something distinct, and seldom imitated. It is all the more valuable for it.
-Dave Hardy

Thursday, February 01, 2007

By H.P. Lovecraft

While H.P. Lovecraft’s name is indissolubly linked with tales of ancient, extraterrestrial races and the strange traces they left in antique New England towns, there was a bit more to his literary corpus. The Doom that Came To Sarnath collects a broad spectrum of Lovecraft tales, prose and poetry.

The title tale is a fantasy set in Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, a world that takes its existence in the dreams of Earth-bound dreamers. But here it pulses with life as Lovecraft ignores the “dream” aspect to bring a slice of Dreamlands history to eldritch life. The Dreamlands tales are well represented: “The Cats of Ulthar”, “The Other Gods”, “Polaris”, “The Quest of Iranon” are present, though some of the best Lovecraft fantasies are to be found in The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. “Cats” is a fantasy based on Lovecraft’s feline obsession. “Polaris” travels the borders of dreams to ask what reality truly is.

Many of the others, such as “The Festival”, may be considered as minor “Mythos” stories, with its delicious imagery of wonder and terror from the deeps of time in an old New England town. “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” develops the science fiction element that marked the best-known of Lovecraft’s work.

There is also straight up sf, “In the Walls of Eryx”, a planetary adventure in the vein of early scinetifictioneers like Jack Williamson, Edmond Hamilton, and Clark Ashton Smith. Brief vignettes and poetry round out the collection.

While few of these tales are well-known, they are a broad selection of Lovecraft work, a mosaic of HPL’s moods and interests. The Doom that Came to Sarnath is a must have for any collector of Lovecraft’s work, and worthy addition to the collection of any fan of fantasy and horror.
-Dave Hardy