Sunday, June 28, 2009


By Cornell Woolrich

When you think of dark, Urban Fantasy, you might think of China Mieville, Neil Gaiman, or Charles de Lint. I would chose Cornell Woolrich as the creator of a unique form that blended elements of crime fiction, horror, noir, and fantasy. H.P. Lovecraft might not have known it, but Woolrich wove tales of cosmic horror.

The premise to Night Has a Thousand Eyes is pure Woolrich: the race to save a doomed man. A policeman hears a young woman’s story. To save this woman, he must save her father from certain doom. Only the doom is not so much physical, as spiritual. A psychic has predicted a wealthy industrialist will die. The psychic’s astonishing record of true predictions seems to confirm his powers of prophecy. But the NYPD doesn’t believe in ESP. As the protagonist’s colleagues race to prove the psychic to be false, the protagonist must battle the malignant forces of the unknown that are driving the marked man into lethal despair. Night is Woolrich at his best, creepy, suspenseful, and utterly unpredictable.

-Dave Hardy

Monday, June 08, 2009


By Fritz Leiber

If there’s any creature that could break down the mental barriers of a repressed, death-oriented, and relentlessly conformist society, I suppose it would be cats. That seems to be Fritz Leiber’s opinion anyway.

The Green Millennium is about Phil Gish and his America. The Bureau of Loyalty keeps the population on the straight and narrow under its dimwitted, bible-spouting president. Fun Incorporated makes sure the citizens have funless fun. America’s real business is the permanent war against its enemies.

So far you may be wondering where exactly the SF comes in since that describes the current world. When Phil meets a friendly green cat called Lucky, all of the sudden his wretched life is full of joy. All his difficulties disappear, that is until the cat scampers away. Phil is not alone in his pursuit of the cat. Lucky is being chased by a shady scientist called Dr. Romadka, a group of wrestlers, Dr. Romadka’s daughter, and the Bureau of Loyalty. There’s also the question of whether Phil’s neighbor is human from the waist down.

The opposition of an anarchic love of life to oppressive conformism is one of Leiber’s favorite motifs. The Green Millennium has that opposition in its most anarchic form. The revolution isn’t brought about by conspirators or even beatniks, but adorable space-cats. One would be forgiven for finding it all a bit too cute. The hard edges have rubber bumpers. Not that this is all bad. Sometimes a little untrammeled optimism in the face of bad news is called for.

If only we had some green cats…

-Dave Hardy