Saturday, September 04, 2010


By Frank Belknap Long

I’ve always been a sucker for collections like this. Anthologies of tales from the pulps are the lands I go prospecting for fiction gold. Sometimes I strike pay dirt and sometimes I find rocks. There is a bit of both in The Early Long.

Although he is often recalled as HP Lovecraft’s friend, Frank Belknap Long had a very long career in science fiction and fantasy writing. This collection begins with some of his earliest sales to Weird Tales in the 1920s and winds up with stories he sold to Unknown in the mid-1940s.

It’s an interesting set, particularly regards the aspect of watching a writer develop. While never a Lovecraft clone, his early work shows some affinities with HPL’s style and preoccupations. The "Hounds of Tindalos" is one of Long’s best known tales and is generally considered a part of the larger Mythos cycle of stories. It is a good example of cosmic horror deployed effectively, although Long was still polishing his writing style. It’s not everyday one finds a tale in which a character writes his death-scream.

Later tales manage to combine science fiction with fantasy to create a modern type of horror story (much as HPL’s critical theory called for) but on a human scale. Long’s tales from the ‘40s are memorable and polished. "Grab Bags are Dangerous" is a fine exercise in dark-fantasy leavened with humor and "Step into my Garden" mixes fantasy, myth and fear for a memorable tale.

If you come across this one, it’s well worth a read.

-Dave Hardy


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