Sunday, March 29, 2015

Machen, Blackwood, and the Curse of Roc-Thalian

So, I've been reading up on my authors of strange, grim, and otherwise cosmically disturbing fiction, and stumbled into H.P. Lovecraft's intense devotion to two authors outside my ken. Their names (respectively) are Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen. Blackwood, it seems, was an isolate bachelor, schooled in various modes of esoteric thought, who pioneered a new avenue of 'awe fiction' that encompassed the perfection of the post-gothic ghost story. Machen was a man of many tastes, an occultist and fantasist who is famous for many things, notably his debut novel The Great God Pan (oh, how I yearn for a copy of this). So, freshly informed and inflamed, I went looking around at local used bookstores for any traces of these heretofore unknown masters of the weird. I scoured and I quested and I dug in many a moldering corner (ended up finding an omnibus edition of Ambrose Bierce's writing in the process, which was a major joy), but nothing could I find of Blackwood or Machen.

Saddened, I wandered into one final shadowed corner (there's always one more) before going home, and discovered (drumroll) an original 1924 edition of Dog and Duck by Arthur Machen. A weathered copy, with some considerable discoloring, but definitely a Machen book. Amusing bit is, Dog and Duck is far out in the Machen esoterica, a collection of droll essays about how strange it is to be British. It seems to have little relation to his many fantastical works (none of which I've yet experienced), but in reading it I've caught glimpses of the glory of which he's capable. Of course (funds allowing) I'll probably have to resort to Amazon to settle my cravings, especially for Blackwood (who seems as scarce as a heavy, consistent rainfall in these parts). In the meanwhile I'll indulge in the whimsical abstractions of Dog and Duck, reflecting on the finer peculiarities of life all-the-while.

Also, wanted to announce that the name for the upcoming Kelrob and Jacobson book has been changed. Due to fluctuations in the plot that I hope will sincerely amuse, the story has warped into a slightly larger framework (oh, is this how Robert Jordan first talked of the growthlike swell of his series?). Kelrob and Jacobson have the adventure that finally pulls them together lock stock and barrel, all the while hurtling towards a much broader, stranger, indeterminate fate. The new name for the book is The Curse of Roc-Thalian, to be followed in relatively short order by The Quest of the Aleph.

That is all for now. Want to thank everybody who is tuned in to my microscopic-macroscopic broadcast.

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