…SF addict …

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Something Wicked This Way Comes

I've had this Ray Bradbury book on my shelf for a few years now and it being the Halloween season and the book being set in October  I decided to give it a read.

A mysterious carnival appears in a sleepy town one night and 2 young boys become involved in some strange goings on, but are unable to tell anyone because, well, its that tiome of year and theyre just a couple of young impressionable kids right?

The story itself is a fantastic idea, such potential for a great novel. Unfortunately Bradbury decided to dress up this 1963 novel with fancy prose and long sentences without any kind of punctuation at all interspersed with odd made up words and phrases that dont make sense! You can take a breath now!
In some ways the story  resembles something Stephen King might write-unfortunately he didnt write it!
Many praise this novel but for me its a case of a good idea spoiled by dodgy writing!

Oh, Happy Halloween / Samhain everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Shunned House by Lovecraft

I've only read a few HPL pieces but this one is the creepiest so far! The story is about a house which, though not haunted is plagued by a strange events caused by some presence. Most of the original family that lived there, the Harris family, died one by one under strange circumstances until it was decided not to rent the house any further. Then, years later, our narrator takes up the case and begins to investigate this shunned dwelling, unearthing the secrets therein and finally deciding to do something about it. The first chapter read like an Introduction to the story; on the edition I read there was no Chapter 1, so when the 'Introduction' ends, which mentions a discourse with Edgar Alan Poe on the said house, I come to Chapter 2 and realise my mistake!
So it seems that the story is going to read like a documentary and in some ways it does (there is virtually no dialogue), but even so it is a creepy tale, one I can definitely recommend as an introduction to Lovecraft's work.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

This short tale was written in 1764 and  is the earliest piece of fiction I've read so far. The tale, concerning the heritage of a castle and the owner's dire need to keep it within his family,  is reckoned to be the first gothic horror. Funny thing is, apart from a few odd incidents there's little that says horror in this tale. Still it was entertaining enough, and despite its age very easy to read!

Now onto The Shunned House, a short tale by H. P. Lovecraft.

Monday, October 11, 2010

More early stuff, but not SF....

I've long had a fascination with gothic horror, Poe being the main target (the only author of such works I've read, till now!)
Anyway I found a lot of classics from Project Gutenberg and Manybooks.net and so downloaded a few to my reader.

First off I read Carmilla by Irish author J. Sheridan Le Fanu, which is a vampire story written before Bram Stoker's Dracula, and which probably influenced that author, and others!
It is the tale of a young girl living in a town in which a number of people have fallen foul of some strange illness. Later a young lady comes into the care of her family home, her name is Camilla and she has a strange secret....
I then read a couple of his other stories, Green Tea about a strange psychological transformation bought on by the imbibement of said liquid-though not nearly as exciting as it sounds! I followed this with Mr Justice Harbottle, a rather dull story from this  author about a judge who seems to go inexplicably insane! The language and grammar in these early works takes some getting used to, and the stories tend to begin with a long prologue in which the narrator explains his becoming aware of the events depicted within after receiving some manuscript or other communicationg-a common device in early fiction.
I then read my first Clark Ashton Smith story, The City of the Singing Flame,  an odd story of travel through time and space to another dimension. Its kind of a dark fantasy although reading it I got the impression the author was interested in science fiction as well as horror (he was known as a follower of H.P. Lovecraft). I found that story on a site devoted to the man: Eldritch Dark,The Sanctum of Clark Ashton Smith

I'm now about to read a short story by Ambrose Bierce called An Occurance at Owl Creek. Set during the American Civil War it concerns itself with Peyton Farquhar, a Confederate sympathizer condemned to death by hanging upon the Owl Creek Bridge of the title. However all is not as it seems.....