Edward P. Berglund
I guess I could say that I have been a fan of H.P. Lovecraft since I read the Avon Books' collection Cry Horror!, published in 1958 (which was a reprinting of their 1949 edition entitled The Lurking Fear and Other Stories). I became an active Lovecraft fan in the early seventies, editing Cthulhu Mythos stories for publications put out by Harry O. Morris, Jr.'s Silver Scarab Press, including the second edition of the Reader's Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos. My interest started to wan in the late seventies and I became inactive. I was still gathering information for the third edition of RGttCM, but even that interest declined by the mid-eighties. And then Chaosium published the roleplaying game The Call of Cthulhu. Interest resparked!
And then in 1993 the first NecronomiCon convention was held. I told myself that I would have to attend one of these, but wasn't successful in doing so until this year with the fourth convention. It was about time. There really isn't a real lot of Lovecraftian activity in Jacksonville, North Carolina!
So after being a Lovecraft fan for forty years, reading anything and everything I could find by HPL and his many, many disciples, and reading the de Camp and Joshi biographies, I figured it was about time that I made the pilgrimage to Providence, Rhode Island. I needed to refresh myself by finally getting into Lovecraft country, with the added benefit that at the convention there would be many, many people who spoke the same language.
Even still, I waited almost to the last minute before registering for the convention and getting my hotel reservation set up. My wife and I left the morning of August 18th, driving north on US 17 until we took the detour to go through the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel, stopping finally at a motel in New Jersey. Left there the next morning and arrived at the convention hotel in the late morning. We spent the rest of the day getting settled into our room and generally relaxing. After our evening meal, I decided to see if there were any other early birds, those that I had a name for. Robert M. Price and his wife had checked in, but I never did run them down that Thursday evening. Same with Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. and C.J. Henderson. I probably did see some of the people that I have been corresponding with by email, but I wouldn't have known them if they came up and took a bite. (If that had occurred, I would definitely have thought that this person is somewhat strange ...)
I have to say that the three days of the convention seemed to go by in a blur. I kept running into people that I had corresponded with by email, people I had known back in the seventies from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, and people I had only heard about, but never been in contact with. I never made one panel on time. And I wish that I could have attended more of them. But I really like one-on-one discussions. It was like I had all of this enthusiasm stored up, just waiting for someone with like interests to be near so that I could let it overflow and we would both benefit.
I was also hoping that someone from Chaosium and Pagan Publishing would be there so that I could talk business (making the convention a business trip and tax deductible), but no such luck. Although I did talk with Bob Price about collaborating on an anthology, possibly for Fedogan & Bremer.
We were lucky that Joe Pulver was able to get hold of someone at Chaosium and get them to FedEx a box of his novel, Nightmare's Disciple. Also FedEx'd in were the anthology and gaming book for "At the Mountains of Madness." Needless to say, these items didn't stay in the dealer's room very long. And I didn't stay out of the dealer's room very long!
Friday - Day 1
Panel: Why I Write Mythos Fiction, with Will Murray, Brian McNaughton, and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. This was interesting to a degree. While the panelists talked about their work in the Mythos, we didn't really get around to the bare bones question posed by the panel's title. In other words, what makes a writer write fiction that takes place in the shared universe of the Cthulhu Mythos, instead of his own created universe?
Panel: In Memory: James Turner of Arkham House, with Peter Cannon, W. Paul Ganley, and S.T. Joshi. This panel brought back memories of when I was dealing with Jim Turner in getting Richard L. Tierney's Collected Poems published by Arkham House. At the time I was representing Dick as his literary agent and was trying to sell a collection of three novellas to Arkham. Jim said that he would rather publish a collection of Dick's poetry first. Well, the poetry collection was published, but the fiction collection never came about.
Reception for NecronomiCon Attendees. It seemed that most of the big names at the convention were at private parties, instead of the reception. Although I had an enjoyable hour or so chatting with Brian McNaughton and other lesser luminaries.
Reading by Fred Chappell. Everyone was expecting Fred to read his newest Lovecraftian story. Fred apologized for not being able to -- having imbibed a wee bit much -- and read one of his stories that takes place in the mountains of North Carolina. Although I would have preferred to hear the Lovecraftian story, Fred was very eloquent in his reading of a story in his own "voice."
Saturday - Day 2
Walking Tour # 2, with Chris Jarocha-Ernst. Thoroughly enjoyed the walking tour, but I don't know if I'll be up to doing it again in 2001. This body isn't getting any younger, and some of those hills are rough! But I really enjoyed seeing the sights of Providence, even though they had changed somewhat since HPL's days. If you've been to the convention and didn't take the walking tour, you must go on one of the tours at the next convention. It brings an added dimension to HPL's work that you can't get otherwise. If you decide to make the pilgrimage at some other time, get the pamphlet from Necronomicon Press on Lovecraft's Providence.
Panel: New Mythos Legends: the Book, the Panel, with Don D'Ammassa, Bruce Gehweiler, and C.J. Henderson. Ah, I thought. A new Cthulhu Mythos anthology. I started reading it on my way to northern Wisconsin to visit my family. I'm not sorry to say that I was disappointed in this anthology. There were very few actual Cthulhu Mythos stories therein. But don't get me wrong! All of the stories were well written and very entertaining. I just think that they misnamed the anthology -- hoping for bigger sales?
Panel: Crypt of Cthulhu: 101 and Counting, Peter Cannon, Stefan Dziemianowicz, Will Murray, and Robert M. Price. This panel was really interesting, what with the reminiscences of the panelists, all who have been connected with CoC. And it all brought back memories of when the first Crypt was circulated through the Esoteric Order of Dagon amateur press association.
Panel: The Worst of H.P. Lovecraft, with Michael Cisco, W. Paul Ganley, C.J. Henderson, and Brian McNaughton. This was probably the worst panel subject at the convention. None of the panelists nor any of the attendees could really come up with an out and out stinker. No matter how bad an HPL story is, there is always something therein that redeems it. The subject of the panel lasted about ten minutes, at which time the subject was changed to The Best of H.P. Lovecraft. This subject drew out the panel another twenty minutes. Everyone agreed that enough time had been spent, with the panelists concurring, and we adjourned -- an hour early!
Panel: Mysteries and the Mythos, with C.J. Henderson, Chris Jarocha-Ernst, and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. C.J. was on the panel because of his Teddy London stories and Joe was on panel because of his recently published novel. Chris Jarocha-Ernst was on the panel primarily because of his bibliography and concordance recently published by Armitage House (Pagan Publishing) and the organizers probably thought he would know of some more mysteries that tied into the Mythos.
Panel: Behind the Yellow Sign: Robert Chambers, with S.T. Joshi, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., and Christophe Thill. I missed Chris' panel on The Origins of "The King in Yellow" on Friday, but met him just prior to this panel. Although S.T. can be very eloquent at times and Joe has written a few Carcosa items, Chris Thill stole the show with his background on Chambers work and life. I don't know if Chris was speaking from notes, but it did not appear so. For someone whose native language is not English, he was a very entertaining speaker.
Films: The NecronomiCon Mythos Film Competition Showing. All of the competition films were well received by the attendees. Babylon Park -- Frightspace was a hilarious animated film. When it first started, I was a little dubious about whether it would capture my interest. But, indeed, it succeeded. Although Aaron Vanek's Return to Innsmouth didn't win the competition, it was the highlight of my evening, almost as much as finally getting to meet Aaron.
Sunday - Day 3
The Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast. If you didn't attend the breakfast, you really have to attend the next one. I know the price was a little steep for a breakfast, but what occurred therein more than made up for it. After Bob Price gave his invocation and got Joe Pulver to assist with the "Litany to Nug and Yeb" from the Book of Eibon, the guests of honor got to speak: Fred Chappell, Jason Eckhardt, and W. Paul Ganley. We found out that Robert Capelletto's To Oblivion won the film competition. Paul Ganley and Fred Chappell accepted their awards with much graciousness.
Panel: Lovecraft's Poetry, with Fred Chappell, S.T. Joshi, and Darrell Schweitzer. Not a great fan of poetry by any standard, this panel was interesting from the standpoint of hearing HPL's poetry read. I can't remember which poem Fred read, but I believe it was one of the Fungi. And a French woman whose name I failed to write down, delivered a reading of the same poem translated into French. Sounded really nice, even though I don't speak French!
Well, that encapsulates the organized events. But the highlights of the convention were the unorganized events, most of which took place in the dealer's rooms. Can't keep away from all of those books -- even the ones with the exorbitant price tags. Signed about a zillion copies of the original edition of The Disciples of Cthulhu, and even a copy of the 2nd edition of the Reader's Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos.
And then there were the many people I finally got to meet in person, or re-meet, as the case may be. There were Scott Wyatt and Philip J. Rahman (Fedogan & Bremer), who I had met at MinnCons in the Twin Cities back in the 70's. There were S.T. Joshi, Marc Michaud (Necronomicon Press), W. Paul Ganley (Weirdbook Press), and Robert M. Price, who I corresponded with back in the 70's. There were C.J. Henderson and Will Murray, two contributors to The Disciples of Cthulhu II, hopefully due out from Chaosium in May 2000. There was Chris Jarocha-Ernst, who accepted my contributions to his massive bibliography/concordance. And then there were those who I met on the Internet, either through email or through alt.horror.cthulhu: Steven Kay, Steven Marc Harris, Daniel Harms, Christophe Thill, Aaron Vanek, Dan Clore, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., and Brian McNaughton. These are all of the people that kept me from getting to the panels on time!
Created: December 5, 1999; Updated: August 9, 2004