Nightscapes -- Where the dark of night meets the reality of day




HORRORS BEYOND edited by William Jones
INVERTED KINGDOM edited by Asamatsu Ken
THE TSATHOGGUA CYCLE edited by Robert M. Price
HIVE by Tim Curran
ELDRITCH BLUE edited by Kevin L. O'Brien
THE AMULET by William Meikle
HORROR BETWEEN THE SHEETS edited by Michael Amorel
TALES OUT OF DUNWICH edited by Robert M. Price
DAGON by Fred Chappell
HARDBOILED CTHULHU edited by James Ambuehl
ARKHAM TALES edited by William Jones
GRETCHEN'S WOOD by Ran Cartwright
THE TALES OF INSPECTOR LEGRASSE by H.P. Lovecraft and C.L. Henderson
LOVECRAFT'S LEGACY edited by Robert E. Weinberg and Martin H. Greenberg
BALAK by Stephen Mark Rainey
ETERNAL LOVECRAFT edited by Jim Turner

HORRORS BEYOND: TALES OF TERRIFYING REALITIES, edited by William Jones. Cover by Dave Carson. Lake Orion, MI: Elder Signs Press, 2005. 284 pages. $15.95. ISBN 0-9759229-2-0

Cover illustration © Dave Carson

[Reviewed by James Ambuehl]

For the first anthology effort produced by this publisher, this is a truly excellent book! First of all, the cover by Dave Carson is amazing, frightening, atmospheric, adjectives just can't describe it! I imagine R.U. Pickman would find it inspiring!

And I was glad to see a plethora of Mythos tales herein, in fact fully half of the book. First, the Mythos tales: Tim Curran's "The Eyes of Howard Curlix" is the author's usual fine work, with a touch of the old Weird Tales flavor exhibited. William Mitchell's "His Wonders of the Deep" seems to carry more than a touch of HPL's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, in this mad scientist romp. "Experiencing the Other" by Ann K. Schwader is one of her best tales, the middle part of an amazing series featuring Paranormal Investigator Cassie Barrett, begun with "Twenty Mile" in John Pelan's The Darker Side anthology, and followed up by at least a third installment, mentioned as in the works during the publication of her story collection Strange Stars and Alien Shadows (Lindisfarne Press, 2003). Michael Minnis sequelizes Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space," to excellent effect, and Brian M. Sammons pays similar respects to Long's "Hounds of Tindalos in his own time paradoxical "One Way Conversation." I found John Sunseri's "The Hades Project" truly intriguing for the hints it drops rather than what the story actually reveals, and David Conyers' "False Containment" seemed like a Delta Green scenario mixed with elements from a sci-fi B-Movie, but even better than that paltry description suggests. Doug Goodman's "The Orion man" was perhaps too much of an HPL retread, but still quite good, and Cody Goodfellow's "Cahokia" was an amazing read as well, which reminds me a bit of scenes from Colin Wilson's The Space Vampires.

OK, now to the Non-Mythos stuff: Lee Clark Zumpe's "The Breach" seemed a bit rushed and underdeveloped -- considering what I've seen the author do before -- and James Dorr's "The Candle Room" I found a bit too fantasy-oriented, but all right. Tony Campbell's "After the War" was an excellent character piece, very touching, and Gerard Houarner's "The Blind" I found likewise touching. I'm afraid Richard Gavin's "A Form of Hospice" didn't do much for me; Gavin has done much better. Ron Shiflet's "The Prototype" was good, sort of Twilight Zone-ish, which description I'm sure the author will like. Richard Lupoff's "Dingbats" was a bit too surreal for me, and I'm afraid the story lost me somewhere in the middle. C.J. Henderson's "Vuuduu" was short, and almost inconsequential (and he's done a much better story I read somewhere online about the inherent dangers of sound, I think), and editor William Jones' story was maybe a bit long, but well-developed and intriguing.

All in all, an excellent anthology, and I look forward to William Jones' next anthology, Arkham Tales!

[Reviewed by Matthew T. Carpenter]

Horrors Beyond was published in 2005 by Elder Signs Press. It is available in two versions, a trade paperback for $15.95, and a limited hard cover for $29.95, with shipping of several bucks when you order it directly from Elder Signs Press. I must comment that if you instead get it from Shocklines shipping is free. You can also get it from Amazon, and shipping in the US is free if you order > $25, although they downgrade the handling. I got the hard cover and it has very high production qualities. It is cloth bound, with a handsome slip cover. There is a gorgeous cover painting by Dave Carson, filled with creepy visions of skull-like things, images suggestive of the movie Alien and a Cthulhoid tentacled creature. Page count is 281. The slipcover has excerpts from a few stories. There are minibios of the authors at the end of the book. Otherwise there is no introduction or editor's notes. The collection was edited by William Jones, who edits the The Book of Dark Wisdom. I subscribe but I am not otherwise familiar with his work. So far I have to say that Elder Signs is a class act. I like the production qualities of my trade paperback of Ancient Exhumations +2, and I like the qualities of The Book of Dark Wisdom. I preordered Hive and I am eager to get it based on these. Horrors Beyond contains 18 stories. All of them are newly published in this anthology, except "Experiencing the Other" by Ann K. Schwader. This anthology has a very impressive author list! The inclusion of works by such fine writers is another measure of the care taken with publishing this book. The premise of the collection is to write about what may be occurring just beyond our sight or experience, between or beyond the edges of reality, hidden in shadows or sneaking through the cracks between dimensions. Although not specifically a mythos collection, this theme is central to Lovecraft's world (yes, I know that HPL is not the only writer who wrote along these lines, but I am an HPL fan), and many of the stories directly use mythos ideas or are inspired by or informed by Lovecraft. As a consequence this collection is of direct interest to fans of mythos fiction. The short version of my opinion is that this is a terrific book and all mythos fans should read it! Minor to major spoilers about the individual stories may follow.

"The Eyes of Howard Curlix" by Tim Curran -- I have read one other story by Tim Curran, "The Chattering of Tiny Teeth" in Warfear, a delightfully creepy exploration of ghouls residing in No Man's Land during WWI. This new story concerns a tabloid journalist who interviews a scientist who has found a way to perceive the worlds that we cannot perceive because our vision is limited to a small fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum, and how our perception of what dwells there allows it to perceive us. This was a very well written tale, a great way to kick off the anthology. No mythosian entities but an overt nod to Abdul Alhazred.

"His Wonders in the Deep" by William Mitchell -- This is the first story by William Mitchell that I have read. In this story a bereaved doctor attempts to resurrect his wife and family lost at sea. Not directly mythosian, but entities lurk around the fringes who attempt to use human fear to make a passage into our universe. Well written, enjoyable.

"The Breach" by Lee Clark Zumpe -- I am not familiar with any other work by Mr. Zumpe. In this tale, a scientist attempts, alas successfully, to establish universes that exist parallel to our own. The results are less than happy for all concerned. Based on this story I would like the opportunity to read more of Mr. Zumpe's work.

"Experiencing the Other" by Ann K. Schwader -- This is the only story to be previously published. I first read it in Strange Stars and Alien Shadows (I really do owe myself a review of that book . . .). It is a sequel to another story of hers, "Twenty Mile." For me this was the biggest misfire of the anthology. The story is good enough, but it is so clearly a sequel to "Twenty Mile" that I don't think it stands alone all that well. Furthermore, "Twenty Mile" was uncommonly fine, and "Experiencing the Other" suffers a bit by comparison. Maybe someone who never read her other stories would have a different opinion, I dunno.

"The Candle Room" by James S. Dorr -- Another author new to me, although I may seek out his collections in the future. This story was also about contacting other life forms that want to come through to our world. While enjoyable I did not like it as much as some of the others contained in the anthology. I'm not sure why; the writing just did not grab me that much.

"A Little Color in Your Cheeks" by Mike Minnis -- Mr. Minnis is known to mythos fans for "The Prodigies of Monkfield Cabot" from Eldritch Blue (an OK prequel to "The Thing on the Doorstep"), "Salt Air" (a superb Yellow Sign story in the superb anthology Dead But Dreaming) and more recently "The Butcher of Vyones" (one of the very best stories in the excellent CAS tribute anthology, Lost Worlds of Space and Time). Mike Minnis has been a very busy boy lately and we are all the richer for it. The story in Horrors Beyond is a sequel to "The Colour Out of Space." The first few pages were taken up by what was basically a synopsis of the Lovecraft story, already well known to all us fanatics. So this part dragged for me. The remainder was a wonderfully creepy depiction of a backwoods type who lives (for now) on the shore of the new Arkham reservoir. The inevitable comparison is The Colour Out of Time by Michael Shea (which ran on a bit too long for my taste), although we (semi) eagerly await The Colour Out of Darkness by John Pelan.

"One Way Conversation" by Brian M. Sammons -- Utterly superb! This story alone was worth the price of the anthology. Surely it is one of the finest Hounds of Tindalos stories ever. I would love to get better acquainted with Mr. Sammons' fiction.

"After the War" by Tony Campbell -- Another author new to me. I would rate this story as OK, nothing special but enjoyable, from the straight up scifi 'humans vs muties' genre.

"The Blind" by Gerard Houarner -- I don't recall reading any of Mr. Houarner's stuff before, but he is widely published so maybe I have. This was not a mythos story per se but it was certainly written with the central theme of the anthology in mind, and as such has at least echoes of Lovecraft. A junkie wants to escape her current reality or gain some insight into what is really real, and finds some aliens who will do this if they can rummage around in her experiences. I thought this was a very effective piece of writing.

"The Hades Project" by John Sunseri -- A new author to me. This story was another very effective piece of writing, about an outré entity who has altered the memory of everyone on earth as it prepares to hunker down here for a feast, except that of our protagonist. Not overtly mythos but a good nod in that direction.

"A Form of Hospice" by Richard Gavin -- Mr. Gavin has a collection out from Rainfall, but I have never read his work before. Based on this story I think I will look up Charnel Wine from Rainfall Books. A man with cancer tried to heal himself with dreams under the guidance of a new age type. Alas, the healing is a sort of Faustian bargain with outré entities who want to take up residence. As with many stories this is not directly mythos in that it does not deal with named entities, but it certainly is a comfortable read for HPL fans. It was a very enjoyable read.

"The Prototype" by Ron Shiflet -- Mr. Shiflet is well known from his posts on alt.horror.cthulhu. I thought his story "Seduced" in Eldritch Blue was brilliant. He has a story in a recent issue of The Book of Dark Wisdom that I haven't gotten around to reading yet. And I guess we all have to wait to find out what happens to Lindisfarne Press to see if we see more of his stories in print. "The Prototype" is a more straight up scifi look at some alien types distributing TVs that are actually means of egress into our world. I could easily visualize this as an episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. One of my favorite aspects of Ron's writing is the way the characters jump off the page. Non-mythos but enjoyable.

"False Containment" by David Conyers -- Mr. Conyers wrote a story that appeared in issue II of Dreaming in R'lyeh (I have a subscription to this rag and they never have come out with issue IV and I never would have received a copy of issue I except James Ambuehl loaned me his (and I still haven't returned it two years later), and I am not holding my breath that it will ever resume publication). That story was "A Shared Romance", which was an absolutely wonderful Australian Yig story, the gem of the issue and worthy of wider dissemination. Well, David Conyers does it again. "False Containment" is marvelous, maybe the best story in the book. His take on the various properties of shoggoths results in a similar result to Cody Goodfellow in Ravenous Dusk or "Big C" by Lumley in Lovecraft's Legacy. It is kind of cool to see how different authors thinking through a Lovecraftian creation can come up independently with a similar result. I also like how Conyers thinks through what I call the Yog-Sothoth problem, where this entity is contemporary with all time and is not limited by three spatial dimensions. How would you interact with a creature like that? This was addressed to a degree by A.A. Attanasio in "Glimpses," but Conyers' take is more like "As I See It" by Greg Stolze in Delta Green: Dark Theaters. All in all a very impressive effort! I hope that Mr. Conyers is planning a great deal more mythos fiction.

"Dingbats" by Richard A. Lupoff -- Mr. Lupoff is widely published but heck if I can recall reading anything by him before. An OK scifi space story with echoes of many Star Trek episodes where an entity can manipulate your mind to fulfill your fantasy worlds. "The Orion Man" by Doug Goodman -- Doug Goodman was new to me.

"The Orion Man" was a nicely creepy story of a man who seems to be the only one who can see the truth of alien presences on earth, with certain constellation tattoos having special significance. Not really mythos but I liked it.

"Vuuduu" by C.J. Henderson -- Of course C.J. Henderson has impeccable mythos credentials, is widely published and is active on alt.horror.cthulhu. I pretty much have enjoyed everything I have read by C.J. Henderson and I keep promising myself I will read his collection of occult detective stories that is sitting on my bookshelf. "Vuuduu" reminds me of a story I read maybe thirty years ago; I forget both title and author, but someone inadvertently stumbled on a sonic frequency that put the listener into a perfect state of contentment, so they didn't want to move or do anything. Of course this was then used to take over the world. Similarly but more topical for the early 21st century, "Vuuduu" is a music program that allows you to pirate any song. Of course pretty soon everyone (but our protagonist) is listening to "Vuuduu" created tapes. The end however has a nice twist on this sort of story. Tightly written as you might expect. Not really mythos, I'm afraid.

"Cahokia" by Cody Goodfellow -- If you don't recognize the name Cody Goodfellow it means you haven't read Radiant Dawn and that means you are cheating yourself out of one whale of a read, an absolute knock out. The companion novel Ravenous Dusk was slightly more problematic, but was also a page turner. In "Cahokia" we find out what happened to all those civilizations, like the Cahokia mound builders, that vanished without a trace. More pure scifi, with faintest echoes of Lovecraft, but an absorbing read.

"The Name of the Enemy" by William Jones -- William Jones edits The Book of Dark Wisdom and edited this book, so thank you Mr. Jones! Keep the good work up! My impression of this book was more pure scifi, not particularly horror nor mythos. How do you fight an unbeatable enemy? A nifty read to finish out a great anthology.

So in summary, this is a terrific collection. I only mention what I construed as non-mythos to allow the HPL reader to decide if this is what they are looking for. None of these stories were bad, most were excellent and at least two reached the heights of the finest mythos stories available. The trade paperback price is very reasonable and I can't imagine any HPL fan not loving this book. No need to wait, order it now! While you're at it, you can pre-order Horrors Beyond II!

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LAIRS OF THE HIDDEN GODS, VOLUME ONE: NIGHT VOICES, NIGHT JOURNEYS, edited by Asamatsu Ken. Cover by Yamada Akihiro. Chou-ku, Fukuoka, Japan: Kurodahan Press, 2005. 363 pages. $20.00. ISBN 4-902075-11-3. NOTE: This is a partial translation of Asamatsu Ken's anthology Hishinkai, published by Tokyo Sogensha in 2002.

Cover illustration © Kurodahan Press.

[Reviewed by James Ambuehl]

When I think of Japanese monsters, I tend to envision rubber-suited Kaiju fare, or Anime, with its big-eyed schoolgirls with even bigger guns blazing away at tentacled things with lots of eyes and mouths. And fun as their elements may be, they hardly suggest the lurking, brooding terrors of H.P. Lovecraft! But as Robert M. Price's introduction to this book posits, who but the Japanese could truly understand unsuspected horror pouncing down from the skies in the more-than-half-a-century wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

And it shows in these 7 stories -- 6 stories, really, and a short novel -- as the horror is a palpable force lurking behind it all, in these truly incomparable well-written tales. These stories are very original, very well-realized, and damn scary!

Editor Asamatsu Ken's "The Plague of St. James Infirmary" leads off in fine short pulp novel fashion, utilizing elements from the Mythos works of Henry Kuttner and Brian Lumley, especially, and throwing in Eliot Ness and Al Capone to boot!

Yamada Masaki's "The Import of Tremors" is another favorite, as is Murato Motai's "Sacrifice" -- both tales embodying the message: "Watch what you eat!" And the other stories were all good too, ranging from a depiction of Derlethian Great Old Ones' rivalries to a surrealistic sex-tinged odyssey to a graphic (read: cringe-inducing) waking nightmare, and even a touching love story! But make no mistake: Lovecraft's influence is clearly felt throughout it all.

And it doesn't end there with the fiction either. We also get Bibliographies of the Cthulhu Mythos scene in Japan and a Manga primer to start us on our way to exploring this most fascinating milieu -- more of which future volumes of Lairs of the Hidden Gods will continue to bring us. This is one beautiful book, and all involved can truly be proud (and I'd really be lax in my reviewer duties if I didn't mention the stunning pastels-and-tentacles cover by Yamada Akihiro)! Highly recommended! Five stars!

[Reviewed by John Goodrich]

Outstanding stories always leave the reader in silence.

But one very special type of outstanding story, after silencing the reader, stimulates them into furious action. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

-- Asamatsu Ken, from his introduction

This is the first volume of a projected four-book series that translates two fat volumes of indigenous Lovecraftian stories from Japan. Many of the authors represented herein are apparently well-known authors in Japan. There is a certain seriousness to this collection that is often lacking in books of Lovecraftian pastiches published in English. No sly in-jokes, no little winks at the audience, waiting for them to get the reference. A seriousness and a freshness of setting pervade this book, so it does achieve what so many anthologies set out to be; different, and yet in some way tied into Lovecraft. The stories are also, on average, longer than the stories found in American anthologies, only seven stories are told in 287 pages.

"The Plague of St. James Infirmary" is the longest story in the collection at over a hundred pages, and details events happening to a Japanese man in Chicago during the early Prohibition era. Of all the stories presented, this one had the most stilted prose, and I'm not sure if this is due to the translation or the prose style of the author. Despite the decidedly Derlethian leanings of the story (the power of Cthugha is set against the water deity Cthaat), it creates a fairly good sense of atmosphere.

"The Import of Tremors" is a slow, graceful story that opens as Kobe City is being firebombed during World War II. One of two stories that deal explicitly with the war, this takes the form of an older man reminiscing about his childhood, effectively setting otherworldly horrors off against the more mundane horrors of the period.

"27 May, 1945" also takes place during World War II, this time on the island of Okinawa as the Americans are assaulting the island. What feels, early on, like it could be a metaphor of the Americans as demonic/otherworldly invaders ultimately turns out to be significantly more complex, and does not draw on any such simple, straightforward metaphor.

"Night Voices, Night Journeys" is perhaps the weakest story of the collection, relying on a 'surprise' tactic that is only somewhat effective, rendering the story significantly less interesting on subsequent readings. It is almost a prose poem more than a story, beautifully painting the city of Shanghai and its underworld.

"Sacrifice" is the curious, almost Shirley Jackson-esque tale of some city folk who move out to the country, and encounter a strange farming community there. Told from the point of view of a husband who commutes from the country into the city every day, he watches as his stay-at-home wife encounters an unusual commune of organic farmers. He looks on helplessly as she is drawn further and further into their strange ideology. The conclusion is very interesting -- it appears that the story has gone one way, but a small epilogue suggests a different interpretation.

"Necrophallus" is the most distinctly modern story, and certainly the most graphic. I could not help thinking as I read this story that this is what the stories from Horror Between the Sheets with they were. The author, Mikano Osamu, controls this story with a deft hand, slowly revealing more of the narrator's secrets, keeping the reader's appetite whet for more. It is only after he has been exposed for what he is that the greater horror comes. "Necrophallus" is also the most unabashedly grisly of the stories presented.

"Love for Who Speaks" uses the Mythos as a metaphor for social commentary, and almost manages not to make the commentary a burden to the story. Told from the perspective of a woman named Chisa during her engagement and subsequent marriage to Izutsu Masaaki, her story turns strange when she conceives a longing to see the ocean. If the story is a bit heavy-handed in its metaphor, it's still quite worth reading.

The final fifty or so pages are a bibliography of Lovecraft and Lovecraft-derived work that has appeared in print in Japan, both as illustrated manga and in purely textual stories. The lists are dizzying and vast, but unfortunately does not include a list of the work that has been translated into English.

My one complaint with this book is that editor Robert Price insists on putting spoilers into his introduction/analysis of the stories. This necessitates, in order to get the full effect of the story, reading the story and then returning to the commentary, which strikes me as an unnecessary convoluted way to read short stories. Beyond that small complaint, and the occasional nitpick of various stories, this is a very strong anthology which was a great pleasure to read. The fusion of the familiar (Lovecraftian tropes) with the alien (Japanese culture) gives new vigor to the Lovecraftian elements in the stories. Viewed from a different perspective, the old wonders and fears are again novel.

[Reviewed by Matthew T. Carpenter]

After I ordered this book it took a long time for my copy to come in from Amazon. That's because whenever I order from there I use their super saver free shipping. This means I have to order several books at the same time to get the order over $25. Often these are new releases so they wait until the last book is finished to do a bulk shipment, and then they do it by a very low priority book rate. In this case I had ordered the latest installment of "Dragonslayers Academy" for my boys, and so the order took forever. Not that any of you care! In summary, Night Voices, Night Journeys, subtitled Lairs of the Hidden Gods Volume One, is urgently recommended to all serious mythos aficionados. Parenthetically, this book is part of a veritable avalanche of great new mythos and related books that has been popping up on my doorstep. In addition to many of the books reviewed here we have the upcoming Cthulhu Express, High Seas Cthulhu, The Dagon Cycle, The Yig Cycle, The Cthulhuian Singularity, The Jennifer Morgue and The Black Sutra, as well as the latest from Kurodahan Press, Straight to Darkness and The Dreaming God. Most of the stories in these will be new to me, even the reprints! It's a golden age, I tell you. Night Voices, Night Journeys is a publication of Kurodahan Press, and is, I believe, POD. The best way to order it is from Amazon, where it is $20 plus shipping. It is also available from Shocklines, also for free shipping. The page count is a VERY generous 363. However, fourteen pages are taken up by introductions by Asamatsu Ken and Robert Price, and each story has its own title page and brief introduction, also by Robert Price. And from page 289 onward the material is factual discussion of mythos manga and Lovecraftian fiction in Japan, with brief notes about the authors and translators at the end of the book. Production qualities are good. My copy had one printing error on page 301 where a crease led to a flaw in the typesetting, but the print was still readable. The cover has a lovely painting by Yamada Akihiro of a Japanese sea demon hidden amidst flowering plants. This is really different than the art style I am used to seeing on mythos books from the western world. I found it quite striking; most mythos novels illustrations do not depict horror concealed in exquisite beauty. This book was written a number of years previously for the Japanese horror market and I guess the success (or perhaps the quality) was sufficient to prompt an English language version. Hence the anthology was edited by Asamatsu Ken, a Japanese author and HPL fan rather than one of the usual mythos crew here in the west. For such a book to succeed in the west it is extraordinarily important to have an excellent translation, one that can not just change the words into English but can also portray the atmosphere the author was trying to convey, that can appropriately bring off the rhythm of the dialogue and use of slang, puns or other word play. In many ways the translation is an expression of the interpretation of these intangibles by the interpreter, and the work in some ways becomes their own. I know from reading The Iliad that two translators can derive entirely different language out of the same source work. I confess I have only ever read a few works of fiction written by Japanese authors before (one book by Miyamoto Musashi was from my days taking karate), so I don't have a great deal of experience in this forum. The success of this book in the US will stand or fall with the quality of the translation as much as with the stories themselves. Happily these seem to be superb translations. The stories read seamlessly, naturally, allowing us to readily enter the author's worlds. For once I have no complaints about the introductions by Price, which were thoughtful, well written and informative. I would follow his advice, however, and not read the individual story introductions until after you have read the work in question, to avoid spoilers. In some ways this book is both frustrating and tantalizing. These are new stories, written specifically for this anthology, much like with Horrors Beyond or Dead But Dreaming. This means there are other works already extant in Japan that we know nothing about. Here is an untapped mythos resource that I will only ever see as it is translated. In a way that means I'll probably only see the cream of the crop, but I can't help wondering about jewels known only to Japanese fans. And it makes me wonder about mythos fiction from other countries. We have many stories from the US and the UK, and now we are seeing some Australian fiction. What about India or China, or any African nations? Heck what about Russia or non-English speaking Europe?? One thing HPL fans do is write their own mythos contributions. This has kept the mythos alive and squirming over the years. The tradition dates back to the days HPL first ever wrote a story and his friends leaped over themselves creating new entities and tomes. As we only see fiction written by English speakers we are missing out!! And this cuts both ways. I would imagine very little mythos fiction beyond the hoary classics is translated into Japanese. Hence, while Kevin O'Brien and I debate (and I win) about the nature of what constitutes the best qualities of a mythos horror story, this entire revisionist view of Derleth is not extant in Japan. In fact it is HPL, the Lovecraft circle and Derleth, with of course whatever mythos heritage is native to Japan that forms the basis of the Japanese mythos fiction here. I wonder what Asamatsu Ken would think of the stories in Eldritch Blue or Dead But Dreaming. Fortunately for us English speaking fans this is the first volume of a projected four volume series. I fervently hope that they sell well so we do, in fact, get to see all four volumes. How are sales going, anyway? I will briefly discuss the stories below, but not the nonfiction. As usual spoilers, small or large, may follow. When I relate my impressions of a story I like to place it in context with other related stories I have read. For reasons alluded to above I cannot do that here; all my very old Derleth paperbacks and books by other Lovecraft Circle authors are hidden away in boxes somewhere. I relied on Price's introductions to place each story in context, but only after I read it. I must also say that the tenor of the anthology was intangibly different than other anthologies I have read recently, perhaps relating to the Japanese approach? There was a sort of surreal, almost dreamy feel to many of the stories, even when they were graphic. In some ways the horror was more detached. And many of them were about love and had distinct, sometimes graphic, sexual overtones.

Asamatsu Ken -- "The Plague of St. James Infirmary" -- This is actually a lengthy novella. The story is very much one a Derleth fan would enjoy (and I did too!), setting fire servants of Cthugha against a water servant of Cthaat in gangland Chicago (an interesting setting for a Japanese author in a Japanese anthology!). Mr. Asamatsu uses the Japanese word "yoki" to good effect here; I doubt it translates well but it is rendered as a gruesome feeling. Yoki suffuses the pages, no doubt as the author intended. Dreamlike, ghastly and compelling come to mind when reflecting on this story. This is the one work where I did detect a bit of lecturing to Americans. I mean the few paragraphs on the bottom of page 62-63, where American hypocrisy and lack of insight is paraded into the narrative. This is, of course, old hat. It was the only time I ever discerned anything like that, and I only bring it up for the sake of even handedness.

*********spoiler follows!!!***********

One very cool thing about this story was weaving into it some true historical figures and a venerable mythos fiction character of Henry Kuttner. I never would have known about the latter except for Mr. Price's introduction as it has been ages since I read The Book of Iod. Now we know the truth about Elliott Ness and Al Capone. I wonder if the Japanese character Hasegawa Kaitaro is similarly a real person adapted for this novella.

Yamada Masaki -- "The Import of Tremors" -- Oh, what a good yarn this was, about some unspeakable entity trying to acquire a new host in the twilight of WWII. I knew some of the history without prompting, like the Kobe earthquake, but I did not realize that Kobe was fire bombed like Tokyo was.

Kamino Okina -- "27 May 1945" -- I would gather that the time of the military collapse in Japan in mid-1945 is used to good effect by horror writers in Japan. This time is related to the American assault on Okinawa, and uses it as a smokescreen for a confrontation between Hastur and Cthulhu, very Derlethian!! Also very well written!

Inoue Masahiko -- "Night Voices, Night Journeys" -- Surreal, beautifully written, this story gives the anthology its name. Some night journeys are eternal.

Murata Motoi -- "Sacrifice" -- In this story a yuppie-type's wife gets caught up in a cult that may use her as a sacrifice to a soil god. Robert Price was right on the money when he compared it to the movie (and novel) The Wicker Man (and I mean the original movie). I was a bit bemused because that is what I came up with myself before I read his remarks. Any way, this was perhaps the weakest story here, not bad, just not as powerful as the others were for me.

Makino Osamuc -- "Necrophallus" -- Oh, my, wonderful! For me this is the best story contained in the anthology. And Horror Between the Sheets purports to be about mythos sex. Hah! What a pitiful anthology. This work was visionary! "Necrophallus" probably outdoes anything in Eldritch Blue for combining sex and true mythosian horror.

Shibata Yoshiki -- "Love for Who Speaks" -- This is a marvelous tale of what are essentially the Deep Ones. They call to their own. A superb close to the superb fiction in Night Voices, Night Journeys.

The rest of the book is nonfiction. Need I say that I thought this was a masterful collection? Congratulations to Mr. Asamatsu and his authors. And thank you to Mr. Lipsett for bringing it to us. Really, everyone should read it.

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© 2006 Edward P. Berglund
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Created: October 28, 2006