Mar 202015

Astounding Stories 36-02We hope everyone who will be attending the Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Collectors Show over the coming weekend will have a great time. With over fifty authors and artists scheduled to attend, you’re bound to enjoy yourselves. Back east, we’re expecting snow. But in less than a month, it will be getting Windy.

The Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention returns to the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center on Friday, April 17th, beginning with early-bird shopping at 9:30 AM. The convention runs through Sunday afternoon, April 19th, with its dealers’ room closing at 4 PM. Like PulpFest, this year’s Windy will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of H. P. Lovecraft’s birth.

The Windy is noted for its substantial auctions; its art exhibition, sponsored by Illustration Magazine; and its extensive film program, organized by Ed Hulse of Murania Press.

Click on the link above to learn more about the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention or visit the convention’s Facebook page by clicking herePulpFest chairman Jack Cullers, volunteer coordinator Sally Cullers, and marketing and programming director Mike Chomko will all be attending Windy City. Stop by their tables right next to John and Maureen Gunnison’s Adventure House tables and pick up a registration form for this year’s PulpFest. Jack, Sally, and Mike will be more than happy to answer your questions about “Summer’s Great Pulp Con,” taking place from Thursday evening, August 13th and running through Sunday afternoon, August 16th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Click here to book your room.

(Howard V. Brown painted the front cover art for the February 1936 issue of ASTOUNDING STORIES, published by Street & Smith. The issue featured the beginning of H. P. Lovecraft’s novel, “At the Mountains of Madness,” serialized in three monthly segments.)

 Posted by at 12:45 am
Jan 142015

“The twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale” — Stephen King

“The Copernicus of the horror story” — Fritz Leiber

“To me, Howard Phillips Lovecraft was an entity. A most important one. And I rejoice to see that his work–and his memory among readers and writers–endures” — Robert Bloch

In his introduction to THE BEST OF H. P. LOVECRAFT: BLOODCURDLING TALES OF HORROR AND THE MACABRE (Del Rey Books, 1982), Robert Bloch remembers the man who, “. . . befriended a fifteen-year-old fan, who gave him a lifelong career, who set an example of fellowship and good-will . . .”

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island on August 20, 1980. He was the last lineal descendant of an old New England family that had seen better days. His father died of paresis in 1898; his mother survived until 1921, but her own mental instability increased as the family fortunes declined.

Lovecraft wrote: “As a child I was very peculiar and sensitive, always preferring the society of grown persons to that of other children.” Actually it was his neurotic mother who labelled him peculiar and “protected” him from contact with other youngsters. A precocious child, he learned to read when he was four and soon experimented with writing. Poor health kept him from college and economic necessity eventually caused him to neglect amateur journalism in favor of ghostwriting or revising the work of others for professional publication. Gradually he began to produce poetry and fiction of his own.

After his mother’s death he lived for a time in New York, married an older woman from whom he separated amicably two years later, then returned to Providence. Here he made his home with two elderly aunts. One of them died in 1932; he and his surviving relative resided together until his own death on March 15, 1937.

Lovecraft’s career as a professional writer was largely compressed into a span of about sixteen years. He remained virtually unknown except to the limited readership of pulp magazines such as WEIRD TALES in which his work appeared. It earned only a pitiful pittance to supplement the income from a meager inheritance, and he continued his anonymous chores for other writers. At the same time he brightened and broadened his uneventful existence with a widespread correspondence among fellow writers and readers of fantastic fiction. The most constant and devoted members of this group formed what would later be called “the Lovecraft Circle”; his lengthy letters of comment, criticism, and literary advice encouraged them to write or attempt writing in the genre. When a combination of cancer and Bright’s disease claimed his life at the age of forty-six the loss was mourned by far-off friends, many of whom had known him only as a correspondent.

Lovecraft’s literary style was distinctive and frequently imitated by protégés. With his approval, they and others borrowed the imaginary settings of his stories, together with the weird books and grotesque gods he created to heighten horror.

At the time of his death he had already become what would now be called a “cult figure.” But the cult was comparatively small and had absolutely no influence on contemporary critics or publishers. It took long years to bring the man and his work to the attention of a larger audience.

Today Lovecraft is established as a major American fantasy writer, frequently ranked as the equal of Poe. His work is in print here and abroad and the mild-mannered, old-fashioned, conservative New England gentleman has become an acknowledged master of horror fiction.

Join PulpFest 2015 in August at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday, August 13th and running through Sunday, August 16th as we celebrate H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, just a few short days before the author’s 125th birthday. We’ll be announcing more about the convention and our Lovecraft salute as we flesh out the details in the months ahead.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

H. P. Lovecraft, writing in “Supernatural Horror in Literature”

2015 Postcard Front

The artwork is from the November 1944 issue of WEIRD TALES. The artist is Matt Fox, an illustrator who painted about a dozen covers for “the unique magazine.” Fox also worked for other pulps, including CRACK DETECTIVE, FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES, and PLANET STORIES. In the 1950s and 1960s he was an artist for Atlas Comics.

 Posted by at 5:30 pm
Dec 172014

Popular Detective 1945-12Don’t wait for the grim reaper to drag you to your first PulpFest. By then, it will be too late! That’s what this fine young woman is about to find out, courtesy of the magnificent brush strokes of artist Rudolph Belarski, created for the December 1945 Popular Detective, published by Standard Magazines.

Why not resolve to make PulpFest 2015 your pulp destination of the New Year? We’ll be back at the Hyatt Regency Columbus beginning on Thursday, August 13th and running through Sunday, August 16th. Our themes for the 2015 convention will be H. P. Lovecraft and Weird Tales and Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines, also known as the Thrilling Group.

In the meantime, the PulpFest organizing committee–Jack and Sally Cullers, Mike Chomko, Barry Traylor, and Chuck Welch–would like to wish everybody and healthy and happy holiday season.

 Posted by at 1:00 am
Dec 072014
I've always found it a little odd that a Lovecraft story appeared in ASTOUNDING, but there you go, and with a suitably creepy cover to boot. I haven't read "At the Mountains of Madness", but I'm going to get to it, I swear. Other authors in this issue include Raymond Z. Gallun, John Russell Fearn, and Frank Belknap Long (who also seems like a bit of an odd fit for ASTOUNDING).
Jun 122014
Let me start out by saying that I'm not overly fond of the manga format, especially for graphic novels that weren't published in Japan to start with. Doing a story that way strikes me as being almost as pretentious as not using quotation marks in fiction. That said, I can get used to it once I start reading, and as a result, ARKHAM WOODS turns out to be fairly entertaining. This graphic
Mar 212014
My general dislike of H.P. Lovecraft's work, while still acknowledging its influence and historical significance in the field of Weird Fiction, has gotten me in trouble on more than one occasion in the past. But for some reason, every so often I get the urge to read something by him, maybe in the hope of finding a story that I like. And whaddaya know, I finally did. I'm fudging a little with
Sep 292013
Monday sees my new book coming out. It's a very short novel or a novella in which horror writer H. P. Lovecraft is the main character. The book, simply called Haamu ("Ghost"), with the subtitle Kertomus Hollywoodista ("A Tale of Hollywood"), is a case of alternate history: in the book, Lovecraft didn't die from cancer in 1937. After he's been miraculously cured, he decides he's had too much of horror stories in his life, sells his house and library and moves on to Hollywood where he desperately tries to break as a screenwriter. He's living in a beat-up hotel and writes pulp stories but in different genres than before (crime, romance, even mainstream stuff) and tries to keep up his letter writing, mainly with Clark Ashton Smith.

The book is fragmentary and shows us glimpses of Lovecraft trying to write and earn his living. There are also some scenes on a desolate block where Lovecraft finds a dead mole. There are also some real-life Hollywood characters, mainly other writers from B-studios, but also director Edgar G. Ulmer whom Lovecraft meets at a party. There's also Earl Peirce Jr., who's also trying to work in Hollywood and comes up with an idea he tries to sell to Lovecraft. Some of the scenes in the book are more surreal and some of them may seem like Lovecraft is hallucinating, and he's not at all times the most reliable narrator. There's no horror in the book, though, and it has no supernatural elements. It's not a genre novel.

What's the idea behind the book? The vision of Lovecraft working in Hollywood has been with me for years. I think someone suggested it almost ten years ago at the Fictionmags e-mail group where I once was an active member (still am, but not a very active one). At the time, the writer (I can't remember who it was) suggested Lovecraft might've worked in Hollywood already in the early twenties, but I decided to make this an alternate history, set in 1941. (One book that had some influence on how the novel turned out was Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays, her novel on Hollywood that I read prior to starting work on Haamu.)

But there's still something I can't really explain in the book - in my own book! Doesn't art exist to make you wondrous? I'm sure many Lovecraft aficionados will tell me that my Lovecraft isn't the real Lovecraft, and I'm sure they're right. There are of course things that I decided should be according to how he was in real life, but then I also decided I don't have to act as if this was the real Lovecraft - after all, he's gone through a sickness that was supposed to kill him. His writing style has changed drastically, but that came also because I didn't want to emulate or parody Lovecraft's unique style - there are comments on this in the text. There are also subtle hints he's not really alive, as if this were a dream, but I won't give anything away.

The cover for Haamu is by Aapo Kukko, a young graphic artist. He's a very capable guy. Coming out from Turbator, Haamu has a very small print run, so be sure to grab it! Any foreign agents reading this? (Insert smiley here.)
May 172013
Sheer serendipity, this one. Was in the library looking for something completely different and saw the title of this little book just to the left of some Victor Canning books. P. G. Wodehouse's best loved characters entering the world of the Cthulhu Mythos? How could I resist?

The subtitle for Scream for Jeeves (1995), seen on the book's cover, is "A Parody" and that it is. With Bertie Wooster narrating, Jeeves supplying his usual brand of wry wit and wise advice, and creatures from other dimensions, seen and unseen,  looming ominously in the background it's not exactly going to be all that terrifying. Especially when Cannon creates absurdly apt characters like Captain Tubby Norrys who "resembled one of those Japanese Sumo wrestlers after an especially satisfying twelve course meal" and who "shook in gratitude like a jelly -- or more precisely like a pantry full of jellies." The juxtaposition of Wodehouse and Lovecraft does make for some bizarreness. Witness this section taken from the first story "Cats, Rats and Bertie Wooster":

"The walls are alive with nauseous sound--the verminous slithering of ravenous, gigantic rats!" exclaimed the master of the manse.

"You don't say. As a child I think I read something about a giant rat of Sumatra--or at any rate, a passing reference."

Towards the end of the story Jeeves pronounces a typical warning to the reader found in all of Lovecraft's work: "We shall never know what sightless Stygian worlds yawn beyond the little distance we went, sir, for it was decided that such secrets are not good for mankind."

You get the idea. It's lightweight parody getting just the right flavor of a frothy airy cappuccino. In addition to pastiches of Wodehouse and Lovecraft there are allusions to the work of Arthur Machen, Conan Doyle, Poe and even "Fawlty Towers." I had a fun evening reading the tales. Knowledge of both Wodehouse and Lovecraft is not all that necessary, but I imagine the enlightened and well read will better appreciate the stories.

There are three stories in the brief volume, the other two are "Something Foetid" and "The Rummy Affair of Young Charlie."  The book concludes with the essay "The Adventure of Three Anglo American Writers" in which Cannon -- who claims membership in three societies devoted to Conan Doyle, Wodehouse and Lovecraft -- describes among many observations, the friendship between Doyle and Wodehouse; Lovecraft's admiration for Sherlock Holmes; Wodehouse's familiarity with Lord Dunsany's stories; and manages to find similarities in the works of all three writers. Sometimes Cannon is convincing in his analogies, sometimes he stretches them far too thin.

The Jazz Age style illustrations are by J.C. Eckhardt. The homage to the two writers extends even to paired initials in the book's creators.
 Posted by at 8:40 am
Dec 232011
I'll do a double post on this subject, in English and in Finnish.

This has gotta be my strangest book yet, and I've done some pretty strange books. Finland has a presidential election coming up next year, and we have some candidates from bygone days, some who came to politics already in the 1970's. One of them keeps coming up even though no one - but himself - thinks he has any chance to win the election and become the president of Finland. He's called Paavo Väyrynen - there's something sly about him, has always been, and he's open to parody and irony (some seem to think he knows this all too well, but some are not so sure). A friend of mine had an idea with some friends of his over drinks at a bar that one could make a short story collection with this Väyrynen guy and mix him with the Cthulhu Mythos. I heard about this early in the morning some weeks ago, and asked Turbator's Harri Kumpulainen if he wanted to publish such a book. He said yes. The result: the book went to the printers early this morning. It will come out just before the first round of the election. The book is hilarious, ripe with good parodies of both Lovecraft and Väyrynen. Some of the stories should work even after the election and if there's ever going to be a proper Cthulhu anthology in Finnish, I'm seriously hoping some of the best stories in this book are going to be included. - The cover is illustrated and designed by Ossi Hiekkala, who's one of the best classic illustrators working in Finland at the moment.

And now, in Finnish:

Kyse siis kirjasta nimeltä On Suurten Muinaisten aika, joka valmistui parissa viikossa parin kaverin baari-illan aikana saaman idean perusteella: miten yhdistetään Lovecraftin Cthulhu-jumalat ja Väyrynen? Helposti - näin ainakin pitää päätellä siitä, kuinka nopeasti tarinat tulivat. Lisäksi Turbatorin Harri Kumpulainen innostui ideasta välittömästi, sanoi että tehdään ihmeessä, että päästään edes vähän vittuilemaan.

Osa tarinoista on muokattu suoraan jostain tietystä Lovecraftin novellista niin että henkilöt ja paikat on vaihdettu Väyryseen ja Suomeen sopiviksi, osassa on viitseliäämmin kehiteltyjä juonikuvioita. Oli miten oli, kaikki jutut ovat hauskoja ja nautittavia ja sisältävät sopivassa määrin vittuilua Väyryselle (sekä Kekkoselle ja Jyrki Kataiselle ja Sauli Niinistölle ja muille). Jotkut ovat kyllä jo ehtineet sanoa, että tästä sataa äänet laariin Väyryselle - käyttääkseni kulunutta ja ärsyttävää fraasia. Mutta tuli vaaleissa mikä lopputulos tahansa, niin takaan että jutut naurattavat ja viihdyttävät vielä pitkään! Jos joskus tehdään varsinainen Cthulhu-antologia suomeksi, niin lupaan, että tästä tulee siihen juttuja.

Idean toimivuudesta kertoi sekin, että kuvittaja Ossi Hiekkala teki aivan erinomaisen kannen nopealla aikataululla. Kirjan julkkarit on maanantaina 9.1. Kekkosen patsaalla Töölössä, jonka jälkeen iltabileet ovat Lepakkomies-baarissa. Facebook-sivut sekä kirjalle että julkkareille löytyvät täältä ja täältä. Kirja tulee myyntiin varmasti ainakin Akateemiseen sekä nettikauppaan mm. Zum Teufelin sivuille, joten sitä pystyy ostamaan aivan normaalisti sen ilmestyttyä. Painoksesta tullee pieni ja kirjasta keräilyharvinaisuus, joten siihen kannattaa tarttua nopeasti!

Edit: here's the line-up which I forgot to put down earlier:

Juri Nummelin: esipuhe
Vesa Kataisto: Presidentti Väyrysen puhe Ikaalisten pato- ja matologisen tiedeinstituutin avajaisissa marraskuussa 2019
Harri Erkki: Kalevan uskon paluu
Tuomas Saloranta: Kari Tenho Väyrysen tapaus
Vesa Sisättö: Paavo Väyrysen Ääni
Jussi Katajala: Paavo Väyrynen - elvyttäjä
Timo Surkka: Tulette ällistymään
Niko Aslak Peltonen: Varjo Väyrysen yllä
Juha Roiha: Kasvojen kutsu
 Posted by at 2:37 pm