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Orwell, George - Down And Out In Paris And London

The first section of Richard Marsh’s The Beetle detailed the unfortunate adventures of Robert Holt.
Once a respectable clerk, reduced to tramping, then house entering.
Reading this recalled Orwell’s book, which I last read twenty years earlier.
I pulled it from the shelves and began rereading. This is a lightning read.
The Paris section may prove more relevant to many. Those who ever worked in a kitchen or restaurant. Those who suffered abysmal lodgings. Those forced to choose between food or rent.
The London section will interest social historians, with the futility of ordering the unemployed to march a perpetual circuit from one meal ticket to the next.
By turns entertaining and harrowing. And don’t you believe this could never happen again.
Even now, humanity is ever on the move.
As the middle class shrinks and grows imperiled, street vagabonds become more normal.

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Jacobi, Carl - Smoke Of The Snake

Intended as the fourth collection for Arkham House, this Fedogan & Bremer provides a satisfying cap to Jacobi’s works.
A contemporary of HPL, his stories span a longer sweep of time. Decades.
Indeed, one of the included titles, I remember reading in Whispers magazine.
There are tales of black magic, voodoo, or opium steeped madness.
One or two glide through the realm of SciFi, though none of “hard SciFi” and all are light-touched and amusing.
Readers who still have a taste for bygone pulp (Howard, Cave, Rohmer, Wandrei) will find this a late night treat.

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Bell, Peter - Sacred And Profane

Seven strange stories, encounters, though not necessarily with ghosts or spirits.
Rather, the lingering presence, the blood saturated ground, the touch of the Divine.
A professor enjoying / enduring an outing to a priory chances upon a singular nun. Curious, he wanders off the proscribed route, and nears “The Ice House” where the atmosphere and mystery constrict.
“Haunted” is told by Pauline, recently divorced, made redundant, and – worse – forced to live with her mother again. Wandering, she spies the desolate house, where she and her childhood best friend suffered a falling out. After all those years, the house still exerts a palpable force.
Readers who enjoy drinking liquid fire will envy the side-tracked narrator in “A Wee Dram For The Road.” Flavors complex, yet subtle. The tumbler, not to quaff, but to savor, to lock into memory.
The quest, both spiritual and academic, takes Dr. Fox behind the Iron Curtain. In essence, he is tagging along behind his more gifted colleague, recognized and respected. “The Strange Death Of Sophie Van Der Wielen” mixes the passion of the explorer with the guilt of the survivor, or onlooker.
Bell is consistently dependable, packing a lot of emotional oomph inmost of his works. Sacred And Profane lines up with other books of his I have read.

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Hodge, Brian - Without Purpose, Without Pity

Published in 2012, this has its prophetic moments.
Las Vegas is expiring from an (un)natural catastrophe.
The water supply, as well as the gambling tourist trade, has dried up.
As the city reverts to arid desert, it is encircled by tornado / hurricane / devil winds, denying entrance and exodus. Residents are trapped.
Residents, including boxers, pugilists, and their coaches, who train and combat for ever dwindling purses. Crowds, as ever, roar for blood.
Especially for the fighter who has begun transfiguring into something more, and something less.
In this short novel for the old Delirium Press, Hodge unrolls multiple stories and themes. A few too many, if you ask me, as he is never able to array his threads into a coherent team.
I found this intriguing, especially the boxing angles, for a long time. The conclusion, should you call it that, is the hastily shrugged “good enough” surrender.

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originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Listen, it don’t really matter to me, baby.
You believe what you want to believe.

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Phillips, Thomas - The Light Is Alone

At first glance, the short sentences and chopped style of Phillips appears easy. It is not, this is deceptively dense.
Clipped, pared to the essence, this is the antidote to purple overdose.
From young authors with a fondness for adjectives to establish scribes with a weakness for product placement, both camps could study a story or two.
“Alyssa” resides in the apartment or boarding house. One that used to be quiet. Satisfactory. Until the new arrival, young male, full of himself, his importance, heedless of requests to be more neighborly. Such is merely the launching, as the story soon shifts to the conflict between zealot and heathen. Of force and fortitude.
“Keep Holy The Sabbath” lingers on new girl Alice. New student, school, new continent for that matter. Where social norms, on the surface, appear similar. Once she is comfortable, however, and she sees under the superficial, fundamental beliefs and assumptions are rocked.
These two are the strongest tales, and perhaps act as bookends. In between are a trilogy of short works. Too short for my liking, as none gather enough momentum to get anywhere. They remind this reader of prose poems, which I am not a fan of, equating them with academic exercises.
Jonas (Zagava) has five titles by Phillips, and you can see why he champions this author.
Note: The Light Is Alone was previously published in an extremely limited edition, long out of print, now reselling for lofty prices.

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Higashi, Masao - Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Japan Vol 3

Selection of “classic” ghosts and hauntings, this time swirling in the metropolis.
“The Diabolical Tongue” launches with the telegram with the name of an old friend and an unfamiliar address. Arriving – too late – our narrator watches as police remove the corpse of his friend. A suicide.
“The Face” should appeal to Silent cinema devotees. Snippets of various movies of the famous female actor have been spliced and edited into an extraordinarily unsettling film.
Edogawa Rampo is represented by “Doctor Mera’s Mysterious Crimes.” The rental room has an inferior view. Worse, its reputation is abysmal. Two suicides is bad enough, but a third? The narrator of this, however, is a strange character, leaving the reader to doubt … or not.
“Spider” may be the most accessible tale, and the one most likely to make your skin crawl, before-during-after reading. Probably depends on how you view arachnids,
“Expunged By Yakumo,” as in Koizumi Yakumo, also known a Lafcadio Hearn. Just as the Western writer put his twist on a traditional Japanese folktale, so too here as a further turn is given Hearn’s “In A Cup Of Tea.” Confession: I never stare at the surface reflection of my cups of tea, and I drink an enormous amount. Perhaps I should take more care.
A thoughtful collection of mixed gems. I have touched on less than half. For those who can live with ofttimes unexplained mysteries.

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Heron-Allen, Edward - The Princess Daphne

One of three ghost-written novels Heron-Allen penned for/with actress Selina Dolaro.
Published in 1885, Daphne fits in with other novels of the era. We meet a bright set of young aspirants, creative hopefuls. More bourgeois than bohemian; they have nice digs, eat rich, and are terribly well mannered. These are not the decadents of the fin de siècle.
The novel moseys around for 100 pages before tightening around a trio of couples.
While geographically apart, they are more similar than not. Weaving the couples are money, inspiration and mesmerism. This last element may be the lure for modern curiosity seekers. In this instance, mesmerism is less hypnotism and more astral projection. Think of the Rosicrucians.
The novel is narrated by an unseen member of the opening clutch of friends, and his wordiness borders on overly florid.
The Romantic era – to be candid, Romance tinges the characters and proceedings. An undercurrent of surprising sexuality runs throughout. Pacing moves back and forth from yawn inducing to full gallop. I would read immersed, than change my mind and think, “get on with it.”
There are two other novels in this trilogy of ghost written works by Heron-Allen. I hope to read the other two. My copy is brand new. Perfect bound, done imperfectly. Some pages are already falling out. Sign of the times, I fear, especially with large sized perfect bound books. Buyer beware.

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I just bought The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings: Illustrated Editions. I’ve never read the series as I’ve only seen Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring but I thought now was the time to finally give the books a chance. Especially before I continue with the films. I’m also really keen on getting into J.R.R. Tolkien as from everything I know about him I feel a sense of kinship. These versions of the books seemed like the best investment as Alan Lee who worked on the films did the art. They were a little on the expensive side but I’m really excited.

“Heroes come in all sizes, and you don’t have to be a giant hero. You can be a very small hero. It’s just as important to understand that accepting self-responsibility for the things you do, having good manners, caring about other people - these are heroic acts. Everybody has the choice of being a hero or not being a hero every day of their lives.” - George Lucas

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Chambers, Robert - A Little Yellow Book Of Carcosa And Kings

By any other name, “The King In Yellow”.
Most have either read this book, or own it, or plan to do one or the other.
Consequently, I shall talk about this particular edition, issued by Borderlands Press.
The boards are a sickly yellow, altogether fitting, with faded gold endpapers. The frontispiece is a 1900 photo of the Dragon Court, since demolished. The book itself is small sized, easy to hold and easy to hide, should the need arise.
The four sections of the book are generously footnoted. Those annotations are my chief problem and eye-rolling lament. The numbers don’t always match up. Usually, the notes appear below the text, sometimes in the text itself.
The notes themselves range from helpful to trifling.
Said errors, picayune as they are, ought to have been caught / corrected.
This is an increasingly common complaint, but I do wish presses would muster extra eyes to examine galley proofs.

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I just got Kaldar World of Antares in a collection of stories and also Edmond Hamilton’s Return to the Stars the sequel to the Star Kings.

I haven’t read one of his books since i read Star Kings.

Looking forward to reading some of this old pulp Sci-Fi.

Edit:
Kaldar was really bad, it was very poor Burroughs pastiche. The most remarkable things in it are a Star Trek like matter transporter that can move the person to a far away planet, and a Star Wars like lightsaber laser sword.

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Bikker, Edita - The Night Of Turns

At the beginning, Edita leaves the settlements, civilization, and attaches herself to a caravan. The Caravan Of The Burnt Woman, as we later discover.
As the wagons roll into the empty wilds, Edita meets the assorted members, and she tries to grasp the peculiarities and mysteries of the group. Not so much personal histories, but the activities, the guarded beliefs, as well as the oppressive strangeness that seems to hem in around them.
This is a brilliantly executed journey into superstition and routine. In many ways, what it means to be alive. The story is dripping with images.
“… From a distance the rain-worn wagon looked like a shrunken skull in a museum, eyelids, lips and nostrils stitched together, the ears sewn in the fatal clasp of a Venus fly trap…”
The caravan, and there are seventeen caravans on the path, is less doomed than the Donner Party, the company merrier, less ill-fated than Faulkner’s Bundren family.
From time to time, caravans meet. The Caravan Of The Fool, Of The Green Goose. And then the jovial, yet deadly, Night Of Turns commences.
Throughout, revelations and awareness unfold.
The novel has been tagged with the trendy “folk horror” moniker. It is less horror, more folk.

Broodcomb is a relatively new press, focusing on strange, weird or supernatural fiction.
Not necessarily horror. Readers with a taste for Aickman or Ligotti should check it out.

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Various (Editor: Beech, Mark) - Songs Of The Northern Seas

A collection of bitter cold adventures. When I began reading this, temps were 17° F outside. My home was never built for cold, nor was I. Tattered comforter around my legs, pot of black tea within easy reach, physical insulation to stave off the chill each tale heightened.
“The Ghosts Of The Great Northern Sea” makes a strong opener. A missing lover, apparently murdered, a suspicious stranger, and the tall tale of skating 200 miles across frozen seas.
Missionaries and whalers contest for the goodwill – and souls – of the Nunats in “The Tupilaq.” Nor are they alone, for there are shamans and ill faced spectres.
“Oil” as in lamplight, as in the face in the flickering flame, is an hors d’oeuvre. A soured savory, this feels like the subsection of a longer work. Tasty, but unfulfilling.
The following tale, “In Orbis Alius,” is more substantial. Owing to warmer temps, a Viking ship, in superb condition, has thawed from an ice cave. A party of two are dispatched to secure the site until a larger team arrives. To wait. Waiting, however, proves increasingly difficult.
As with most collections, there are a few tossed bones. “The Salon In The Woods” is overlong and over written. The main character, the naked, wild-man poet, like the story itself, is akin to the nutter on the bus, rambling incoherently and interminably. No song, no Northern Sea, only miasma.
“Excerpts From The Filed Notebook Of Dr. Eveline Cohen” reads like a missing story from Weird Tales. An anthropologist, trekking far north in Russia, hopes to study, perhaps write about, the “uncivilized” before progress wipes them. The style harks to the 1930’s, although I imagine Farnsworth Wright would read and reread the ending quite a few times.
“The Ice You Can Hear” is an icy lament that should haunt you.

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Zelenyj, Alexander - Blacker Against The Deep Dark

Bought this a few years ago, examined it, suffered pangs of buyers remorse.
Even before the title page is a gatefold of accolades. Fifteen presses declare how great our author is, and by extension, how insecure. The inside dustjacket bears a photo, masked. Either offer a photo or don’t, but don’t pretend to be Banksy.
Anyway, three years after receiving this, I started reading.
“Highway Of Lost Women” follows four friends across the spontaneous roadtrip. Northbound, destination wherever. In their 30’s, no longer young, their teenage dreams gone.
“The Ocean Closes At Midnight” recounts the annual reunion. Maria and Phillip, youth long buried. The future they had hoped for was lost though overconfidence or pride. Do they even exist? Or are they simply lingering memories?
Just John wishes upon a star and, to his astonishment, his wish may be granted. An alluring, red-skinned female alien offers to eradicate his pain. With a handful of paragraphs, we understand Just John, his anguish, and the cataclysmic possibilities of his decision. In “Loneliness The Hunter” Zelenyj broadstrokes characters, setting and conflict. He fails, however, to deliver a satisfying “prestige.” The ending simply squats.
That, sadly, is a problem with the midsection of tales. Poor, uninspired or unfinished resolutions. He is hardly unique. I have read too many from writers who are not proper story-tellers. Similar to the soul at the office or party who blunders the anecdote and shrugs, “I guess you had to be there.”
“From Parts Unknown” is for ringside fight fans, and this nails it. Wrestler Monster Rollinski, bruised from years of pile drivers and flying tackles longs for – an answer to his mysterious youth.
Then there is “Kill Them And Kill Them (And Pray For Something Good)”. The protagonist, performance artist Burton Chosky, is a shame-faced appropriation of G G Allin. Perhaps our author imagines a new generation never heard of Allin, or his story. Jesus Horatio Christ.
“I’m your prisoner, you’re my spider!” is one of the panting outbursts during the climax of mattress action. The tale is adults-only, but it does tie in with one of the comic gems, “Spiderpartment.” The young couple discovers the adjoining apartment has a slight infestation. What should they do? Me, I like spiders. When found inside the house, they are carefully returned outdoors. Unless their web is by the window and they are catching flies. Then they are honored guests. If you also like arachnids, then this story will be a highlight for you, as well.

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Sarrantonio, Al - Toybox

Collection of what are, ostensibly, children’s horror stories.
Spooky pumpkins, Halloween, the creepy house on the edge of town.
The new kid who doesn’t fit in, the old homeowner of ill odor.
The stories are – in a word – quaint.
Undoubtedly, they reflect Sarrantonio’s childhood in the 1960’s.
While young readers age eight or nine might read these with no ill effects, they would probably regard them as hopelessly corny.
The final half dozen are uglier, a few casually horrific, in keeping with the horror boom of the 1990’s.
Note: Edgar Poe was misspelled Allen. C’mon. Worse, Necco Wafers has two C’s.

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Eisele, Michael - The Girl With The Peacock Harp

A strong assortment, this, that reminds me of classic fairy tales. Grimm, not Anderson. Darkness pervades throughout. For those who worry about the “workshop” style,” Eisele is no formula clone.
“The Beginning” - one not written yet, the true beginning is the music. Purity and soaring inspiration. We open, however, on discord. The couple of opposites, whom time and obligation have riven farther apart. There is a child, as there so often is, over whom the parents feud passionately.
“The Music” cries from the weathered violin, gripped by the dying practitioner. As Fate would have it, the performer is heard. Not when mimicking show tunes for shallow ears, but when he is alone, playing for the muse with abandon.
The captain, no longer a seafaring man, retires to the coast, near the sound of waves and tang of spray. Of savings, alas, he has little. So he accepts an easy job, manning “The Lighthouse.” Beforehand, he had been interviewed, and asked, did he believe in “fancies”. Would you wonder at such a query?
“Monkey,” at 40 pages, is the longest story in this collection. Nadia, after hacking the University database, is assigned probation in the form of community service. Saint Andrew’s Rest Home is hardly what the name indicates, she realizes after one day. While some might recognize patient mistreatment, Nadia concentrates on the patient derisively called Monkey. This tale makes numerous turns, bold and unexpected, and is as satisfying as a carnival ride.
“Rolf” is written in dialect, a technique that exasperates me. I stuck with this, though, and was glad I did. The youthful trainee, gifted yet perhaps over-proud, chisels in the stone masons guild where he catches the eye of the black robed stranger. In any guise, the devil seeks another apprentice.

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Lee, Edward - A Little Magenta Book About A Dollhouse

A year or so earlier, I had read Lee’s Witch Water. In the intro, he declared his admiration for M.R. James, and his hope that he would one day write like the good don. Followed by the Witch Water pastiche. Sheer twaddle.
The Magenta Dollhouse again opens with Lee effusing his adoration of James, then gets down to “recreating” his style.
Reginald Lympton collects dollhouses. Vain, pompous, he is wealthy enough to be among the top echelon of collectors. So when he receives word of a hitherto unsuspected example, he bolts off. This in spite of the fact that his voluptuous wife eagerly offers herself to him.
Not to worry, this being a Lee work, the good wife shall feel the throb of his prodigious stallion soon enough. As will the yearning shopgirl, the wanton neighbor next door, I forget who else. All pendulous and sopping. Lee is ever the horny 14 year old.
I have read every supernatural story by M.R. James. I have no idea which one(s) he is emulating. Perhaps I missed one carnal fevered jewel. As always, know thyself.

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Various (Editor: Goodstone, Tony) - The Pulps

Published in 1970, this was one of the earlier overviews of the pulps.
Goodstone gives a brief history from the 1890’s Munsey magazines to the collapse in the 1950’s.
The “Golden Era” of the 30’s-40’s makes up the bulk of this thick, coffee table book.
Fifty color plates showcase a wide variety of genres.
In my copy, the third book of signatures used cheaper paper and that section has turned brown.
Very appropriate.
Stores categorized by genre: Western, Aviation, Horror, SciFi, Detective, Girls In Peril, Bad Girls, etc.
Which meant I read some I never would have, particularly the westerns, or aviation adventures.
I was surprised by how many names I had more than passing familiarity with.

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In the past month and a half I have read People We Meet on Vacation and Reminders of Him. Currently reading Beachread.

I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.

Star Wars has 3 eras:The eras are 1977-1983(pre Expanded Universe), (1983-2014) expanded universe or (2014- now) Disney bought version. Each are valid.

Important voice tool:
https://originaltrilogy.com/post/id/1472151/action/topic#1472151

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The Star Wars Archives Episodes I-III: 1999-2005 by Paul Duncan.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite awhile now. I’m really looking forward to its arrival to learn in-depth about my favourite era of the series more than what has ever been released before as it is told through various collaborators and detailed contents such as scripts and concept art, learning more about George’s Sequel plans than what has made it online, and of course hearing directly from him his philosophy and way of seeing life. I feel it’s going to be such an immersive and emotional experience. It will also be a great resource in my continued growth in telling stories of my own. I can’t wait!

“Heroes come in all sizes, and you don’t have to be a giant hero. You can be a very small hero. It’s just as important to understand that accepting self-responsibility for the things you do, having good manners, caring about other people - these are heroic acts. Everybody has the choice of being a hero or not being a hero every day of their lives.” - George Lucas

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Oates, Joyce Carol - Ruins Of Contracoeur And Others

Six stories that seem to progress in strength. Editor Lisa Tuttle has sequenced these wisely.
Beginning with “Mr. Stickum,” a poisoned honey-pot of preliminary revenge. Nipping malicious evil in the bud. As the saying goes, boys will be boys. Girls are catching up, however, especially if they are motivated and high principled.
“Monstersister” essays the newest member, the surprise addition to the family. Part cuckoo, part assemblage, with a narrator who grows ever more unreliable as she eases herself away from (or is pushed away from) the family circle.
Another questionable narrator, even more so, is Vanbrugh in “The Redwoods.”
In his case, well, he is recently deceased! Lingering, as one probably should not do, near his family, home, the ordinary day to day. Memories bubble up and ripple out, muddying outcomes, diluting perception and recollection. A meandering decay.
“The Ruins Of Contracoeur” finds the family in disgrace. Meaning the head, the father, has been brought down by political enemies. Forced to retreat to the dilapidated mansion of their forebears. The wife and children, entitled and spoiled, adapt or deny.
Haunting the estate, as well as the rural county, is a murderous, faceless predator. This is the longest, perhaps most traditional, of the stories, although none of Oates tales are typical hauntings.
Typical of Swan River Press, this is a handsome edition, and perfectly sized for reading.
As of this date (2022 03) copies are still available, signed!

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Have not started on it yet but I just got Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe over the weekend and I can’t wait to start on it.