Worst Lovecraft Pastiches/"Mythos" Writing

  1. Lobolover

    Lobolover Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,171
    Hmm.Well,personaly,I'd say the worst I ever read was "The cat with the hand of a child" in "Rehersals of Oblivion".It was godawfull,went nowhere and was generaly a loss of time and effort.It just wasn't good at all.
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #1
  2. GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,034
    Location:
    Australia
    ER...OK sounds like one to avoid then. On a different tact have you got a copy of Del Rey's The Horror In The Museum Lovecraft and Others 24 chiling tales inspired by the gentleman of Angell Street?

    This supposedly gathers good (vs. not so good) stories but I'm yet to launch into it. I know Mr. Worthington quite liked it.
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #2
  3. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Err... not quite accurate, Mr. G. This is a book of stories revised (and/or ghostwritten) by HPL. It's a bit of a mixed bag: some things (like "Ashes") only for the hard hardcore HPL fan (or a scholar); "The Mound", "Out of the Aeons", etc., very much worth reading on their own -- in fact, quite able to stand with some of HPL's best original writing. Overall, an interesting book, I'd strongly suggest it; but with certain reservations about some tales....

    Lobo: My understanding was that Rehearsals for Oblivion was more in hommage to Robert W. Chambers rather than Lovecraft, so I'm not sure it really belongs here....
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #3
  4. Lobolover

    Lobolover Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,171
    Well,its a "hommage" in "the mythos" as it says itself,so I thought it apropriate,seeing how various "writers" and writers have interconected stories of both.
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #4
  5. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Fair enough. I suppose I personally just like to draw a line between them (just as I do between Machen and HPL, Bierce and HPL, etc.), noting them as writers who may have (or did) influence him, but not subservient to HPL in any way. I think that sometimes a lot of people are a bit too prone to see everything as focused around HPL; not that this is necessarily a bad thing -- for certain purposes, especially if you're a Lovecraft student/scholar, it can be very useful at times -- but it does tend to denigrate or at least diminish the importance of these writers in and of themselves.

    My own list of "worst" HPL/Mythos writing would have to include some (though not all) of Derleth's pastiches, certain things Brian Lumley has written, and (perhaps oddly, considering my nonetheless having a fondness for the story in certain respects) "The Space Eaters", by Frank Belknap Long.

    Another oddity is that I actually quite like D. F. Lewis' "Watch the Whiskers Sprout", from Cthulhu's Heirs; a tale which has garnered quite a bit of negative comment. I'll admit that, when I read it originally, I had absolutely no idea what was going on until very close to the end, and felt quite annoyed with the thing... then it all fell into place, and everything that had happened before formed a pattern... and I found myself fairly admiring what he'd done. Definitely a different tale, and in its own way quite an original view of the entire matter... and one I would argue is richly interpretable as well....
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #5
  6. Lobolover

    Lobolover Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,171
    Hmm.Seeing as youve quoted Bloch about Derleth,could you name one or two realy "off" things Derleth did?Now I very much liked "The lurker",as said elsewhere, except he just couldnt handle it without having one "force" as "good" (not exactely stated,mind you,but stil......),though I did find the "he is not to open the door which leads to strange time and place,nor to disturb him who lurks at the threshold,nor to cry out to the hills" passage quite good,as well as some of the "general lore" passages,but not all.
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #6
  7. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    One truly awful example would be "The Whippoorwills in the Hills", which fits Bloch's description perfectly, I think.

    Yes, parts of Lurker are quite good (or at least I find them so); but the "infodumps" he gets into become quite annoying and lose all atmospheric tensity, I'm afraid.
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #7
  8. Lobolover

    Lobolover Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,171
    What also anoyed me was that the Carroll and Graf edition presented it as primarily a work of Lovecraft's even having his name on the cover in GIANT letters and Derleth's name in tinsy tiny print in the corner.

    Hmm.Could you give us a slight summary of it and why its bad?
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #8
  9. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Yes, that was the usual way with these "posthumous collaborations" until very recently. I believe it has stopped now, but I wouldn't be too certain....

    Oh, lord... Well, it basically follows a pattern Derleth repeated in several of these tales: the protagonist inherits (or buys, or rents) a property once belonging to a slightly(?) looney person who disappeared, went mad, was killed as a warlock, etc.; ignores all the warnings both by others and (often) by the former owner (in writing, in dreams, etc.); finds himself eventually doing and saying odd things, with his personality shifting; finds evidence of animal cruelty or sacrifices, etc., and is horrified (not realizing he is the one behind it all); etc., etc., etc., until finally things rush to an ending where the truth sweeps away the last remnants of his fragile mental state, and he collapses into whatever hell has been slowly gobbling him up this entire time.

    It is simply formulaic as hell; and the ending ("'The whippoorwills... the whippoorwills in the hills...'") is such a blatant, slap-you-upside-the-head-with-a-cold-haddock steal from... errrrr, nod to... HPL's "The Rats in the Walls" that, even if intended parodically (which I contend was, by this point, what Derleth was often doing), it makes one wince.

    Then again, it simply badly written.....
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #9
  10. Lobolover

    Lobolover Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,171
    And it seems un canily reminescent of "The ancestor",which may be the one "colaboration" you mentioned founded on more then just notes.In fact,its the exact same synopsis.The tale itself I kinda liked,but the scope was to diferent from Lovecraft's and was just very common.Incidently the colection I read it in was a general Lovecraft colection and didnt even acknowledge it as a "colaboration".

    Slightly off topic-well,what story coleciton of Dlerhet's would you advise to read?
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #10
  11. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Actually, "The Ancestor" was just based on a few notes (and, iirc, some notes HPL had on Leonard Cline's The Dark Chamber, for that matter); Lurker is the only one with any extensive (relatively speaking) bit of Lovecraftian writing to it, and it is made up of two or three fragments and a few sketchy notes -- albeit those fragments are quite nicely developed and extremely evocative (and incorporated almost verbatim into the novel). Somewhere in one of the boxes packed for the move I have the notes used for each....

    I really don't know which of Derleth's collections to suggest... I'd be hesitant to suggest any full collection, to be honest. It's more a matter of select stories here and there.... Although this does not hold true for his regional work, which could be very good indeed....
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #11
  12. Lobolover

    Lobolover Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,171
    Well,theres "Someone in the Dark" with


    1. When the Night and House "
    2. "Glory Hand"
    3. "Compliments of Spectro"
    4. "A Gift for Uncle Herman"
    5. "McGovern's Obsession"
    6. "Three Gentlemen in Black"
    7. "Muggridge's Aunt"
    8. "Bramwell's Guardian"
    9. "Joliper's Gift"
    10. "Altimer's Amulet"
    11. "The Shuttered House"
    12. "The Sheraton Mirror"
    13. "The Wind from the River"
    14. "The Telephone in the Library"
    15. "The Panelled Room"
    16. "The Return of Hastur"
    17. "The Sandwin Compact
    Something Near

    Something Near - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Survivor and Others

    The Survivor and Others - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Lonesome Places



    Lonesome Places - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The reprint colection "The Watchers Out of Time and Others"

    The Watchers Out of Time and Others - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    PS:Oh an I think I actualy meant "The Peabody Heritage" when I was refering to "the ancestor".
     
    Dec 30, 2008
    #12
  13. GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,034
    Location:
    Australia
    OH....OK I didn't realise that. Anyway as I have the book it's on my to-read list for Jan 09 so I'll post a comment then.
     
    Dec 31, 2008
    #13
  14. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    We seem to be straying quite a bit from the (at least ostensible) subject of the thread; however, as I've read each of these collections in the past, a few words might be in order, as the question has been put forward:

    There are a few tales which are fairly good here, but even those are very much modeled on stories by others. The first section is obviously modeled on M. R. James, and E. F. Benson (in the main), while the second is heavily indebted to Mary E. Wilkins and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. HPL's influence is in the final two tales, which are also reprinted later in other volumes of Mythos tales by Derleth. Neither is particularly memorable, though each have some nice touches here and there. Of the other stories, I do admit to a fondness for "The Shuttered House" and "The Sheraton Mirror", but otherwise they are rather forgettable; pot-boilers at best (and Derleth himself was quite aware of and honest about that).

    It's been a bit longer with this one, but as I recall, some of the tales here are a bit more memorable; still very much pot-boilers, and definitely pastiche, but a bit more polished at times, and with a rather effective shiver now and then. Overall, though, while it has its charm, I wouldn't recomment it all that highly. The Lovecraftian pieces are the final four, the first two of which have seldom seen reprint. They blend the Mythos with Blackwood's "The Wendigo" (more or less), and seem almost an abortive attempt to establish a milieu of Derleth's own to compete with HPL's Arkham country. Out of these four, I've always had a (perhaps perverse) fondness for "The Dweller in Darkness", perhaps because it was among the first Mythos tales I read when rather young; and I do think it manages to convey a rather good eerie atmosphere surrounding the Rick's Lake setting....

    This is a book of those "posthumous collaborations" mentioned earlier. Among them, there are (again), some nice touches atmospherically here and there, but they are far too derivative and repetitive, in the main. The exception to this is "The Lamp of Alhazred", which is at times a poignant tale; it isn't really horrific, but more wistful and nostalgic, and paints a very good portrait -- of HPL.

    A bit more diverse, this one, and therefore a bit more interesting... but, again, overall not terribly memorable, save for a story here and there. "The Lonesome Place" is definitely worth looking up, though. There are no Lovecraftian pieces in this one

    Again, the posthumous collaborations -- all of them gathered together. A few nice pieces, a few memorable moments, and a lot of rehashing (not to mention a fair amount of simply bad writing). The main ones to remember are those mentioned earlier.

    And I made an error on this myself; I had meant (iirc) "The Survivor", rather than "The Ancestor"; again, it's been a while, and the stories blur; but I believe this is the correct information. However, only Lurker had any notable amount of Lovecraft's writing... with the exception of "The Lamp of Alhazred", which uses great sections of Lovecraft's letters (albeit, as I recall, in somewhat altered form)....
     
    Dec 31, 2008
    #14
  15. Lobolover

    Lobolover Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,171
    Thanks for the reply.Hmm,I wonder if anyone has made a "the best tales" of Derleth's.
     
    Dec 31, 2008
    #15
  16. GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,034
    Location:
    Australia
    Well I've got The Mask Of Cthulhu which brings together some of Derleth's Cthulhu stories and one he completed from Lovecraft's notes in The Return Of Haustur.

    There's also an August Derleth Reader edited by Stephen Jones which collects together some if his work.

    There seems to be quite a lot of collections regarding Derleth including Lovecraft's work but a "best of" I'm not sure about?

    J.D. will be the one to probably know that.

    Cheers...
     
    Dec 31, 2008
    #16
  17. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    That seems to be a misconception that arose some time back, and is still perpetuated (sometimes willingly, it seems, by publishers), but the truth of the matter is there is no connection whatsoever to any writing by Lovecraft in this one. It is entirely Derleth's work. He apparently (I would imagine, though I'm not certain -- not having yet had a copy to go through my copy -- this is dealt with in the Essential Solitude volumes) either talked it over with or sent a copy of an early draft to HPL, but the story itself wasn't put into finished form until after the latter's death.

    Jones' Reader would be the best bet for a "best of", I would think; but again, not having seen a copy, I wouldn't be certain of that. I'd look up reviews to see if they can help on this matter.

    Derleth's Mythos tales in general are rather poor, but they often have some very interesting ideas or motifs, or some very good passages; occasionally he did something with (his conception of) the Mythos which is worthwhile for even the casually interested reader (for those of us who are fascinated with the entire subgenre, of course, there are other reasons for reading them -- even if one sometimes winces while doing so).

    Derleth's more traditional ghostly tales, while often very derivative, can sometimes be quite good, and most are enjoyable fluff (at least). But few of them will ever be counted among the best in that realm, either....
     
    Dec 31, 2008
    #17
  18. Ningauble

    Ningauble Lovecraftian

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Messages:
    718
    Yep, IIRC he sent an early draft to HPL.

    After HPL died, he sent a draft to Clark Ashton Smith soliciting suggestions for revisions, which CAS provided and Derleth promptly ignored, being only interested in praise. But in The Celaeno Fragments, one of Robert M. Price's not-yet-published anthologies, there was supposed to be a new version of "The Return of Hastur" rewritten by John Glasby in accordance with CAS's suggestions. I would love to read that one... (Now that I think of it, it may have been in an old issue of Crypt of Cthulhu).
     
    Dec 31, 2008
    #18
  19. GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,034
    Location:
    Australia
    Thanks for the clarification, looks like the publisher was trying to lead me up the garden path then. I think that book was given to me by a certain cat, so we know who is to blame!....:p Problem I had with the Derleth Reader was that I couldn't find any reviews/contents, so if someone does please post them here....:confused:
     
    Dec 31, 2008
    #19
  20. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Brilliant, that....:rolleyes: *ahem* That should read "not having yet had a chance to go through my copy...."

    I'd be interested in that alternate version, myself.

    It's not that I entirely dislike Derleth's Mythos tales; as I said, there are times when they do manage to build a very good atmosphere; other times when some of his concepts -- often "throwaway" concepts -- are quite striking (as when he posits R'lyeh as extending from the point in the Pacific named in "The Call of Cthulhu" to just off the eastern seaboard of the U.S., including Devil's Reef, of course... which ties together some of the disparate suggestions about that continent as well as picking up on Lovecraft's hint of "When I think of the extent of all that may be brooding down there..." in "Call"). It is simply that Derleth was capable of much better, and Lovecraft's concepts deserved much better, than what the former usually did with the material. He took too rigid and narrow a view of what these ideas were capable of, with the result that the vast majority of what he wrote in the "Lovecraftian" vein simply lacks the scope or quality of its potential.
     
    Dec 31, 2008
    #20
Loading...

Share This Page