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Thursday, April 4, 2013

SAS (Short Attention Span) HPL Reviews #10


This is sort of a Dream Cycle story, though I don't know if it's officially recognized as such by Lovecraft scholars. It is very short--one of his shortest, in fact. Here's the skinny: A guy lives in a huge fortress with no outward facing windows. The world is dead and gray, and the only things he sees when he looks out his castle window are the courtyard at the center of the fortress, the exterior walls, and (at night) the stars directly above. One night the stars open up to him and send a bridge of astral dust down to carry him away to an unknown paradise of verdant shores populated with beautiful flowers, where he lives in comfort from then on. No stars for this one, just a great big raspberry. Me no likey. For completists only.

The Battle that Ended the Century (written with R.H. Barlow)
There *is* a plot here... of a sort anyway. It's just not that good. This story is nothing more than a joke written by Lovecraft and Barlow, a way to drop names of their contemporaries and have a little fun. It centers around a boxing match on December 31, 2000. The two combatants end up getting quite bloody by the end, with ears and noses flying off throughout the fight, and one guy's fist going clear through the other guy's face. Throughout it all, the authors have overly peppered the dialog with Garbage Pail Kids-like references to their peers and themselves: Howard Philips Lovecraft is referred to as Horse Power Hateart; Frank Belknap Long is parodied as Frank Chimesleep Short... You get the picture. Another great big raspberry for this one. It's not a long story, but it's an interminable read.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
More of a novella, CDW comes in at around 51,500 words. Charles Dexter Ward is a young, well-to-do man who has recently escaped impossibly from a mental hospital. His family doctor, Dr. Willett, goes to investigate, digging into Ward's recent past and the goings-on that landed him in the asylum in the first place. Ward had become obsessed with an ancestor of his, Joseph Curwen, an alchemist and necromancer. Ward had resurrected Curwen from his long-dead ashes, much like the blood droplets resurrected Uncle Frank in Hellraiser. Once Curwen was back, he picked right back up on his old evil hijinks, killing his look-alike progeny and taking his place in the world, allowing him to continue his grisly experiments with necromancy. However, his sudden and unexplained lack of knowledge of the modern world gets the Charles Ward impersonator locked in the nut hatch. When Willett realizes who is actually locked up, he pays Curwen a visit, intending to kill him and burn him to dust in order to save the world from the dastardly plans he has been hatching. It's a great story, and the film adaptation isn't too bad either. For me the novella was a bit slow during the flashback parts about Curwen's time.

That was a long one. Gonna hang it up for tonight. Thanks for reading!