We love Penguin’s leather bound hardcovers. They basically cover good old classics. A lesser known but equally attractive offering is Gollancz’s Big Black Book series. There are just a few big black books in the series, but they offer some excellent compilations.
The Complete Chronicles of Conan by Robert E. Howard – Probably the only complete collection of original Conan stories. You are not a pulp fiction fan if you do not own this.
Conan’s Brethren: The Complete Collection by Robert E. Howard– The most unusual collection. It covers the exploits of the Solomon Kane, Howard’s first barbarian hero King Kull, Bran Mak Morn, Red Sonja and others.
Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales by HP Lovecraft – Unlike the Barnes and Noble edition, this is not a complete collection. However, in terms of presentation, it is vastly superior with excellent illustrations and a comprehensive afterword by Stephen Jones.
Eldritch Tales: A Miscellany of the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft – Includes Lovecraft’s remaining major stories plus his weird poetry, nonfiction, and the critical essay Supernatural Horror in Literature.
The Complete Lyonesse (Lyonesse #1-3) by Jack Vance – An omnibus edition of Vance’s magnum opus. Like a goodreads review rightly mentioned “If Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is the greatest fantasy epic of the 20th century, then Lyonesse is surely the greatest fairy tale.”
Tarzan of the Apes & Other Tales by Edgar Rice Burroughs – A selective collection but the best Tarzan stories feature here.
The achievement of Gollancz BIg Black Book series is essentially its atypical selection of works along with great presentation. We have plenty of publishers playing safe with Dickens and Austen. Glad to see some good folks betting on Lovecraft and Howard.
Famous Fantastic Mysteries offers you 3 novellas and 27 short stories published in two vintage pulp magazines — Fantastic Novels and Famous Fantastic Mysteries – from 1900 to 1950. All pieces come with a brief introduction about the author and a short history of the story itself. Most of these stories can be categorized as horror though a few can be labeled as SF.
For pulp fans, this is a delightful journey. Reading these stories gives you a feeling of travelling in a time machine. It’s like listening to classic radio programs like “Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons”.
You will get to read forgotten pulp masters (like August Derleth) of whom you haven’t read enough. You will also come across some cool writers you haven’t heard of (Robert W. Chambers, Arthur Machen to name a few). And of course, the book features your old favorites like Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clark.
To enjoy this anthology, you need to be in love with the old times and should be game for a high degree of willing suspension of disbelief. Being old stuff, some stories bank on unexplored earth. “Fungus Isle” by Philip M. Fisher is one such example. Yeah, you use Google Earth, but being logical won’t help.
Expect some predictable and clichéd pieces like Max Brand’s “John Ovington Returns”. But these are largely outnumbered by a huge number of remarkable stories, which include E. F. Benson’s “The Outcast” and Howard’s “Worms of the Earth”. Nasty twists and creepy plots keep you well entertained.
Some of the stories are rather common and have been reprinted a number of times; so you might find them in many anthologies. But then, these gems might have been lost if they were not reprinted from time to time.
This is a great treasure for people who are interested in haunting aspects of pulp fiction and will also appeal to curious newbies.
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Are you a horror and gothic freak? Do you admire Edgar Allen Poe and Sheridan Le Fanu? If yes, then H.P Lovecraft books should definitely find a place on your bookshelf. And if you are planning to start with Lovecraft’s best then get yourself a copy of The Call of Cthulhu.
This dark and twisted tale deals with the revival of an ancient, malevolent and monstrous creature called Cthulhu. As the worshippers of black art try to awaken this mythic horror, it becomes apparent that the living beings are facing a danger that cannot be described in words.
With a completely original story and creepy writing style, Lovecraft effortlessly turns you into a believer. He builds up a haunting atmosphere, points to a perilous and unknown future, and effectively sets the stage for the feeling of dread. Old manuscripts, mysterious cult groups, strange geometries, sea voyages — you have quite an intriguing story here.
As was his habit, Lovecraft did not describe the creature vividly and left things to the reader’s imagination. But it seems like Cthulhu is part octopus, part kraken, part dragon, and like a walking mountain with nasty talons. Does Lovecraft’s beast look like the following entity? Continue reading