Friday, June 16, 2017

Short Story Supergroup: The Challenge from Beyond

I know I don't normally cover individual short stories here, but I found an anthology that made that impossible. If you're a fan of Appendix N, this might blow you away, as I've not seen a bigger game of pass the story anywhere. And by bigger, I mean both quantity of authors and quality, and this is only a 10 page short!

So who wrote this crazy thing? We start with  one of the women the Narrative likes to deny existing: C.L. Moore. We move then to the tragically ignored A. Merritt. The next two authors are actually known quantities and the establishment hasn't been able to bury: H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. Yes, we're up to for Appendix N authors, and we now finish with Frank Belknap Long, who Bradbury cited as one who shaped the Amercan SF field.

Where can you find this work? Well, I found it in this anthology in a Barnes and Noble discount section. Yeah, it's on Amazon, but it's three times the cost. Save yourself some cash and still get the story. It originally appeared in Fantasy Magazine in 1935. I don't have an issue or month, so I can't help beyond that.

So yeah, you've got a supergroup of authors writing this thing, and it is wild, imaginative, and I only found two points to the thing that I consider weaknesses. Firstly, the transition to and from Lovecraft's section is well, obvious. From Moore to Merritt is nearly seamless, the styles are slightly different, but both vary their sentence length, and use descriptors in a fairly straightforward manner. Howard to Long is likewise a mostly smooth transition, as both are more inclined to more active prose. Lovecraft, with his winding descriptors that overcome sentences and paragraphs, unfortunately doesn't meld stylistically with either side of his portion. That said, his content fits, is well done, and vital to the work.

The other portion that was a disappointment would be the ending. Partly, I think Long may have felt himself written into a corner.  Part may be due to his worldview, or to his spot in Lovecraft's circle of writers. I would need to familiarize myself more with his work to arrive at any preliminary conclusions.  I just got to the end and felt like, "That's it?".  I might be alone in this, and hope I'm wrong, but I felt disconnected suddenly from the story.

These two points aside, this is an amazing example of writing, and all of the authors add great points to the story. Do yourself a favor and find it. I'll give it 8 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

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