Michael Shea was a remarkable writer. Very special. Great imagination, and an original sense of underhand humour. If you like Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith, and Fritz Leiber, his stated influences, you are likely to find his books interesting. His voice is reminiscent of those writers, but at the same time completely unique.
So far I have read his short stories in the collection Polyphemus. That was enough to see his exceptional talent. Another short story, published separately, is called "Fat Face", a Cthulhu mythos tale; Incredibly good.
I have not read his novel Nifft the Lean yet, but looking at the first page tells me it is refined and dynamic writing.
Another book he wrote is called In Yana, the Touch of Undying. That has to be the most brilliantly resonant title I have ever come across. Why? I can't clearly say why. Just a short line of a few words. It is somehow dynamic, humorous, horrifying, convoluted, and strangely mystical with hidden meaning and rhetorical backward tangle. It vibrates. Sounds like Dunsany, but even better.
Post by Michael Connolly on Jun 3, 2017 13:04:48 GMT
I had already set aside to reread The Dark Descent: The Evolution of Horror edited by David G Hartwell. It contains Michael Shea's "The Autopsy" from Polyphemus. It is a graphic but excellent horror story about alien infestation.
This is the first paragraph of his novella The Fishing of the Demon-Sea:
Just after dawn they buckled us into the strappadoes. The mechanism is fairly simple. Your wrists and ankles are pulled toward the four corners of the upright frame, and you're splayed in the center like a moth in a web. Each machine has three executioners. Two work the winches until all the joints in your body are pulled apart. The third has a long-handled pruning scissors for starting the cuts around your separated joints. Then the winchmen go to work again, to tear you apart at the cuts. They alternate. It's considered good winch-and-scissors work when your trunk falls all at once out of the splayed wrack of your limbs. They don't like thieves in Kine Gather.