Post by allthingshorror on Sept 22, 2009 18:21:47 GMT
Arkham House (1977)
Jacket - Stephen Fabian. Book Design - Jason Van Hollander
Introduction by Edward Wagenknecht The Spider The Cave Dust to Dust Camera Obscura The Janissaries of Emilion Archives of the Dead The Flabby Men
The literature of darkness holds a haunting immediacy for most readers. The life of man, after all, is but a brief interval between one darkness and another, while the world he inhabits is likewise merely an empheral flicker within a universe enshrouded by perpetual night. As each finite being runs its course, the afterward comes the dark.
Basil Copper has explored this grimly somber realm of human reality with a sensitivity and skill that is almost unparalleled among the fantasy writers of our age. All seven tales in AND AFTERWARD, THE DARK treat the subject of death, but in each instance this common theme has been magically transmuted through the incomparable alchemy of Copper's marvelous macabre imagination.
Post by cauldronbrewer on Jan 18, 2012 0:18:09 GMT
I've been on a Copper kick lately, so I recently bought a copy of this book. I'd already read "Camera Obscura" (one of his classics) and "The Flabby Men" (a half-creepy, half-goofy base-under-siege science fiction/horror tale). New to me:
The Spider Successful traveling salesman M. Pinet decides to stop for the night at a country hotel. He's the only customer; the proprietor is a disquieting fellow; and there are spiders here, there, and everywhere. M. Pinet hates spiders. Do the spiders hate him too?
This is a competent but minor piece (it's difficult to go too wrong with spiders). I read on the Vault that it was Copper's first horror story; viewed in that light, it's a respectable start.
The Cave Now, this is more like it. The narrator is hiking across Austria when he makes an unplanned detour to a remote village. He has better luck with lodging than M. Pinet, but while exploring the surrounding countryside he stumbles across a mutilated goat. The locals seem disturbed by his tale, and he can't resist trying to track the goat-killer to its lair. This is never a good idea.
A fine tale--Copper includes just enough details to move the story along, leaving the rest unsaid and unseen.
Post by cauldronbrewer on Jan 18, 2012 23:51:29 GMT
Moving along . . .
Dust to Dust Mr. Appleton buys a house and settles in to finish his scholarly masterpiece (again, this is never a good idea). He finds, to his chagrin, that one windowsill in his study accumulates a surprising amount of dust. Then he realizes that the dust is trying to tell him something.
This one didn't do much for me. The idea isn't particularly original; nor is the execution all that exciting.
Archives of the Dead Down-on-his luck poet Trumble takes a seemingly easy job as the personal secretary of an expert on the occult (once again, this is never a good idea). His primary task is to record information about newly deceased luminaries. All goes well until he discovers that his new boss is not only an expert on but also a practitioner of dark rites.
Much more fun--a story that leisurely builds to its black magic crescendo.
Post by cauldronbrewer on Jan 20, 2012 0:12:56 GMT
The Janissaries of Emilion
Overstimulated physicist Farlow suffers from a recurring dream; each time he dreams it, the action advances forward just a bit. What troubles him at first is the fact that he can bring back material (sea water, then a rock) from the dream world into the waking world. Things take a turn for the worse when his dream-self starts seeing a band of cruel-looking horsemen headed his way. Farlow checks himself into a mental hospital, but will it do any good?
Nothing tops "The Room in the Tower" when it comes to tales about recurring dreams, but this is a solid take on the theme. My one complaint is that the story appears to be build toward a broader payoff that never fully [ahem] materializes.
That does it for And Afterward the Dark. Having also read From Evil's Pillow and Here Be Daemons, I'm now trying to decide whether to try one of Copper's novels (about which Vault opinion seems decidedly mixed.
I've just finished this, having missed it first time round. Can't really quibble with any of the opinions above; all in all it's solid entertaining stuff. Yes, "The Spider" was the weakest story but still OK. I agree that it's a respectable start as a first horror story, it's a damn sight better than my first pitiful effort...
"Camera Obscura" was (IMHO) the best one, partly because it's always good to read of a Scrooge-like money lender getting his and partly because the dream like effects of a combination of claustrophobia, spatial disorientation and sweet sherry on a hot afternoon were very well described. Worth checking out, though I suspect that most (all?) of the denizens of this institution for incurables will have read it aeons ago and, as usual, I'm coming late to the party. For those who want read and/or download a PDF of it, the Luminist Archives has it - a direct link to the book is right here.