Agreed. For me it's the series I grew up with. I still have memories of being a ten year old and waiting until everyone had gone to bed a few days before Christmas and sneakily unwrapping a present, very carefully, and finding 3 volumes of this series. Over the next few nights I crept downstairs and read one whole book before Christmas morning, carefully wrapping them back up each night before I went back to bed. Also the cover of volume seven used to give me nightmares years before when my brother owned it. The stories themselves introduced me to quite a few nightmares down the years and formed the foundations to my love of horror. For many years I haunted my local department store (Pearson's in Enfield Town) for the latest volume and collected them religiously from about volume 12 until the final volume. In those dark days without the internet I had no idea that the series had ended at volume 30 and searched fruitlessly for volume 31 for quite some time. Each original book in that series that I bought still sits on my bookshelves along with some variant covers that I have added to the collection down the years. Even now I still find it difficult not to buy any of the series when I see them in second hand shops regardless of whether I already have that cover or not. At one time I did have 4 complete sets of the series but sold my three spare sets on eBay thats to the outrageous prices they were going for. The money I made on those helped me to complete my Fontana ghost and horror sets.
Post by allthingshorror on Oct 3, 2009 9:51:06 GMT
Well for me, the PBoH's always come first and foremost - but a very close second place comes the Unease trilogy edited by John Burke. Just sat down and read all three over the course of the past week and again I am staggered by how the stories all compliment each other, and there isn't a bad egg amongst them. Three books that deserve more recognition than what they get.
1 They were the first proper horror books I ever read
2 They published classic stories as well as modern nasties and gave me a real taste for the wide spectrum that is horror fiction
3 Even the nastiest most ‘pornographic’ tales I still consider a guilty pleasure
4 They were bloody successful.
5 They were British, and had mostly British authors and British situations that I could identify with. American horror never actually chilled me because there was always a feeling, until I was a certain age, that America was a made up place anyway. But a lot of the Pan horrors could have been happening across the road from me and that really shook me.
6 Most important of all - there was very little if anything in the way of ‘literary horror’ and whatever the merits of those kinds of stories might be they would have killed my youthful interest in the horror genre stone dead. The young JLP would not have grown up reading many of the anthologies available today because they would have bored the arse off him.
They've all got something to recommend them, but i'll go with Christine Campbell Thomson's eleven Not At Night's. So much to appreciate, starting with CCT's manifesto: "I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty". That "plenty" included Cynthia Asquith's inspirational but essentially literary The Ghost Book and its offshoots, all aimed squarely at a middle class audience, as were those other classic collections of the day from Vere H. Collins, Dorothy L. Sayers, Montague Summers, Colin De La Mare, the Centuries & Co. The Not At Night's and Birkin's Creeps were literary punk rock in comparison.
So what did you get to read? Exactly one hundred stories from 'twenties & 'thirties Weird Tales, marking the first UK appearance of Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Seabury Quinn, Mary E. Counselman, Hugh B. Cave et al. The remaining seventy are from mostly home grown talents - Oscar Cook's 'Warwick' stories, Guy Preston's The Inn, Michael Annesley's Rats, Rupert Grayson's Blood, typically skewed efforts from Oswell Blakestone and L. A. Lewis and several by the editor (writing here as 'Flavia Richardson'). Some have worn better than others, but for unpretentious, often downright insane and sensational horror, the Not At Night's do the job for me. Van Thal's 1st Pan Book of Horror Stories is all but a 'Best of Not At Night' just as the 3rd is a spruced up Horrors from the Creeps series, so if you like them, you should by rights, enjoy the series' that inspired them.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty. - Christine Campbell Thomson
Talking of a mix of literary and horror, where else would you find the urbane and masterly Reggie Oliver rubbing shoulders with a filthy & depraved hack like Richard Staines, except in The Fifth Black Book of Horror?
JLP's "Two for Dinner" is a particular delight, especially for Pan BoH fans...
Mainly because of the eclectic choice of Wagner as editor. He must have read pretty much every small press publication going (no mean feat at that time) and picked out some real gems. One story was either the script, or a story expanded from a script at Wagner's suggestion, from the EC tribute comic Twisted Tales.
Decent informative introductions that act as a snap-shot of genre fiction at the time as well as providing background on the authors and their motivations.
No god-awful 'public domain' stories to pad out a low-budget.
No hint of an "old boys club" in that if the story was good in Wagner's eyes than it was in, whether you were Stephen King or published in some cruddy old zine.
The books stand the test of time in terms of their quality.
But a lot of the Pan horrors could have been happening across the road from me and that really shook me.
I grew up reading the early Pans bought in the local WH Smiths (our town wasn't big enough for a book shop). They were my bit of escapism (along with Doctor Who, The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, etc on the telly). So the PBoH will always be my first love.