"Love does not make the world go around, just up and down a
PSEUDO-LITERARY RAMBLINGS COMMENTED ON
by Richard Karsmakers
I will not have it said that I am some kind of deranged person,
not by the mere fact that I have borne witness to the events I
shall relay henceforth, extraordinary as they are. Even though
people have been avoiding me of late, pulling up collars and
urging their offspring inside with hushed whispers and agitated
motions, I am still quite certain of my sanity. Yet I shall no
doubt acquire repeated frowns of your brow once I have disclosed
to you in full the extent of the horrors I have experienced ever
since I moved into that old and rather dilapidated house in
Providence, Rhode Island.
Having graduated from University last summer, I had spent some
initial months hitchhiking, breathing in the air of my first true
freedom and seeing many quaint and sometimes truly beautiful
sights. From car to truck, from truck to van I went, stepping
into worlds I had never seen, and leaving them when the
experience became either uncomfortable or somehow claustrophobic.
I made casual acquaintance of many people, until in the end my
wandering spirit died, or at least fell asleep beyond rekindling,
and I became gradually aware of an ever keening desire in myself
to settle and join the life I intended to lead until the day of
my retirement or my getting tired of it, whichever was likely to
Having had writing ambitions for as long as I remember, I longed
for a somewhat secluded residence, having always cherished the
inspiration often brought upon me by the silence of loneliness,
the gothic quality of dusk outside town, the rustle of the wind
through the woods and the eerie sounds of nature at night. I
sometimes think my writings saved me from a total loss of reason,
even after that one terrible night that...
But no, allow me to relate to you the story from its very
beginning, from the moment I first caught sight of my new
domicile to the moment that these people came to fetch me and
locked me in the dreadful, half-dark room with its by now
familiarly damp, fungi-bespecked stone walls, leaving me only
with the few writing utensils I employ to trust to paper my story
now. There are still a few hours left before the lights are put
out, which will bring to me yet another gloomy and sleepless
night pregnant with the hauntings of dark memories - memories so
penumbral I would myself not have considered them possible if it
hadn't been me they were haunting.
It had been one of those almost proverbially sunny days, one of
those days one which fate smiles benignly and everything happens
the way it should. I went to a Providence real estate agent's to
enquire if perhaps there would be any vacant properties to let. I
had thought of purchasing, but decided I would need my scant
savings for other things first. Once writer's wealth had found me
- if ever it would - I could always look out for something to one
day call my own.
As it was, however, there was little choice for me. There were
only two or three places to let, of which all but one were too
small and located rather in the centre of town, far away from the
silence I would need to strike my inspiration's light and at too
large a distance from a healthy morning's stroll through the
forest I longed for. The one left was a rather large house, built
of wood and looking all but dilapidated. Upon studying the
picture in more detail a clerk came up to me - in retrospect he
seemed quite eager for something - to tell me that in fact the
house was in pretty mint condition despite its outer looks, and
that the last previous owner, an elderly lady, had passed away
fairly recently. The clerk himself could have passed for the very
old woman's husband, for he appeared haggard and ageing, dressed
stiffly, balding, with two patches of grey hair hiding part of
his ears and the arms of his glasses. Something about his
disposition also seemed to imply a personal involvement, perhaps
a more than casual acquaintance with the deceased.
I imagined the place being quite deserted save six or seven cats
that would all purr and rub my legs as I walked in, a new owner
of the place. I imagined its dank smell, the hairs on the couch,
a layer of gathered dust on a dresser the next of kin had
forgotten to cover with linen. I imagined the stairs making woody
noises under my feet as I ascended to the top floor landing on my
way to pick out a room where I would henceforth put myself to
sleep, and decide upon another room where I could put my
typewriter. This would preferably have to be one with a hearth.
Despite the fact that the house, perched on a small hill with a
bare valley below and dark green forests behind, appeared much
like one of those places where women were bloodily knifed to
death in showers, I decided to take it. The rent was affordable,
and as it was the horror genre I wished to explore and possibly
redefine with my future writings I estimated this particular
house would be all the more inspiring for my work. I decided to
keep the cats, should there be any.
When I nodded and asked more as to the conditions of rent and
where the document was that I had to sign, I could have sworn I
heard the man sigh profoundly. At the time I didn't make much of
it, but now I know why the man let out that obvious sign of
relief. I wonder if he knew anything about the real horror,
anything other than the superstitions that might have roamed the
little village, preventing any of the locals from wanting to have
anything to do with the house or its inhabitants.
That might also have explained the fact that none of the
agency's employees seemed at all willing to show me the way to
the estate and there give me the guided tour I had expected came
with any such agreement. The same man that had uttered the deep
sigh handed me the key, and I distinctly recall a lingering sense
of guilt in the way he looked at me - and kept looking at me
until I left the office and had disappeared out of sight.
If anything, the house looked even more desolate in reality than
it had done on the picture. It still appeared as if it was
falling apart at the seams, though, and I can tell you that I was
not particularly looking forward to autumn, when nocturnal
darkness would fall early and hide from view the bits that would
be torn off if any storm dared tug at the ancient woodwork. I
looked around me. Something was distinctly discomforting, but I
couldn't quite put my finger on it. The sun was already setting,
and in the valley below a few lights on farms and homesteads had
already been switched on. I estimated the nearest to be about two
or three miles off, but the gathering dusk made it difficult for
me to estimate it more accurately.
I walked up the garden path, at which time it became apparent
what seemed so odd. There were no sounds. Even though I saw the
woods behind the house move to and fro gently in the evening
breeze, the leaves made no sound whatsoever. All I heard was the
soft wind in my ears, hardly enough to blot out all other noises.
At the time, however, like the unconscious knowledge of the
clerk's sigh lingering somewhere within a deep recess of my mind,
I made no more of it. It was just a really quiet late summer's
evening. Probably the wind took the voice of the forest away from
me, back to its own centre.
When I stood in front of the door I put down my luggage, fumbled
in my pockets for a while trying to find the key. Once retrieved,
I inserted it in the lock and turned. There was a twist, some
resistance, a click. After opening the door I went inside and
locked it again. The typically cool are of a perpetually
shuttered house embraced me.
My premonitions about a cat had been right. A lean black animal
with eyes shining bright yellow in the half-dark descended the
stairs and came towards me, rubbed my leg for a while and then
There was quite a stench. I couldn't quite identify whether it
was just the dank dustiness of a long-empty home or something
else. I put my luggage inside and closed the door behind me. The
stench seemed to grow. I had to find out where it came from. I
followed my senses, which let me go down an old and rather noisy
stairway to the cellar. I fumbled for a light switch, found it,
flicked it, and found a pale light emerging from a single light
bulb in the middle of the cellar. There was a boiler, the kind
that groans and clanks when toiling but that currently wasn't
active, as well as some half-decomposed old paper piles. The
smell gathered intensity. I knew what it was. It was the smell of
death. Maybe the cat had a private store of dead mice or rats
down here. I followed its black form around a corner in the L-
shaped room, suddenly to find my stomach twisting. I had to
swallow to keep from retching too violently as I saw about half a
dozen dead cats lying there. They were partly decomposed, their
eyes glassy and dull in the scarse light, small insects crawling
over the fur and partly exposed innards. I could have sworn the
cats had died of fright; I am not quite sure what cats look like
when they're scared out of their skulls, but I reckoned it might
very well be the way these cats looked. The teeth were visible
like those of an angry cat, the hairs on their backs raised in
I went back up, switching off the light as I left, resolving to
clean up the whole cellar the next day. I was beat, for some
reason or other, and wanted first to go to bed and have a good
night's rest. The one living cat followed me up the stairs. It
seemed to show no affection but a need to join me upstairs, as if
being all on its own was simply too bleak a prospect to the
animal. I didn't think much of it, though, at the time.
Little did I know of length of the night ahead of me.
I am not easily frightened, nor afraid of the dark, but at night
the house seemed to have its own subtle means of producing
inexplicable sounds. Never were they actually clear enough to be
able to tell their cause. Whenever I had identified a specific
sound to listen to with more attention it ceased, to be replaced
by another sound that took a while to isolate, and then
disappeared again to be replaced by another. It was like looking
intently at a star in the sky and suddenly seeing it disappear
when looking straight at it. Somehow the sounds seemed to want to
At some instants I could have sworn to hear the cellar stairs
making their familiar creaking noise, as if someone else,
something else, was in the house. Surely I had locked the front
door? I knew I had.
At just past midnight the cat starting making a strange
whining noise, something quite unlike the sounds I had ever heard
cats make. I had left it outside the bedroom door, as I wasn't
wont to have a cat on the bed, which was where they were most
likely to turn up eventually if only you'd give them the chance.
I had once read a book where mention was made that cats could
steal your breath away if they slept on your chest, but I am
quite sure that had been no part in my decision to leave it
I sat up straight, trying to establish the reason for the cat's
discomfort. There were some sounds, like there had been all
along, again seeming to want to elude me. I lit a candle and got
out of bed. The cat seemed to startle from my appearance through
the bedroom door and scratched viciously at me, lacerating my
pyjama trousers and tearing my flesh at the surface. I cursed and
tried to kick the cat but already it was gone.
It struck me that the cat seemed to want to evade being close to
the walls, as if it were playing some childish game with deadly
I touched my leg. It might be torn but barely bled. I probably
didn't even have to get a tetanus shot.
When my attention once more shifted from my leg to the house,
the noises I heard seemed louder. Moreover, they seemed to come
from downstairs quite explicitly. The cellar? Were there rats,
feasting on half a dozen cats' mortal remains?
My cat suddenly stood still, tail curling and twisting strangely
and somehow significantly, in front of a door to a room I had not
yet explored. The cat made a frightful noise, then attacked the
door, started scratching it viciously.
I walked to the door and held the knob. It was cold to the
touch. The cat retreated when it sensed my intent of opening the
door. I could have sworn there was a presence in the room, but
the feeling disappeared at the instance I turned the knob and
pushed it open. There was a slight woosh of air, cold and
unmistakable, a draught probably. Next instant it was gone. I
closed the door behind me, feeling a perverse desire to cover my
The flickering flame of my candle threw strange shadows across
the table and books that seemed to be the prime feature of the
small room. There was a window in one wall but its heavy curtains
were drawn. Had it been day I seriously doubted there would have
been any more light.
I looked up and down the walls. There were strangely
surrealistic pictures, some rather scary. Some portrayed church
towers around which haunting shapes had somehow draped
themselves. Others showed a lonely writer with a large looming
something behind him, threatening to strike at the first
opportune moment. The most terrible of all, and I couldn't help
but be fascinated by it, was a huge demonic monster stretching
out its clawed forelimbs to a water vessel, the background filled
with unnaturally large blocks, like slabs of concrete, tilting
halfway out of the ocean as if they had been recently revealed
remnants of domiciles of a frightful and oversized race of beings
no longer known to earth.
I went closer to see the writing on the bottom part of its
frame. "Cthulhu" it read, simply, but this simple word instilled
in me a fear I would previously have considered myself incapable
of feeling. What had happened to me? What had happened to the
ever-present rationalisations with which I used to drive other
people out of their minds with irritation?
It was then that I saw the diary. It lay on the desk, covered
with dust, with an inkpot next to it. A quill stuck in the ink
pot but the ink had dried to a thick crust, locking the writing
utensil. Why hadn't the writer put the lid back on the inkpot?
I must have stared at the diary, thinking of its implications,
for a few minutes before I finally stretched out a hand to take
it. I blew the dust off, revealing the initials "H.P.L." Who was
this mysterious previous occupant? The old woman they had
I opened the book. I had expected a leathery croak, but still
the only sounds I heard were those I assumed came from the
cellar. The cat had developed an odd affection for my leg,
rubbing against it. It seemed totally unaware of having
scratched me mere minutes before.
I turned pages to the end. The handwriting was meticulously
executed, densely written. It was a bit archaic, using a complex
vocabulary. I arrived at the last page that was written on. March
15th 1937. The diary must have been of someone - judging by the
handwriting probably a man - who lived here prior to the old
woman, or maybe even before that. Why had the room been left
intact, untouched since as far back as 1937?
A felt a strange morbidity take over me as I read what might
have been the man's last writings.
"I feel death tugging at me. Things are getting out of control.
Should I notify the authorities of...even now, I can't get myself
to write down the words. Is the ancient Mythos true after all?
And why do the cats act thus strangely? Yesterday night I heard
the noises intensify, but now they make it almost completely
impossible for me to think. There are scratchings at the door.
What creature stands there? Is it"
At that instant the man must have been distracted, or startled
mortally by something. Attached to the final "t" was a long
scratch, then nothing. Had these words been his very last? If so,
who - or what - had put back the quill in the inkpot? I leafed
through the diary, reading some further parts that were all but
horrible. Then to the first page...there was name. Howard...
Below, whatever was there didn't go through great lengths
disguising its sounds. I was certain I heard steps, but they were
soft, as if made by bare feet. Or furry claws. My imagination was
getting the better of me, but those sounds were real.
Any moment, somehow, I expected scratchings at the door like the
man had described in his last moments. This place was too much.
Or perhaps there was a logical explanation that I would discover
in the morning? That was it, probably. I had merely got what I
had catered for - a house that inspired me to write horror
Behind me there was a bookcase containing various tomes. Like
the diary, they were covered with dust. It was obvious that this
room had been left untouched completely, almost reveredly so. The
books seemed to cover various arcane and occult topics. There was
a book about Satanism, even. Had the man been a Satan Worshipper
or had he perhaps, like me, just bought the books for research
purposes, him being a writer perhaps? My breath stuck in my
throat as I saw among the books a leather-bound copy of the book
of the Mad Arab, "Necronomicon". An intricately shaped pentagram
was engraved on it, in the colour of silver. I felt strangely
elated but horrified too. I had rented the house previously owned
by a person that had The Dread Book! No wonder that this house
seemed to attract its particularities. My previous
rationalisations suddenly seeming trivial. Perhaps there was
truly something going on in, or around, this house. Suddenly, I
remember the clerk's sigh, the weirdness of there being no sound
when I had stood outside, surveying the house. The total lack of
people around this place.
I left the room, cursing at myself for superstitiously scanning
the hallway to my bedroom for strange appearances. The sounds
continued unabated, crawling up the stairs as if alive. I found
myself dashing to the bedroom and slamming the door behind me. I
didn't heed the cat's scratchings at the door, frantic almost,
that progressed until the morning when I awoke from about half a
dozen short sleeps that had each been haunted by strange noises
and even stranger voices coming from my cellar.
When the pale suns truck my face, waking me for the final time,
the scratching had ceased.
After refreshing myself I left the bedroom. The hallway seemed
perfectly normal now. Had I closed the mysterious room or had it
somehow closed itself? I couldn't remember, but it was closed
The cat was nowhere to be seen, and there wasn't a sound, not
even those that could penetrate from the outside. I descended the
stairs, listening to their familiar woody noises. After making
myself some breakfast - it's strange how a bite to eat can change
your outlook on a past night's events - I fetched a large bag and
went down into the cellar to clean up.
When I switched the light a hammer of fright struck up and down
my spine, making my ears ring quite literally. On the floor lay
the cat that had been alive but few hours before. Its limbs were
extended and nailed to the floor, its entrails spilling from a
gash in its abdomen. It hadn't been done by a knife, I could see.
The edges of the wound were far too rough, too uneven. It must
have been fangs. The cat had been dead for hours, obviously. It
was already going mouldy, ants and flies having been at it
longer than an hour at least.
A shiver ran through my entire being. What had made those
scratching noises at my door up to the early morning dusk?
Struck by paranoia, I looked behind me. There was nothing save
the stairs. I took my hand from the light switch, where it had
remained as if glued of paralyzed.
I bolted up the stairs. There was something ghastly about the
house, definitely. I could easily have imaged the sounds or the
whole mystery room for that matter; I could have had a nightmare
or something. But now I was wide awake and certainly I had not
just imaged the dead cat, horribly cut up, or half-eaten, or
What to do? Go back to the real estate agent's and claim my
money back on claims of there being something horrible in the
house? They would have me fetched by the men in white coats. One
card short of a full deck, lost my marbles, that kind of thing.
No, I would solve all of this myself. I was an adult, I was up to
it. There was probably a very logical explanation that would
render all superstitions and weird thoughts futile.
I spent most of the day preparing myself for the night. I did
not have a gun but I had found a crowbar in a shack in the
garden. Whatever it was that ate cats at night, I would surely be
able to handle it. I took a short nap in the afternoon so it
wouldn't be too hard to stay awake the whole night.
The nap took longer than I had intended. It was already
darkening outside, and there was wind tugging at the ancient
walls and roof. It rained softly, but there wasn't a doubt in my
mind that the rain would get heavier during the night. There were
a few lightning flashes outside, but the thunder itself was too
far to reach me - yet.
I pulled on my sturdiest set of trousers, the working trousers
that I had done some fruitpicking labour in, last summer
somewhere. I hefted the crowbar, tapping it on the palm of my
I didn't light a candle when I went down. The darkness was
almost complete now, and the sounds were already occurring again.
There was no moon outside, and had there been any I doubt if it
would have been full. I knew I had resolved to get whatever was
in my house in the very cellar, but my knees felt weak as I
touched the cellar door's knob. It was cold, like that of the
mysterious room the other night.
"What the hell," I thought to myself, "I had better get it over
I threw open the cellar door, feeling like a hero for an
instant. There was no applause, however, which tore me back to
reality. The sounds were not actually deafening, but already they
were beyond the comfortably audible, distorting slightly.
I could see nothing but darkness in which I fancied shadows
moving. I put my hand on the light switch, at which moment there
was an angrily hissing noise coming from the far side of the
cellar, where the half dozen dead cats lay. I could have sworn
there was a munching sound, but it ceased at the very instant I
flicked the switch. There was no light though. One moment later
something was thrown through the cellar - I caught a very brief
glimpse of something metallic in a ray of light that was emitted
from somewhere. The next instant I felt it crashing at my feet.
The light bulb. Whatever was with me in this cellar, had some
sentience. The thought of an intelligent monster scared me
witless. As if it had some immaculate sense of drama, it chose
this moment to reveal to me two bloodshot eyes at about 10 feet
distance from me. I froze to the spot, suddenly finding the
cellar very warm. I felt my forehead suddenly moist, and as I
regripped the crowbar I felt the perspiration in my hands making
it slightly slippery. I swung the bar, but the creature's eyes
didn't even blink. It was still too far off for it to be hit by
me, but already it was far too close to my taste.
I got a strange urge to start yelling at the beast, cursing,
hollering, but thought better of it. People did that in cheap
horror B films. This was class A reality, as bad as it ever gets.
The beast closed its eyes. I heard a faint hint of a shuffle,
then it opened its eyes again. A bit closer. It was homing in on
me. I saw before me the morning's slaughter, the cat, its guts
spilled on the floor, the odd lack of blood. Lack of blood? I had
never really liked cats but I didn't want to suck them dry
either. Outside I heard a rolling sound of thunder that belonged
to a flash of lightning I hadn't seen.
I turned around and ran up the stairs. This seemed exactly the
moment the beast, animal, monster, abdomination, had been waiting
for. I felt is speaking in my head. It spoke in vivid images,
black and red all over. Its tongue I did now know, but it mustz
have been a universal language dormant in all living beings. I
knew it was speaking of death, impending death. And I was the one
going to be it.
All of this had taken an instant, a precious instant, in which
my run up the stairs had slowed down. It had been sufficient for
the horribly vile creature to gain on me and grab an ankle.
Mortal dread hurled itself over me, and I think I cried in panic,
begging for someone, someone, please, someone, to help me. But I
knew there would be nobody to hear. There was a thunderstorm
outside, and nobody liked to go here anyway.
Frantically I kicked. When the grip loosened and I got to run
up again, I couldn't get rid of the impression that I had escaped
only because it wanted me to. It wanted to play with me, not just
kill me, eat me, do whatever it wanted with me. It seemed
pointless the slam the cellar door behind me, but I did so
As I retreated in the ground floor hallway, towards the front
door, I rediscovered the crowbar in my hand. Why hadn't I used it
on the beast? Had it had some psychological hold on me? I heard
the sound of feet, clawed furry fangs, on the cellar stairs. My
eyes opened wide, but I suppressed a cry of fear. I could handle
this. I hefted the crowbar again. I was an adult. I could handle
this, sure I could. There was some fumbled at the cellar door,
after which it opened slowly. Its hinges made no noise
whatsoever. Then the eyes came, amid a silhouette humpy and
horrible, with limbs where there shouldn't be any. And fangs.
There was some light, from somewhere, that caught the fangs,
long and white-yellowish, dripping with saliva.
For a moment it seemed as if the house rode the lightning.
Horribly explicit the beast became as it crawled forth from the
cellar door opening. I fell, the way dumb women in films fall,
cursing at my own stupidity. I clung on to the crowbar as if it
was my life insurance. I was. Not a good one, but it was all I
"Come on," I said, trying to sound threatening but probably
failing. I could have sworn the monster grinned as it poised
itself to leap, like a grotesquely misformed, many-limbed large
cat. I clambered back, eye to horrid eye with certain death. It
spoke to me again, spoke of charred flesh and blood pouring from
wounds shaped like serrated edges, fangs, white, yellowish,
There was a violent knocking behind me, suddenly, and I could
have sworn the beast's grin widened. I cried in dismay, causing
the knocking, the slamming on the front door, to increase.
The monster must have warned a previously invisible partner
outside. I was cornered. Why had I not thought of the
possibility? Monsters came individually in class B horror films.
This was class A reality. Here they came in twos. At least.
I yanked open the front door, at the precise instant of which a
flash of lightning almost directly atop my flashed mercilessly,
the sound coming within the same moment, obliterating my hearing.
I had my back to the cellar creature, and now faced a squat
threat, appearing hideously misformed in the bolt of lightning as
it sped through the sky. I swung the crowbar. It impacted
something hard that gave way. I swung again, hacked, until the
wretched creature fell down, and then I hit some more until the
crowbar came back gleaming red with bits of hair clinging to it.
Something laughed behind me, the disturbed, loud laugh of the
irredeemably insane. I swirled around, where one more lightning
flash revealed to me the form of the impure creature as it
retreated down to the cellar, like it had successfully performed
I looked down on the dead shape lying on my doorstep. The rain
lashed at its remains. As the throes of half-madness left me be,
I recognized in it the clerk that had arranged this house for me.
Why had he come here at this ungodly hour? Why? Why had the vile
creature downstairs projected in my mind visions of an evil
accomplice, of death upon me instantly?
I sank to my knees, no longer able to suppress my sobbing. In
the morning men came to take my numb self away.
Maybe I should never have opened the maddeningly explicit diary
after I had read its former owner's name. Maybe I should simply
have left, never to return, when I discovered I had moved into a
house previously occupied by Howard Phillips Lovecraft, a house
that no doubt gave birth to many of his horror stories.
But now it's too late.
The following book reviews are offering in chronological order
The Haunter of the Dark and Other Tales - H.P. Lovecraft
Quite a while ago I borrowed quite a collection of books from
Stefan. Among these was a book so old it was virtually falling
apart, a book from 1950, reprinted in 1972. Not that old
actually, but old enough to have to handle it with some reverence
in order to have reading enthusiasm not quite spontaneously
render it to a random collection of loosely connected pages.
I have to tell you the book caught me unawares. Stefan had told
me some years ago that it had quite a unique style and that it
was pretty haunting. I had seen a few films based on Lovecraft
stories, the one most fresh in mind being "From Beyond". Little
did I suspect to stumble on, say, the Stephen King of yesteryear.
Lovecraft (1890-1937) writes totally weird stuff, eerily
magnificent in an eldritch way, using vocabulary that is one of a
kind. He's showed me words such as teratology and vigintillion,
the latter of which I couldn't find in any of my dictionaries
(and I have quite a few!) so that I'll have to look up in the
University library's "Oxford English Dictionary" one day. His
general use of words is very inspiring. It won't surprise you
that the above is basically a story that I thought of myself but
that owes its total form and atmosphere to ingredients
unashamedly inspired by Lovecraft.
Without revealing any of the story plots, I consider "The
Dunwich Horror", "The Thing on the Doorstep" and "The Whisperer
in Darkness" as the best stories contained in this particular
collection of prose, but the rest are also quite excellent.
Finally I also got to read "The Call of Cthulhu" and various
other stories that have to do with the Cthulhu cult. Really
inspiring cosmic horror, that eventually caused me even to get
the famed "Necronomicon". I don't think there is anyone quite
like H.P. Lovecraft. His stories are excellent, without explicit
references to gore and that kind of thing, but really scary at
I don't think any faithful reader of ST NEWS would be
disappointed when reading this.
Dark Side of the Sun & Strata - Terry Pratchett
Unfortunately it's been quite a while since I read these two
Pratchett books, and somehow I didn't get around to writing
something about them right away. Hence these few short remarks.
If you like Pratchett, you might like these. They are separate
from anything other and have nothing in common with each other
except for the fact that they're absurd fantasy fiction. They
both show Pratchett's rich imagination and flawless feelings for
the absurd. Apart from showing - perhaps unintentionally - the
artificiality of language, they each contain bundles of laughs.
My girlfriend, who normally liked Pratchett a lot, didn't like
them. But I did. I guess they're different from other Pratchett
books, but still similar in their specific way.
I liked them.
Flatland - Edwin A. Abbott
This books amused me only a little. I had bought it on a whim
somewhere in 1988 but never got round to reading it. I let Stefan
read it some years ago, but judging by an ancient business card -
from a period when the company for which he works was in a
totally different town altogether - that I found halfway I don't
think he liked it very much.
It's basically an interesting book with a few original ideas,
but it's basically too boring if you're used to excitement and
that kind of thing. There not a lot to laugh at, though it sets
you thinking at times. As opposed to Stefan, I did read all of
it. Good thing it's not exactly a big book, for otherwise I would
have been disappointed because of time wasted.
Steer clear of this. I am pretty sure no modern reader would
Nerilka's Story - Anne McCaffrey
This story, based in the "Dragonriders of Pern" series between
"Moreta - Dragonlady of Pern" and "Dragonsdawn", is a bit cheap
if you ask me. It's a nice story and capably written, of course,
but what it boils down to is some kind of ordinary love story.
The surroundings and the whole culture with which readers of
Pern books are familiar is excellent, we all know that. But what
it boils down to here is a girl that falls in love with a man who
has just lost his wife and his lover (Moreta, who died in the
previous book). In the end the man learns to love her after
originally having married her out of sense, and everybody is
happy once again.
Had this been a story set in a traditional world (say, ours)
with regular people (a doctor and a nurse spring to mind) I would
probably not have liked it at all. The Pern magic makes it work
to some extent. I liked reading it, but when I had finished I
realised I had been reading a fairly average romance novel - no
matter how capably written.
Coupled with "Nerilka's Story" within the same volume is "The
Coelura". As Miranda had read it before and didn't like it, and
as it had nothing to do with Pern at all, I decided simply not to
read it and continue with "Dragonsdawn".
Dragonsdawn - Anne McCaffrey
"Dragonsdawn", let me tell this right away, is another classic
Pern book. But it's quite different from the previous books
insofar that it's actually located around the discovery and
settlement on an empty planet of Pern. It's pure science fiction
with a touch of fantasy where the genetic generation of fire-
breathing dragons is concerned, something necessary to fight the
hazards of thread.
The atmosphere of colonisation and initial disappointment when
the planet is found to be all but perfect - with lethal
Threadfall - is brilliantly conveyed. Anne McCaffrey knows how to
tell a good story, and "Dragonsdawn" gives a good insight in the
first episodes of Pern. The magic is still there. There are good
guys and bad guys (actually the baddest one is a girl) and human
emotions. When, near the end of the book, fire-breathing dragons
could finally teleport and fight Thread, it made for an awesome
climax that had me experience quite a lump in my throat.
It's a classic Pern book, and one of the very best so far.
I hope that, one day hopefully when I'm a writer, I will be able
to create just as wonderful a world as Pern. It stirs the
imagination and will leave no reader of fantasy/scifi unmoved.
The Renegades of Pern - Anne McCaffrey
Right around the time when I had my last exam of the academic
year ending a month ago - Modern Irish - I had started reading
"The Renegades of Pern", the next book in the Pern sequence after
"Dragonsdawn". I don't really know why I had suddenly become to
keen on reading a lot of McCaffrey books, but I think my having
interviewed her was a contributing factor. Also, Miranda had read
them all some time ago and had told me they were getting
I have mixed feelings about the "Renegades" book, though. It
goes off on a slow and very confusing start, where the reader is
introduced to a variety of seemingly unconnected people who get
cast out of their holds for some reason or other. Some of them
become Traders, some Renegades. The book continues to revolve
around a Renegade Band - of one Lady Thella - and an initially
unconnected Harper chap we've seen in earlier books such as
"Dragondrums", Piemur. In the end (and I really mean "in the
end") they get connected somehow and there's a bit of a fight
between the good guys and the bad guys (i.e. Thella and her
Renegades) with a predictable outcome.
Once this story line has wrapped up itself the really exciting
my-god-I-want-to-read-the-next-page starts, which in itself is a
mere dozen pages or so. It is here that AIVAS is found, an
ancient computer system installed when man first colonised Pern,
2525 years before. These last dozen or so pages actually build up
the cliff hanger to run out to your closest bookshop and get the
sequel, "All the Weyrs of Pern".
Lucky enough I didn't have to do that because I had bought just
about the whole series already. "All the Weyrs of Pern" was
patiently sitting in my bookcase waiting to be read.
I think I've got a pretty good idea what it'll be about, but I
don't know yet. I'll get back to you in once I've read it.
Concluding, "The Renegades of Pern" is as essential as the other
books, if perhaps not quite the best of the series. It's got some
basic ingredients like envy end revenge, and you need the end for
the next book, which Anne McCaffrey herself claims is one of the
best two or three books she's ever written.
All the Weyrs of Pern - Anne McCaffrey
I sat down reading this day the same evening I finished the
previous part. It was already getting late so I kept it to one
chapter. The next day, with nothing to do, I installed my Discman
outside on the balcony and let it rip Deep Purple's "Made in
Japan" and other classics while reading, and reading on. At the
end of the day, when the sunny day had transformed itself into
one where the occasional shiver was felt due to cooler breezes, I
quit at about 2/3rds.
The next day I finished all but two chapters, enthralled in ways
I can't remember since I first read both "Red Dwarf" books, which
had taken me one day per volume. The weather was very much the
same and, indeed, I seem to recall having read meant volumes in
the summer, too.
I really like the summer holidays. There is no way you can do
anything about school, the weather is generally nice, and I can
read to my heart's content. Add some liquorice, Pepsi Max and
good music and I'm cookin'.
One day later I finished the last two chapters, the climax. The
weather was much more stuffy, the proverbial warm blanket kind of
thing. The end is quite sad. Not just because a few of the
characters die but also because you can't help realising it's the
end of Thread of Pern, ergo the end of the Pern book cyclus.
"All the Weyrs of Pern" makes you realize all previous books, no
matter how good they were individually, seem to have been written
with only a purpose of paving the road for "All the Weyrs". Quite
a feat, if you ask me, and that's what makes this last part stand
out among the rest, reaching proportions similar to the epic
climaxes in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings", Donaldson's "Thomas
Covenant the Unbeliever" chronicles and Kay's "Fionavar Tapestry"
There is no doubt in my mind that "All the Weyrs of Pern" is
among the very finest of achievements on what is probably the
most original fantasy world ever conceived.
Lords and Ladies - Terry Pratchett
I am aware of a new Discworld novel, but I am not sure whether
it's available in pocket yet. Anyway, the latest of the series
Stefan had was "Lords and Ladies" so I arranged for him to drop
it off at my place so I could get round to reading it when I'd
find the time.
I found the time.
"Lords and Ladies" is another example of a modern Discworld
book. It starts off with seemingly unconnected events happening
to seemingly unconnected people and plenty of things needing to
be filled in by the reader's wits (or imagination), which in the
end transforms itself into a spaghetti-like story that unwinds
itself quite preternaturally but somehow all of its own accord.
And you can bank on no ends being left untied.
Pregnant with Shakespeare references such as could be found in a
few of his other Discworld books, Pratchett hurls at you another
plot involving the Witches' Coven consisting of Granny
Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Margrat Garlick. A few wizards get
thrown in and, of course, the librarian. Add evil elves (complete
with Evil Fairy Queen) and stir.
"Lords and Ladies" is a great book, as usual. The plot hurls on
across the pages, nearly flying off at the edges as it were, but
somehow Pratchett makes it all work. And, of course, it's very
funny. The Witches are not my favourite characters - I like
Rincewind and Death more, personally - but it's fun anyway. And
at the end there's quite some deep stuff. They say Pratchett is
accused of literature, and I can see why.
"Lords and Ladies" might be great and should certainly not be
missed if you're a Discworld fan, but does not deliver the
relentless rounds of humour found in, say, "Moving Pictures",
"Pyramids" and "Reaper Man". Having said that, I wish all
humorous writers were as consistently funny and prolific as Terry
Pratchett. And, of course, I wish they'd also be on the net and
talking in their own alt.fan.xx Net News group.
That's as far as I'll go here. More on Pratchett in the next
issue of ST NEWS, likely.
Stephen King - The Shining
It is easy to imagine an author visiting a certain place in
certain surroundings, for him to be inspired by it to such extent
that, given the right amount of talent, an novel the likes of
"The Shining" rolls out. Stephen King is one of my favourite
authors with his incredibly mastery of language templed with a
superb way of describing emotions, human thought, stream-of-
consciousness thinking and, last but not least, insanity.
Perhaps many people would get the idea of a novel like "The
Shining" by visiting a secluded old hotel on a mountain ridge,
isolated all winter, but leave it to Stephen King to write a
novel that will grip you as tightly as it can.
"The Shining" describes the process of something evil wanting
the lives of a winter caretaker and his family. The hotel itself
is old, and its history cluttered with murder and the
supernatural. With incredibly realistic narratives, Stephen King
keeps you on your toes perpetually until, in the end, there is
the inevitable end and you feel sorry for it having concluded
This book is much worth reading if you like suspense with a bit
of horror. And I can tell you this certainly won't be the last
Stephen King book to be read by me!
Richard Bachman (pseudonym of Stephen King) - The Running Man
After "The Shining" I had intended to quit reading until this
issue of ST NEWS and version 6.3 of the "Ultimate Virus Killer"
were finished, but as it happened there was plenty more sun and
the balcony was there...add Septic Flesh on the Discman and some
liquorice and I'm cooking once more!
"The Running Man" has had a film made of it. Well, it's totally
different from the book (and so, I expect, would be the computer
game made of the film). The book doesn't have other of the
forcedly witty Schwarzenegger punch lines and is, altogether, a
lot better. The ending is totally different and not as cliché as
you'd expect. It takes you about a day to read and it's much
Wilt on High - Tom Sharpe
A long, long time ago - at least a relatively long time ago,
something like "back in 1987/88" - I read a book by Tom Sharpe.
It was the first and the last for quite a while. Stefan has them
all but somehow I didn't get around to borrowing them. I had
other stuff to read. That book, incidentally, was called
"Riotous Assembly". It involved coppers and Afrikaaners, I seem
The last month or so I've read all books in this review
starting at "Nerilka's Story". As has been said before, there was
plenty of sun that no longer made it any comfort to sit around
behind my Falcon finishing off ST NEWS. So finally, after having
read all books I promised myself I'd read, I started reading
another Tom Sharpe book that Stefan had left at my place. "Wilt
I don't know how Sharpe writes his books, but it seems to me the
only way of being able to pull it off is doing it backwards.
Somehow the main character - in this case Henry Wilt - gets into
gargantuan amounts of trouble. This time it involves Ban the Bomb
Mothers, insane American Airbase Security Officers, the Crazy
Quads, a Nymphomaniac Security Officer Spouse, and a lot of other
ingredients in a stew that is guarenteed to make your belly heave
It starts off pretty boring, but soon things accumulate into
cacophony, mayhem, chaos, whatever you call it. And it's plenty
Well, that's it as far as the semi-literary proceedings are
involved in this issue. I'll probably read a few other books in
time for inclusion in a similar column in the next issue of ST
NEWS, even though I am not yet sure which these'll be. Planned
reading material at the moment is Tom Sharpe's "The Great
Pursuit", Stephen King's "The Stand", Hickman'n'Weiss' "Rose of
the Prophet" Trilogy and, depending on whether Stefan buys them,
any Discworld novel after "Lords and Ladies" (I understand there
are two of them so far). And after that, given no further
occurrence of more contemporary reading matter, I shall read an
omnibus of the collected novels of George Orwell, a collection of
short horror tales handpicked (though not written) by H.P.
Lovecraft and then the collected works (except the poems) of
Edgar Allen Poe.
More here soon.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.