So who are your great masters,
the influencers of your chosen genre?
And do you read 'em regularly? Do your impatient 2010 sensibilities, like mine, wrestle with the clotted form of early fiction? How do you overcome it? Me, I just keep going back and re-reading 'til my errant sensibilities adjust. Here are a handful of the greats of my genre:
|Arthur Machen (1863-1947)|
"There is a real world, but it is beyond this glamour and this vision...beyond them all as beyond a veil. I do not know whether any human being has ever lifted that veil; but I do know, Clarke, that you and I shall see it lifted this very night from before another's eyes."
|Mary Shelley (1797-1851)|
"Thus we began to feel, with regard to many-visaged death let loose on the chosen districts of our fair habitation... Nations, bordering on the already infected countries, began to enter upon serious plans for the better keeping out of the enemy."
|Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951)|
Algernon Blackwood is the grandfather of the ghost story. His The Willows is also hailed as one of the best of all time:
"With this multitude of willows, however, it was something far different, I felt. Some essence emanated from them that besieged the heart. A sense of awe awakened, true, but of awe touched somewhere by a vague terror..."
|Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)|
Nevermore ponder this dark romanticist with weak, weary quotes about ravens. Get some new references via Edgar Allan Poe's first short story, Metzengerstein:
"'He is your own property, Sire,' replied one of the equerries. 'At least, he is claimed by no other owner. We caught him, just now, flying all smoking, and foaming with rage, from the burning stables of the Castle Berlifitzing..."
|Howard Philip Lovecraft (1890-1937)|
A machete'll get you through Lovecraft's adjectival thicket - all eldritch and enclosed by cyclopean walls of non-Euclidean geometry. But not for nothin' exists hoary plush Cthulhu, or the undying myth of the Necronomicon, spawned by H.P.'s "Nameless City"...
"Remote in the desert of Araby lies the nameless city, crumbling and inarticulate...It must have been thus before the first stones of Memphis were laid, and while the bricks of Babylon were yet unbaked. There is no legend so old as to give it a name...but it is told of in whispers..."
|Robert W. Chambers (1865-1933)|
"This is the thing that troubles me, for I cannot forget Carcosa where black stars hang in the heavens; where the shadows of men's thoughts lengthen in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the lake of Hali; and my mind will bear for ever the memory of the Pallid Mask..."
|Lord Dunsany (1878-1957)|
There's just no not including Lord Dunsany. Everyone from Tolkien to Le Guin to Lovecraft has a hard-on for his collection of short stories, The Gods of Pegana:
" ...and Beyond it where lies the Silence, and the Rim is a mass of rocks ... and on it sat Trogool. Trogool is the Thing that is neither god nor beast, who neither howls nor breathes, only It turns over the leaves of a great book, black and white, black and white for ever until THE END."
So what say you, O weary-eyed patron of the early, that which must needs be convoluted and arcane?
Who be your masters?