Originally Published:Dark Forces, August 1980, edited by Kirby McCauley
Drink Pairing: Monkey Shoulder Batch 27 and Stewart’s Root Beer
I was honored having two amazing guests this week. Tim Mucci, who was in Episode 7 discussing River of Night’s Dreaming, and Michael Bukowski, artist of Yog-Blogsoth fame and Seventh Church Ministries, really added a lot to the discussion. Check out Mike’s version of the Kudzu Devil here. If you haven’t seen his work before you are in for a real treat, as mentioned in the episode he is nearing completion on his project started years ago to draw every creature mentioned in the works of H. P. Lovecraft. In addition to that project, his work often pops up on album covers and books. Now on to the hot links!
Victoria Dalpe stuck around after recording and we got a chance to talk about her recently published modern-gothic vampire novel Parasite Life published by ChiZine. Pick it up here. It’s a perfect stocking stuffer or present for that horror-loving friend. For those of you in the Providence, Rhode Island area check out her book launch this Sunday, December 17th 4pm at the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council.
Next Week: We cover Wagner’s tale, Where the Summer Ends. To close the season out we’ll have two guests!
Originally Published: Whispers #15-16, March 1982 edited by Stuart David Schiff
Awards: Won 1983 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella
Whiskey Pairing: High West Double Rye
Special thanks for this episode to Lincoln Brown for helping with the afterward by Wagner in the Scream Press edition of In a Lonely Place, and to Phil Gelatt for loaning me recording equipment.
Beyond Any Measure is easily one of my favorite Wagner tales, and I was so grateful to have Victoria Dalpe as my guest host. Her knowledge of horror, and specifically vampires, is a dark cold well that runs deep. In this episode, she adds a very insightful context for this story and its place in horror history.
I urge folks to check out her own book Parasite Life from Chizine’s Chiteen imprint. It was just released in Canada and the pre-orders for the US are now open. It’s a fresh take on vampirism and has a nice gothic influence for Wagner fans.
Victoria mentioned a plethora of books which I’m linking to below. Oh yeah, and the vampire Count from Chelsea Quinn Yarbo, his name is Saint-Germain.
WARNING: EPISODE CONTAINS CONTENT RELATED TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE
The River of Night’s Dreaming
Originally published:Whispers III edited by Stuart David Schiff (1983)
Awards: Nominated for 1982 Balrog for Short Fiction, Nominated 1982 World Fantasy for Best Novella
Whiskey Pairing: Kings County Distillery Straight Bourbon
(Special note: Wagner fan Lincoln Brown, pointed out the Afterward of the Scream Press version of In a Lonely Place. You have to check it out! It tells about Wagner’s dream that he based the story on and calls out the title as being a reference to a lyric from The Rocky Horror Picture Show-“The darkness must flow down the river of night’s dreaming…”. Lastly, the ending is a purposeful parallel to The End by The Doors, Wagner also reveals the protagonist is a male who is identifying as a female! This blows my mind, thanks again Lincoln. Looks like it’s already time for a re-read.)
This story is a rabbit hole. We could spend an entire season talking about Robert Chambers’s The King in Yellow (1895), but we kept it brief. It truly is an amazing weird fiction collection. You can read it for free here.
Once again I mention a story from the Wagner website. Check that out here. It’s where I learned about the attitudes Wagner had about shock therapy, and the treatment of patients in some of the hospitals he worked at.
For any of you law abiding citizens out there, I bought The Hunger Season 1, Episode 16 so I could watch the adaptation of the story…it was just as bad as I hoped. I have a bonus episode with some special guests in the works for early next year reviewing that episode, and Season 2, Episode 20 The Double, based on Wagner’s story Beyond Any Measure.
I spoke with Justin Steele editor and reviewer extraordinaire last summer at Necronomicon 2017. We were talking about Wagner and he pointed me in the direction of the story D T by Laird Barron. In this story there is a thinly veiled version of Wagner in the story towards the end of his career. There are easter eggs galore in this story, Barron weaves them all into a short doppelganger tale. To get my hands on this story I bought A Season in Carcosa, a collection of new King in Yellow Stories edited by Joe Pulver. I was delighted to find that in addition to D T, both Joe Pulver in his story Not Enough Hope and John Langan in his story Sweetums, give nods to Wagner. Karl Edward Wagner only wrote one King in Yellow tale but it has definitely rippled down the years as both important and part of the Carcosa cannon.
A very special thanks to our guest Tim Mucci. He rocked!
The Devil Behind You was originally published in a crime magazine, the May 1979 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. The magazine started in 1941 and has running strong as a monthly until 2016, starting in 2017 they’ve cut back to a bi-monthly magazine. That is 75 years running!
Sure, this story is technically a crime story, but it proves how some work can straddle the line. The Devil Behind You is the story of a boy hiding out in the woods to skip church. This has become a ritual to him, his mom drops him off, he waits for her to leave, and then hangs out in the woods until the service is over, and she comes back to pick him up. Moore paints a picture of a very religious community that is cold and judgemental, hence the boy avoiding church service. On the particular day of the story the boy hears a voice behind him and turns to see a man dressed as a prison guard. Menace oozes out of the stranger and the boy asks if he’s the devil. The stranger replies “You figure that out all by yourself in a minute of seeing me when it’s taken others quite some time before they called me by that name.”
Through threats of bringing the boy to hell with him, physically threatening, and smooth talking, the stranger convinces the boy to steal car keys from the empty choir room for him. Of course the stranger keeps asking the kid for one more favor, just one more, and then he’ll let him go. The kid never gets away.
This mystery story falls in line with some of the slasher novels that were coming out in the 70s and 80s. It’s basically the tale of an escaped serial killer, and the good guys don’t win. The ‘devil’ in this story was incredibly creepy, and unsettling. When the end came all hope was crushed. The story is horrifying and disturbing.
…and that is it for The Year’s Best Horror Stories Series VIII. It’s been a fun project and I hope I was able to peak your interest in the collection, share some fun facts with you, and give a taste of Wagner’s wide ranging taste in horror. Thanks for reading.