‘Black Man With A Horn’ originally appeared in the collection New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos published by Arkham House and edited by Ramsey Campbell. It was written by T. E. D. Klein or Theodore “Eibon” Donald Klein. The “Eibon” was something T. E. D. added to his name after the necromancer from Clark Ashton Smith’s story ‘The Door to Saturn’. Eibon and his Book of Eibon are mentioned by H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and even referenced in several issues of Dr. Strange from Marvel Comics. The legend goes that Klein knew he wanted to go by initials like H. P. Lovecraft, so he threw in the “Eibon” for an E making his initials effectively the name he went by, Ted.
Klein has always been a mystery to me. The only story I had read of his previously was ‘The Events of Poroth Farm’ which I enjoyed greatly. Folks who have been listening to the podcast know that I’m a sucker for literary allusions and references and ‘Poroth Farm’ is full of them. I knew I wanted to read more of his work but for years it had been out of print and hard to get ahold of. Thankfully his novel ‘The Ceremonies’ is back in print through PS Publishing. In addition to the difficulty of finding his work is that career-wise he came out of the gates with multiple well-respected stories and a well-respected book and after that his production halted for the most part. He was still very much involved in the NYC literary world teaching, editing the Twilight Zone Magazine, as well as having a position with Conde Nast. For me, this created a mystique. I’ve always been a bit curious if he was going to return to writing once he retired. I’m going to leave some links at the bottom of this entry for several articles discussing this story as well as a recent podcast interview with Klein on one of my favorite podcasts Eating the Fantastic.
This story measures up as being one of three stories (‘The Monkey’, ‘The Propert Bequest’, ‘Black Man With A Horn’) that take up a large portion of this collection. The more I read of this collection I begin to think it was a bold move on behalf of Wagner. I’m curious how many stories were left on the edit room floor to include these longer works. This story riffs on the work of Lovecraft and mythos writers, focusing on the fear of racial differences. Wagner notes it’s “a bitter comment upon fandom’s obsessive dead-hero worship.”
Next: ‘The King’ by William Relling, Jr.