This new edition of D. P. Watt's An Emporium of Automata was published by Eibonvale Press in February/March 2013. (An Emporium of Automata was originally published by Ex Occidente Press in 2010.)
Information about the author:
D. P. Watt is a writer living in the bowels of England. He balances his time between lecturing in drama and devising new 'creative recipes', 'illegal' and 'heretical' methods to resurrect a world of awful literary wonder. His short stories have appeared with Side Real Press, Megazanthus Press, Hieroglyphic Press and his two novellas, The Ten Dictates of Alfred Tesseller and Dehiscence are available from Ex Occidente Press. You can find him at The Interlude House: http://www.theinterludehouse.co.uk/.
Information about An Emporium of Automata:
"There has existed all through the Ages an extraordinary idea that puppets are inanimate creatures controlled by human beings; but after spending some years behind the scenes in manipulating the strings of marionettes I am well assured that the position is quite the reverse, and that a puppet-showman is entirely at the mercy of his figures."
- Walter Wilkinson, The Peep Show, 1933
I can think of no better quotation that sets the stage for this magnificent collection of timeless and haunting tales by British weirdsmith D. P. Watt. This new edition of the author's collection, An Emporium of Automata, delivers a thesis of the theatrically strange. In these stories the frightening hints penned above by a literate Punch and Judy man long ago are cunningly proven and made starkly manifest. This fine new edition places in the hands of all seekers after the beautiful and weird a grand collection which, for so long, has been privy to the locked bookcases of collectors and connoisseurs of the macabre and fantastique.
Story after uncanny story unfolds before the reader; a maze of carnival mirrors that we fear we might never escape from. Here are missing tales from some lost, darkly romantic Germanic madman's attic. The rotting, wooden fissures that manifest fill in a gaping and pockmarked wooden maw somewhere between E.T.A. Hoffmann, Nabokov and Ligotti. To name these vaguely reminiscent stylists is far too simple. Watt dips first and foremost into his own, personal experience.
Through his sepia colored lens we are allowed to gape inside the old trunks of puppet men who have sold their souls in the rain, so that they might write such stories as these. The reader senses the authenticity of these cryptic pains, ritualistic longings, gorgeous and slow destructions. A literary answer to the modern neon sewer, these pages embrace the worship of decay, the altars of the desolate and all things archaic or fundamentally grotesque. The violently attractive, dangerously jagged islands of the mind which Mr. Watt guides us to are his own half-charted territories. I must also note that the book is structured in a manner, and so dense, that one is really getting three books of first-rate outré literature for the price of one.
Puppets rejoice! Read herein these baroque fables in which the drifting souls, toys and ticking things of men revert to fulfill far more ancient impulses. You have nothing to lose but the strings of your mind. Just as Walter Wilkinson was finally convinced that "a puppet-showman is entirely at the mercy of his figures." so too, the reader of An Emporium of Automata will find themselves utterly at the mercy of dark conductor, D. P. Watt, who wields his rusty-scalpel words with the precision and mad gusto of a wildly leering, yet jaded, carnival showman.
- Charles Schneider, author of The Mauve Embellishments
A REVIEW OF D. P. WATT'S AN EMPORIUM OF AUTOMATA
Eibonvale Press has done a very big favour for all readers, who enjoy imaginative and beautifully written speculative fiction, by re-publishing D. P. Watt's An Emporium of Automata. If I'm not mistaken, this collection was originally published by Ex Occidente Press in September 2010 and hasn't been available since then, until now. This new edition contains two new stories.
The contents of this collection are:
- The Imperium of Automata: An Introduction by Daniel Corrick
- I: Phantasmagorical Instruments
- Erbach's Emporium of Automata
- Of Those Who Follow Emile Bilonche
- They Dwell in Ystumtuen
- The Butcher's Daughter
- Room 89
- The Condition
- All His Worldly Goods
- Dr Dapertutto's Saturnalia
- II: Genealogical Devices
- Telling Tales
- Making History
- Zarathustra's Drive Inn
- The Architect
- III: Ex Nihilo
- Archaic Artificial Suns
- Pulvis Lunaris, or, The Coagulation of Wood
- The Subjugation of Eros
- 1 ≤ 0
- Memento Mori
- The Comrade
- The Tyrant
- First Editions: An Afterword by Peter Holman
My first impression of this collection was "Ah, what a marvelous collection!", because finding this kind of literary treasure troves of weird fiction is extremely rare nowadays. Although weird fiction has become increasingly popular during the last decade, there aren't many authors who are as good and versatile as D. P. Watt. I have to confess that I'm tempted to use the words "unparalleled excellence" when writing about Watt's stories, because they're exceptionally good and well written stories.
In my opinion D. P. Watt's An Emporium of Automata is a collection which makes its reader use all the possible superlatives when trying to describe its strange and captivating beauty to other readers. I'm sure that several readers will think of such adjectives as weird, supernatural, uncanny, bizarre, absurd and surreal when they try to describe what kind of stories D. P. Watt writes.
I have to confess that after I had read this collection I wondered how it was possible that I hadn't read D. P. Watt before, because I normally read quite a lot of weird fiction and literary fantasy (I'm a big fan of weird fiction and literary fantasy). I immediately added Watt to my "must read" list, because he seems to be a talented author.
An Emporium of Automata is a collection of stories, which can clearly be categorized as literary fantasy and especially as literary weird fiction. As certain readers may know, weird fiction can easily be divided into several sub-genres depending on the content of the stories. In this collection, D. P. Watt demonstrates that he's able to write all kinds of weird fiction. These stories contain in equal measures traces of fantasy and horror, but not always in the expected way, because the author has interesting surprises in store for his readers.
Here's a bit of information about this collection and certain stories, and my thoughts about the stories:
This collection has been divided into three sections: Erbach's Emporium of Automata, Genealogical Devices, and Ex Nihilo.
Erbach's Emporium of Automata is a beautifully written and touching story about childhood memories and how a child sees things. In this story the author shows amazing talent for writing about wondrous things.
Room 89 is one of my favourite stories, because it's a disturbingly brilliant piece of horror. This story reminded me a bit of classic horror stories.
The Butcher's Daughter is a fascinating and twisted story about a couple who moves in the house of the late Amy Coulton and they begin to go through her things. (This story has quite a lot of good illustrations.)
They Dwell in Ystumtuen is a powerful and captivating tale in which thestory of a hanged woman is told in a fable-like way. This dark fable is one of the best stories in this collection.
Dr. Dapertutto's Saturnalia also deserves to be praised, because it's a fascinatingly written story and features an Eastern European setting.
The Architect is a short masterpiece of architectural absurdism.
Memento Mori also made an impression on me, because the author writes fascinatingly about collecting items etc. The ending of this story is excellent.
The Tyrant is an amazing story about madness and power. It's a short, but powerful story.
The above mentioned stories and the other stories offer so much fantastical entertainment, observations about humanity, complex storytelling and absurd and bizarre elements that it's difficult to forget them. I can guarantee that readers will be thinking of these stories for a long time after they've finished reading them.
Watt combines history, weirdness, surrealism and literary prose in these stories and creates a magically charged and alluring atmosphere which will leave readers spellbound. The author's beautiful literary prose highlights the strange atmosphere and literally seduces the reader with nuanced descriptions of the happenings and places.
In my opinion D. P. Watt is one of the best authors of literary fantasy and weird fiction at this moment. He seems to have a vast imagination and he wonderfully exhibits signs of being able to write beautiful and macabre stories, which will charm readers with their unique weirdness and gothicness. The macabre elements perfectly manifest themselves in the way the characters act and what happens to them.
D. P. Watt's beautiful prose deserves an extra mention, because his prose is stunningly beautiful. He uses plenty of descriptive expressions and sentences, and hooks his readers with them.
What separates D. P. Watt from other authors of weird fiction is that he explores the world, characters and happenings through a wonderfully twisted sense of wonder and darkness. He addresses several themes from identity to morality and pays attention to the atmosphere. He is an observant author and he offers fascinating glimpses into the lives of humans.
To be honest, D. P. Watt is one of the rare authors who can write weird stories and make them his own. He has a unique voice of his own and he is clearly a master of his art, because he writes about humane and philosophical elements in an unforgettable way. For example, everybody who reads Erbach's Emporium of Automata will be very impressed by the author's way of describing the happenings in delicate details.
D. P. Watt's writing style is heavily influenced by classic authors of weird stories, but Watt doesn't imitate their writing style. Watt writes totally original weird fiction. He uses melancholy and disturbing elements, violence and weirdness as his tools to create original fiction. For example, in They Dwell in Ystumtuen he demonstrates that he is able to captivate the readers by writing beautifully and shockingly about what happens to Elizabeth and her children.
If I had to compare D. P. Watt to other authors, I'd probably say that his writing style reminds me a of Brendan Connell (he is the first author that comes to my mind when I think of these stories and their structures) and also of Douglas Thompson, David Rix and Thomas Ligotti. A careful reader may also notice that Watt's stories contain echoes of Edgar Allan Poe, Clark Ashton Smith and M. R. James.
An Emporium of Automata is a fantastic treasure trove of weird stories. It's a truly outstanding achievement in every possible way. D. P. Watt's stories will charm everybody who loves weird fiction and beautifully written prose. If you love speculative fiction, literary fantasy and weird fiction, you must buy An Emporium of Automata, because it's full of exquisitely beautiful prose and impressive stories.
Very highly recommended!