The Private Life of Elder Things will be launched by The Alchemy Press in September 2016 (as part of the FantasyCon 2016 activities). It contains stories by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Adam Gauntlett and Keris McDonald.
Information about the authors:
Adam Gauntlett has loved horror ever since reading Stoker’s Dracula, given as a Christmas present. Thank you Santa, whoever you were! It was part of a packet of cheap paperbacks that Santa happened to be giving away down at Sandys Boat Club, but only Dracula captured any kind of attention. Santa must have noticed because for years afterward copies of Armada’s Ghost Book series turned up, regular as clockwork, each Christmas.
Born in Bermuda, Adam has spent about half his life in the United Kingdom, with small snippets here and there in the States. His writing encompasses history, architectural history, games journalism (The horror! The horror!), and horror fiction of all stripes. Among his published credits are more than a few RPG titles, including many for Pelgrane Press’ Trail of Cthulhu line. Among his scenarios are: “Hell Fire”, “The Many Deaths of Edward Bigsby”, “The Long Con”, “Soldiers of Pen and Ink”, “Not So Quiet”, “Millionaire’s Special”, the Dulce Et Decorum Est collection, “Suited and Booted”, “Remember, Remember”, and many others. His short fiction has appeared in The Bermudian magazine, as well as a collection of Bermudian speculative fiction (due 2016).
Keris McDonald discovered H.P. Lovecraft in the local library at seventeen and started running Call of Cthulhu games at college. The Horror on the Orient Express campaign she ran decades ago is still one of her proudest memories – judge her as you wish. She turned to horror writing during a miserable year as a library assistant in the south of England, but nowadays lives a disappointingly pleasant life in the not-very-grim North. Her short stories have appeared in three Ash Tree Press anthologies and the magazines Weird Tales, Supernatural Tales and All Hallows, as well as the Hic Dragones collections Impossible Spaces and Hauntings, and Paul Finch’s Terror Tales of Yorkshire. Her story “The Coat off His Back” was chosen for reprint in Best Horror of the Year: Volume 7 (ed. Ellen Datlow) and her scenario “Master of Hounds” appeared in Worlds of Cthulhu.
However, she now spends most of her writing time under the name ‘Janine Ashbless’, spinning stories of paranormal erotica and dark filthy romance for publishers such as HarperCollins and Ebury/Random House. Her ninth novel, Cover Him with Darkness, an uncompromising tale of fallen angels and religious conspiracy, is out now from Cleis Press.
Adrian Tchaikovsky was born in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire before heading off to Reading to study psychology and zoology. He subsequently ended up in law and has worked as a legal executive in both Reading and Leeds, where he now lives. Married, he is an eager live role-player and has trained in stagefighting and historical combat. He maintains a keen interest in history and the biological sciences, especially entomology. Adrian is the author of the acclaimed ten book Shadows of the Apt series starting with Empire in Black and Gold published by Tor UK. His other works for Tor include standalone novels Guns of the Dawn and Children of Time and the new series Echoes of the Fall starting with The Tiger and the Wolf. Other major works include the short story collection Feast and Famine for NewCon Press and novellas “The Bloody Deluge” (in Journal of the Plague Year) and “Even in the Cannon’s Mouth” (in Monstrous Little Voices) for Abaddon. He has also written numerous short stories and been shortlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award.
Information about The Private Life of Elder Things:
From the wastes of the sea to the shadows of our own cities, we are not alone. But what happens where the human world touches the domain of races ancient and alien?
Museum curators, surveyors, police officers, archaeologists, mathematicians; from derelict buildings to country houses to the London Underground, another world is just a breath away, around the corner, watching and waiting for you to step into its power.
The Private Life of Elder Things is a collection of new Lovecraftian fiction about confronting, discovering and living alongside the creatures of the Mythos.
- A terrible secret beneath Paddington Station that is about to turn the Circle line into a Shoggoth trap
- An old archaeologist haunted all her life by a death she caused, and the shadowy creature she invoked to do it.
- A string of terrible deaths associated with lurid graffiti of a hound
- A lost mariner in a strange Sargasso where the ships are picked clean of humans by strange slave-takers.
- A new “legal high” from a machine that opens the mind to another world, and makes users visible to those creatures
- A visitor to a country house charged with finding its lost rooms
- A gifted mathematician’s apparently flawed theories attract the attention of beings to whom her numbers make perfect sense.
A REVIEW OF THE PRIVATE LIFE OF ELDER THINGS
The Private Life of Elder Things is a marvellous collection of Lovecraftian weird fiction stories. It offers new and exciting stories to readers who love weird fiction and are fascinated by the Great Old Ones and the power that they have over us.
Before I write more about the contents of this collection, I'll mention that I'm a big fan and devoted reader of Lovecraftian weird fiction and literary strange fiction. I've been fascinated by weird fiction and Lovecraftian fiction ever since I first read weird fiction stories, because they were atmospheric, satisfyingly dark and brilliantly imaginative (they made a huge impression on me). Because I'm a fan of this kind of fiction, it warms my heart to see how beautifully weird fiction blooms today and how increasingly popular it has become during the recent years. This collection is a splendid example of excellent weird fiction written by modern authors.
The Private Life of Elder Things is a kind of a tribute to H.P. Lovecraft and his legacy, because the stories take place in our world where our lives cross with the Great Old Ones. Adrian Tchaikovsky, Adam Gauntlett and Keris McDonald have written stories that will delight and impress those who are familiar with Lovecraftian weird fiction, because they bring fresh perspectives into the genre.
This collection contains the following eleven stories.
- Donald by Adrian Tchaikovsky
- Pitter Patter by Adam Gauntlett
- Special Needs Child by Keris McDonald
- Irrational Numbers by Adrian Tchaikovsky
- New Build by Adam Gauntlett
- The Branch Line Repairman by Adrian Tchaikovsky
- Devo Nodenti by Keris McDonald
- Season of Sacrifice and Resurrection by Adrian Tchaikovsky
- Prospero and Caliban by Adam Gauntlett
- Moving Targets by Adrian Tchaikovsky
- The Play's the Thing by Keris McDonald
Each of these stories has been written in an atmospheric way that will please weird fiction readers. I found the atmosphere to be satisfyingly strange in all of them.
These stories shed a bit of light on how we react when we come face to face with something that challenges our perception of the world and the universe. As these stories will show you, each of us has our own way of dealing with threatening situations and cosmic dread.
I think it may come as a surprise for many readers that Adrian Tchaikovsky does not merely write fantasy fiction, but also weird fiction. I have to admit that it was a bit of a surprise to me how fluently he writes this kind of fiction, because I was only familiar with his fantasy fiction.
When I read the stories that were written by Adam Gauntlett and Keris McDonald, I said to myself that I have to keep an eye on both of them, because I enjoyed their stories. Both of them have plenty of imagination and know how to entertain readers.
Here's more information about the stories and my thoughts about them (I'll try to avoid spoilers in the brief synopses, because I don't want to spoil anybody's reading pleasure by too many revelations about the stories):
Donald by Adrian Tchaikovsky:
- A story about a man who likes ichthyological taxonomy. He has been good friends with Donald Toomey and tells about his friendship with him. Donald seems to have suddenly disappeared without explanation, but has been in contact via letters with specimens.
- An atmospheric short story with an observant ending.
- This may sound strange, but this story feels a bit like a some kind of a coda for Lovecraft's 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth'.
Pitter Patter by Adam Gauntlett:
- I won't go into details about this fantastic and atmospheric story, but I'll mention that it's a creepy tale featuring rats.
- I like the author's way of writing about the events, because he gradually builds up tension and writes well about the protagonist's thoughts and feelings concerning the happenings.
- The ending is fascinatingly unsettling, because the protagonist is clearly affected by what he has seen and what has happened to him.
- There was something in this story that slightly reminded me of Lovecraft's 'The Rats in the Walls'.
Special Needs Child by Keris McDonald:
- A story about a boy who has been born under most unusual circumstances, because he was found inside a rotten corpse. He is somewhat peculiar and differs from normal children.
- The author's descriptions about searching for bodies after the flooding of the city are vivid. She also writes well about parenthood and the needs of a child who is different from others.
- The ending is excellent and very atmospheric.
Irrational Numbers by Adrian Tchaikovsky:
- A story about a gifted mathematician who prefers numbers to people. She makes a great discovery which she calls the Rigolo Transformation. Her discovery doesn't make sense to many, but there's a person whose employers are very interested in it.
- The author writes excellently about the mathematician and her enthusiasm with numbers.
- This is one of the most intriguing weird fiction stories I've read during the recent years, because it's something a bit different.
New Build by Adam Gauntlett:
- In this story, Maidah is set on modernising and rebuilding an old site. When she finds something strange there, she want to get rid of it as fast as possible. This is the beginning of an intriguing tale.
- The author's way of writing about the happenings feels vivid and intriguing, because he fluently describes what happens to the characters.
- A wonderfully atmospheric and unsettling weird tale with a connection to Frank Belknap Long's famous story 'The Hounds of Tindalos'.
The Branch Line Repairman by Adrian Tchaikovsky:
- A satisfyingly strange story about Patrick Chillet who was a historian and studied the London Underground. He finds out that there's something terrifying below the Paddington Station.
- This is an excellent example of well written weird fiction with an impeccable touch of style and substance.
- There was something in this story that reminded me a bit of Ramsey Campbell's 'Creatures of the Pool'.
Devo Nodenti by Keris McDonald:
- An intriguingly written story about Peggy and her dreams. She has dreams, but they're not normal kind of dreams, because she is worn out after sleep.
- Peggy's thoughts about the mysterious Eustace and his strange appearance are interesting.
- I enjoyed reading about how Peggy made a deal that affected her well-being for the rest of her life.
- This story is connected to Lovecraft's Dream Cycle.
Season of Sacrifice and Resurrection by Adrian Tchaikovsky:
- A well written story about doctor of palaeontology and his friendship with a foreign lab technician called Kevin. He gets to witness something strange, because Kevin and some of his people need to use the museum for a ritual.
- This story is connected to Lovecraft's 'The Shadow Out of Time'.
- This is one of the best stories and most compelling stories I've read this year.
Prospero and Caliban by Adam Gauntlett:
- A wonderfully atmospheric tale of a man, Paulinus Sigurdsun, who's adrift in the vast Sargasso. He meets an American man who talks in quotes from Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'.
- I enjoyed this story, because it was something different and had an excellent ending.
Moving Targets by Adrian Tchaikovsky:
- This story is an interesting take on drug use, because it tells about technology that delivers a new kind of high with dangerous side effects.
- The disappearance of Steni Osalawi has been described perfectly with a right amount of strangeness.
- A perfectly told weird fiction story with a thrilling atmosphere.
The Play's the Thing by Keris McDonald:
- In this story, Arthur Richmond visit an old country house, Lithly House. He is asked to look for the missing rooms of the house.
- I enjoyed reading about Richmond's work, because the story is filled with tiny and enjoyable details.
- This is a satisfyingly atmospheric and interesting story.
I was impressed by all of these stories, because they were versatile, well written and imaginative. It was a pleasure to read them.
I loved the way the authors wrote about the characters, because they placed the characters in menacing situations. The cast of characters ranged intriguingly from police officers to mathematicians.
The everyday settings described in these stories add a nice flavour of realism to them. By writing about what kind of strange events and terrifying horrors the characters meet in their lives, the authors create a sense of menace that equals everything H.P. Lovecraft has written in his stories, because the characters' lives are shaken and changed by the strange experiences.
The authors have different literary voices and writing styles, but their stories work well together. Adrian Tchaikovsky's stories have almost classic elegance to them while Adam Gauntlett's stories are wonderfully modern and poignant, and Keris McDonald's stories sparkle with compelling weirdness.
The striking - and often descriptive - prose wonderfully highlights the small nuances of the stories. Some of the stories are filled with small details that careful readers will enjoy. For example, Keris McDonald's 'The Play's the Thing' has elements that can be seen as a homage to classic weird fiction authors.
The cover image by Christopher Shy looks beautifully menacing and atmospheric. It fits this collection perfectly.
The Private Life of Elder Things belongs to the bookshelf of everyone who is fascinated by Lovecraftian weird fiction. It's one of the best weird fiction collections of the year and deserves to be read by ardent and enthusiastic fans of the genre. Weird fiction doesn't get more entertaining than this, so please invest a bit of time into reading this marvellous collection.