Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

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at 09:58 on 12-09-2017, Arthur B
Were anyone to write one, I'd be glad to publish.
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at 18:39 on 11-09-2017, Ichneumon
I would love to see a Kiernan retrospective, personally. Very interesting author.
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at 03:33 on 11-09-2017, Arthur B
I am working towards Kiernan in my coverage of Mythos stuff but it may be a while.
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at 02:08 on 11-09-2017, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Hello everyone. It's been a very long time, but I was looking at the current discussion, and it brought to mind an old question that's been rattling around in my head for ages but I've never been able to have answered satisfactory, and I was wondering if some of you might be able to help.

My question is simple: why don't people read or discuss Caitlín R. Kiernan? On the surface, it seems like she would would be ideal for the current sf/f/h community. She got her start with Neil Gaiman in the late 1990s, but quickly branched out with her own particular take on Lovecraftian horror and "dark fantasy." She can depict the terrifying nature of "deep geological time" along with sympathetic portraits of alternative sexualities and mental illness that I never would have thought you could do while working in a Lovecraftian framework. She's been critically acclaimed numerous times, and is even in the process of having her papers archived at Brown University. And yet, no matter where I've gone online, no one talks about her work, and I've never been able to understand why.

And yes, I am doing well. Well, well enough, for the most part.
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at 10:36 on 08-09-2017, Arthur B
I haven't actually read any Copper to my recollection - might have to look into that.

My understanding of Price's place in Lovecraft fandom is as follows:

Phase 1: Fanzine/journal editor. Price produces Crypt of Cthulhu, presenting a mixture of fan essays and fiction. It is a useful early forum for Lovecraft scholarship.

Phase 2: Anthology editor. Price lands a series of significant gigs editing Cthulhu Mythos anthologies. His encyclopedic knowledge of the field allows him to reprint some real gems, but equally his comparative lack of discernment also means he dredges up some utter trash - still, at the time the field was pretty thin and his contributions were welcomed by a hungry fandom. He played a particularly important role in kicking off Chaosium's line of Cthulhu Mythos anthologies, and his two-volume set of Tales of the Lovecraft Mythos/The New Lovecraft Circle, conceived as a sort of alternate take on the iconic Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos anthology, got the honour of being reprinted by Ballantine as part of their Lovecraft/Mythos range. By this point S.T. Joshi has emerged as the major figure in Lovecraft scholarship, with Price's contributions seeming rather tenuous in comparison, but Price's occasional discovery of long-forgotten lost gems of the field help keep him relevant.

Phase 3: More people turn their hands to producing Mythos anthologies. The shortcomings of Price's approach becomes apparent in comparison: in particular, his tendency to pontificate (to the point of putting in mini-essays about each of the stories he includes in his Chaosium collections) and trumpet his own interpretations of the stories before readers get to look over them themselves seems especially grating, and his appetite for pulpy pastiche is a turn-off for readers who want something more polished. The jig is pretty much up once S.T. Joshi turns his hand to compiling Mythos anthologies himself; as it turns out, not only is Joshi more interesting and less prone to going out on odd limbs when it comes to Lovecraft scholarship, but he also has excellent taste in horror fiction and as much of a knack for finding lost gems as Price does.

I'm preparing a series of articles on major Cthulhu Mythos anthologies and the tussle to be the successor to Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos which is going to tease out bits of phase 2 and 3, but spoiler alert: it turns out when S.T. Joshi decides to compile a "best of the Cthulhu Mythos" anthology, it blows Price's attempts out of the water. Joshi is far from perfect, but he fills Price's niche in fandom far better than Price ever did.
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at 05:37 on 08-09-2017, Ichneumon
(I am, of course, speaking of Copper's horror fiction rather than his detective fiction, an area in which he was far more prolific, although the fact that he actually wrote quite a few Solar Pons stories is surreal enough to at least mention in passing.)
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at 05:33 on 08-09-2017, Ichneumon
Robert Price was, at one point, not unlike Derleth in his better moments, an extremely important figure in Lovecraft fandom who cultivated and championed many talented young writers through the small press. This time has since passed. He is a relic of a bygone era at this point in a way that many of his contemporaries aren't, and it's been getting increasingly embarrassing. (He is also, bizarrely, a big proponent of the theory that there was no historical Jesus, which would be far more interesting if it didn't seem to dovetail with his more odious beliefs.)

On an entirely different note: I'm watching the episode of Night Gallery which adapts "Camera Obscura" this evening, and I was wondering if Arthur might be interested in doing a little retrospective on Basil Copper. He strikes me as one of those authors much praised but little read or significantly discussed.
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at 20:06 on 29-08-2017, Janne Kirjasniemi
I know there is not much point in picking out one idiotic utterance from a stream of them, but this somehow shines out:

Our centers of learning have converted to power politics and an affirmative action epistemology cynically redefining truth as ideology. Logic is undermined by the new axiom of the ad hominem. If white males formulated logic, then logic must be regarded as an instrument of oppression.


I mean this way of peppering the text with philosophical concepts to make the writer sound somehow intellectual while at the same time demonstarting that the writer clearly has little idea of the very concepts he is brandishing seems so emblematic of this sort of pontificating in general. Like what on earth does he think logic is? Or truth for that matter? This use of philosophical and scientific terms to mask one's prejudice as somehow objective and rational seems to be especially prevalent with this sort of pontificating. That they somehow are a beacon of "truth" or whatever. Kinda reminds me of that ex-Google employee. Who perhaps wasn't as sordid as this Price fellow, but the rhetoric is similar.
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