Vintage Treasures: Midnight Pleasures by Robert Bloch
Robert Bloch isn’t a name that gets tossed around much these days. Even before his death in 1994, he was primarily known as the author of Psycho, and this one fact overshadowed most of his other accomplishments.
But Bloch was also the author of hundreds of short stories, and over 30 novels, virtually all of which are out of print today. He was one of the most gifted and prolific short story writers in the horror field, and his best short stories are compact treasures. He won a Hugo Award for his 1958 story “That Hell-Bound Train,” and multiple Bram Stoker awards (for the 1993 collection The Early Fears, the novelette “The Scent of Vinegar,” and his 1993 memoir Once Around the Bloch.)
He received a World Fantasy Award in 1975 for Lifetime Achievement, and a Lifetime Achievement Bram Stoker Award in 1990.
Bloch was also one of the youngest members of The Lovecraft Circle, those writers who corresponded with and often consciously emulated H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft was one of the first to encourage Bloch’s writing, and a lot of Bloch’s early work for the pulps was Cthulhu Mythos fiction (most of which was gathered in his 1981 collection Mysteries of the Worm.)
Midnight Pleasures is one of Bloch’s last fiction collections (two more appeared before his death: Fear and Trembling in 1989, and The Early Fears in 1994). It’s a fine sample of late horror fiction from one of the best short story writers the genre has seen.
It was nominated for a 1987 Bram Stoker Award for Fiction Collection (it lost out to The Essential Ellison). It contains chiefly later short work, dating from 1977-1985, published in anthologies like New Terrors 2, Shadows, Masques, Analog Yearbook, Dark Forces, Chrysalis 3, and others.
It also includes one pulp story (from the August 1939 issue of Weird Tales), and two stories that appear here for the first time: “Comeback” and “Die–Nasty.”
Here’s the complete table of contents:
“The Rubber Room” (New Terrors 2, 1980)
“The Night Before Christmas” (Dark Forces, 1980)
“Pumpkin” (Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, November-December 1984)
“The Spoiled Wife” (Chrysalis 3, 1978)
“Oh Say Can You See–” (Analog Yearbook, 1978)
“But First These Words—” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 1977)
“Picture” (Shadows, 1978)
“The Undead” (The Undead: The Book Sail, 16th Anniversary Catalogue, 1984)
“Nocturne” (The First Chronicles of Greystone Bay, 1985)
“Pranks” (Halloween Horrors, 1986)
“Everybody Needs a Little Love” (Masques, 1984)
“The Totem-Pole” (Weird Tales, August 1939)
About the Author
And here’s a quick snapshot of some of the anthologies the stories originally appeared in.
And here’s a few of the magazines.
Midnight Pleasures was published in hardcover Doubleday in April 1987, and reprinted in paperback by Tor in April 1991. The paperback is 177 pages, priced at $3.95. The cover is by David Mann.
See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.
And a poet of mystery genre:
We don’t dispute the toil
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Invested in creating Sherlock Holmes;
And Miss Marple, fat and frisky,
Thanks to Miss Agatha Christie
Appears in a variety of tomes.
And a MacDonald – Ross –
Is never at a loss
For getting Archer into quite a bind;
While MacDonald’s namesake – John D. –
Created Travis McGee
Whose problem is that he is color-blind.
Wolfe, Poirot and Vance
Perchance enhance romance
Detection and deduction are their field;
And while Philip Marlowe guzzles,
Charlie Chan solves Chinese puzzles
And Perry Mason’s cases aren’t appealed.
But we salute a sleuth
Who dignifies, in truth,
The mantle of the master that he dons;
All the others, irrespective,
Must defer to our detective-
So, gentlemen-I give you -Solar Pons!
I’ve read that before (can’t recall where), but I quite forgotten that it was written by Robert Bloch!
Not to go too far off topic, but Dark Forces, edited by Kirby McCaulay, is one amazing anthology. It seemed to signal the 1980s horror renaissance to me, alerting me to some fine writers and their works.
Not that I could count Mr. Bloch among my discoveries from Dark Forces, having met him in the Hugo Awards collection with “That Hell-bound Train”, or from Dangerous Visions with “A Toy for Juliette”, or “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” in numerous places.
Yeah, Dark Forces was great — not only did it open with The Mist (King’s best story?), but Bloch’s Night Before Christmas (which has one of the great closing lines of all time) and the Richards Matheson’s Where There’s a Will, amongst many, many others.
My first introduction to Bloch was also Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper, which I encountered in, I think, some Alfred Hitchcock collection in the children’s room at the public library. Scared the pants off of me.
> Not to go too far off topic, but Dark Forces, edited by Kirby McCaulay, is one amazing anthology. It seemed to signal the
> 1980s horror renaissance to me, alerting me to some fine writers and their works.
Yes indeed. Some of my all-time favorite horror stories are in that anthology. It probably deserves a VINTAGE TREASURES entry all on its own.
> Yeah, Dark Forces was great — not only did it open with The Mist (King’s best story?), but Bloch’s Night Before Christmas (which
> has one of the great closing lines of all time) and the Richards Matheson’s Where There’s a Will, amongst many, many others.
Joe — I concur on THE MIST. I do think it is Stephen King’s finest story (although “The Last Rung on the Ladder” is pretty fine too.)
John – I emailed that poem to you back when I was a mere BG commenter.
Regarding Mr. King’s “The Mist”, I was very impressed with it as an effective “time out of joint/the monsters are HERE” story. One thing that also stuck with me is a passage in which the narrator, an illustrator, talks about how he tried (and failed) to become an Artist (capital ‘A’) and decided to accept his career going more commercial than aesthetic. I always wonder how much of that passage was Mr. King’s own cri de coeur.
> John – I emailed that poem to you back when I was a mere BG commenter.
That’s where I read it! I owe you twice, Bob. 🙂
> One thing that also stuck with me is a passage in which the narrator, an illustrator, talks about how he tried (and
> failed) to become an Artist (capital ‘A’) and decided to accept his career going more commercial than aesthetic. I always wonder
> how much of that passage was Mr. King’s own cri de coeur.
Could be. But it’s always tough to interpret an author’s motives. In my experience, authors mine their own lives all the time, but they’re just as happy to steal from others lives if it suits the story. Or from no source at all.