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Future Treasures: Fighters of Fear: Occult Detective Stories edited by Mike Ashley

Monday, January 6th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Fighters of Fear Occult Detective Stories-smallMike Ashley has been editing anthologies since at least 1977 (with the Year’s Best volume SF Choice 77 from Orbit), and in the last 40 years he’s produced dozens, including no less than 19 volumes of The Mammoth Book of.. (such as The Mammoth Book of Science Fiction, The Mammoth Book of Sorcerers’ Tales, etc.), and over a dozen for British Library Publishing, including Lost Mars: The Golden Age of the Red Planet and Moonrise: The Golden Era of Lunar Adventures. He’s also edited multiple volumes of the Stark House Algernon Blackwood.

His latest is Fighters of Fear, a collection of 31 classic occult detective tales from Arthur Machen, Robert W. Chambers, William Hope Hodgson, Victor Rousseau, Sax Rohmer, Seabury Quinn, Henry S. Whitehead, Manly Wade Wellman, Joseph Payne Brennan, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, and many, many others — including a handful that have never before been reprinted.

It’s a fat 624-page volume that belongs in the library of every serious fantasy fan, and it’s easily one of my most anticipated volumes of winter. It got a starred review from Publishers Weekly, pretty much unprecedented for a collection of generally obscure, mostly 19th Century genre fantasy. Here’s a snippet:

Ashley… has never been better in conveying his genre expertise than in this impressive assembly of 31 short stories featuring psychic or occult detectives from the mid-19th century (Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Green Tea”) to the late 20th century (Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s “Jeremiah”). While usual suspects Arthur Machen and William Hope Hodgson are deservedly included, the volume’s real value lies in its introducing fans of those writers to more obscure authors, such as Max Rittenberg, whose “The Sorcerer of Arjuzanx,” concerning a possible case of bewitchment at Lourdes, makes the case that his consulting psychologist, Xavier Wycherley, merits having all his stories republished. And few setups are more tantalizing than Victor Rousseau’s “The Woman with the Crooked Nose,” in which a man consults a doctor after seeing a ghost resembling a dead woman in every particular, except that it has a straight nose, unlike the deceased.

It’s been a lean few years for occult detective fans. The most recent really comprehensive anthologies I can think of were Stephen Jones’ Dark Detectives: An Anthology of Supernatural Mysteries (Fedogan & Bremer, 1999), Paula Guran’s Weird Detectives (Prime, 2013), and of course The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin, by Seabury Quinn (Night Shade Books, 2017-18). And we mustn’t forget Occult Detective Magazine, which just published its 6th issue last month.

Fighters of Fear will be published in trade paperback in two weeks. Here’s the complete description and Table of Contents.

Lost Mars The Golden Age of the Red Planet-small Moonrise The Golden Age of Lunar Adventures-small

Recent Mike Ashley anthologies in The British Library Science Fiction Classics

Here’s the publisher’s description for Fighters of Fear.

A Retrospective Collection of Classic Occult and Supernatural Detective Stories by Some of the Field’s Greatest and Best-Known Weird Fiction Authors

Since the gaslit nights at the end of the nineteenth century, the occult detective has been a beloved and recurring archetype. Mixing the best aspects of the detective tale and weird or supernatural fiction, and capitalizing in part on the massive popularity of Sherlock Holmes, these stories portrayed men and women pitted against surreal and horrifying foes, usually with little to defend them but their own savvy, experience, and know-how.

From William Hope Hodgson’s Thomas Carnacki, to Seabury Quinn’s fearless Frenchman Jules de Grandin, to Jessica Salmonson’s Penelope Pettiweather, the occult detective has taken a variety of forms, investigated a wide array of supernatural and otherworldly cases, and entertained generations of readers. This new collection compiles thirty-one all-time classic occult detective stories as it traces the genre’s growth from its nineteenth-century origins to the late twentieth century, showcasing the work of acclaimed pioneers of weird tales alongside cult favorites and exciting modern talents.

So, step into the shadows, join us on this journey into the dark, and become a fighter of fear . . .

And here’s the complete Table of Contents.

Introduction, Mike Ashley
“Green Tea,” Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
“The Shining Pyramid,” Arthur Machen
“The Haunted Child,” Arabella Kenealy
“The Mystery of the Felwyn Tunnel,” L. T. Meade & Robert Eustace
‘The Story of Yand Manor House,” E. & H. Heron
“The Tapping on the Wainscott,” Allan Upward
“Samaris,” Robert W. Chambers
“The Whistling Room,” William Hope Hodgson
“The Woman with the Crooked Nose,” Victor Rousseau
“The Sorcerer of Arjuzanx,” Max Rittenberg
“The Ivory Statue,” Sax Rohmer
“The Stranger,” Claude & Alice Askew
“The Swaying Vision,” Jessie Douglas Kerruish
“The Sanatorium,” F. Tennyson Jesse
“The Villa on the Borderive Road,” Rose Champion de Crespigny
“The Room of Fear,” Ella Scrymsour
“The Seven Fires,” Philippa Forest
“The Subletting of the Mansion,” Dion Fortune
“The Jest of Warburg Tantavul,” Seabury Quinn
“The Soldier,” A. M. Burrage
“The Horror of the Height,” Sydney Horler
“The Mystery of Iniquity,” L. Adams Beck
“The Thought-Monster,” Amelia Reynold Long
“The Shut Room,” Henry S. Whitehead
“Dr. Muncing, Exorcist,” Gordon MacCreagh
“The Case of the Haunted Cathedral,” Margery Lawrence
“The Shonokins,” Manly Wade Wellman
“The Dead of Winter Apparition,” Joseph Payne Brennan
“The Garden of Paris,” Eric Williams
“St. Michael and All Angels,” Mark Valentine
“Jeremiah,” Jessica Amanda Salmonson

Fighters of Fear will be published by Talos on January 21, 2020. It is $29.99 in hardcover, $18.99 in paperback, and $13.99 in digital formats. Get all the details at the Talos website.

See all our recent coverage of the best upcoming SF & fantasy here.

5 Comments »

  1. I love books like this! I’m ordering it Right Now!

    Comment by kelleyg@ecc.edu - January 7, 2020 7:06 pm

  2. Enjoy! I’m especially interested in some of the authors that are new to me, like Sydney Horler and Amelia Reynold Long.

    Comment by John ONeill - January 7, 2020 9:46 pm

  3. Heck Yes! this sounds right up my ally. hope to find some gems and follow some new writers.

    Comment by silentdante - January 8, 2020 12:59 am

  4. I hope you find several! Are you familiar with most of the writers? I’m surprised (and intrigued!) to see that half the TOC is unknown to me including:

    Arabella Kenealy
    L. T. Meade & Robert Eustace
    E. & H. Heron
    Allan Upward
    Max Rittenberg
    Jessie Douglas Kerruish
    F. Tennyson Jesse
    Rose Champion de Crespigny
    Ella Scrymsour
    Philippa Forest
    Dion Fortune
    A. M. Burrage
    Sydney Horler
    L. Adams Beck
    Amelia Reynold Long
    Gordon MacCreagh
    Margery Lawrence
    Eric Williams

    Comment by John ONeill - January 8, 2020 11:22 am

  5. Sounds very interesting, John!
    A nice way to start the new year

    Comment by Mario Guslandi - January 8, 2020 5:53 pm


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