The Best Pulp Horror and Weird Tales: The Fantasy Catalog of Hippocampus Press

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Burnt Black Suns-small Ghouljaw and Other Stories-small The Wide Carnivorous Sky-small

When I returned from the World Fantasy Convention in Washington last November, the first thing I did was write about all the great discoveries I made in the Dealer’s Room.

I’m not just talking about rare and wonderful old books (although those were pretty damn cool, too.) I mean the smorgasbord of small press publishers who’d come from far and wide to display an incredible bevy of treasures, piled high on table after table after table. Seriously, it was like walking through Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders, except air conditioned and with decent carpeting.

One of the great discoveries I made was Hippocampus Press, a small publisher founded by Derrick Hussey in New York City in 1999. Their table was groaning under the weight of dozens of fabulous collections, horror anthologies, entertaining and informative journals, and stranger and more marvelous things. They specialize in classic horror and science fiction, with an “emphasis on the works of H. P. Lovecraft and other pulp writers of the 1920s and 1930s,” as well as critical studies of folks like Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and William Hope Hodgson.

I brought home a copy of their 2014 Simon Strantzas collection, Burnt Black Suns, and told you about it here. Today I’d like to take a few moments to re-create what it was like to stand in front of the Hippocampus table and take in their extraordinary output, the product of over a decade of tireless dedication to classic weird tales (and great cover design.)

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New Treasures: Sefira and Other Betrayals by John Langan

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Sefira and Other Betrayals-small Sefira and Other Betrayals-back-small

John Langan is the author of the collections Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (2008) and The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies (2013), and the Bram Stoker Award-winning novel The Fisherman (2016). His newest gathers eight stories from Ghosts by Gaslight, Black Wings 2, Supernatural Noir, and others, including an original novella, “Sefira,” and an original novelette, “At Home in the Devil’s House.” Rue Morgue Magazine says it’s “certain to solidify his place among the strongest voices in modern literary horror,” and Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, saying (in part):

In the title tale, a woman tracks the femme fatale who has seduced her husband across the country, gradually acquiescing to the realization that her rival is a formidable succubus from time immemorial. “In Paris, in the Mouth of Kronos” is a slice of supernatural noir whose characters are trapped in a web of double-crosses and deceptions designed to propitiate the dark forces controlling their fates. “At Home in the House of the Devil” features an appearance by Old Scratch himself as the personal tormentor of a man who abandoned his drug-addicted lover in her hour of need. Langan laces his tales with allusions to the work of Henry James and other heavyweight writers, but the horrors he evokes are unique to their stories, as in “Bor Urus,” in which the reality-bending storms its narrator chases seem an externalized expression of his own troubled psyche, and “The Third Always Beside You,” in which “the other woman” feeds vampirically off a marital relationship. This book is a treasure trove for lovers of literary horror fiction

Sefira and Other Betrayals was published by Hippocampus Press on April 20, 2019. It is 352 pages, priced at $20 in trade paperback and $6.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Santiago Caruso. Order copies directly from Hippocampus Press, and see all our coverage of Hippocampus recent releases here.

See all our recent New Treasures here.


Goth Chick News: Get Ready, Here Comes Your Summer Reading List

Thursday, February 28th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

If you live somewhere that, like Chicago, has been experiencing temperatures incompatible with human life over the past couple months, then thinking about a lounge chair, a book and an umbrella drink wearing anything less than a Tauntaun skin is pretty darn appealing. And with perfect timing, here comes the 2018 Bram Stoker Award nominees hot off the press from the Horror Writers Association (HWA), providing a categorized list of reading material.

Now all you need is the lounge chair, an umbrella drink and a space heater.

Named in honor Dracula’s spiritual Daddy, the Bram Stoker Awards are presented each year for superior achievement in writing in eleven categories. It is also the coolest physical award ever. I mean, Oscar is just a naked gold guy while the Stoker looks like this:

Bram Stoker Award

Previous winners include Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, Joyce Carol Oates, and Neil Gaiman.

The HWA is a nonprofit organization of writers and publishing professionals around the world, dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it. The HWA formed in 1985 with the help of many of the field’s greats, including Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and Joe R. Lansdale, and in addition to the Stoker, the HWA is the sponsor of the annual StokerCon horror convention which takes place in Grand Rapids, MI.

So grab a pen Black Gaters and get ready to make your list…

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Exploring the Weird through Poetry: Spectral Realms

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Spectral Realms 9

I’m not much a poetry buff, I admit. But I want to be.

Coincidentally, I’m also a huge fan of Hippocampus Press, whom I first discovered when I stumbled on their amazing booth at the World Fantasy Convention in 2015. I’ve been sampling more and more of their wares over the years. BG blogger James McGlothlin famously labeled them “A very excellent publisher, and at the forefront all things Lovecraftian and weird – new and old,” but in the last few years they’ve been expanding well beyond their original Lovecraft-esoterica focus with popular titles such as Simon Strantzas’ collection Burnt Black Suns, John Langan’s acclaimed The Wide, Carnivorous Sky, and John Langan’s upcoming Sefira and Other Betrayals.

One way to make modern poetry more accessible to casual readers like me is to package it in an attractive and easy-to-read package, and that’s precisely what Hippocampus has done with their bi-annual weird poetry journal Spectral Realms. It’s been published since Summer 2014, and the 9th issue (above) includes poems by John Shirley, Ashley Dioses, Fred Chappell, Darrell Schweitzer, Wade German, K. A. Opperman, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, and many others. As usual, it also includes a few classic weird poems and non-fiction articles as well.

Issues are perfect bound, 130+ pages, and retail for $10 — and frequently have terrific art, like the wraparound piece above by Daniel V. Sauer. You can order copies (with free shipping) right from their website, as well as through online booksellers like Amazon.

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Hither Came Conan: Bobby Derie – “The Phoenix on the Sword”

Monday, January 14th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Hither_PhoenixFightOur Hither Came Conan series gets well and truly underway this week with Bobby Derie presenting the case for “The Phoenix on the Sword.” Grab your loin cloth and tulwar (or zhaibar knife, if you prefer…)  and tread upon some jeweled thrones!

“Know, oh prince…”

The Texas pulpster sat at his typewriter, pounding away at the keys, talking the story out loud as he typed. The long novella of King Kull, “By This Axe I Rule!” written some years earlier remained unsold, rejected by Argosy and Adventure. Already the Texan was working over the history in his mind, weaving together bits of fact and legend of the “Age undreamed of.”

Thinking back to just months ago when he had been down south, in a dusty little border town of the Rio Grande valley, and a character had come into his mind…a raw conception with an old Celtic name, and…

“Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.”

The opening to “The Phoenix on the Sword” is the greatest incipit in pulp fiction, an invocation to the muse of artificial mythology, a sketch of a world and a character all at once. It ran as the banner across the Marvel Conan comics for decades, and an abbreviated version opened the 1982 film which introduced the Cimmerian to a whole new audience. It almost didn’t happen.

“But “The Phoenix on the Sword” has points of real excellence. I hope you will see your way clear to touch it up and resubmit it. It is the first two chapters that do not click. The story opens rather uninterestingly, it seems to me, and the reader has difficulty in orienting himself. The first chapter ends well, and the second chapter begins superbly; but after King Conan’s personality is well established, the chapter sags from too much writing.”
—Farnsworth Wright to Robert E. Howard, 10 Mar 1932

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Goth Chick News: Oscars Smoscars – Pass Me a Stoker Any Day…

Thursday, January 25th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Stokers vs Oscars

Gather round friends – it’s once again time to don the footie pajamas, pour a steaming hot-toddy and hunker down until spring with the most awesome reading list of the year: namely the annual nominees for the coolest award ever.

The Bram Stoker Awards have been presented annually since 1987, and the winners are selected by ballot from the active members of the Horror Writers Association (HWA).

Several members of the HWA including Dean Koontz, were originally reluctant to endorse such writing awards, fearing it would incite competitiveness rather than friendly admiration. The HWA therefore went to great lengths to avoid mean-spirited competition by specifically seeking out new or overlooked writers and works, and officially issuing awards not based on “best of the year” criteria but for “superior achievement,” which allows for ties.

Which is lovely and all, but I believe I would not be above doing something mean-spirited if not downright evil to get my hands on the award itself, which is a haunted house whose front door opens to reveal the category and winner.

Take that, Oscar…

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New Treasures: Haunted Worlds by Jeffrey Thomas

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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Jeffrey Thomas is best known for nearly a dozen novels, collections, and shared world anthologies set in the city of Punktown, a crime-ridden metropolis on the colony world Oasis, a city of aliens, mutations, private detectives, and sentient machines. His Punktown novels include Deadstock (2007) and Blue War (2008), and his most recent collection was Ghosts of Punktown, published by Dark Regions Press in 2016. Punktown is also the setting for the last publication from Miskatonic River Press, a Kickstarter-funded setting book for Call of Cthulhu that is very late but still appears to be (fingers crossed) in the pipeline (the latest updates from May and July seem upbeat).

Thomas’ recent short fiction has appeared in Interzone, World War Cthulhu, The Children of Old Leech, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Weird Fiction Review, and many other fine places. His latest book, Haunted Worlds, collects some of his most recent fiction, including the Lovecraftian tale “The Temple of Ugghiutu,” two stories set in Punktown, and several previously unpublished stories. The foreword is by Ian Rogers.

Haunted Worlds was published by Hippocampus Press on August 1, 2017. It is 248 pages, priced at $20 in trade paperback. There is no digital edition. The cover art and frontispiece are by Kim Bo Yung. Get complete details and order copies at the Hippocampus website.


Ave Atque Vale: Celebrating the Life and Work of Michael Shea

Saturday, March 18th, 2017 | Posted by Wade German

And Death Shall Have No Dominion A Tribute to Michael Shea-small And Death Shall Have No Dominion A Tribute to Michael Shea-back-small

Michael Shea was one of the most distinguished and loved figures in the field of speculative fiction. He twice won The World Fantasy Award, and his work also received nominations for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, August Derleth and International Horror Guild awards. Ranging from wildly baroque dark fantasy to cosmic horror and grimly humorous parodies of contemporary “reality” culture, his writing conveys the sense of wonder and awe that imaginative readers crave and appreciate, and one can develop an insatiable appetite for his work.

But since Shea’s unexpected passing in 2014, many of us have been unable to slake that. That is, until the recent release of And Death Shall Have No Dominion: A Tribute to Michael Shea, which among many other things, contains three previously unpublished works of his fiction.

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Reading Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eight

Sunday, November 13th, 2016 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

the-best-horror-of-the-year-volume-8-smallDespite me not being a horror writer (or much of a reader, or a movie watcher), it surprises me that about a quarter of my posts end up touching on horror in some way. That being said, I am trying to crack to horror code, to see what makes it work, mostly because I’d love to have additional tools in my writerly toolbelt, and partly because I just like to figure stuff out.

I recently finished reading Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 8 and thought I’d put my musings to paper (or electrons). In the interests of full disclosure, I appeared in her Best Horror of the Year, Volume 6 and may have gotten an honorable mention in Volume 2. That being said, I’ve got no other interest in this book — I just wanted to read the anthology and talk about it. Make of that what you will.

Now, it doesn’t take much of a definitional search to find the totally intuitive statement that horror fiction seeks to provoke shock, fear, repulsion or loathing. A bit more searching unearths the definition of weird fiction, the cousin of horror, which blends horror, fantasy and science fiction. I’m not trying to be academic or coy with my thoughts on Datlow’s 8th Best of the Year. This kind of grounding was necessary (for me) to fully take in what I was reading.

Why’s that? Ask most anthologists (or for that matter magazine editors who put 8-12 stories per month in an issue) what their concerns are, very often you’ll hear balance.

When I read a Gardner Dozois Year’s Best SF, I know he will balance space opera, with near future, with far future, with alternate history, with literary SF, with military SF, etc, etc. That is to say, like SF, horror has its own sub-genres and each one comes with its own conventions. You may be very disappointed if you read a literary SF story expecting to apply the conventions of military SF to your reading. I didn’t want my inexperience with the horror field to detract from my read of this year’s best.

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The Wonders of Fairwood Press

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

amaryllis-and-other-stories-by-carrie-vaughn-small seven-wonders-of-a-once-and-future-world-and-other-stories-small pandoras-gun-small

I first met Patrick Swenson, publisher and editorial mastermind at Fairwood Press, back in the late 90s. I think it might have been James Van Pelt who introduced us, after I wrote a review of Patrick’s magazine, TaleBones. I helped Patrick negotiate with a squatter who was sitting on the address he wanted for his website (unsuccessfully, as I recall.) At the time, Fairwood Press was a small press underdog, with only a handful of titles to its name, but a fast-growing reputation.

Fastforward about 17 years, to Worldcon in 2016. I was walking through the sprawling dealer’s room when I spotted Patrick sitting behind a table groaning under the weight of dozens and dozens of eye-catching science fiction and fantasy books, from some of the biggest names in the industry — including Robert Silverberg, Michael Bishop, Jay Lake, Carrie Vaughn, Devon Monk, Tom Piccirilli, Tina Connolly, James Van Pelt, and many others. Could this possibly be the same Fairwood Press?

Yes, as it turned out.

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