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Michael Kelahan

Autor(a) de The World's Greatest Love Letters

8 Works 294 Membros 3 Críticas

About the Author

Obras por Michael Kelahan


Conhecimento Comum

Nome canónico
Kelahan, Michael



This baby was given as a gift by one of my lovely and brilliant daughters. The only books I feel I HAVE to read anymore are ones that are gifted to me. The catch phrase of these cheap collections is "public domain." The copyrights are long gone on these babies. You won't find a story beyond 1923.

Fall River Press is a discount imprint of B&N. If you look around the bargain shelves and tables at B&N you will find lots of these inexpensive hardcover type genre collections (as well as other crap: Astrology for the Family, etc.) by Fall River. Don't always turn your nose up, I've actually found one or two worthwhile, usually a gathering of one or more collections from the 80s or 90s from real publishers, that you might have missed. B&N seems to have largely given up the B&N colophon which these type of things used to always appear under.

These are largely well produced on good paper that doesn't yellow and usually have catchy dust covers and actual end-papers, headbands, sewn in numbers. You are mostly, but not always going to get the ubiquitous cardboard and paper "hardcover" that I so despise. These are usually actually printed and produced in North America which is refreshing for discount books these days.

This sucker is about 400 pages with itty bitty print which means you get a lot for your money but it isn't always the pleasantest ergonomic read. There are a lot of typos in this, the kind you get when texts are digitally scanned and never proofread.

The story selection is actually decent. I have only read about half of these before. The editor did a good job of picking some of the lesser known stories by the better known authors. There are a couple of things I didn't like. Leave out The Monkey's Paw. Jacobs wasn't that good a writer, had almost no supernatural stories besides this one, and everyone has already read this. Blackwood, find something besides The Wendigo or The Willows. At least in this case it was The Willows instead of the inferior Wendigo. Lovecraft, The Outsider has to be one of the least Lovecraftian stories Lovecraft ever wrote, and it's just not that good besides. I would have put in the Haunter of the Dark. Poe, Masque of the Red Death, again everyone knows this. Put in something more disturbing and less well known like Berenice.

One thing I noticed while reading this collection, and something I think is true of older horror short stories is the presence of the framing story. This, in my opinion, usually detracts from the eeriness of most stories, however in the hands of a skilled writer like Machen (White People, Three Imposters) can actually enhance or become essential to the weirdness of a story.
… (mais)
Gumbywan | 1 outra crítica | Jun 24, 2022 |
For its gorgeously gruesome cover which promises so much, I must confess that this was one long haul of a read. Not unpleasant, mind you, just long. This is not a book you will read in one or two sittings.

There's good reasons for this. The antiquated language used by the authors is a part of it, to be sure, but that can't be helped, and anyway it adds to the charm of reading. It's much more a problem of the book itself, which is poorly edited (this seems to be more and more common, sadly) and the tee-niny typeface, which requires plenty of light, an equal measure of patience, and strong reading glasses, at least for me. It's quite annoying. I don't know who's checking the galley proofs at Sterling, but I know lots of people who could do far better. Myself included.

But. There's always one of those, isn't there? The stories are what you come for, and be assured, there's barely a lemon in the carload. If you dig vintage horror, you'll eat this stuff up. Name a writer of horror or dark fantasy from the 17-18-1900s and they're likely represented. Chances are you've read some of these stories already, but so what? Read them again. Myself, I found only a few that I'd read recently, and it was like being reintroduced to old friends. And the "new" stories were pretty universally terrific.

So, if you can get past the jarring typos and the tiny print, you'll like it. Turn up the lights, put on some appropriate music, and enjoy!
… (mais)
Jamski | 1 outra crítica | Jul 18, 2018 |
Oh, classic sci-fi, how I have missed you! I just love the combination of creative spirit, scientific discovery, and (in most cases) Victorian culture that can be found in stories from what I consider the dawn of the genre. Many of the authors in this anthology are already well-known - Jack London, E.M. Forster, H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft (we seem to like abbreviated names here), Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Lord Byron - though not necessarily for science fiction. Others are well-known to early sci-fi enthusiasts, while others are just obscure. It's a very interesting mix, as are the stories selected for inclusion.

In the tales from the 19th century, a notable theme is that of a comet or similar celestial body hurtling into the earth, into the sun, or barely missing the earth. Kelahan explains that this is due to the abundance of comets sighted during the century; I was surprised by the similarity of disasters to that described in Ignatius Donnelly's nonfiction works from the 1880s. His ideas about the earth passing through a comet's tail in prehistoric times, causing the disasters recorded in mythology, the fall of Atlantis, and various other historical mysteries? Apparently the science of the comet's impact wasn't something formulated entirely by him.

A lot of the stories ran together for me. Several, however, did stand out. "Earth's Holocaust" (Nathaniel Hawthorne) was humorously satirical. "Into the Sun" (Robert Duncan Milne), "The Star" (H.G. Wells), "The Thames Valley Catastrophe" (Grant Allen), and "Finis" (Frank Lillie Pollock) were particularly dramatic and frightening. Milne's sequel to "Into the Sun," however, was a rather ridiculous tale, in terms of its improbability, of how the 'apocalypse' would result in a utopia. Another interesting theme to appear in the stories from after about 1900 was that of evolution, especially how, even if the human race were to be destroyed in a cataclysmic event, life would eventually be able to return to the planet.

There are four novels or novellas, presumably unabridged, included in the anthology. I only read one of them at this time, since I own a copy of one of the others and have already read the last two. The Crack of Doom (Robert Cromie), the longest of the novels, wasn't much fun to read. I thought the main character was rude and pusillanimous, and the plot felt disjointed and a bit confusing. The Scarlet Plague (Jack London) I didn't read, since I have another copy and will read it at some later date. The Machine Stops (E.M. Forster) and The Poison Belt (Arthur Conan Doyle) are two of my favorite books from a couple years ago. Forster's novel begins as a dystopia and ends with an apocalypse; I found it very well-written and plausible. The Poison Belt was ruined for me because I already knew how it ended. I still greatly enjoyed reading it - like the first Professor Challenger novel, The Lost World, it's exciting and engrossing - but, given the ironic conclusion, I thought everything was humorous rather than dramatic and frightening.

In terms of what the editor did, I thought he compiled a very good range of post-apocalyptic stories, given the number of authors represented (though there were no female authors - right off hand, I can't think of any specific early post-apocalyptic stories by women, but there were female authors who wrote sci-fi during the period). Each story was introduced with a brief bio of the author and a little bit of information on the work. My only problem was that the book needed a better proof-reader, there being multiple typography errors just in the introduction and then scattered throughout the book.

For other excellent anthologies of early science fiction, see The Phoenix Pick Anthology of Classic Science Fiction Stories (2008; ed. by Paul Cook) and The Treasury of Science Fiction Classics (1955; ed. by Harold W. Kuebler).
… (mais)
SusieBookworm | Jun 28, 2012 |

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Associated Authors

Edgar Allan Poe Contributor
Ambrose Bierce Contributor
H. P. Lovecraft Contributor
H. G. Wells Contributor
George Griffith Contributor
Jack London Contributor
John Buchan Contributor
W. W. Jacobs Contributor
Algernon Blackwood Contributor
M. R. James Contributor
Arthur Machen Contributor
E. F. Benson Contributor
Arthur Conan Doyle Contributor
Edwin A. Start Contributor
S. Austin Jr. Contributor
Grant Allen Contributor
Robert Barr Contributor
E. M. Forster Contributor
Lord Byron Contributor
Simon Newcomb Contributor
George C. Wallis Contributor
Robert Cromie Contributor
Vernon Lee Contributor
Gertrude Atherton Contributor
John Metcalfe Contributor
Tod Robbins Contributor
Ralph Adams Cram Contributor
Maurice Level Contributor
Guy de Maupassant Contributor
Abraham Merritt Contributor
Edward Lucas White Contributor
Perceval Landon Contributor
Oliver Onions Contributor
E. Nesbit Contributor
Saki Contributor
J. Sheridan LeFanu Contributor
F. Marion Crawford Contributor
M. P. Shiel Contributor
Mary Shelley Contributor
W. C. Morrow Contributor
Jules Verne Contributor
J.-H. Rosny aîné Contributor
Fitz James O'Brien Contributor
A. Merritt Contributor
Francis Stevens Contributor
Franz Kafka Contributor
Kate Chopin Contributor
Sherwood Anderson Contributor
Ellen Glasgow Contributor
Edith Wharton Contributor
D. H. Lawrence Contributor
Henry James Contributor
O. Henry Contributor
L. M. Montgomery Contributor
Anton Chekhov Contributor
Sarah Orne Jewett Contributor
Barry Pain Contributor
H. Heron Contributor
Vivian Meik Contributor
Morgan Robertson Contributor
Fred M. White Contributor
Sax Rohmer Contributor
Lafcadio Hearn Contributor
Clark Ashton Smith Contributor
Bernard Capes Contributor
Sheridan Le Fanu Contributor
Charlotte Riddell Contributor
Ulric Daubeny Contributor
E. Heron Contributor
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½ 3.3

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