As a compromise to my ever declining reading habits, I have instead decided to embrace audiobooks with a passion. My recent Lovecraft addiction has ultimately led me to HorrorBabble, a small UK based narration group who read from a short list of public domain and permitted authors, as well as a few original creations. They have an affiliation with Rue Morgue, an international horror magazine* and production company, so in a short space of time they’re already part of a larger media empire, and with good reason.
Simple, beautifully recorded audio, hours of books recorded by a collection of readers, almost entirely Ian Gordon who has been the bulk of my listening habits thusfar. Ian is not the most lively reader, one might be forgiven – in those moments when two characters are talking to one another – for confusing one character for another to an extent, but his voice is soft and clear, at once relaxing, and a little chilling. As cofounder, he also records some of his own material for the channel.
Much of what I have been listening to are the Lovecraftian collaborators that I had not listened to much until now, Robert Bloch, Robert E. Howard, Robert W. Chambers… ok at some point I’ll stop listening to authors name Robert. What I’m observing is… well frankly there’s a reason why Lovecraft’s name is far better known than his friends, and while each of them have earned their place in horror history and deserved every penny of money they made in the pulp magazine days, some seemed to lack an appreciation for subtlety and ambiguity.
Bloch’s book “The Shambler from the Stars” for example, was a book written for Lovecraft’s mythos, following the typical archetype: a struggling author (write what you know, right?) seeking inspiration for good quality fear goes looking for forbidden books, shout out to the Necronomicon, and introduce another title to the library, De Vermis Mysteriis, and accidentally summons a monster… which he sees. It’s a very visible thing, and missing a lot of the better elements of build up that Lovecraft’s own work embraces. Lovecraft wrote a sequel to The Shambler, called the Haunter of the Dark, in which tension is built to a far greater extent, bleak focus is laid about the town in which the mysterious church stands. Maybe I was just put off by the amount of time Bloch spend talking about “not himself, definitely not himself”.
Now, The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood, that was worth a listen. Two men on an adventure, the like of which the early part of last century could probably afford them, make camp on a river island where they are told repeatedly not to stay. The story remains heavily ambiguous for quite some time, as to whether the two men are turning on one another, or genuinely subject to otherworldly forces with power over nature itself.
Oh, and side note, Lovecraft fans often mock his racism. Robert E. Howard… that is racism past mockery, well written stuff but wow was that guy xenophobic.
Anyway, I could witter and briefly review the handful of stories I’ve worked my way through so far, simply consider this a recommendation. At this season of fear and terror, here is some good quality horror for the busy folks too busy to devote time to books, and too distracted to even watch a film. HorrorBabble release new videos three times a week.
*I admit, I went digging, not sure what the affiliation is, whether they are owned by Rue Morgue, partnered with, or just have a mutual marketing deal… not sure, logos appear, items are shared, links are on websites, but that’s about as much as I can figure out.