Archive for the Ace Books Category

Galad Elflandsson’s “Tales of Carcosa” (2018)

Posted in Ace Books, Copper Toadstool (magazine), Cyäegha Press, Dragonbane (fanzine), Galad Elflandsson, Graeme Phillips (editor), H.P. Lovecraft, How Darkness Came to Carcosa, Robert W. Chambers, Steve Lines, Supernatural Horror in Literature (essay), Tales of Carcosa, The Black Wolf, The King in Yellow (1895) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Tales of Carcosa by Galad Elflandsson (2018, Cyäegha Press).

A while back I did a review on the dark fantasy novel The Black Wolf (1979), by Galad Elflandsson. Mr. Elflandsson saw my review and contacted me starting a correspondence which has been both genial and edifying. Although he has been out of circulation in recent decades, he has continued writing albeit for the most part he has abandoned his Fantasy roots. Even so, he was recently contacted by someone (presumably editor Graeme Phillips) over at Cyäegha Press about some stories he had written which appeared in various fantasy and horror themed journals back in the late 70s and early 80s, like Dark Fantasy, Dragonbane, and Copper Toadstool.

Dragonbane #1 (1978) in which first appeared the story How Darkness Came to Carcosa.

The stories in question were of a specific ilk, focusing on the themes and characters that originated in the book The King in Yellow (1895) by Robert W. Chambers, later incorporated by H.P. Lovecraft into his mythos and augmented upon by subsequent mythos authors. Galad Elflandsson was one such author. According to his afterword, he picked up a copy of the 1965 Ace paperback edition after reading Lovecraft’s rhapsodic endorsement in his benchmark essay Supernatural Horror in Literature. Apparently it left an impression on him because he eventually wrote his own cycle of tales set within the purlieu of Carcosa.

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers (1965, Ace Books).

The tales as I found them, are entertaining although not as fast paced as his novel, The Black Wolf. Knowing his personal writing, I could recognize his penchant for focusing on the human experience. The Exile in particular has a focus on social/class issues and the inner world of the protagonist, Henri. In fact, many of the tales herein seem almost like a mixture of existential literature, and Fin de siècle decadence with a soupçon of horror thrown in on occasion to remind one that these are dark fantasy tales after all. As with The Black Wolf, I would have liked a bit more of a macabre atmosphere maintained throughout, but that is just a personal quirk of mine. I think my favorite story was the opening tale, How Darkness Came to Carcosa, which apparently delineates the origin of the King in the Pallid Mask, and I especially liked the few poems which are scattered throughout the book alongside fitting illustrations by Steve Lines.  Over all, it is a highly enjoyable read, and one does not necessarily need to be familiar with the extended mythos built around Carcosa or The King in Yellow to enjoy these tales, but it wouldn’t hurt going in knowing the reputation behind the forbidden play and the significance of the Yellow Sign.

The book appears to be a limited run, my copy being #8/50 numbered copies, so if you see it, grab it!