Tuesday, January 11, 2011
In the small and cozy field of weird fiction, luxurious books housing the supernatural abound. Until recently, expecting to pay $50 or more a pop for old classics, as well as debut works by new writers, was the norm. If strange literature ever becomes a wider niche, it will be due in part to strides made by two publishers: Wordsworth and Chomu Press. The exemplary work by the latter in bringing contemporary authors to the masses has already been noted here.
Wordsworth, however, has quietly re-released two rare collections for a steal. The Dead of Night collects Oliver Onions' spectral fiction in a lengthy paperback that will make the odd Onions' completist rattle with joy. Onions remains one of the more obscure names in weird horror, but mercifully one who can now be sampled by the uninitiated with zero risk to their bank accounts. His tenuous whirlwinds that breach the line between psychological and supernatural horror have earned him a cult following. Wordsmith's other notable release, The Drug and Other Stories, collects fiction written by a household name. Aleister Crowley is notorious for his occult practices, but his fiction has gained far less attention. The Drug and Other Stories, like the Onions volume, herds Crowley's fictional oeuvre in one convenient tome.
I can't ever recall seeing 600+ page collections from some of weird fiction's more shadowy corners available for the same cost as a cup of coffee. Don't miss these curiosities. Though Wordsworth's print runs are generous, chances are high that these short stories will not be seen in bargain paperbacks like this for another generation (and that's only if e-book readers haven't conquered the world by then). Affordability can rehabilitate writers who have become nearly as ghostly as their stories, and Wordsmith deserves thanks from the horror community for delivering a much needed pep shot to two weirdscribes, among others, whose fiction has teetered on the brink of total obscurity for too long.