**spoiler alert** (view spoiler)["Aias" by Sophocles (translation by Lewis Campbell) Aias (elsewhere called Ajax) is passed over when the Achean leade**spoiler alert** (view spoiler)["Aias" by Sophocles (translation by Lewis Campbell) Aias (elsewhere called Ajax) is passed over when the Achean leaders award Achilles' armor to Odysseus. In a rage, Aias decides to kill his erstwhile comrades, but Athena confuses his mind, and he butchers flocks of livestock instead. When he returns to his senses, he is so embarassed over his mistake and the ridicule it has brought upon him, that he resolves to kill himself. Much of the play involves long speeches between Aias and his supporters over whether he should carry through with his resolution. (Knowing the flimsy plot on this one, I almost skipped reading it. I would not have missed much if I had.) (hide spoiler)]...more
This collection of 26 horror stories by pulp-master Hugh B. Cave is too large for its own good. There are enough good-to-excellent stories here to filThis collection of 26 horror stories by pulp-master Hugh B. Cave is too large for its own good. There are enough good-to-excellent stories here to fill out a full 5-star collection. But the overall rating gets dragged down by a comparable number of mediocre-to-dreadful efforts. Cave’s tales are full of genre standards: monsters, ghosts, vampires, shapeshifters, murder, madness, and the returning dead (or body parts thereof!). Even the best stories may not be original or innovative, but they are lurid, compulsively readable, and move at a breathless pace.
Here are my candidates for the 5-star collection within:
"Murgunstrumm." A man escapes from an asylum and brings the doctors who committed him to a remote inn, inhabited by vampires to prove that he and his fiancee are not insane. (Gaudy, fast-moving and entertaining. Like Dashiell Hammett writing a vampire tale.)
"The Whisperers." Man is beset by evil whispers in his basement urging him to kill his wife.
"Horror in Wax." After discovering the affair between his wife and a young artist, a wealthy patron devises a scheme to torment the young man beyond endurance. (An old-fashioned revenge tale very reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe. A trifle predictable as a result, but still very well done.)
"Maxon's Mistress." An old friend accidentally discovers the former surgeon Peter Maxon who long ago abandoned a promising career and disappeared to live under an assumed name, and why.
"Boomerang." A group of expats in the far east listen to an unpleasant man's tale of how a clever but unscrupulous man framed another and drove him away from a profitable diamond concession. (Nice, short, effective revenge tale. Reminded me of Guy Boothby's exotic tales of adventure and skullduggery.)
"The Crawling Curse." Another far eastern story. Vesker kills a half-breed official to be with his wife, but the new couple are pursued by the dead man's dismembered arm. (Fast-moving, tight, exciting writing.)
"The Purr of a Cat." An artist picks up a beautiful hitchhiker in a rainstorm and ends up staying with her in her ramshackle house. Their passionate, consuming affair leaves the man lethargic and strangely drained...
"The Ghoul Gallery." A young nobleman faces madness and death resulting from an old family curse. (One of the best stories in the book. An excellent example of a classic-style ghost story.)
"The Cult of the White Ape." Betts, a cruel, drunken lout comes to the Congo to plant rubber plants, where he beats the natives and his wife mercilessly. (Involves native shape-shifters.)
"The Death Watch." Man calls back his wife's dead brother using sophisticated radio-gear and black magic, not realizing the brother's thirst for revenge.
"Ladies in Waiting." A man tries to keep his wife from a haunted house where he suspects she had an erotic experience before, but then finds himself mesmerized by seemingly tantalizing spirit.
"Stragella." Two shipwreck victims adrift at sea clamber aboard a derelict ship, but it is inhabited by three vampires who use the ship as a base and feed on the prisoners living on a nearby prison island. ...more
This is an awfully good book. A young genius goes through in-depth military training in order to lead mankind against their alien enemy, the bugs. ForThis is an awfully good book. A young genius goes through in-depth military training in order to lead mankind against their alien enemy, the bugs. For a while the book bogs down in leadership lessons and highly artificial skirmishes at the elite military school, but the author, Card, pulls some impressive rabbits out of his hat to make for a very satisfying ending. ...more
After his wife dies, a grieving physics professor embarks on a mysterious experiment in a remote farmhouse. A colleague comes to visit and falls in loAfter his wife dies, a grieving physics professor embarks on a mysterious experiment in a remote farmhouse. A colleague comes to visit and falls in love with the physicist's niece. Meanwhile, the domineering assistant, Mrs. Walters, has schemes of her own for the professor's research. Although this came highly recommended, the book was really only okay. It was very slow to develop and not very interesting. It picked up somewhat at the end when the professor's machine was finally revealed. There was also a pseudo-murder mystery angle that seemed a little forced....more
During WWI, psychiatrist Lisa Watson tries to cure her fiance of shell shock and neurotic paralysis. Unfortunately, the mental hospital where she workDuring WWI, psychiatrist Lisa Watson tries to cure her fiance of shell shock and neurotic paralysis. Unfortunately, the mental hospital where she works is right across from Carfax Abbey, where the undead spirit of Dracula lies dreaming, and when Dracula awakens, he comes after Watson. This book was far better than I expected. Witcover's writing, especially in his scenes describing the horrors of trench warfare, was excellent. Witcover also gets high marks for sustaining excitement over the long climax of the book: it may not entirely convince, but it does not disappoint....more
With Dracula, Bram Stoker produced an undisputed masterpiece, arguably the greatest horror novel ever. But sadly, many of his other works are not justWith Dracula, Bram Stoker produced an undisputed masterpiece, arguably the greatest horror novel ever. But sadly, many of his other works are not just inferior but are flat-out poor. There are a few highlights in this collection of short stories, like the often anthologized ghost story "The Judge's House," the less well-known but excellent suspense tale "The Burial of the Rats," and the amusing doppelganger story "The Crooken Sands" (which shows Stoker's humorous side). But most of the other stories run from mediocre to poor....more