With Cherryh's Gate of Ivrel, we come across the idea of a system of gates. Since I was exploring different science fiction/fantasy authors, I had already decided to read Cherryh's first novel. Gate of Ivrel is the first book of The Morgaine Saga omnibus edition. The Morgaine Saga is also loosely connected to Cherryh's Alliance-Union Universe (mentioned above in connection with Downbelow Station). Morgaine is a one of a five-person team sent by Union to close or to destroy the gates. The gates in this novel are able to send a person to a different time as well as place. In Gate of Ivrel, it's also indicated that they can do more than that as Morgaine steps through a gate and stays locked in it for about a hundred years. The plot of this story is simple. Morgaine is heading to the gate of Ivrel to close it or, if need be, destroy it. One hundred years ago she failed and the people of Andur-Kursh paid for that failure. Of course, there are obstacles in the way; and to get through them, Morgaine needs help. Vanye is an exile from Clan Nhi for killing his half-brother in self-defence. Of course, no one believes it was in self-defence and he is exiled by his father. Vanye is the one who accidentally releases Morgaine from the gate (not the same gate as at Ivrel) and being an exile in need shares food and a fireside with her. Morgaine has "lord right" from years ago and since Vanye accepted her hospitality, she can in turn claim a year of service from him. She does, of course, and Vanye has no choice but to accompany her on her mission.
For a first novel, Gate of Ivrel is pretty good. This novel was better paced than Downbelow Station and it was well-written. One minor issue I had was Cherryh's habit of starting new paragraphs with "and" when she could easily leave it off. I didn't notice this in Downbelow Station, so I'm guessing she caught this early on in her career and corrected that habit. Overall, this story was enjoyable. I did notice that I empathized with these characters more than the characters of Downbelow Station. This may be simply that, in this novel, Cherryh was focused on character-building while in Downbelow Station she was focused on world-building. The next story in The Morgaine Saga is Well of Shiuan.(less)
I read H.P. Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" some time ago and found I liked his writing style. I've had The Best of H.P. Lovecraft sitting around for a while, and finally got around to reading it. I've read the first six stories as of this blog.
"The Rats in the Walls" was interesting. It felt a little like an adventure story, sort of like Indiana Jones. The ending is horrific (sort of like Raiders of the Lost Ark). I would label this story as psychological horror. In psychological horror, it seems to me that it's the protagonist's state of mind that leads to his/her tragedy.
"The Picture in the House" is not my favourite so far. The horrifying picture suggests the fate of the character once having stepped inside the house. However, the ending is left unclear. We don't really know what happens to the protagonist. Because of this, I'm unsure as to whether or not Lovecraft actually finished this story or intended to write more. It reads like it's only one scene in a much larger story.
I rather enjoyed reading "The Outsider". For me, it quickly became clear who is the protagonist. I'm also a sucker for stories about the "underdog" or characters who have to struggle against the majority. That aside, the interesting aspect of this story is that it puts the reader inside the mind of the monster.
"Pickman's Model" is a story to make you shudder. I really hope I never meet anyone like Pickman. Pickman is a brilliant artist or so one would think. His paintings with monsters in them look real. Perhaps you can guess why? This story is similar to the story of the brilliant doctor. He's admirable, at least until you discover his studying methods.
"In the Vault" is a short tale about revenge beyond the grave. This story didn't quite scare me, but rather made me laugh. Okay, I have a morbid sense of humour. Seriously though, the undertaker had it coming.
"The Silver Key" reads more like fantasy than horror. In this story, we are introduced to Randolph Carter, although this is not the first Lovecraft story featuring Randolph Carter. I confess I'm not quite sure what the point of this story is, except that I understand why Randolph Carter is considered to be Lovecraft's alter ego. In this story, you get the sense that in writing about Carter's doubts, fears, and insecurities, Lovecraft was writing about his. I will probably return to this story at a later date since Randolph Carter seems to be loosely tied to the Cthulhu mythos.(less)