Before I started writing this blog, I hadn’t actively hunted down new (and old) horror for some time. Older works were very hard to find and new books were often… lacking, to put it politely. I’ll have a rant about the latter point in a few days but as far as for former: there are some excellent publishers out there printing things that have been lost or unpublished for decades, and in some cases the works were clearly a labor of love. Below the fold, I give a brief ‘shout-out’ to three publishers whose efforts have made recent years a sort of ‘golden age’ for researching and studying pulp fantasy and horror:
Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural. This massive series contains a number of classic Victorian-era ghost and horror stories, such as Sweeney Todd, the works of M.R. James and Sheridan LeFanu, as well as numerous collections of ghost stories by authors whose work you’ve probably never heard of. The only gripe with the books is their relatively poor paper quality, but considering the inexpensive prices and obscurity of the authors it’s a forgivable, even understandable one.
Night Shade Books. To quote their title page, “Night Shade books is dedicated to publishing quality books from a broad spectrum of genres.” They ain’t lying. My only experience with them so far is two volumes of the eventual five-volume collected works of William Hope Hodgson, but it’s enough. These lovely hard-bound books will eventually secure a prominent space on the bookshelf in my study. I’m apparently not the only appreciative one: amazon.com has some used copies running for $265+! (The list price is $35.00.)
Planet Stories. For those who long for gritty pulp adventure stories ala Conan, look no further than Planet Stories. Their catalog includes the works of Henry Kuttner, C.L. Moore, Gary Gygax and Michael Moorcock. The books are of good quality, with covers that make them look from a distance to be comic-booky (I wondered, when I ordered the first one, whether I was getting a comic book by mistake). The stories are first-rate, as well: this isn’t the detritus of shoddy pulps past, but rather a return to the stories of neglected masters.