Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weird Tales Books

Strange Eons by Robert Bloch

Robert Bloch (1917-1994) was only a teenager when he began writing for Farnsworth Wright's Weird Tales. His first story for the magazine, "The Feast in the Abbey," was published in January 1935. Over the next seventeen years, Bloch would pen nearly seventy more stories for Weird Tales, in the process becoming one of the foremost writers of fantasy in America. His writing for Weird Tales also earned him entry into H.P. Lovecraft's circle, though only briefly. Like Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, C.L. Moore, and other young writers, Bloch befriended and wrote letters to Lovecraft in his Providence home and emulated him in the pages of Weird Tales. Bloch was devastated when his mentor died in 1937. Forty years later, he revived Lovecraft's memory in a novel that--although it is included in tales of the Cthulhu Mythos--bears little resemblance to any that I know that preceded it.

Bloch's novel is called Strange Eons (1978). His premise is that H.P. Lovecraft's work was not fiction but based on fact and that Lovecraft, as an investigator of the supernatural wrote, as a warning to humanity. In the novel's semi-documentary pages, Lovecraft becomes a historical figure and his collected works a sort-of grimoire revealing much about earth's secret history. (Bloch even includes himself in the story, though not by name.) In Bloch's hands, the Cthulhu Mythos is updated for the 1970s and comes to encompass a number of other mysterious and paranormal phenomena, including UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, Easter Island, and parapsychology. Like Lovecraft's "Call of Cthulhu," Strange Eons culminates in a far-reaching (though government-sponsored) correlation of events and an ending to put an end to all stories of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Strange Eons (1978) by Robert Bloch, a novel "In the Fantastic Tradition of H.P. Lovecraft," in which Lovecraft himself becomes a historical figure. The title is from a sinister couplet from the fictional Necronimicon, quoted in "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928):

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange eons even death may die.

The cover art is by David Hada.

Incidentally, the cover of Strange Eons resembles Rowena Morrill's cover painting for The Dunwich Horror and Others by H.P. Lovecraft (1978).

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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