Last month, Night Shade Books published a new paperback collection of Hodgson stories titled THE GHOST PIRATES AND OTHERS: THE BEST OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON… but IS it?
It’s been seven years since the last paperback collection appeared which was ADRIFT ON THE HAUNTED SEAS in 2005 so the time is right for a new anthology. This volume contains the short novel, THE GHOST PIRATES, and eleven short stories along with an introduction by the book’s editor, Jeremy Lassen. It was Night Shade Books and Lassen who brought us the landmark 5 volume edition of the COMPLETE FICTION OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON so it is gratifying to see them continue to promote Hodgson’s works with this new selection.
THE GHOST PIRATES has an interesting publication history in America in that, unlike his other novels, it was not published in mass market paperback form in the 60’s or 70’s. That is, not as it’s own title. It was included in another anthology, HORRORS UNSEEN (Berkley, 1974), which was edited by Sam Moskowitz. It’s only magazine publication was in an abridged form in FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES in March, 1944. As such, it’s especially pleasing to find this reprinted in a new edition.
The remaining stories are something of an odd selection. They are:
A Tropical Horror
The Sea Horses
The Searcher of the End House
The Stone Ship
The Voice in the Night
Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani
The Mystery of the Derelict
We Two and Bully Dunkan
The Shamraken Homeward-Bounder
Demons of the Sea
Out of the Storm
Most of these concern the sea in some aspect with only “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani” and “The Searcher of the End House” being different. The choice of these two stories is somewhat odd but still keeping in the horror genre and I maintain that “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani” is one of WHH’s best stories. As Lassen states in his introduction, “This book gathers together a sampling of Hodgson’s styles and works” and it certainly does accomplish that goal. However, I would question the choice of “The Searcher of the End House” as I personally consider this to be one of the weaker tales but perhaps Lassen wanted to pick a lesser known Carnacki story for newer readers. Perhaps this is also the reason for the exclusion of “The Derelict” which is one of Hodgson’s most well known stories.
The introduction by Lassen is unfortunately short; barely 2 and a half pages. Of course, I would have preferred a longer essay with possibly more discussion about the stories and their importance to Hodgson’s work. Lassen doesn’t say anything really new but it is a good introduction for readers unfamiliar with Hodgson and I am hoping that they will be attracted to this book for that reason.
In the end, THE GHOST PIRATES AND OTHERS: THE BEST OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON succeeds admirably as a book for new readers of WHH. If you’ve been reading Hodgson, you probably have these stories already so will get little from it but it is a great way to convert new readers!
You can order the book here
. Previously, I’ve found some Night Shade Books available at Barnes & Noble but that is hit or miss. It can also be ordered from the B&N website. Order a copy and give it to a friend who hasn’t had the good fortune to discover Hodgson!