It’s not easy devoting an entire blog to the work and life of a writer that most people have never even heard of. There’s been a lot of times when I’ve wondered why I’m doing this and, more importantly, if it’s making any difference.
Happily, I believe that it has! I’ve met many other Hodgson fans through this blog who have not only shared their knowledge but rare items, information, photos and many other things with me and the readers of this blog. I thank you all because you’re why we’re still here.
We have another important anniversary coming up in a few weeks but I won’t give that one away. Clever readers will probably figure it out anyway and I hope to have a special guest blog for that occasion. In the meantime, here’s an amusing bit of fluff:
SAM GAFFORD’S TOP TEN
10. THE NIGHT LAND–Not surprising that this work ends up at the end of this list. Like many, I find it to be an amazing work of imagination that is seriously flawed by the style WHH used. Even after all this time, it remains an effort for me to get through this novel.
9. “The Baumoff Explosive”–Some don’t care for this odd short story but I find that it sticks with me long after reading. Although Hodgson wasn’t religious, he was certainly brought up in a very strict and religious household. Some of that comes out here as he attempts to create a scientific explanation for religious events.
8. “My Lady’s Jewels” (Captain Gault)–Ol’ Gault doesn’t get the respect or attention he deserves. Everyone seems to know Carnacki but few remember WHH’s smuggling Captain. I enjoy all these stories and pick this one because I believe it says much about Hodgson’s own views towards women.
7. “A Tropical Horror”–This was actually one of, if not THE, first Hodgson story I ever read and, as such, has a special place in my heart. It’s a rousing adventure yarn with a giant sea-monster, plucky apprentices and stout-hearted men. “Glut, glut!”
6. THE BOATS OF THE ‘GLEN CARRIG’–To me, this is one of Hodgson’s weakest novels. It’s a good adventure yarn with lots of supernatural touches but, personally, I find it lacks a lot of the imaginative touches that appear in much of Hodgson’s other work. In some ways, part of it is cribbed from other WHH stories.
5. “The Whistling Room” (Carnacki)–Many of the Carnacki stories are uneven and suffer from an almost pathological inability to decide if they are horror or mystery stories. In this one, there is no doubt and Hodgson lays the the supernatural on thick. To my mind, this would be the hardest Carnacki story to film without it appearing inane. Still, if it could be done, it would be a great movie!
4. THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND–You may be surprised at the ranking for this seminal novel. But, after all, this is a list of MY top ten faves and not meant to show their literary value. Few will argue the power of much of this novel and, here, Hodgson seems to have a better grasp of his style than in other works. The impression of the ‘outside’ forcing itself on the narrator is unmatchable by all save Lovecraft.
3. “The Hog” (Carnacki)–I used to debate the authenticity of this story until I received word from an impeachable source that it was definitely Hodgson and not August Derleth who wrote this tale. This is truly THE Carnacki tale. The longest of all the Carnacki stories, it is really the only one in which we feel that Carnacki is truly in danger. Combine this with the hideous ‘hog’ creature and the ‘outside’ forces and you have a story that deserves to be remembered. It is a shame that Lovecraft never read this story himself as there is much here that HPL would have identified with.
2. THE GHOST PIRATES–Yes, I admit it! GP is my favorite Hodgson novel and I’ve read it through many times. There’s just something about this that really appeals to me. Not only do we have WHH’s profound familiarity with sailing and the constantly oppressive atmosphere but it borders on science fiction with the explanation as to just what those Ghost Pirates actually are.
1. “The Voice in the Night”–NO matter how many times I read this story, it continues to have an amazing impact. If Hodgson is to be remembered for ONE story, it will be this one. The feeling of desperation and desolation is overwhelming and the story operates on several different layers which need to be studied in more depth. There’s even the wonderfully atmospheric Japanese film, MATANGO, that is based on the story and which, several people claim, is hideously close to the plot of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND!
Well, there you have it. My TOP TEN WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON STORIES. I hope you’ve enjoyed this list and I look forward to hearing what YOUR Top Ten Favorites are!
Thanks for supporting this blog and my meager attempts at trying to keep Hodgson’s work alive and encouraging further study of this incredibly interesting man and writer.