HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WHH!


 

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William Hope Hodgson portrait by Dave Felton

Today, November 15th, is Hodgson’s 139th birthday!

It was on this day in 1877 that William Hope Hodgson was born to Samuel , an Anglican priest, and Lizzie Sarah Hodgson. The second of twelve children, three of whom would die in infancy, Hope and his family had a hard life. They were often poor and reliant upon the charity of Samuel’s parishioners. A controversial figure, Samuel was moved about frequently by the church, serving 11 parishes in 21 years before his death in 1892.

In 1890, Hope was apprenticed into the Merchant Marine and he would spend the next 10 years at sea sailing around the world several times and receiving the Royal Humane Society medal for heroism after saving a shipmate who had fallen into shark infested waters. During his time at sea, Hope would also develop his life-long interests in physical culture and photography.

whh fam

Returning home, Hope started a ‘School for Physical Culture’ which, unfortunately, closed after only a few years. It is at this point that he turned to writing.

It is often a mystery how a man whom, we assume, had no literary intentions could become such a powerful and influential writer. Whatever the reason, Hodgson left us four unique novels as well as a significant amount of short stories that still manage to entertain and enthrall us today.

After his unfortunate death at Ypres during World War I in 1918, Hodgson’s work continued to find new readers and devotees. At risk of being forgotten, Hope’s writings were kept alive by August Derleth at ARKHAM HOUSE and H. C. Koenig.

Today, Hodgson is cited as an influence by many writers and his work is better known now than it ever was during his lifetime. We look forward to this continuing to grow as more and more people discover Hodgson and his unique visions.
So, wherever you are today, raise a glass of whatever you’re drinking in salute to the old man and give a hearty “hail and well-met” across time and space to the dweller in the House on the Borderland!

 

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Rev. Samuel Hodgson death notice


Due to the lack of primary sources, we don’t know very much about William Hope Hodgson’s family. What few biographical notes we have are generally derived from the work of Randy Everts and Sam Moskowitz. But, every once in a while, we do stumble upon something new.

Hope’s father is something of a cypher. Unlike Hope’s mother, he never makes even a symbolic appearance in Hope’s fiction. We know that he was a ‘fire and brimstone’ sort and that he apparently had many arguments with his strong-willed son. (It is, perhaps, significant to note that Hope was the only son to remain in Blackburn with his family while his brothers all emigrated.) It was Hope’s father who objected to his son going to sea and who reluctantly gave his permission for Hope to be apprenticed at the young age of thirteen after an intervention by Hope’s uncle on the boy’s behalf.

We are told that the Rev. Samuel Hodgson died quickly after a diagnosis of throat cancer. Recently, my wife (who is an amateur genealogist) discovered this news item from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated November 26, 1892:

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This notice is significant for a number of reasons. It establishes that Rev. Samuel had been a “native of Sheffield” and was the only “surviving” son. Previously, I had not been aware that there were other siblings of the Reverend. Most important is the listing of Samuel’s education starting at St. George’s School and then to St. Bee’s College. Although it had been known that he was ordained at Lichfield, this is the first mention of who performed that ceremony. It is curious that his missionary work in England and Ireland is given such short notice here given that it involved numerous moves and parishes.

We also learn that the cancer must have advanced very quickly as he “was prostrate for several weeks before his death”. His being interred at “Salesbury Church” may be helpful if anyone reading this has an opportunity to seek out this grave and find the marker.

Presently, we are at that unenviable point in Hodgson biography where any new information will come from secondary sources like these. If anyone locates any further items of interest, please let me know so that I can share it here on this blog for everyone’s edification.

(Many thanks to Carol Gafford for finding this item and sharing it with us.)

 

 

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House on the Borderland Movie!


Some time ago, I posted about a movie adaptation of Hodgson’s classic novel, THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND, that was starting up. It’s been a bit of time but I’ve just heard from the people behind the project who have just began a Kickstarter to raise backing funds.

Andre Martin, the man behind the project, had this to say:

The highlights of the project this far, for the fans, would be that we are sticking meticulously close to the source material and my main goal is to do it justice.

There is no doubt that this material is visually challenging but we feel it can also be one of the most visually stunning films ever created.

There have been some Hollywood heavyweights attached to the project in the past but they all wanted a dramatically different adaption, changing characters, time periods etc. We have had a solid script for almost a decade that doesn’t deviate far from the novel at a plot level.

Creatively I do have my own interpretations but they only work to expand the character and story while adding depth and weight to their existence. Such as a backstory for the Recluse to draw from, a deepening dynamic between the recluse and the lost love. Also, I don’t think any incestuous innuendos are necessary to capture the story for the modern audience. We do develop the sister-brother relationship a bit and also even Pepper’s past.

We are in talks with two persons of note, that will be a great asset to the project including the music composer Spencer Nilsen, who can create an incredible, atmospheric tone for the film. Tom Woodruff Jr, is considering the creature design/direction, who will bring the infamous Swine Things to life and if we raise the funding, I’m confident we will secure them both.

We are aware of Echoes of the Borderland and have contacted the German music group with talks to use at least one track in the film during the “Plain of Silence” sequence. They have already agreed, years ago.

This is very much a film for the fans, because I am one.

We have arrangements with several castles in Northwest Ireland area, to film at. It is also possible that the filming to take place in the U.S. will be at an old castle, that we will end up rehabbing for an economically depressed community. When the filming is done, we will leave behind the improved structure to the Economic Development Board. Pretty much I have arranged to film most of my interior shots in LA on stateside but we will definitively take a unit to Ireland to film an authentic House on the Borderland.

I have many crew positions and talent roles filled with professionals denoting their time or working “under scale.” For the most part they are not “big names” but we have all been at this independent film game for quite a while now. They all have working experience and I trust them to work with me in bringing this tale to moviegoers.

Christopher Karl Johnson is cast as our Old Recluse and I tell you he is absolutely perfect. There will be a younger version of the recluse and his long lost love in flashback sequences.

I am thrilled to hear that this project is moving ahead. For years, I have been mystified at the fact that Hodgson has not been adapted more for films, TV or comics. At last we will get an adaptation that promises to stick close to the actual book. The possibility of filming in Northwest Ireland is very exciting and I have great hopes for this production.

Hopes, however, that will not be met unless the Kickstarter is funded. In movie terms, they’re not looking for a lot of money so I hope that readers of this blog will support this project. You can check out their Kickstarter here.
We look forward to sharing more news of the production as we learn them and hope to have a Q&A with Andre Martin here on the blog very soon.

 

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It’s about time!


About time I got off my ass and got back to posting regularly on this blog!

My apologies for the absence (so long of one that WordPress has actually changed their webpage!) but I have actually been pretty busy. First off, I finished a massive writing project this year that took virtually all of my focus and attention. It was the culmination of a project that I have literally spent years (decades, even) working on but had allowed to lie dormant for far too long. Spurred by my success in writing my first novel last year, I turned my attention to this and completed the first draft of a 230,000+ word novel during the final days of September. It’s not finished but it’s the closest it’s ever been to that.

Naturally, I’m beginning to get back to some of the other things I love and Hodgson was the very first on the list! I’m going to try and get back to posting on a more regular basis and am also working on some new WHH related projects for 2017.

BUT, the big news is that I am almost finished with the layout for the third issue of SARGASSO: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies!  Yes, it’s taken a while (and I thank everyone for their patience) but it is nearly here. If all goes well, the issue should be available by November 15th which is, of course, Hodgson’s birthday! He’ll be 139!
I’m proud to announce the following as the contents for SARGASSO #3:

 

“A Particular Phase of Constructive Thought: Hodgson’s Theory of Novels”
by Joseph Hinton

“Utter Quiet in All the Land: A Recurring Motif”
by Ryan Jefferson

“The House on the Borderland: The Ultimate Horror Novel”
by Liam Garriock

“Ye Hogge”: Liminality and the Motif of the Monstrous Pig in Hodgson’s “The Hog” and The House on the Borderland”
By Leigh Blackmore

“The House on the Burren: The Physical and Psychological Foundations of The House on the Borderland”
by Joseph Hinton

“Terminal Eden: The Last Redoubt and the Closure of History”
by Brett Davidson
Poetry

“The Beautiful Mirdath”
By Charles Danny Lovecraft

“From a Mariner on the Glen Carrig” by Charles Danny Lovecraft

“Night Land—And What I Saw”
by Charles Lovecraft

Fiction

“Corpse-Light”
by Josh Reynolds
“A Hideous Communion”
by James Gracey

Looks to be about 152 pages. I think we have some really great material here and I hope everyone will enjoy it because, sadly, this will be the last issue of SARGASSO. I’m sorry to say that the amount of work involved with producing the magazine is simply too great and my schedule simply won’t allow it anymore. Still, I feel that we have done great things with these three issues and I hope that others will continue to work and study Hodgson in the future!

Here’s a sneak peek at the cover for SARGASSO #3 by Robert Knox before I put all that pesky logo and details on it:

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I’ve got a couple of other new Hodgson items to talk about so look for more posts soon!

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What’s New?


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W.H. Hodgson by Dave Felton.

Well, astute readers will realize that this site hasn’t really been updated in a while and there’s a few good reasons for that!

First of all, I took a break to focus on my own writing. As anyone who does a regular blog already knows, putting up regular, meaningful posts takes a lot of work. So, instead, I worked on finishing my first novel, THE HOUSE OF NODENS. I’m now shopping it around to some publishers so hopefully there will be some good news about that sometime soon.

Second, I’ve been quietly working on a new project which I’m announcing here as a kind of tease. I don’t think I’ll finish it by the end of this year, if then, but I am eager to share it with everyone. It is the first ever critical biography of Hodgson and here are the proposed Table of Contents:

 

THE DREAMER ON THE BORDERLAND:

A Critical Biography of William Hope Hodgson

  1. Chronology of WHH’s life
  2. Chronology of publications
  3. Introduction
  4. Biography
    1. Early Years
    2. Life at Sea
    3. Blackburn and Houdini
    4. The Writing Life
    5. Marriage and WWI
  5. Short Stories
    1. Sea Stories
    2. Carnacki
    3. Captain Gault
    4. Misc.
  6. Novels
    1. The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”
    2. The Ghost Pirates
    3. The House on the Borderland
    4. The Night-Land
  7. Poetry and Essays
  8. Conclusion

 

Obviously, this is something that takes a lot of time and effort to do well but I am determined to finish it! I’m not sure what will happen after that but my hope is that either McFarland or Hippocampus would publish it at some point.

 

Lastly, I’d like to point out the great work that my friend John Linwood Grant has been doing with his own blog, greydogtales. He’s posted much of interest to the Hodgson fan and has a special surprise coming up this weekend which has to do with Carnacki so do stop by!

 

Keep watching this space for more news and updates about my own Hodgson project and other things that are coming up this year!

 

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A Month Long Celebration of Hodgson!


I have been horribly remiss in not mentioning that John Linwood Grant has been having a month long celebration of Hodgson on his blog, Greydogtales!
John’s done a great job in pulling together lots of great information and things like a gallery of covers to Hodgson books, interviews with William Meikle and Julia Morgan and James Bojaciuk and others plus lots of links to Hodgson stuff and some really interesting discussions about THE NIGHT LAND and plenty of other wonderful tidbits!  It’s really impressive to see and I encourage everyone to go and check it out. Unlike this blog here, James has even gotten other people to write new stuff for it which is something I’d love to do more of here.
John just posted the 9th (!!) part of this celebration yesterday and there are still more things to come this week.

Check it out and be sure to tell John how much you appreciate his support of Hodgson and encouragement of everything Hodgsonian!

You can find the blog here:
http://greydogtales.com/blog/

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Writer(s) on the Borderland


John Linwood Grant is a madman.

A Hodgson fan, Grant has decided to dedicate the month of October to Hodgson! Every week in October, Grant will feature new material about Hodgson and his works. At first, Grant had just expected to do one or two special posts but, as often happens in Hodgson, things got out of hand very quickly!

Here is Grant’s schedule for upcoming posts:

WRITER ON THE BORDERLAND

greydogtales.com is pleased to announced the finalised schedule for this month-long celebration of William Hope Hodgson’s extraordinary fiction. A series of blog posts will be presented for your delectation, with contributions from authors and enthusiasts, along with a gallery of WHH covers and other sundries.

2 October – PART ONE: Hodgson and Carnacki

We commence with an introduction to WHH and an unapologetic nod to perhaps his best-known character, Carnacki the Ghost Finder. With comments by Tim Prasil, occult detective chronologist and author, and musings by John Linwood Grant on Carnacki and the Cheyne Walk origins of Tales of the Last Edwardian.

9 October – PART TWO: The Voice of Horror

In which we interview the talented Wayne June, covering his narration of WHH stories and some of his other excellent horror recordings. Includes honourable mentions of related creepy audio for those who like fear and anxiety to seep in through their ears.

16 October – PART THREE: Hodgson’s Legacy

In which we provide an unscientific examination of those authors writing stories influenced by WHH, lead by an interview with the prolific William Meikle. We also delve into David Langford’s ‘Dagon Smythe’ parodies, Chico Kidd & Rick Kennett‘s 472 Cheyne Walk and other works inspired by WHH.

19 October – PART THREE AGAIN: More Hodgson’s Legacy
In which we delight in a bibliography of Hodgson’s pastiches by James Bojaciuk, with more coverage of authors who have drawn inspiration from Hodgson’s work.

23 October – PART FOUR: Hodgson the Innovator

In which we praise his originality – his weird sea stories, the Night Land, House on the Borderland and critics’ views. Features Hodgson scholar Sam Gafford on his noted involvement in the field, WHH’s publishing history and mention of others researching or promoting WHH.

30 October – PART FIVE: The Diskos is Sheathed

In which we switch off the electric pentacle and relax with a few closing comments, including a free creepy story from John Linwood Grant and a hearty thanks to all who have participated.

Note to the Curious Reader: Everything in the schedule above is, of course, subject to change, as this is unfortunately Reality and not a work of fiction. Damn you, Reality!

 

Looks like it’s a good thing that there are FIVE Fridays in October this year!

I encourage everyone to check out Grant’s blog during the month-long celebration. It can be found here:
http://greydogtales.com/blog/

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and put on my tux so I’m prepared for my presentation!

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Hodgson related Kickstarter!


Wow! Two posts in one day!  Will wonders never cease?

Actually, I hadn’t planned on doing another post but I just received an email from Tim Hutchings about his soon to be completed Kickstarter. Here’s what Tim had to say:

“My name is Tim Hutchings and I am the director of a quasi-academic game studies archive. We occasionally print books related to the collection and are currently Kickstarting a reprint of an obscure AD&D fanzine.

 Now, without even knowing it, Tim hit on several themes that are near and dear to my heart. Hodgson, of course, but also the preservation of fanzines for future generations and study. I’ve been involved in fanzines since I was probably about 10 years old when I watched my brother, Carl, create his own comic fanzine (MINOTAUR) and run off copies on his ditto machine. Since then, I’ve published my own zines and contributed to numerous other ones and have devoured hundreds. But these fanzines were created with fans in mind and not generally meant to last. So it makes me happy that someone is doing such preservation work in the gaming fanzine field.
***
But what does this have to do with Hodgson? Well, the project is reprinting a legendary AD&D fanzine from the 1980s called ORACLE which never got to a promised sixth issue. Tim and his crew have compiled a tribute by creating that long-lost, never-realized sixth issue with new articles, campaigns and, more important to the Hodgson fan, an article by Sandy Petersen that creates rules for CALL OF CTHULHU scenarios in Hodgson’s Night Land!
***
If you’ve ever played the CALL OF CTHULHU rpg, then you know who Sandy is and how important he is not only to that game but gaming as a whole. Having him write this article is about as authoritative as it can get. It’s been many years since I’ve adventured in a CoC campaign but I’m seriously tempted to do so once more!
Courtesy of Tim, here’s a snippet from Sandy’s upcoming article:

The Diskos

In the novel, the nameless hero carries the mighty Diskos weapon – which seems to be a kind of circular saw on an extension – sort of a cross between a chainsaw and an axe. It might be the only weapon able to fight off the dreadful creatures he faces.
This device is a hand-to-hand bladed weapon. Enemies that are resistant to impaling weapons or bullets have no immunity to it. However, foes which are straight-up resistant or immune to physical weaponsdo receive their normal benefits. The Diskos is electrically powered, and shoots off sparks when overcharged.
The Diskos contains an internal battery which holds 30 power. It recharges this power over time, at a rate varying with its distance from the Earthpower, but generally around 1 point per hour. Normal blade use does not spend power.
When the Diskos is used in combat, it does a straight 10 damage, plus the wielder’s damage bonus. If the user wants to overcharge the blade, he can add 1d6 to his damage, which also expends an equal amount of Power to the roll. Normal combat use does not expend power – only overcharging. In desperate circumstances, the user can spend multiple d6s to boost his total.
The overcharge can be spent after the user hits his target! In addition, the overcharge is energetic, and includes electrical and plasmatic damage – it will even hurt enemies immune to normal physical weapons (though the Diskos’s base 10 damage & your damage bonus, if any, don’t count).
Example: our hero faces off an especially terrifying monster. He has a damage bonus of 1d6, because he is large and manly. He decides to add another 3d6 to his total via overcharge, and rolls a 9. He spends 9 out of his 30 store din the battery, and he will inflict 10+9+1d6 damage (10 for the blade, 9 for the 3d6 roll, and 1d6 for his damage bonus). 
That is just all kinds of awesome and makes my fannish little heart very happy.
The Kickstarter in entering its final days and has already surpassed 100% funding so it is going to happen. If you’re into gaming at all, I suggest you click over and check out the campaign.  It looks pretty damn good to me!
The Kickstarter page is at:

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ANIMA by Brett Davidson


Lots of new stuff coming your way soon on this blog but wanted to take a moment to let everyone know about Brett Davidson’s new Hodgson inspired novel, ANIMA!  This was a novel that Brett had written and was in the process of publishing through Andy Robertson before Andy’s unfortunate death. It’s taken a little while but the novel is now finally available for order!

Here’s the description:

ANIMA

 What if you could be a divinity?

What if it cost you everything?

What if you faced monsters more terrible than you could imagine?

What if those monsters might be your salvation?

 

The sun has died…

Not a planet, not a star shines n the black heavens above The Night Land.

 

In its midst The Last Redoubt, a vast, pyramid-shaped arcology, stands obdurate against the night, while within it the remnant millions of humanity live and thrive.  The Days of Light are less than a legend to them, mouldered to dust amidst the chaos of ancient libraries.

 

Outside, strange immense and malevolent entities watch – and wait.

 

The Last Redoubt has stood ten million years and may stand ten million years more – but its final fall is inevitable.  The last age is drawing to its close and the end of everything comes ever nearer.

 

The people of the Last Redoubt face this fate with stoicism, hedonism, heroic folly… except for two secretive orders who are making plans for survival and have found their champions, a man and a woman who will together carry the essence of humanity beyond the end of night.

 

But can they preserve their own humanity as well?

As you can see, this is heavily influenced by Hodgson’s own novel, THE NIGHT LAND. I’m very excited about this and looking forward to getting a copy of it myself.  It can currently be ordered via Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/Anima-Brett-Davidson/dp/0955478340/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441760263&sr=8-1&keywords=brett+davidson+anima

It’s my hope that this may inspire an entirely new explosion of Hodgsonian fiction!

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UPDATES!


It’s been a while since I’ve posted here and thought that it was about time for an update!

Sadly, the Hodgson panel at NecronomiCON has been cancelled. As one of the organizers for the convention, I had to face the difficult task of trimming down the prospective panels to a manageable list and the Hodgson panel was one of those that was cut. The OCCULT DETECTIVES panel will still be held, though, so I will be presenting WHH and Carnacki at that panel.

Speaking of Carnacki, I am getting back to work on the definitive Carnacki collection which will provide the best versions of the classic stories as originally printed in the first edition back in 1913! Look for more information on this soon.

Also, some of the writers who I had lined up for contributing to CARNACKI: THE LOST CASES have had to drop out for various reasons and I am looking for new contributors! This is an anthology that takes the cases that Carnacki mentioned during the original Hodgson stories and expanding those hints into their own stories. Right now, I have the following up for grabs:

“The Noving Fur Case” mentioned in “The Gateway of the Monster”

“The Buzzing Case”

“The Yellow Finger Experiments”

“The Nodding Door Case” (all mentioned in “The Whistling Room”)

And the following visual of “the ghost of a child’s hand patting the floor” from “The Horse of the Invisible”

If you’d like to take on one of these stories, please contact me at my email: lordshazam@yahoo.com and let me know. The story length is 3,000-4,000 words and deadline is July 1st, 2015, for a hopeful publication by NecronomiCON in August!

Previously I had considered publishing a COMPLETE POETRY of WHH but I’ve had to cancel that project as it simply would not cover the costs of production. Although his poetry is neglected, I cannot expect there to be enough sales to support it.

I’ve been told that the $60 edition of Hodgson from Centipede Press is now out of print. However, I’ve gotten reports that some copies can be found from various booksellers and I would recommend that anyone who hasn’t picked up a copy of this book do so before it skyrockets in price! Here’s a link to one:

http://www.hamiltonbook.com/william-hope-hodgson-the-centipede-press-library-of-weird-fiction

This same dealer has two of the Night Shade hardcovers still available for less than $20 each so I’d snap those up if you don’t already have them.

I am also hard at work compiling THE COMPLETE CAPTAIN GAULT which will include all of the Captain Gault stories.  I hope to have this completed by the end of the year.

SARGASSO #3 has been delayed and is still in great need of contributions! If you have something that you’d like to submit for consideration, please do so ASAP!

Thanks to all for your patience and be sure and look for me at NecronomiCON in August!

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