GUEST BOOK REVIEW by William Meikle: 31 Days of A Night in the Lonesome October: Day 22

A Night in the Lonesome October
All is not what it seems…

In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman named Jack prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff – gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite. For soon after the death of the moon, black magic will summon the Elder Gods back into the world. And all manner of Players, both human and undead, are preparing to participate.

Some have come to open the gates. Some have come to slam them shut.

And now the dread night approaches – so let the Game begin.

Author: Roger Zelazny
Illustrator: Gahan Wilson
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Gaslamp
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: September 1, 1994
Pages: 280


October 22nd

A long, strange, chapter today. After a round of the house to ensure the ‘things’ are all under control we learn that Snuff has played the game many times, that he is more than he seems and under some kind of curse…and that Jack has told Jill of this, a Closer telling secrets to an Opener this late in the game, a thing unheard of before. Likewise Snuff and Greymalk are getting side-eyed from other familiars for being too close to each other. They’re not ‘playing the game’ properly to some eyes.

Several titbits of info emerge that might be relevant… “Linda Enderby” has been visiting with Larry Talbot again…and the vampire Snuff found staked was not wearing the Count’s magic ring. One of the game’s important artifacts is loose in the wild.

Snuff needs to recalculate his mental map and with Graymalk goes to his dog’s nest on high to scope out the land. He finds what he thinks might be the new center, but it appears to be an unremarkable patch of land. They decide to take a closer look.

This is where things drop far into the twilight zone. Having found a tumble of strangely carved rocks and then almost being killed by a bolt of lightning, Snuff and Graymalk are transported to the Dreamlands, where time has little meaning and reality is fluid, to say the least. After many strange sights, which Graymalk seems familiar with, they meet an ancient cat who claims to have saved them from a worse fate. Graymalk is given a secret, as yet unrevealed, about the end of the game, and Snuff is told there is a sea of blood in his immediate future, which disconcerts our old boy. He looks forward to running with Growler in his own, much simpler, dreamworld.

Things have taken a turn for the Lovecraftian and it appears that the Openers and Closers are indeed contending for the Opening of the Way to allow, or deny, the return of the Great Old Gods of Chaos. Zelazny is on fine form here, especially with the chaotic stuff which always brings to mind the shifting shadows in his Amber books, which are other great favorites of mine. I doubt there’s any chance of a Prince of Amber making an appearance in this game, but you never can tell in the patterns Zelazny weaves. That’s what makes him great.

As for Snuff. The revelation that he is cursed, and much older than he seems, and is in possession of certain ‘magics’ of his own has me wondering if he isn’t also one of the Lovecraftian pantheon, if not a Great Old One, at least one of their many acolytes, perhaps a failed Opener in a long ago game, now trapped and bent to service as a Closer by an ancient curse? Like Snuff himself, I prefer him as a dog.

Several times during this read through I’ve been reminded of the TV series PENNY DREADFUL. The dance that an adjacent in fictional realities cast of characters took in that one was ultimately dark and gothic, and there’s plenty of potential here for this one to go the same way.


Boo-graphy:
William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with more than thirty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries.

He has books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, Crossroad Press and Severed Press, and his work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines.

He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company.

When he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory.

Website

The Green & the Black
A small group of industrial archaeologists head into the center of Newfoundland, investigating a rumor of a lost prospecting team of Irish miners in the late Nineteenth century.

They find the remains of a mining operation, and a journal and papers detailing the extent of the miners’ activities. But there is something else on the site, something older than the miners, as old as the rock itself.

Soon the archaeologists are coming under assault, from a strange infection that spreads like wildfire through mind and body, one that doctors seem powerless to define let alone control.

The survivors only have one option. They must return to the mine, and face what waits for them, down in the deep dark places, where the green meets the black.

William’s Halloween Giveaway

GUEST BOOK REVIEW by William Meikle: 31 Days of A Night in the Lonesome October: Day 21

A Night in the Lonesome October
All is not what it seems…

In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman named Jack prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff – gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite. For soon after the death of the moon, black magic will summon the Elder Gods back into the world. And all manner of Players, both human and undead, are preparing to participate.

Some have come to open the gates. Some have come to slam them shut.

And now the dread night approaches – so let the Game begin.

Author: Roger Zelazny
Illustrator: Gahan Wilson
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Gaslamp
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: September 1, 1994
Pages: 280


October 21st

Things are definitely heating up. We discover, while Snuff is talking with Quicklime, the Mad Monk’s snake, that high magic might be employed in the coming days to expose who are the Openers and who are the Closers. Snuff divulges that he is a Closer, Quicklime says he is too. We also learn that after the game, one side ends up dead depending on who ‘wins’, so the stakes have just got that much higher. It just hit me that this means that the Closers must have won the last time, given that Snuff is still around. In fact, I suspect that the Closers usually win, for I’m coming to think that what the Openers want is the return of the Great Old Ones, eternal chaos, cats and dogs living together, that kind of thing.

And talking of stakes, Quicklime tells Snuff that the Count has moved, having had the news from the Count’s bat familiar while the bat was drunk on fermented fruit. Snuff and the snake visit the Count’s new home… and find a staked, caped, very dead vampire in a coffin. It appears that someone has taken out one of the main players early. We learn this happens during the later stages of the game on occassion. Another raising of the stakes… Zelazny is building up the tension nicely here.

Snuff returns home to bring Jack up to speed, but finds him at Jill’s place ‘borrowing a cup of sugar’, and we all know what that means, don’t we? 🙂 Snuff and Graymalk have a further bonding chat and end up going to see what the gypsies are doing. What they are doing is dancing and feasting and playing the old songs. “Linda Enderby” is there, and when ‘she’ plays the old gypsy violin and almost gets lost in the music Snuff sees the disguise slip, sees the man coming through only to be pushed back down again by steely discipline and resolve. Snuff leaves with a new found respect for the Great Detective.

Dead players, high magic and more to come, as Graymalk has discovered that the vicar has a virgin locked away, being prepared for a sacrifice ritual, and Snuff has seen that the things in Jack’s mirror are really straining at the flaw in the glass. There’s much that could go wrong now, much keeping Snuff busy, and with the Count gone he needs to find time to recalibrate his map and find the new center where things will resolve. But time’s growing short and once the players are revealed as Openers or Closers some of his erstwhile companions will become enemies rather than friends.

Should he be trusting any of them? There’s a lot of subterfuge and deception going on, not just from the Great Detective. I’m sure there’s going to be a big twist somewhere along the line. Can’t rush ahead to see though. Rules is rules, and tomorrow is another day.


Boo-graphy:
William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with more than thirty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries.

He has books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, Crossroad Press and Severed Press, and his work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines.

He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company.

When he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory.

Website

The Green & the Black
A small group of industrial archaeologists head into the center of Newfoundland, investigating a rumor of a lost prospecting team of Irish miners in the late Nineteenth century.

They find the remains of a mining operation, and a journal and papers detailing the extent of the miners’ activities. But there is something else on the site, something older than the miners, as old as the rock itself.

Soon the archaeologists are coming under assault, from a strange infection that spreads like wildfire through mind and body, one that doctors seem powerless to define let alone control.

The survivors only have one option. They must return to the mine, and face what waits for them, down in the deep dark places, where the green meets the black.

William’s Halloween Giveaway

GUEST BOOK REVIEW by William Meikle: 31 Days of A Night in the Lonesome October: Day 20

A Night in the Lonesome October
All is not what it seems…

In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman named Jack prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff – gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite. For soon after the death of the moon, black magic will summon the Elder Gods back into the world. And all manner of Players, both human and undead, are preparing to participate.

Some have come to open the gates. Some have come to slam them shut.

And now the dread night approaches – so let the Game begin.

Author: Roger Zelazny
Illustrator: Gahan Wilson
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Gaslamp
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: September 1, 1994
Pages: 280


October 20th

After being fed by Jill, who Snuff realizes is actually younger and prettier than she lets on, Snuff and Graymalk investigate the manse where “Enderby” is living. Graymalk sneaks inside. Meanwhile Snuff has a conversation with the great white owl, and discovers that the Vicar is indeed a player, and has a white raven as a companion who has been asking questions. Snuff and the owl surmise that the Vicar is new, and late to the game and has been trying to catch up. Now that he knows the vicar is a player, Snuff’s magic tracking system kicks in and he sees that the vicar’s killing of the policeman was a ritual one in an attempt to garner information. The owl and Snuff agree to keep each other posted, although Snuff keeps his knowledge of Talbot’s ‘lunar proclivities’ to himself.

Graymalk is let out of the manse. She tells of an altar hidden inside and they realize the place might indeed be the center they have been looking for. Why the Great Detective has ‘claimed’ it, and why he is maintaining the subterfuge of disguise are still unanswered questions.

Graymalk and Snuff are becoming good friends. We discover some of Graymalk’s background, as a lost, almost feral cat found by Jill, almost the same herself, both of them longing for a different world. We’re still unsure whether they are Openers or Closers, but both seem to have a desire to mix things up. We also learn that the ‘game’ isn’t played very often, only when there is a full moon on Halloween, and when Snuff tells Graymalk he has played the game before, he is giving away the fact that he has been with Jack for quite some time.

The last visit of the night is to the Good Doctor, to investigate rumors of a third person in the house. This third man turns out to be a hulking, slow-witted thing. When he takes a liking to the cat and starts to crush it to his breast Snuff has to alert the Good Doctor to get him to save Graymalk. They make a quick getaway, having learned much that night, but also having been given much to think about.

Snuff and Graymalk’s growing friendship is very nicely done, reinforcing their closeness, and their differences. Snuff is revealing things to her he won’t tell anyone else, but he is also keeping things from her, like the identity of the Great Detective. Is this through loyalty to Jack? Or is it distrust,…or just natural caution given that he has played the game before?

Friendships and alliances are forming and reforming, the players are all dancing around each other, and the wildcards are getting ready to throw their spanners in whatever works they can.

Round and round and round we spin. It is a great world Zelazny has woven from these iconic characters, and having Snuff being the narrator while the icons dance around him is the simple, but brilliant, idea it all hinges on.

I’m absolutely loving this slow trip through it.


Boo-graphy:
William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with more than thirty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries.

He has books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, Crossroad Press and Severed Press, and his work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines.

He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company.

When he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory.

Website

The Green & the Black
A small group of industrial archaeologists head into the center of Newfoundland, investigating a rumor of a lost prospecting team of Irish miners in the late Nineteenth century.

They find the remains of a mining operation, and a journal and papers detailing the extent of the miners’ activities. But there is something else on the site, something older than the miners, as old as the rock itself.

Soon the archaeologists are coming under assault, from a strange infection that spreads like wildfire through mind and body, one that doctors seem powerless to define let alone control.

The survivors only have one option. They must return to the mine, and face what waits for them, down in the deep dark places, where the green meets the black.

William’s Halloween Giveaway

GUEST BOOK REVIEW by William Meikle: 31 Days of A Night in the Lonesome October: Day 19

A Night in the Lonesome October
All is not what it seems…

In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman named Jack prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff – gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite. For soon after the death of the moon, black magic will summon the Elder Gods back into the world. And all manner of Players, both human and undead, are preparing to participate.

Some have come to open the gates. Some have come to slam them shut.

And now the dread night approaches – so let the Game begin.

Author: Roger Zelazny
Illustrator: Gahan Wilson
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Gaslamp
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: September 1, 1994
Pages: 280


October 19th

The pace is picking up. The ‘things’ in the house are getting restless; and the ones in the mirror are congregating around a flaw in the glass that Snuff knows will bear close watching.

Snuff enters a mutual agreement with Quicklime, the snake that is the Mad Monk’s familiar, to try to make sense of the pattern that is emerging. They visit the Count’s place to make sure he is still there, and he is, sleeping, but Snuff knows that if the count moves about the center will keep shifting. We are also given the fact that in some partnerships it is the player that calculates the pattern, in others it is the familiar.

Gypsies arrive, it is assumed, to protect the Count and hide his comings and goings, further confusing Snuff’s calculations. If both the vicar and Talbot are players, the old manse wil be the center for the Halloween ritual. The manse has a new resident, a woman called Linda Enderby who seems to be friends with Larry Talbot and who smells to Snuff like the great detective. Enderby is making a point of visiting all the players in this new guise.

Another fact arises; Graymalk has discovered that the vicar knew about the dead policeman all along, and was hoping that Jack would be blamed when the body was discovered.

Is the vicar the killer? Are his ceremonies in praise of the Elder Gods a clue as to the nature of the ritual we are leading up to? Are the Great Detective and Larry Talbot in cahoots? All these questions are more could be answered in the next episode of this monster mash

Another lovely Gahan Wilson illo today, of the Count, very Lugosi-like, asleep in his coffin.


Boo-graphy:
William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with more than thirty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries.

He has books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, Crossroad Press and Severed Press, and his work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines.

He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company.

When he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory.

Website

The Green & the Black
A small group of industrial archaeologists head into the center of Newfoundland, investigating a rumor of a lost prospecting team of Irish miners in the late Nineteenth century.

They find the remains of a mining operation, and a journal and papers detailing the extent of the miners’ activities. But there is something else on the site, something older than the miners, as old as the rock itself.

Soon the archaeologists are coming under assault, from a strange infection that spreads like wildfire through mind and body, one that doctors seem powerless to define let alone control.

The survivors only have one option. They must return to the mine, and face what waits for them, down in the deep dark places, where the green meets the black.

William’s Halloween Giveaway

GUEST BOOK REVIEW by William Meikle: 31 Days of A Night in the Lonesome October: Day 18

A Night in the Lonesome October
All is not what it seems…

In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman named Jack prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff – gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite. For soon after the death of the moon, black magic will summon the Elder Gods back into the world. And all manner of Players, both human and undead, are preparing to participate.

Some have come to open the gates. Some have come to slam them shut.

And now the dread night approaches – so let the Game begin.

Author: Roger Zelazny
Illustrator: Gahan Wilson
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Gaslamp
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: September 1, 1994
Pages: 280


October 18th

Snuff is making a final attempt to get the body to the river and it’s not going well. He is disturbed by a newcomer, another dog he thinks, then realises it is a great grey wolf. He is astounded when the wolf identifies itself as Larry Talbot. Talbot is a werewolf, but he can change volutarily, with the help pf botanics, at any time, except at the full moon, when he is berserker. Talbot helps Snuff finally dispose of the body in the river, then takes Snuff tothe local church. The vicar and parishioners are in residence…performing a satanic ritual. This changes things for Snuff…if the vicar is a player, he needs to be incorporated into the mental map to determine the center. And if Talbot is a player, so too does he. Then there’s the complication if it’s only one or the other of them.

Talbot and Snuff come to an agreement about mutual aid. Talbot is unsure as to his own place in the game, as he will be berserker on the full moon of Halloween, a wild card in proceedings.

Snuff seeks out Greymalk but the cat confesses to be as confused about the calculations as Snuff is himself.

Snuff takes himself off for a think in a spot that might, or might not, be the center depending on who is or isn’t a player and, after some ruminations, and peeing on old stones, realises he’s got it figured, or at least might have, if Talbot and the Vicar are both players. There’s an old manse that needs investigation on the morrow.

Today was another one where we were given a lot of info through conversations. Zelazny never overdoes it. He slips in jokes and witticisms to sugar coat things, and never gives us everything, just enough to keep us interested


Boo-graphy:
William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with more than thirty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries.

He has books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, Crossroad Press and Severed Press, and his work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines.

He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company.

When he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory.

Website

The Green & the Black
A small group of industrial archaeologists head into the center of Newfoundland, investigating a rumor of a lost prospecting team of Irish miners in the late Nineteenth century.

They find the remains of a mining operation, and a journal and papers detailing the extent of the miners’ activities. But there is something else on the site, something older than the miners, as old as the rock itself.

Soon the archaeologists are coming under assault, from a strange infection that spreads like wildfire through mind and body, one that doctors seem powerless to define let alone control.

The survivors only have one option. They must return to the mine, and face what waits for them, down in the deep dark places, where the green meets the black.

William’s Halloween Giveaway