Archive for the ‘The 85 Weirdest!’ Category

The 85 Weirdest, Day 85: H.P. Lovecraft

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

The 85th anniversary issue of Weird Tales features our big list of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years.” We’re breaking it down online, too: one honoree per day, in no particular order, for 85 days!

When Weird Tales was founded in 1923, its mission in great part was to discover and publish “the next Edgar Allan Poe.” And so it was done. From hoary arctic wastes to the inbred backwoods of New England, from tenebrous ocean depths to the forbidden realms beyond sleep, the imagination of HOWARD PHILLIPS LOVECRAFT (1890-1937) staggers the mind. His fiction repeatedly shattered the illusion that humankind sits at the center of the cosmos, and he influenced generations of storytellers and fans alike with his dreams and visions. Yet even with ancient terrors waiting to “press hideously upon our globe,” his characters paused to give milk to a lonely cat. One of the three American horror authors (Poe, Lovecraft, King) to have a truly profound impact upon popular culture, this solitary man would be astonished at his renown today.

Resources: The H.P. Lovecraft Archive. The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

The 85 Weirdest, Day 84: Warren Zevon

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

The 85th anniversary issue of Weird Tales features our big list of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years.” We’re breaking it down online, too: one honoree per day, in no particular order, for 85 days!

Never even mind his biggest radio hit, the classic lycanthropic dance tune “Werewolves of London” — the songwriting oeuvre of WARREN ZEVON (1947-2003) conjures a twisted universe where upwardly mobile zoo gorillas steal the lives of urban yuppies, the ghosts of murdered mercenaries stalk their old battlefields, and Earth itself fades to the entropic assault of chemical pollution while love blooms in the mall. Unsettling, surreal, and wickedly funny, Zevon died too soon, but his specter haunts rock & roll forever.

The 85 Weirdest, Day 83: Alice Bradley Sheldon, a.k.a. James Tiptree Jr.

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

The 85th anniversary issue of Weird Tales features our big list of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years.” We’re breaking it down online, too: one honoree per day, in no particular order, for 85 days!

Imagine if Hemingway, master explorer of the male psyche, was really a woman writing under a pseudonym. Behind the name of James Tiptree, Jr., the muscular, intellectual science fiction of ALICE BRADLEY SHELDON (1915-1987) turned gender in genre on its head in the late ’60s, exploring taboo themes fearlessly. Tiptree’s relentless and unforgiving worldview were famously considered quintessential masculine writing. When the hoax was exposed, the author carried on under the byline of Raccoona Sheldon, and the fiction was no less dazzlingly dark.

The 85 Weirdest, Day 82: Harlan Ellison

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

The 85th anniversary issue of Weird Tales features our big list of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years.” We’re breaking it down online, too: one honoree per day, in no particular order, for 85 days!

HARLAN ELLISON (1934- ) decked guys in the Army, marched in Selma, had gang-fights with a hanky clenched between his teeth, fights for truth and justice, has never lost a lawsuit, can push his index fingers through a coconut thanks to his decades of typing, and is a friend to all and a protector of young children and animals. Just ask him. Oh, and he’s written, what, like, 2,000 short stories? “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” is pretty good. “Shatterday” and “Jeffty is Five,” too. Try “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore.” Or “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman.”

The 85 Weirdest, Day 81: Robert Anton Wilson

Friday, August 8th, 2008

The 85th anniversary issue of Weird Tales features our big list of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years.” We’re breaking it down online, too: one honoree per day, in no particular order, for 85 days!

ROBERT ANTON WILSON (1932-”2007″) was killed and replaced with a clone in the mid-1980s. Prior to his assassination, Wilson worked at Playboy; the secret information he found in reader correspondence formed the basis for his political novels The Illuminatus! Trilogy, written with Robert Shea. After revealing the simple fact that “National Security is the chief cause of national insecurity,” Wilson was liquidated for reasons of national security. The cloned Wilson revealed to the public that it was a clone and was widely disbelieved; its warranty was prematurely expired on January 11, 2007.

The 85 Weirdest, Day 80: Roger Waters

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

The 85th anniversary issue of Weird Tales features our big list of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years.” We’re breaking it down online, too: one honoree per day, in no particular order, for 85 days!

That sound. That unending sub-bass thrum, vibrating through bones and brain and soul as Pink Floyd’s song “Welcome to the Machine” opens. It is the sound of dread, the sound of not-too-distant madness inescapably approaching; it may well be the sound of Cthulhu’s first eyelid opening. While it took several exceptional musicians to breathe life into the psychedelic musical innovations of Pink Floyd, songwriter ROGER WATERS (1944- ) stands at the forefront of the band’s most enduring and influential weirdness — for instance, his screenplay for the hallucinatory experience that is the film version of The Wall, brain-eating worms and all. And then there’s fact that Waters made the band perform The Wall live from behind an actual wall. Freak-o…

The 85 Weirdest, Day 79: Chuck Shepherd

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

The 85th anniversary issue of Weird Tales features our big list of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years.” We’re breaking it down online, too: one honoree per day, in no particular order, for 85 days!

Not only is 2008 the 85th anniversary of Weird Tales, it’s the 20th anniversary of CHUCK SHEPHERD’s syndicated newspaper column, “News of the Weird.” What started in the Washington City Paper as just another alt-newsweekly snarkfest turned into the world’s premier tabulator of real people doing bizarre things. A million bloggers have emulated Shepherd’s format, but he was there first, chronicling the depths of surreality to which actual reality can sink.

The 85 Weirdest, Day 78: Joel & Ethan Coen

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

The 85th anniversary issue of Weird Tales features our big list of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years.” We’re breaking it down online, too: one honoree per day, in no particular order, for 85 days!

Like the two genres to which so many of their films pay homage, it’s the dialogue — snappy, rapid-fire, off-kilter — that strings together the dark screwball comedy noirs of the COEN BROTHERS. From Gabriel Byrne’s smart talk in Miller’s Crossing to the yah-sure-yer-darn-tootin of Fargo, the words take center stage. Well, words and White Russians and wood chippers and hair jelly and hula hoops and extortion and blackmail and kidnapping. Always with the kidnapping.

The 85 Weirdest, Day 77: Hunter S. Thompson

Monday, August 4th, 2008

The 85th anniversary issue of Weird Tales features our big list of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years.” We’re breaking it down online, too: one honoree per day, in no particular order, for 85 days!

The creator of “Gonzo” journalism, HUNTER S. THOMPSON (1937-2005) showed us how the sausage of politics and culture is made. When he reported in 1972 that there were rumors that presidential candidate Edmund Muskie was addicted to the drug Ibogaine, he also declared that he started those rumors in the first place, thus making him the most ethical journalist in the incestuous swamp on which he was reporting. A consummate outsider who hungered for insider status, Thompson was a fringe figured who parlayed a genius with words and an amazing ability to metabolize horse tranquilizers into a scruffy credibility. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay ahead of the Bad Craziness curve forever, and the world got too strange for even him to report on.

The 85 Weirdest, Day 76: Alice Walker

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

The 85th anniversary issue of Weird Tales features our big list of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years.” We’re breaking it down online, too: one honoree per day, in no particular order, for 85 days!

An unexpected name to see on this list? Perhaps — but here’s the thing: While ALICE WALKER (1944- ) is renowned for her realistic fictin (The Color Purple, Meridian), an examination of her career’s trajectory shows that her earthly stories set the stage and built the audience for the author to deliver her later, weirder ones. The Temple of My Familiar, which uses myth and fable to weave together the world’s dark realities; the children’s fantasia Finding the Green Stone — these works fired the imaginations of readers who’d never heard the phrase “speculative literature,” but subsequently went on to discover more of it.