“My Castles in Spain” by George William Curtis

This says everything that ever needed to be said.
-The Voice before the Void

“My Castles in Spain”

from Prue and I

George William Curtis

adapted by anonymous for The Ontario Readers: Fourth Book

I am the owner of great estates. Many of them lie in the west, but the greater part in Spain.

You may see my western possessions any evening at sunset when their spires and battlements flash against the horizon. But my finest castles are in Spain. It is a country famously romantic, and my castles are all of perfect proportions and appropriately set in the most picturesque situations.

I have never been in Spain myself, but I have naturally conversed much with travellers to that country; although, I must allow, without deriving from them much substantial information about my property there. Continue reading

“The Hoard of the Gibbelins” by Lord Dunsany

Walpurgisnacht:
Have a happy night.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Hoard of the Gibbelins”

Lord Dunsany

The Gibbelins eat, as is well known, nothing less good than man. Their evil tower is joined to Terra Cognita, to the lands we know, by a bridge. Their hoard is beyond reason; avarice has no use for it; they have a separate cellar for emeralds and a separate cellar for sapphires; they have filled a hole with gold and dig it up when they need it. And the only use that is known for their ridiculous wealth is to attract to their larder a continual supply of food. In times of famine they have even been known to scatter rubies abroad, a little trail of them to some city of Man, and sure enough their larders would soon be full again. Continue reading

“The Bird Woman” by Henry Spicer, with Discussion

Walpurgisnacht:
Reading horror stories in the night can, sometimes, be genuinely disturbing.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Bird Woman”

Henry Spicer

The events of this strange tale, though they actually occurred in England but a short while since, would scarcely be out of place in a book of German dreams and fancies.

The narrator, a girl of the servant class, but of rather superior education and manners, had called on the writer’s sister on the subject of a place to which she had been recommended, and in the course of conversation, related the following as a recent experience.

The advertisement, in which she had set forth her willingness to take charge of an invalid, infirm, or lunatic person, or to assume any office demanding unusual steadiness of nerve, was replied to by a lady whose letter was dated from a certain locality on the outskirts of a large commercial city, and who requested her attendance there at an appointed time.

The house proved to be a dingy, deserted-looking mansion, and was not rendered more cheerful by the fact that the adjoining tenements on either side were unoccupied. It wore altogether a haunted and sinister aspect, and the girl, as she rang the bell, was sensible of a kind of misgiving for which she could not account. A timid person might have hesitated. This girl possessed unusual firmness and courage, and, in spite of the presentiment we have mentioned, she determined, at all events, to see what she would be called on to encounter. Continue reading

“The Moon-Slave” by Barry Pain

Walpurgisnacht. Springtime Halloween.
A famous tale… of the danger of dance.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Moon-Slave”

Barry Pain

The Princess Viola had, even in her childhood, an inevitable submission to the dance; Continue reading

“A Fairy Glee” by Eugene Field

“Oho,” indeed.
-The Voice before the Void

“A Fairy Glee”

Eugene Field

From the land of murk and mist
Fairy folk are coming
To the mead the dew has kissed,
And they dance where’er they list
To the cricket’s thrumming.
Circling here and circling there,
Light as thought and free as air,
Hear them cry, “Oho, oho,”
As they round the rosey go.

Appleblossom, Summerdew,
Thistleblow, and Ganderfeather!
Join the airy fairy crew
Dancing on the sward together!
Till the cock on yonder steeple
Gives all faery lusty warning,
Sing and dance, my little people,—
Dance and sing “Oho” till morning!

Infinite Pages: 4 Stories by Jorge Luis Borges, from Wikipedia

Jorge Luis Borges’ Birthday:
Four stories of philosophy, touching upon fantasy, horror, and weirdness, and even H.P. Lovecraft.
Spoilers.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Aleph”

Wikipedia

“The Aleph” is a short story by the Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. First published in September 1945, it was reprinted in the short story collection, The Aleph and Other Stories, in 1949, and revised by the author in 1974.

Plot summary

In Borges’ story, the Aleph is a point in space that contains all other points. Anyone who gazes into it can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping, or confusion. The story traces the theme of infinity found in several of Borges’ other works, such as “The Book of Sand.” Continue reading

“Lemon Wedges” by Tracy Lindquist Price

Love is a tremendous thing. I love this poem.
Read Price’s work at The Cherry Window and Plains Prose.
-The Voice before the Void

“Lemon Wedges”

Tracy Lindquist Price

Today I chewed on lemon wedges to kill the sweet taste of you
in my mouth but still the water came and the acid stung my cheeks
as the pulp tears slid down my face they leapt off my chin
hit the ground and beneath my feet a lemon tree grew

I watched as it emerged, the trunk was crusted in sugar
the leaves were glossy and crystallized, the fruit had begun to bear
from the yellow cracked bits of flowers that perched upon the edges
of candied sticks and there is where the hard rock lemon drops formed

by the thousands; and to shake the hung tree was tempting
so I did just that in my sapphire dress with a wedge between my teeth
it poured over me like rain in a storm, landing quiet as cotton balls
and a mountain of stones built around me, I was pushed atop the peak.

I took a step, grabbed the highest branch and sat quiet on a limb.
I listened when the dropped mountain began to tremble, gazed
as it all started falling upwards from the bottom to the top until nothing remained
on the grass, but me, the empty tree and the last of my lemon rinds.

Through the sky the drops flew higher, beyond the clouds and the moon
and I could not tell what twinkled more, the sugar or the stars
each stopped in time to find its place and I fixated on Cepheus when into
his crown did a handful slip as Cassiopeia sighed; love within reach forever.

http://cherrywindow.blogspot.com/2012/03/lemon-wedges.html

Interview with Noelle Myers of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group of Grand Forks, North Dakota

I sat down with Noelle Myers, the moderator of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group, which meets every two weeks in the Grand Forks Public Library in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The Red River, which flows through Grand Forks north to the Hudson Bay, catastrophically flooded the city in 1997. The Grand Forks Herald won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its coverage of the flood.
We talked about Northern Ink’s Life in the North anthology; fiction genres; literary charities; writers’ conferences; constructive criticism; narrative construction; creating a new genre; geological and economical fiction; the “new adult” genre; “heat” or sex in fiction; rules for publishing and “pirate rules”; taboo subjects in fiction; the difference between romance fiction and women’s fiction or literary fiction; science fiction and Hugo Gernsback; sub-genres; anthologies; the purpose of life; being a better writer; the UND and NDSU sports rivalry; sports, arts, literature, and other frivolity; beauty; collegiate sports funding; online writing groups and writing sprints; dead-tree books and Nooks; antique children’s books; book collecting; the Grand Forks Flood of 1997; antique stores; the library swap shelf; support and encouragement; the Grand Forks Herald and its Pulitzer; and writers’ characters.
“There’s like 20 different -punks.”
-The Voice before the Void

Northern Ink
The Laughing Girls Poetry Reading Series and The Laughing Girls on Facebook
Teegan Loy at Dreamspinner Press
Written? Kitten!
WriteOrDie.com
PaperbackSwap.com

Interview with Noelle Myers of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group of Grand Forks, North Dakota

The Voice before the Void

“Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction” from Wikipedia

Some of the most challenging of ideas.
-The Voice before the Void

“Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction”

Wikipedia

The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.

Sexual themes are frequently used in science fiction or related genres. Such elements may include depictions of realistic sexual interactions in a science fictional setting, a protagonist with an alternative sexuality, or exploration of the varieties of sexual experience that deviate from the conventional.

1872 illustration by David Henry Friston in lesbian vampire story Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu 0Science fiction and fantasy have sometimes been more constrained than non-genre narrative forms in their depictions of sexuality and gender. However, speculative fiction also offers the freedom to imagine societies different from real-life cultures, making it an incisive tool to examine sexual bias and forcing the reader to reconsider his or her cultural assumptions. Continue reading

“The Sorcery of Aphlar” by Duane W. Rimel with H.P. Lovecraft

The power of prayer… entreated upon odd things.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Sorcery of Aphlar”

Duane W. Rimel with H.P. Lovecraft

The council of twelve seated on the jewelled celestial dais ordered that Aphlar be cast from the gates of Bel-haz-en. He sat too much alone, they decreed, and brooded when toil should have been his lot. And in his obscure and hidden delvings he read all too frequently those papyri of Elder æons which reposed in the Guothic shrine and were to be consulted only for rare and special purposes. Continue reading

“The Hoard of The Wizarrd-Beast” by H.P. Lovecraft and R.H. Barlow

H.P. Lovecraft’s Birthday Special:
A decidedly Dunsanian fantasy adventure.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Hoard of The Wizarrd-Beast”

H.P. Lovecraft and R.H. Barlow

There had happened in the teeming and many-towered city of Zeth one of those incidents which are prone to take place in all capitals of all worlds. Nor, simply because Zeth lies on a planet of strange beasts and stranger vegetation, did this incident differ greatly from what might have occurred in London or Paris or any of the great governing towns we know. Through the cleverly concealed dishonesty of an aged but shrewd official, the treasury was exhausted. No shining phrulder, as of old, lay stacked about the strong-room; and over empty coffers the sardonic spider wove webs of mocking design. When, at last, the giphath Yalden entered that obscure vault and discovered the thefts, there were left only some phlegmatic rats which peered sharply at him as at an alien intruder.

There had been no accountings since Kishan the old keeper had died many moon-turns before, and great was Yalden’s dismay to find this emptiness instead of the expected wealth. The indifference of the small creatures in the cracks between the flagstones could not spread itself to him. This was a very grave matter, and would have to be met in a very prompt and serious way. Clearly, there was nothing to do but consult Oorn, and Oorn was a highly portentous being. Continue reading

“Ex Oblivione” by H.P. Lovecraft

The dark fantastical dream; the great dream.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Ex Oblivione”

H.P. Lovecraft

When the last days were upon me, and the ugly trifles of existence began to drive me to madness Continue reading

Octavia E. Butler, Part 2: Notable Works

Extraordinary stories.
⁓The Voice before the Void

Octavia E. Butler, Part 2: Notable Works

compiled from Wikipedia

Lilith’s Brood

Lilith’s Brood is a series of three science fiction works by Octavia E. Butler. The three volumes (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) were previously collected under the title of Xenogenesis; the collection was first published under the current title of Lilith’s Brood in 2000.

Synopsis

The first novel in the trilogy, Dawn, was published in 1987. The story begins after the United States and the Soviet Union obtained nuclear weapons and their actions resulted in a terrible nuclear war that left the earth uninhabitable. Humans are all but extinct. The few survivors are plucked from the surface of their dying world by an alien race, the oankali. The title character Lilith (a black human female) awakens from stasis centuries later on an oankali ship. She meets her saviors/captors and is repulsed by their alienness. The oankali don’t have eyes, or ears, or noses, but sensory tentacles over their entire bodies with which they can perceive the world much better than a human can. Stranger still, the oankali have three genders: male, female, and ooloi. All oankali have the ability to perceive biochemistry down to a genetic level, but the ooloi have the ability to directly manipulate genetic material. Ooloi can mutate and “evolve” any living thing they touch and build offspring gene by gene using the genetic material from their male and female mates. Despite their alienness, the ooloi are strangely alluring – sexually arousing even while being visually repulsive. Continue reading

“Of Withered Apples” by Philip K. Dick

Walpurgis Night Special:
From autumn into spring, perfect weirdness from the regent of reality-challenging stories, Philip K. Dick.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Of Withered Apples”

Philip K. Dick

Something was tapping on the window. Blowing up against the pane, again and again. Carried by the wind. Tapping faintly, insistently.

Lori, sitting on the couch, pretended not to hear. She gripped her book tightly and turned a page. The tapping came again, louder and more imperative. It could not be ignored.

“Darn!” Lori said, throwing her book down on the coffee table and hurrying to the window. She grasped the heavy brass handles and lifted.

For a moment the window resisted. Then, with a protesting groan, it reluctantly rose. Cold autumn air, rushed into the room. The bit of leaf ceased tapping and swirled against the woman’s throat, dancing to the floor.

Lori picked the leaf up. It was old and brown. Her heart skipped a beat as she slipped the leaf into the pocket of her jeans. Against her loins the leaf cut and tingled, a little hard point piercing her smooth skin and sending exciting shudders up and down her spine. She stood at the open window a moment, sniffing the air. The air was full of the presence of trees and rocks, of great boulders and remote places. It was time—time to go again. She touched the leaf. She was wanted. Continue reading

“The Mermaid” by Ben King

International Women’s Day Special:
Glorious romance, if a bit fishy.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Mermaid”

Ben King

Sweet mermaid of the incomparable eyes,
Surpassing glimpses of the April skies.
Thy form, ah, maid of the billowy deep!
So rare and fair, but to possess I’d creep
Where the old octopus deep in his briny haunts
Comes forth to feed on anything he wants;
Where mollusks crawl and cuttlefish entwine,
There on crustaceans be content to dine.
What ecstacies in some calcareous valley,
Had I but scales like thee ’tis there we’d dally,
There seek each peak and let no other bliss
Be more enchanting than one salt-sea kiss;
There sit and bask in love, and sigh, and feel
Each other’s fins throb, Continue reading

“An Inhabitant of Carcosa” by Ambrose Bierce

Influential weird fiction.
The scariest thing about ghosts is that you might become one.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“An Inhabitant of Carcosa”

Ambrose Bierce

For there be divers sorts of death – some wherein the body remaineth; and in some it vanisheth quite away with the spirit. This commonly occurreth only in solitude (such is God’s will) and, none seeing the end, we say the man is lost, or gone on a long journey – which indeed he hath; but sometimes it hath happened in sight of many, as abundant testimony showeth. In one kind of death the spirit also dieth, and this it hath been known to do while yet the body was in vigor for many years. Sometimes, as is veritably attested, it dieth with the body, but after a season is raised up again in that place where the body did decay.

Pondering these words of Hali (whom God rest) and questioning their full meaning, as one who, having an intimation, yet doubts if there be not something behind, other than that which he has discerned, I noted not whither I had strayed until a sudden chill wind striking my face revived in me a sense of my surroundings. I observed with astonishment that everything seemed unfamiliar. On every side of me stretched a bleak and desolate expanse of plain, covered with a tall overgrowth of sere grass, which rustled and whistled in the autumn wind with heaven knows what mysterious and disquieting Continue reading

“Dark romanticism” from Wikipedia

Edgar Allan Poe’s Birthday Special:
All great and dark.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Dark romanticism”

Wikipedia

Dark romanticism (often conflated with Gothicism or called American romanticism) is a literary subgenre centered on the writers Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville.

As opposed to the perfectionist beliefs of Transcendentalism, the Dark Romantics emphasized human fallibility and proneness to sin and self-destruction, as well as the difficulties inherent in attempts at social reform.

1. Characteristics

G.R. Thompson stressed that in opposition to the optimism of figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson, “the Dark Romantics adapted images of anthropomorphized evil in the form of Satan, devils, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and ghouls,” as more telling guides to man’s inherent nature. Continue reading

“The Kiss of Death (The Inexorable)” by Carmen Sylva

Chillundity by the Queen of Romania.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Kiss of Death (The Inexorable)”

Carmen Sylva

translated from the German by Helen Zimmern

The sea was running high and was black as night. Only the crests of the endless waves glistened in the lightning that flashed across the heavens. The storm was raging towards the land and threw the ships upon the rocks, so that hundreds of human lives perished in the ocean. Then of a sudden it seemed as though the storm grew entangled among the cliffs on the shore, and condensed into a form that reared up tall and pale against the mighty heavens. It was a grave youth with unflinching black eyes, who leaned upon a sickle and held an hour-glass in his hand. He gazed across the waters with an indifferent air, as though the wrecks, and corpses beneath, concerned him as little as the sand in his glass, which trickled down evenly, steadily, regardless of the blustering of the storm, or the sudden quiet. There was something iron-like in the youth’s features, in his eyes there lay a power that destroyed all things they looked upon; even the ocean seemed to be numbed by them, and to grow silent with fear. Day dawned, and flooded with roseate hues from the rising sun. Sorrow came stepping over the cliffs. She stretched out her arms to the youth.

“Brother,” she cried, “brother, what have you done! You have raged terribly, and did not hear how I called you, ay, cried for you so eagerly.”

“I heard nothing,” said Death. “I felt myself too quiet, so I roused myself. A few vessels were lost in the act.”

“O pitiless one!” said Sorrow.

“I do not comprehend your grief,” answered the somber youth; and turning from her, he walked away. Continue reading

“The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe

Halloween Special:
Poe’s parable of the persisting pandemic known as death.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Masque of the Red Death”

Edgar Allan Poe

The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

1894-1895 The Masque of the Red Death by Aubrey Beardsley mask art masquerade illustration Edgar Allan PoeBut the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. Continue reading

“Ragnarok, The Twilight of the Gods” by Thomas Bulfinch

We do not know when the end will come, but we do know that the end will come.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Ragnarok, The Twilight of the Gods”

from Bulfinch’s Mythology

Thomas Bulfinch

It was a firm belief of the northern nations that a time would come when all the visible creation, the gods of Valhalla and Niffleheim, the inhabitants of Jotunheim, Alfheim, and Midgard, together with their habitations, would be destroyed. The fearful day of destruction will not, however, be without its forerunners. First will come a triple winter, during which snow will fall from the four corners of the heavens, the frost be very severe, the wind piercing, the weather tempestuous, and the sun impart no gladness. Continue reading

“Nemesis” by H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft’s Birthday Special:
A great, dark poem.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Nemesis”

H.P. Lovecraft

Through the ghoul-guarded gateways of slumber,
Past the wan-mooned abysses of night,
I have lived o’er my lives without number,
I have sounded all things with my sight;
And I struggle and shriek ere the daybreak, being driven to madness with fright. Continue reading

“Bothon” by Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft, part 5

A view of the end.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Bothon”

Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft

part 5

“We depart straight this night, for the great mountains of A-Wah-Ii,” answered Bothon, “if so be the four great forces allow us possession of a war chariot. And, to that end, your ring, my beloved.”

The Lady Ledda nodded again, understandingly, and removed from the middle finger of her right hand the ring of the two suns and the eight-pointed star which, as a member of the Royal Family, she was entitled to wear. Bothon received it, and slipped it upon the little finger of his right hand.

The sentinel on guard before the barracks Continue reading

“Bothon” by Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft, part 4

Pulpy goodness.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Bothon”

Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft

part 4

In ten minutes the house nurse fetched in a small tray. On it was a tumbler, a mixing spoon, and a freshly put up eight-ounce bottle containing a reddish colored, pleasant tasting syrup.

Twenty minutes later, Meredith, who had compromised on three teaspoons, was deeply asleep on his bed; and the General, Bothon, in the innermost dungeon chamber of the great citadel of Alu, was standing poised in the center of that dungeon’s smooth stone floor, tensed to leap in any direction; while all about him the rending crashes of thousands of tons of the riven and falling masonry of the citadel itself was deafening him against all other sounds except the incessant and indescribably thunderous fury of the now utterly maddened ocean. Continue reading

“Bothon” by Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft, part 3

Is “Recovered Ancient Memories” in the DSM-5?
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Bothon”

Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft

part 3

Not only not within the memory of living men, but, as the records indicated, during its entire history over thousands of years as the metropolis of the civilized world, had there been any previous hostile manifestations against the great city of Alu. That anything like this terrible campaign which the renowned General Bothon of Ludekta set in motion against her might come to pass, had never even remotely occurred to anyone in Alu. So promptly did Bothon launch his attack that the tortured bodies of the members of his delegation to the Emperor had not yet ceased writhing on their row of crosses before he had penetrated, at the head of his trained legionaries, to a point within two squares of the Imperial Palace which stood at the center of the great city. Continue reading

“Bothon” by Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft, part 2

Into ancient Atlantis, with love and war.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Bothon”

Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft

part 2

These dreams had been continuous and consecutive since their beginning several nights before, but on this night after the rather elaborate investigation of the words and syllables, Meredith began in earnest to get the affair of his environment in the strange city of the flames and conflicts and confusion and of a roaring ocean, cleared up with a startling abruptness. His dream impression that night was so utterly vivid–so acutely identical with the terms of the waking state–that he couldn’t tell the difference between his dream slumber and wakeful consciousness! Continue reading