Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Horror Times Ten -- Alden H. Norton, Editor
I was in a short-story reading mood a while back and picked up this little volume. It had some stories I wasn't familiar with, and I thought I'd enjoy the "chilling tales of horror." Maybe I'm old and jaded, but I didn't have as much fun with them as I'd hoped.
One that disappointed me was Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Captian of the 'Pole Star.'" I knew where this one was going long before the end, and it was far from chilling. The same goes for H. P. Lovecraft's "Cool Air." Maybe there was a time when these would have been shocking or surprising, but no longer.
Robert E. Howard's "The Dead Remember" was another "surprise ending" story that didn't work so well, but I liked it anyway, maybe because Howard wrote it.
I didn't know Max Brand wrote horror, but I should have suspected it. He wrote just about everything else. However, "His Receding Brow" isn't exactly a horror story. And once again, I didn't find a single surprising thing about it. Still, no story about apes can be all bad.
The most bizarre story in the book is "His Unconquerable Enemy" by W. C. Morrow. If you can overlook the fact that it's kind of ridiculous, this story of revenge by a legless and armless man is pretty effective.
No doubt that when I was a kid, I'd have enjoyed these stories more than I did now. I've read too much to be easily surprised, and some of the effects the writers are going for just don't work for me. Still, I'm not sorry I read the book, and I'm sure I'll try some similar anthologies in the future.