Friday, February 24, 2012

Forgotten Books: Horror Times Ten -- Alden H. Norton, Editor

This review appeared in somewhat different form back in January 2006.

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. After six years, I find that I remember some of the stories much better than others, and some of them hardly at all. The Morrow is certainly the most vivid, so its oddity must work in its favor, at least for me.


Todd Mason said...

Contents (view Concise Listing)

7 • Introduction (Horror Times Ten) • (1967) • essay by Alden H. Norton
10 • The Trunk Lady • (1944) • shortstory by Ray Bradbury
30 • Cool Air • (1928) • shortstory by H. P. Lovecraft
40 • The Lonesome Place • (1941) • shortstory by August Derleth
49 • The Dead Remember • (1936) • shortstory by Robert E. Howard
58 • The Captain of the "Pole-Star" • (1883) • novelette by Arthur Conan Doyle (aka The Captain of the Polestar)
82 • That Receding Brow • (1919) • novelette by Max Brand
124 • His Unconquerable Enemy • (1889) • shortstory by W. C. Morrow
135 • The Dead Valley • (1895) • shortstory by Ralph Adams Cram
145 • The Gorgon's Head • (1899) • shortstory by Gertrude Bacon (aka The Gorgon)
157 • The Skeleton in the Closet • (1943) • shortstory by Robert Bloch

Well...a pretty minor Bloch, even if the title story of an "overlooked stories" collection, and an even more forgettable Bradbury...a pretty good Derleth, though. (Or so I remember it from reading it as a kid!)

Wonder if that WC Morrow has anything to do with the publisher...

Todd Mason said...

As ISFDb will also tell you, it's Derleth's birthday today...

Joe Lansdale said...

This book is not forgotten by me. I love this anthology.