Mythoscon Recap

Towering, primeval arachnid limbs cloaked within palm trunks, diabolical spores in the shifty guise of citrus fruit, an airport flight path spitting forth chromed Nightgaunts at clockwork intervals and a desk clerk who informed us that in the hotel courtyard we would need not worry about the DEA. (seriously – and for the record, the DEA is about the last thing in the world I worry about.)

Readings I attended:
Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire – Read three sonnets from his forthcoming 37,000 word response to Lovecraft’s Fungi From Yuggoth. Here is some more info on the complete work from Wilum’s site. His presentation was engaging and personal with some entertaining asides, really enjoyable.

Richard Gavin – Richard read The Abject, a new piece slotted to appear in S.T. Joshi’s forthcoming Black Wings II. I look forward to reading this powerful piece in print to fully absorb the atmosphere, powerful visuals and isolation presented in the reading.

Simon Strantzas – Simon read In The Air, A poignant story of grief and loss from the recent reissue of his first book Beneath The Surface from Dark Regions Press. It was nice to hear this read as I had recently finished Beneath The Surface.

Matt Cardin – presented The Stars Shine Without Me from his collection Dark Awakenings issued by Mythos Books. This tale of alienation, the power of absent minded creativity and corporate horror was one of my favorites from his collection, and was a treat to hear read in person.

Michael Cisco – Michael Cisco is someone I hadn’t read going in, but expected I would like once I had. His reading was the highlight of the convention for me. He read, I believe, Violence, Child of Trust from the anthology Black Wings (I know it was from Black Wings, but I didn’t note if it was from the original or the forthcoming edition). It was nearly a one man show in presentation. The delivery and content were as dramatic and emotional as a I think one person sitting behind a small table could be. He was riveting and the prose infectious, I left there knowing I needed to read as much of his work as I can get my hands on.

Rick Dakan – Rather than a reading, Rick spoke of his process of writing and gathering experiences for his novel The Cthulhu Cult: A Novel Of Lovecraftian Obsession that was funny and impressive in its scope. Check out Rick’s Lovecraftian Obsession Podcast if you haven’t for some nice interviews with the likes of Wilum Pugmire, Laird Barron and others.

Panels I Attended:
Contemporary Mythos Fiction I – Featured Wilum Pugmire, Cody Goodfellow, Robert M. Price and Ann Schwader.  They gave folks like Joe Pulver, Sr. Stanley Sargent & Lin Carter a lot of love in their panel.

Contemporary Mythos Fiction II – This featured Richard Gavin, Simon Strantzas, Rick Dakan and Lois M. Gresh. This was another highlight for me (even at 9am Sunday morning). They dealt with the subtler influences of Lovecraft. Gavin sparked a great discussion by raising Alan Moore’s concept of Ideaspace. This was a discussion I was hoping to hear, and one that made a greater impression on me than simply retreading the Mythos and the minutiae of Lovecraft’s life.

Small Press Panel I & II – I was hoping for a little more vision from these panels. There was more mistrust of technology f than I expected and from some members a feeling that the major publishing houses focus on blockbuster books was a good thing for the small press. I’m not sure I agree with that, particularly that limited (expensive) books will keep their niche safe. There wasn’t a lot of talk about reaching out and trying to grow the small press aside from the Perilous Press folks who seem to have a really good perspective on what they are doing. (hmm – tried to link the Perilous Press site and apparently it’s down)

Personal Highlights:

This was the first Mythoscon, and while I suspect the organizers would have liked a larger turnout, Adam Niswander and his crew put together a great event. Adam was a gracious host, and personally stopped 2-3 times just to make sure my wife and I were enjoying ourselves. It was my first convention and his team made created something memorable.

I was able to speak with some of my favorite authors, each of whom were gracious and tolerant of me… stood next to Ramsey Campbell at the buffet… got to see the original artwork for Laird Barron’s Occultation in person… picked up some great books (Centipede Press’s table was as delectable as I feared)

I left feeling invigorated, inspired, and eager to tell stories. I’m hopeful that some of the acquaintances I made or reinforced will continue, and I’m pleased to have had the chance to see first hand the passion for weird tales is alive and well.

Cross-Posted from The Aberrant Laboratory

“Dark Awakenings” by Matt Cardin

I first became aware of Matt Cardin when  looking up information on Michael Ruppert. Ruppert has spent much of his life  trying to draw attention to the clandestine drug money in the “straight” economy and the approach of peak oil. While Ruppert is an interesting guy, his role in this post is merely as an  absurd gateway to Matt Cardin’s work.

It was a search for Ruppert that led me to Cardin’s blog, The Teeming Brain, the first time. As I combed the archives, it became clear that the intellect and reason with which he wrote was far above the other places where Ruppert’s name turns up. It also became clear that his passion for supernatural literature, creative thinking, religion and a host of other intriguing topics would make it a place I’d return often.

I have yet to read Matt’s first book Divinations Of The Deep, released on Ash-Tree Press in 2002, but when Dark Awakenings was released by Mythos Books this year I snatched it up. 2/3rd’s of the book is short fiction, while the final third consists of three essays.

Cardin’s work is often mentioned along side such pillars as Lovecraft and Ligotti. It is said, that he (among a select few others) is the progeny of the dread those authors have sown. It is a fair assessment, however I don’t feel comfortable directly comparing them. Those writers leave you with a distinct feeling, a feeling that is an abundance of their appeal. Cardin does this as well, but it is unique to that of the above mentioned, to anyone I have read really.

This is intellectual, introspective, shamanic horror. The black things crawl through the psychic ditches of our world but in Cardin’s writing they are tethered more concretely to a sense of humanity. This is, in part, due to the scholarly inclusion of religion that he weaves through his tales. Let me be clear, these are not religious stories in any sense that would lead readers of this site to be apprehensive. The stories here incorporate undiscussed elements of religion that illustrate both a connection to something bigger and a reminder of the dark things hidden in the heavy language of gods.

While I quite enjoyed the entire collection, if forced to pick a single stand out it would be “The God Of Foulness” (of which you can read a small excerpt here.) The tale explores a growing cult of those who cherish disease, shun treatment and accept their withering as a form of body sacrifice to their God. I’m not going to pore over the details of this or the other stories now though.

The three essays that close the tome deal with the history of angels and demons, the  curious spiritual resonance of George Romero’s Living Dead films, and the reading of The Book Of Isaiah as a work of horror. Each of these was interesting, academic but not cumbersome, and a welcome inclusion.

Dark Awakenings is a very strong collection of work, and I hope it won’t be another eight years before he makes another collection available. I would also encourage you to check out Demon Muse his other blog focusing on “the nature and role of the unconscious mind as symbolized by the ancient Greeks and Romans in the form of the daimon, muse, and personal genius.” Oh yeah, he does music too.

Cross-Posted from The Aberrant Laboratory