Commenting on the work of another somewhat lesser known mythos author, this time Duane Pesice. Pesice’s stories come in different shapes and sizes, covering a variety of topics taking inspiration from here and there. Some, like “Inner Dark” are truly scary while others such as “Green” veer into darkly comedic or sinister irony reminiscent of Clark Ashton Smith or Robert Bloch. There’s a fair amount of humor to be found, there’s even a couple parodies. Most of the stories date from the early 2000s but some are as recent as 2015. The author has also hinted at the possibility of new stories. I shall await with bated breath.

A lot of Pesice’s work has been published on the internet, but also in print. In the usual format of this blog, I’ll say a few words about each story:

 

Parchment (1999)

Published in Dark Legacy #9, Winter 2000/2001

A bookshop owner in West Groves, Illinois receives a strange old tome  named Vox Arcanum, amid a shipment of books. Something draws him to read the book and begins to have visions of a place named “Leng” where the strange book was written. There is an excellent audio version of this tale on youtube done by Morgan Scorpion.

 

Jonesville 2000 (1999)

Published on the Planet Moderan website.

A wondrous journey where the lines between awakening and slumber are blurred. Taking place during Christmas, it is technically a Christmas story as well.

The premise is that a man named Jones meets someone named “Nyarla” (sic) in an internet chatroom after which he receives some rather interesting presents in the mail. Then the dreams begin.

 

Green (2000)

Published on Planet Moderan.

When A Little Shop of Horrors meets Eldritch Blue

Highly entertaining mythos yarn about a sexually frustrated man and a young beautiful botanist. This would fit nicely alongside stories like “The Beast of Love” by Tracy and James Ambuehl as it contains a heavy dose of violent sex in a fitting mythos fashion. The story explores a plant-based approach to a familiar Great Old One not typically associated with plants. The only vegetation based Great Old Ones that come to my mind are Vulthoom and possibly the creature from the “Tree Men of M’bwa” by Donald Wandrei – “Apocolothoth” if memory serves me right.

 

Malone (2000)

Published on Planet Moderan.

A hitman named Malone is employed to take out someone named Marsh, (Hmm…) but not necessarily for the ‘usual’ reasons… Short tale, taking a noire approach to the Innsmouth mythos. Its alright.

 

Blue Easter (2000)

Published on Planet Moderan.

Sequel to “Malone”. The authorities capture and interview a Deep One, discussing the threat the Great Old Ones pose and also the status of the Deep Ones. Are they evil? Do they have human rights? In August Derleth stories they are often depicted almost entirely as animals, non-human or evil, while in Lovecraft’s original “Shadow Over Innsmouth” there is much ambiguity. “Blue Easter” isn’t really a deeply philosophical story, but it does raise some interesting questions. Worthwhile read from Mr. Pesice once again.

 

Letters from Outside (2000)

Published on Planet Moderan.

Two Cthulhu-Mythos vignettes. In the first one, man discusses time travel with a dark stranger in a bar. In the second one an RPG nerd purchases some eldritch figurines.

The tone and style reminds me of The Twilight Zone: 

“All universes are connected at some point. Those from Outside inhabit these connections, seeking a way in. The following are just such encounters with the Outside. They had to happen in some universe to be depicted here. Didn’t they? The stars must be right somewhere…”

 

Fear and Loathing in Innsmouth (2000)

Published on Planet Moderan.

“I couldn’t even look at the television-the people on it began assuming reptilian characteristics, gnawing on each other’s limbs, grappling in a rapidly spreading pool of blood… And that was the weather channel.”

Really hilarious, (its actually really fucking funny) long Mythos parody that really has to be read to be understood. Basically it is a series of misadventures, the two protagonists experiencing one ridiculous situation after another.

“”Volume! Clarity! Bass!” Howled my attorney. “We must have BASS!” But all I could get on any local station was unearthly flutes piping and monstrous drums pounding in an unsteady off-kilter rhythm.”

“”This is Savage Henry’s house. He waits dreaming inside,” explained my attorney, who was taking a bite out of something unspeakable, cutting little pieces of it off, and feeding the pieces to the bat-thing he rode on.”

The story is actually quite the Derleth tribute, as it takes loads of elements from August Derleth’s mythos, particularly from The Trail of Cthulhu.

“Indeed. I could see him moving around back there in his white hat and asbestos uniform, flipping burgers with his fingers. As soon as it hit his hand, it would be cooked. He turned once and slapped it on a plate. Then he would hand the plate to an assistant, who would be juggling buns and things. French fries would naturally be immersed in boiling pitch, vats of which Cthugha would use at night to ease the pain in his tired old feet. I’d be worn out too, at approximately 4.5 billion years past retirement age. And I understand Mrs. Cthugha is frigid. Glacial even. No wonder he knocks himself out at work like that.”

 

Eddies (2000)

Published on Planet Moderan. Re-published as “Eddie” in Innsmouth Tales, 2015.

Story in the form of diary entries by a 12 year old child from Innsmouth. Brief and pretty predictable, but the premise is original and the protagonist has a good sense of humor.

 

Ghoul Picnic (2000)

Published on Planet Moderan.

A dreamland story following a group of ghouls. They encounter intruders to the dreamland from the planet Yuggoth and run into the dark lord Nyarlathotep. There is some good character work to be found here. The ghouls are depicted as very animalistic, yet also anthropomorphic resulting a style that reminds me of the Warriors books (don’t laugh at me, my wife is obsessed with those books, they’re not bad).

Morgan Scorpion also has an excellent reading of this tale. Check it out!

 

Inner Dark (2001)

Published in Nightscapes ezine.

Truly nightmarish depiction of the coming of the Great Old Ones. Poetic and gruesome, told from the subjective point of view of one individual.

 

I of the Storm (2001)

Published on Shoggoth.net

Short tale of a man preparing for a ritual relating to a large mirror that he sees as a window to another world. The story mentions the name “DeLaPoer”, which is the name of the unfortunate family in HPL’s “The Rats in the Walls”, but I can’t be sure if there’s meant to be a connection.

 

Hali (2015)

Published on Shoggoth.net

A King in Yellow story that ties nicely into the Cthulhu-Mythos. There are basically 3 different schools of King in Yellow stories: 

1) “Pure” King in Yellow tales with no Cthulhu-Mythos elements at all. 

2) “Derlethian” stories where the King in Yellow is entirely re-purposed as Hastur. (Cf. “The Return of Hastur” (1939) by August Derleth)

3) Hybrid stories such as this one, that mainly deal with the King in Yellow universe while incorporating some mythos elements. 

This classification is not perfect, but I think it makes sense. A good example of a hybrid story is Lin Carter’s “Carcosa Story About Hali” (1989) which depicts Hastur the Great Old One lurking within the waters of lake Hali in Carcosa. Personally I like to interpret the King as an avatar of Hastur (or the other way around).

Pesice’s story is a dreamlike journey through the landscape of Carcosa and is a pretty interesting reimagining of the dead city from a distinctly Lovecraftian perspective.

 

Brown Jenkins (2015)

“This is quite true. The gift isn’t anything at all, near as I can tell, and Jenkin’s a horrible roommate. And he smells.” 

Very funny mythos parody that Duane Pesice wrote in a serialized form for Shoggoth.net. The star of the tale, the rat-creature named Brown Jenkins is originally from Lovecraft’s “Dreams in the Witch-House”.

I keep yammering on about how scarce actually funny mythos parodies are, so I’m happy to have found this.

 

Pnakotic Reaction (2015)

Published in The Fall of Cthulhu.

I really liked this one. Its basically a short riff on Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle stories but very modern in approach. The protagonist is a musician and a skilled dreamer who travels to the dreamland in pursuit of a magic spell. A personal favorite of mine among Pesice’s work.