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Alone with the Horrors
Ramsey Campbell
Tor, 448 pages

Shelley Eshkar
Alone with the Horrors
Ramsey Campbell
Ramsey Campbell was born in 1946 in Liverpool, UK. His first exposure to horror fiction came at the age of five when he saw a copy of Weird Tales and began collecting them at ten. When Campbell was just 16, August Derleth published one of his stories in an anthology along with Robert Bloch, William Hope Hodgson and H. P. Lovecraft. Ramsey Campbell's first collection, The Inhabitant of the Lake, was published in 1965, followed by another, Demons by Daylight, in 1973. His first novel, The Doll Who Ate His Mother appeared in 1976. He has also edited several collections including (along with Stephen Jones) the annual Best New Horror anthology.

Ramsey Campbell Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Darkest Part of the Woods
SF Site Review: Nazareth Hill
Ramsey Campbell Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

When first published in 1993, Alone With the Horrors, a then 30-year retrospective of Ramsey Campbell's work, won both the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award and contains "In the Bag," which won the British Fantasy Award, and two World Fantasy Award-winning stories, "The Chimney" and "Mackintosh Willy." In this edition Campbell's early Lovecraftian piece "The Room in the Castle" is replaced by another eldritch tale "The Tower from Yuggoth," but otherwise the contents haven't been messed with. An interesting and informative introduction ("So Far") by Campbell, where he discusses the influences of M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft and Fritz Leiber, and assesses the flaws and merits of individual stories, is also part of the package.

One of the many merits of Alone with the Horrors is that it allows one to see the progression of Campbell's style, from his early slavish imitation of H.P. Lovecraft in "The Tower from Yuggoth" to "The Voice on the Beach" a beautifully crafted tale of Old Ones-like creatures slowly expanding their foothold on a remote beach. Not that he doesn't introduce some nasty burbling and viscid monsters once in awhile, as in "Down There" -- a tale which might give you the jitters the next time the elevator drops to the sub-basement for no apparent reason. One can also see the evolution of his tales towards more urban settings, decayed inner cities, obsolescent industrial towns, somewhat under the acknowledged influence of Fritz Leiber. Relatively little of the material is what one might term occult fiction, Campbell finding plenty of horror in everyday situations. While Campbell's tales are neither the gore-fests of much modern horror, neither are they the entirely atmospheric -- and at times rather abstruse -- tales of his compatriots Blackwood or Aickman: he strikes a good balance between these extremes.

While the current Tor edition does not include the J.K. Potter illustrations which graced the original edition, Alone with the Horrors is a seminal collection of one of late 20th century's most important horror writers, a tome that every horror fan should have on their bookshelf.

Copyright © 2004 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

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