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Weird fiction writers other than Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft whose works are worth reading?
February 24, 2012 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Weird fiction writers other than Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft whose works are worth reading?

A recent obsession of mine has been weird fiction. I've spent the past while collecting stuff by the three titans of weird fiction (that would be Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft). Now that I'm nearly finished collecting their works, it's time to discover other (worthy) weird fiction writers.

Surely there are other weird fiction writers whose works are worth reading, right? If not (though I'm sure there are) can you at least recommend authors who're influenced by the aforementioned weird fiction writers? Brian McNaughton, Leigh Brackett and Karl Edward Wagner are the only writers I've come across who were significantly influenced by weird fiction.

Anyway, thanks. Looking forward to your comments.
posted by GlassHeart to Writing & Language (30 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
China Mieville probably fits the bill.
posted by gauche at 8:55 AM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Viriconium novels by M. John Harrison immediately spring to mind. Also, Lord Dunsany is the great-grandaddy of the genre.
posted by griphus at 8:56 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Iain Banks writes some very weird things--you might try the Wasp Factory in particular, but Walking on Glass is pretty odd, too. Links are to Wikipedia, beware of spoilers.

(Iain Banks also writes science fiction as Iain M. Banks.)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:56 AM on February 24, 2012


Oh, yeah, definitely seconding China Mieville.
posted by griphus at 8:56 AM on February 24, 2012


You might also like John Collier's Fancies and Goodnights, which is kind of like the bizzare love child of O Henry and Edgar Allen Poe.
posted by gauche at 9:00 AM on February 24, 2012


Stanislaw Lem!
posted by FatRabbit at 9:04 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Try and get a hold of some Gabriel Garcia Marquez's short stories, particularly Of Love and Other Demons and Strange Pilgrims. Of his novels (that I've read) One Hundred Years of Solitude has the most Magical Realism. Anything by Borges should fit the bill as well.

If you want to avoid translations:

Few people do weird better than Joe Lansdale. The Ned the Seal Trilogy is brilliant, and the Drive In Trilogy is well... weird.

MeFi's own (briefly) Jeff Vandermeer is one of the few that gives Lansdale a run for his money. Although Shriek: An Afterword is pretty hard to get through.

His wife, Anne Vandermeer, recently released The Weird (the subject of this FPP), and while I haven't read that one, she's a great editor, and so that's probably a good place to hunt for new weirdness.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:14 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The books you're referencing are weird, yeah, but they're also really 1920s pulp fiction - masterful examples of same, but still, 1920s weird is a whole different kettle of fish than contemporary weird, like Mieville. Is it the action/adventure of Howard or Lovecraft that you like so much or the general freaky miasmic atmosphere? Because I generally recommend going from Howard on to Fritz Leiber for great action/adventure stuff. Or going back in time, Wilkie Collins and Poe to get where Lovecraft & Howard were coming from. And then theres Gormenghast. Nothing is weirder than Gormenghast.

But if you want classic surrealist literature, try leaving the States - there's a lot of classic weird fiction out there.
Borges
The Master and Margarita
100 Years of Solitude (I recommend this so often that I'm starting to feel like this is my stock Askme answer, like, should I DTMFA? 100 Years of Solitude!)
Haruki Murakami warning site plays music and is downright weird but cool
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:25 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I prefer William Hope Hodgson to Lovecraft. Algernon Blackwood also is pleasantly weird. His story "The Willows" was Lovecraft's favorite weird fiction story and it's a doozy.

In a different and perhaps more sinister vein, you might try Maldoror or Strindberg's Inferno diary.
posted by vathek at 9:38 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jeff VanDermeer is awesome, too.
posted by bibliogrrl at 9:39 AM on February 24, 2012




Thirding Lord Dunsany.
posted by drezdn at 9:57 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regarding Mieville, I would particularly recommend Kraken, and double-particularly recommend the audiobook of Kraken, as a great, self-contained novel of triumphant weirdness.
posted by blueshammer at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ambrose Bierce (at least some of the short stories), Robert W. Chambers, Oliver Onions, David Lindsay.
posted by Iridic at 10:04 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't believe no one's mentioned Manly Wade Wellman yet! He was very much a pulp writer, but he wrote some wonderful weird fiction in an Appalachian setting. Check out his John the Balladeer short stories, in particular.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:09 AM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is my second chance in a week to proclaim the wonders of Kelly Link and her collection "Stranger Things Happen." Link goes to a free Creative Commons download.

And another vote for anything with the name VanDermeer on the cover. I have this volume, and it's great.
posted by jbickers at 10:16 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


E.R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros will definitely fit the bill.
posted by Lynsey at 10:46 AM on February 24, 2012


I've read a metric buzz-ton of Lovecraft-derived or inspired fiction, and New Cthulhu: the Recent Weird is the single best collection thereof I've found (most, frankly, include some stinkers.)

"Weird" is in the eye of the beholder, but some other things I've liked that might qualify:

Howard Waldrop's Things Will Never be the Same and Other Worlds, Better Lives
Kim Newman's Anno Dracula.
Grant Morrison's The Invisibles and Doom Patrol (the former has some fairly direct Lovecraftian tones; the latter takes more inspiration from surrealism)
Alan Moore's From Hell
Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates, Declare, The Stress of Her Regard, On Stranger Tides
Sean Stewart's Galveston
Karen Joy Fowler's Sarah Canary
Phil Dick's ouevre; A Scanner Darkly or Ubik might be good places to start
R.A. Lafferty's ouevre -- try 900 Grandmothers
Ditto Kelly Link, who reminds me somewhat of Lafferty, both of them writing things that feel like the fairy tales, tall tales, and myths of another world
Rachel Pollack's Unquenchable Fire and Temporary Agency (I wasn't wild about Godmother Night, nominally set in the same world)
Jonathan Lethem's The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye and As She Climbed Across the Table
Joe Lansdale's By Bizarre Hands
posted by Zed at 10:49 AM on February 24, 2012


Cordwainer Smith, technically SF but certainly not mainstream SF.
posted by tommasz at 11:33 AM on February 24, 2012


I'll add Jack Vance's Dying Earth books to the list. And some of C. L. Moore's work --specifically the Jirel of Joiry stories. I also group Michael Moorcock into this list. My own collection swerves more toward Sword & Sorcery, but the best of that genre contains a healthy overlap of Weird, as can be seen in Smith's Hyperborea and Zothique tales, and Howard's Hyborian Age stories.

I'll also second and emphasize the influence that Lord Dunsany had on virtually all the writer's you mention. There's quite a few free/cheap ebooks of Dunsany's fiction available so you can always sample before you invest. In the same breath and for the same reason, seconding: William Hope Hodgson, Algernon Blackwood, and Edgar Allen Poe.

In addition, you should be aware of the Gygax's Appendix N; many of the books that influenced D&D were of the Weird variety. A newer RPG, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, focuses on Weird Tale fantasy and has a good Recommended Reading list.
posted by zueod at 11:58 AM on February 24, 2012


Thomas Ligotti is a great writer of weird fiction in the vein of Lovecraft.
posted by OrderOctopoda at 12:06 PM on February 24, 2012


It goes a bit modern, and of course is mainly lovecraftian, but every story in this book is worth reading: The Book of Cthulhu
posted by Artw at 12:30 PM on February 24, 2012


Oh, and Nthing William Hope Hodgson and Algernon Blackwood, particularly "The Willows".
posted by Artw at 12:32 PM on February 24, 2012


For Lovecraftian fiction (with added hacking) I must recommend The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross.

But for sheer (often unpleasant) weirdness I'd recommend Jeff Noon's novels, starting with Vurt and Pollen.
posted by BinaryApe at 1:32 PM on February 24, 2012


Another vote here for Thomas Ligotti. Also Michael Cisco. And not so much to my taste, but widely-praised and sporadically Lovecraftian: Caitlin R. Kiernan.
posted by misteraitch at 1:33 PM on February 24, 2012


I've just realised you meant Weird Fiction (genre) not just weird fiction or Lovecrafty fiction. Jeff Noon's books are not Weird Fiction.
posted by BinaryApe at 1:36 PM on February 24, 2012


Robert w Chamber's The King In Yellow is worth reading and is available at Project Gutenburg.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:57 PM on February 24, 2012


As mention, Arthur Machen, particularly Hill of Dreams, and Algernon Blackwood.

Sheridan le Fanu is very good, and Oliver Onions is extraordinary, although not as commonly known. I strongly recommend reading his novella The Beckoning Fair One, although for the love of heaven you will most likely want to read it during the day with your back to a wall in a well- lit place.
posted by winna at 4:57 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the suggestions, folks.

Thus far I've added works by Sheridan le Fanu, Oliver Onions and Kelly Link -- authors I'd never heard of -- to my E-reader.
posted by GlassHeart at 4:43 AM on February 25, 2012


Robert Anton Wilson and Phillip K. Dick.
posted by driley at 4:23 PM on February 25, 2012


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