Saturday, September 22, 2007

Frontier Cthulhu

Ancient Horrors in the New World

Chaosium has announced the release date for Fronter Chtulhu -- October 26. This means it is just in time for Halloween. And really, what better than a book about places, people, and things that appear to be one thing, but are another.

There has been much speculation about the contents of the book, even though the table of contents are available. Yes, there are weird westerns to be certain, but there are many other frontiers explored. Perhaps it is best described as Lewis and Clark's untold journey through the cosmic horrors of the New World (add in the the Newfoundland sagas of the Vikings, tales of John Smith, and the legends of Native American Indians with a few other variations). With some luck, the authors might drop by to offer a few answers about the setting of their stories (without giving away to details). And speculation is always welcome.

The book is available from Amazon for pre-order and from Chaosium directly (click on the names to follow the links). Also, the cover here is the final.

Below are all of the important details:

It is only within the last few years that most people have stopped thinking of the West as a new land. I suppose the idea gained ground because our own especial civilisation happens to be new there; but nowadays explorers are digging beneath the surface and bringing up whole chapters of life that rose and fell among these plains and mountains before recorded history began.

—H.P. Lovecraft, “The Mound”

As explorers conquered the frontiers of North America, they disturbed sleeping terrors and things long forgotten by humanity. Journey into the undiscovered country where fierce Vikings struggle against monstrous abominations. Travel with explorers as they learn of buried secrets and the creatures guarding ancient knowledge. Go west across the plains, into the territories were sorcerers dwell in demon-haunted lands, and cowboys confront cosmic horrors.

The Long Road Home
by Paul Melniczek

In Waters Black the Lost Ones Sleep
by Angeline Hawkes

Where Men Had Seldom Trod
by Lee Clark Zumpe

Something to Hold the Door Closed
by Lon Prater

Terror from Middle Island
by Stephen Mark Rainey & Durant Haire

Children of the Mountain
by Stewart Sternberg

They Who Dwell Below
by William Jones

Wagon Train for the Star
by Scott Lette

Incident at Dagon Wells
by Ron Shiflet

Ahiga and the Machine
by Robert J. Santa

The Dead Man’s Hand
by Jason Andrew

Jedediah Smith and the Undying Chinaman
by Charles P. Zaglanis

Snake Oil
by Matthew Baugh

Cemetery, Nevada
by Tim Curran

The Rider of the Dark
by Darrell Schweitzer

William Jones ed., cover art by Steven Gilberts. 272 pages. Trade Paperback.

ISBN 1-56882-219-7


Lon Prater said...

Thanks for the opportunity to spill a little bit of the beans, William!

My story "Something to Hold the Door Closed" uses the very real history of the North Carolina Gold Rush of 1800 as a jumping off point...but as Hessian deserter Johannes Reidt finds out, things that glitter are not always gold....

Charles Gramlich said...

Some great titles there, and some authors whose stuff I've read and enjoyed before. I'm looking forward to it.

Paul Melniczek said...

I'm very excited to be a part of this project, another fine book edited by the capable hands of William Jones, and the theme appealed to me in several ways. Anything Lovecraftian sparks my interest, and in much of my writing I've used settings both harsh and isolated. Mankind has this innate dual fascination/aversion to the unknown, to seek new worlds and infringe on unexplored frontiers. In a sense, our modern world has become smaller due to advances in technology and transportation, but it's ridiculous to claim any real knowledge of the universe, since its vastness is far beyond our comprehension. Lovecraft excelled at crafting this feeling of cosmic awe into script, and with his influence, along with the writings of Algernon Blackwood, I've been inspired to pursue tales of extreme isolation coupled with the thirst for hidden knowledge. In "The Long Road Home," I've infused a combination of all these elements, adding some Norsemen mythology as well with Vikings as the main character, whose culture was rich in folkore and legendary at quest and in combat. It made for an interesting theme, and looking back at their own particular barbaric ways, one needs to wonder if any of us would be so courageous in a modern search to conquer unknown worlds, if we believed as fiercely as they did of the horrors which they thought lurked beyond the fringe of their homeland.

Paul Melniczek.

Anonymous said...

Hi William!

My story, "In Waters Black the Lost Ones Sleep", deals with the Lost Colony of Roanoke in 1587. You'll never find this account in the history books!

~Angeline Hawkes

Scott Lette said...

Again, thank you for the opportunity to submit to this most recent Chaosium publication William.

My own tale "Wagon Train for the Star" features characters both real and imagined, much as "The Lady in the Grove" did.

As an Australian, there's something exotic about the historical period of the 'Old West'.
I revelled in being able to tell a story that reflected both horror and western genre sensibilities, as well as explore the rich history of post civil-war Kansas, Texas and beyond.

I'll not give much more away as the story is yet to see print. I do feel however that my second effort is better than my first.

Chuck Zaglanis said...

I was happier than a Mi-go with a brain case when asked to pen a tale for this book. I got my start in writing by contributing to Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu role-playing game and a nicer group of guys are hard to find. Of course, working with William is an offer I’ll never turn down.

Jedediah Smith and the Undying Chinaman is a tale of cosmic horror, rib cracking violence, and dark humor. Somewhere in there I’ve added themes of revenge and redemption. I like to think of it as a western told in a noir style, with enough Lovecraftian menace to satisfy the diehard Mythos fan. I only hope it is as fun to read as it was to write.



Stewart Sternberg said...

I've had a chance to read Chuck Zaglanis' story, and I think the book is worth his pulpy entry alone. I won't tell tales out of school, but Chuck's story gallops along with a wry nod and wink, delivering a broad helping of two-fisted action and a villain worthy of a Sax Rohmer tale.

My own piece takes place in Wyoming and without giving anything away, it deals with the mountain men attending the great rendezvouz that was started by General Willaim Ashley back in 1825. There, the mountain men would come to reprovision and to sell their pelts to representatives from the East.

You just never know what one might find among those pelts.

Matthew Baugh said...

Just a few days left! I can hardly stand it!

It's always fascinated me that snakes and healing should be so closely associated. I started playing with that idea and came up with the idea of a snake oil peddler. That was one of the designations for the patent medicine sellers who travelled from town to town in the 19th century.

In a world where Yig and the serpent people exist there's a lot more to someone like this than a simple con man.

Lee Clark Zumpe said...

My copy of Frontier Cthulhu arrived today and I can’t wait to start exploring its pages.

My primary influence for “Where Men Had Seldom Trod” was James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking tales. My motivation: What if Cooper had written a mythos tale?

Set during the French and Indian War, the story is actually more dependant upon specific historical events of the First Cherokee War.

Another seed for the tale came from a reference to Nick-A-Jack’s Cave (Nickajack Cave) as a base for a band of freebooters made up of “renegade Indians and desperate white men defiant of law and order,” probably an exaggerated portrayal of the Chickamaugas.

It’s always a pleasure and an honor to work with William on a project.

Lee Clark Zumpe

William Jones said...

"They Who Dwell Below"

I suppose I should add my comments. Often, when I edit a themed anthology, I looked for stories that move with a particular progression, either through plot or theme. In Frontier Cthulhu the movement seems rather simply on the surface, but actually there are some tales that could have appeared in different order. So my focus was on theme and connection -- which stories worked best when reading the anthology, and which stories would highlight previous and upcoming tales.

When I reached the middle of the anthology, I had a bit of a thematic gap. I needed to move westward, and in doing so, the stories tend to gain elements of the Mythos. To fill this gap, I wrote "They Who Dwell Below." This tale works off Lovecraft (or Bishop's) "The Mound." Instead of venturing into the hollow earth, I kept the characters in the dark tunnels. In "The Mound," there is 1 sentence that mentions "pallid things" lurking. I took that line and built the story around it, playing with the theme of "below" being a "bad place" (something Lovecraft did in his work).

So my story (hopefully) increases the level or exposure of Mythos while bringing together a band of character whom all are in need of redemption. The question is: Who escapes Hell?

This tale, I'd hoped, would link the previous an following work so the reader was not startled by any jumps in Mythos material, while at the same time, it played with a serious theme of redemption, the cost of redemption, and those who escape punishment (all of which were in Lovecraft's original "The Mound).