Tag Archives: fiction

Welcome to Munchen, Minnesota

Munchen, Minnesota is a place that may be of interest to you in your travels. This upcoming series being developed by Christine Borne (who is also apparently working on a YA novel about Krampus!) and Justin Glanville is planned to debut in April 2014 and centers around a fictional town, its residents, and their outsider, esoteric, supernatural and weird stories. It’s a little early to know much more about this project, but it certainly sounds promising to me, and perhaps to you as well.

Welcome to Munchen, Minnesota

“Hello, and Welcome to Munchen, Minnesota!

Like a lot of older industrial cities in the Midwest, Munchen (pronounced ‘Munchin’) has fallen on hard economic times. As people and businesses have moved away, many of the town’s neighborhoods have emptied, leaving old houses vacant and crumbling. Crime is rampant. The public schools are in disarray.

But Munchen’s got an even more serious problem: It’s on the verge of a supernatural invasion. The threat seems to loom ever larger as the town declines. And the only people with the power to save it are a geeky teenage girl, her gay librarian father, and an ambitious city planner who didn’t have a clue what he was in for when he transferred from the East Coast.

This blog is a platform that Christine and Justin developed for launching our series about Munchen and its unlikely heroes. It is our Sunnydale, if Sunnydale were in flyover country and overcast 267 days of the year. We’re both attracted to the mystique that place holds for certain people — whether for good or ill. Munchen is as much a character in our story as any of our humans (or non-humans).”

“We’re planning to launch Munchen as a serial, though right now we’re still experimenting with format. Will it be a web comic? A series of e-books? A full-cast audio production? Surely the answer will come to us in a dream, or leap out from behind a door when we least expect it.

Meanwhile, we’re going to chatter at you about writing, weird fiction, creatures with sharp teeth, and the forgotten places at the far corners of the psyche. Oh and also TV.” [via]

Periphery

Periphery by Alexx Bollen, host of the Alexxcast podcast, is a book that may be of interest.

Alexx Bollen Periphery

“Periphery is an experiment in quantum storytelling, in the magical realism tradition of Gabriel García Márquez. It combines Gnostic wisdom; psychedelic perceptions; quantum theory; and an odd sort of psychology.” [via]

“There is an old Victorian house posing as an office in ‘The Burned-Over District.’ In that office, a giant, a waif, and a child wait for someone who can be shown the true nature of the world.

John is a man with a talent to see what is not there, or, at least, what was not there until that fateful day when a want-ad caught his eye and sent him into the depths of the woods … into the periphery.” — back cover

“In a break in the trees above the street, a start to the sky, there is glowing in the aether. The sky is now a fading yellow as he watches the winged shapes perform delicate motions upon the horizon. He sees a singular bird amongst the flock, appearing more mammalian than avian.

A bird falls to his right, bouncing slightly upon impact with the street.

He looks disturbed as a black shape bounces stiffly on the sidewalk.

Startled, he watches as another falls.

His nerves run electric as yet another bird drops from the sky, and another, and another.

It rains birds …” — back cover

“It’s essentially a story about the perception of reality, both the narrative and the narrator are working on multiple levels, understanding is based on previous knowledge and study. Also, people in the know would get a kick out of the little hidden references I’ve included. ie: Last names of major characters are Weishaupt and Dee.” — Alexx Bollen, via email

The Genesis of Secrecy

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) by Frank Kermode, from Harvard University Press.

Frank Kermode The Genesis of Secrecy from Harvard University Press

This volume of Kermode’s Norton Lectures addresses “some of the forces that make interpretation necessary and virtually impossible, and some of the constraints under which it is carried on.” (125) Although he uses various literary instances (notably Henry Green’s Party Going, Joyce’s Ulysses, and Pynchon’s Crying of Lot 49), his central and recurrent case study is the gospel of Mark.

Kermode treats various important hermeneutic dilemmas, such as the determining influence of institutional readings, the difficulty in delineating between history and fiction, the chicken-and-egg relationship between plot and character, and the difference between meaning and truth. First and foremost, though, he explores the necessity of both esoteric and exoteric interpretation. He suggests that the notion of esoteric sense in text may be especially pervasive in Western literature due to the influence of the gospels.

This is a short volume, but one worth savoring by anyone whose sense of the real, the sacred, or the beautiful is invested in a text. And it communicates important ideas about the nature of secrecy and its effects. [via]

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

The Heresy of Dr Dee

The Heresy of Dr Dee by Phil Rickman is a recent fictional work featuring Dr John Dee as kind of occult detective, a follow up to The Bones of Avalon, from Corvus.

Phil Rickman's The Heresy of Dr-Dee from Corvus

“People who think that angels talk to them may occasionally turn up in the seat next to you on the bus, but you don’t find many working as scientists. John Dee, perhaps the greatest scientific mind in Tudor England, believed that God sent angels to instruct him through specially chosen intermediaries.

It is hard for us today to reconcile Dee the pioneering mathematician, astronomer and navigational theorist with the credulous figure who swallowed all the assertions made by the shady medium Edward Kelley – including the one about how God wanted Dee to let Kelley have sex with his pretty young wife.

But for the novelist Phil Rickman, Dee is not a contradictory character. “He was a very religious person, which is why he was desperate to believe Kelley, but also why he was a great scientist. The experiments were his way of trying to get closer to God, to see into God’s mind.”

Rickman, a softly spoken Lancastrian known to BBC Radio Wales listeners as the station’s resident book expert “Phil the Shelf”, has spent years threading his way through the ins and outs of Dee’s extraordinary mind, and has just published his second crime novel featuring Dee.

The Heresy of Dr Dee sees Dee visiting his old family home in the small Welsh village of Pilleth, a decaying place that seems haunted — perhaps literally — by the ghosts of those slaughtered in the Battle of Bryn Glas, a notoriously bloody encounter between the English and Welsh that took place nearby in 1402.” [via]

Debunking the Lovecraftian Occult

Thomas Jude Barclay Morrison offers a critical perspective on the influence of H P Lovecraft’s fiction at “Debunking the Lovecraftian Occult” which may be of interest.

“The both delightfully and horrifyingly bizarre spectacle that we laughably refer to as “the modern world” is graced by the presence of a perhaps surprisingly large number of Lovecraftian occult ‘orders’, and an ever-growing body of writings concerning the practice of Lovecraftian occultism. This literalising of Lovecraft’s tales of crazed and diabolical cultists enslaved by monstrous, ancient god-like entities has to qualify as one of the most curious cultural phenomena, even by the standards of the already highly curious subculture of contemporary Lovecraftiana. I would therefore like to take a few moments of your time, dear reader, in which to survey this singular scene, and to challenge, perhaps, some of the presumptions and misconceptions that underlie it—please do not be alarmed, the process will be almost entirely painless, and I can assure you that you will feel much better in the morning.” [via]

Anima

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Anima by M John Harrison:

This volume is two novels under a single cover. They have similar scales and some thematic common ground, but no narrative coordination. The jacket copy calls them “love stories,” which is not completely off the mark, but probably fails to do justice to them. Publisher Gollancz has classed them as “Science Fiction/Fantasy,” which is again fair, but the subtlety of the fantasy (in the first) and the science fiction (in the second) is profound.

The first is The Course of the Heart. It has a vivid sense of place in its English settings, reminding me in some ways of a very adult version of Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising. The novel impressed me with both its ability to be dreamy and icky by turns, and its verisimilitude in representing postmodern occultism. It’s not about occultism really, but it traces the troubled paths of three characters (one of whom is the narrator) in the decades following their initiation into “the Pleroma” by Yaxley, a loathsome magician who lives above the Atlantis bookshop in London. The closest comparison I could make for this book would be to the “Aegypt Cycle” of John Crowley, but boiled down from those practically Wagnerian proportions to a comparatively Beckettian economy, and with a distinctly different metaphysical verdict.

I found The Course of the Heart enjoyable and enigmatic enough for me to track down and read Harrison’s short story that it had elaborated: “The Great God Pan” (1988). Reflecting on the novel through the lens of Machen’s “The Great God Pan” (1890) is certainly interesting. It places all three of the central characters in the position of Mary, the experimental subject who had her brain altered to expose her to the “real world” in Machen’s story. Harrison uses Gnostic language to figure this exposure as contact with the “Pleroma.” And he supplies each of them with different outcomes. But in an author’s note to “The Great God Pan” in the collection Things That Never Happen (2003), Harrison notes that the story owes more to Charles Williams than to Machen. And indeed, if John Banville were to write a Charles Williams novel, I would expect it to turn out pretty much just like The Course of the Heart, which tips its hat to Williams with a mention of War in Heaven on the final page.

As long as I’m making comparisons (still trying to take a measure of Harrison, who is a new author for me), I would note that the second novel, Signs of Life, reminded me of the work of Chuck Palahniuk — but less funny and consequently more disturbing. It partakes of typical Palahniuk tropes regarding vehicular speed and medical gore, along with laconic characters of inscrutable moral sense. I’m glad to have read this story, although I’m not sure I can quite say I enjoyed most of it, and there are certainly fewer people to whom I would recommend it than The Course of the Heart. [via]

 

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Scroll of Thoth

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Scroll of Thoth: Tales of Simon Magus & the Great Old Ones (Cthulhu Fiction Series) by Richard Tierney:

This book collected most of Tierney’s “Simon” stories, in which the protagonist is the Gnostic hierophant Simon Magus. They are adventure stories with a strong Weird Tales flavor, set in a well researched late antique context. They are really good, even if you’ve outgrown (or never particularly liked) pulp sword and sorcery stuff. The appropriation of the Lovecraft “mythos” and its integration with classical Gnostic theology is handled really artfully.

Unfortunately, the very best Simon story is not included in The Scroll of Thoth. “The Throne of Achamoth” was co-written by Scroll editor (religious scholar and fringe ecclesiastic) Robert M. Price, and it appears in the Azathoth Cycle collection, also published by Chaosium, and also out of print. [via]

 

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Lady Midnight

Lady Midnight by James Robert French is a new novel under the Concrescent Letters imprint that has arrived at the Reading Room courtesy of Concrescent Press.

 

 

“5.5 x 8.5 in, B&W, paperback, 290pp.
ISBN: 978-0-9843729-8-0

Fifteen years ago, they murdered her lover and pinned the crime on her. Now, Andrea Styx uses her psychic abilities and occult training in the service of an organization dedicated to the downfall of a corrupt system. But the arrival of a new protege brings her past screaming to her own back door, and awakens doubts about the purpose to which she has dedicated her life.

She has a plan.

The Cosmos has other ideas…” [via]

 

In addition to the web and Facebook pages about the book, you can check out a sample chapter (PDF) or watch one of the video trailers for the work:

 

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

The Forbidden Book got mentioned over on Boing Boing

The Forbidden Book, a new English language release of a work by Hermetic Library fellow Joscelyn Godwin and Guido Mina di Sospiro, got mentioned over on Boing Boing at “Five novels and their occult inspirations” along with a few others recommended by di Sospiro and Godwin. I mentioned new edition of The Forbidden Book back in April but it’s great to see this kind of coverage for esoteric fiction and fictional esoterica.

“Guido Mina di Sospiro and Joscelyn Godwin, authors of The Forbidden Book, wrote about five novels and their occult inspirations for Boing Boing:

How do you find works of occult fiction that are not just fantasies? We have just published one of them: The Forbidden Book, released as an e-book by The Disinformation Company. It is a murder mystery, a romance, a political conundrum, but above all an account of magick in action. We think of it as belonging to a rare strain of fiction by authors who actually know occult traditions and the philosophies behind them. That way the reader is not just playing “let’s pretend” but learning some insights into reality that are potentially life-changing.”

[via]