Thursday, May 3, 2012

E Hoffman Price’s weird fiction

E Hoffman Price (1898-1988) was a pulp writer and from all accounts a rather colourful character in his own right. He not only corresponded with Lovecraft but actually met him in person and collaborated with him on the story Through the Gates of the Silver Key. He started writing in the 1920s and was still going strong in the 1980s.

Like most pulp authors he dabbled in a variety of genres, from crime to science fiction. In the 1920s and 1930s his specialty seemed to be adventure tales in eastern settings that combined elements of crime and/or weird fiction. His knowledge of the Near East was considerable and he was fluent in Arabic. He wrote for most of the well-known pulp magazines including Weird Tales and Argosy as well as detective pulps.

CthulhoWho1’s blog has a sampling of his work available for downloading, and I’ve been dipping into their collection.

The Stranger from Kurdistan, published in Weird Tales in 1925, is a story of devil-worshippers that gained him some notoriety. It’s an interesting if not great story.

His work from the 30s seems much stronger. Plunder of Kurdistan might have been a straightforward crime story but Price adds some exotic touches and the result is rather entertaining.

Tarbis of the Lake and Satan’s Daughter illustrate what appears to have been one of Price’s hobby-horses - deadly immortal females. This has been something of a staple of weird fiction since the enormous success of H. Rider Haggard’s She in 1887 (and I think total sales of 83 million copies certainly qualifies as a success).

Price’s stories might not be in the same league as Haggard’s classic but he handles this theme with enthusiasm and skill. He also adds a considerable helping of eroticism. Eroticism is of course an element in any such tale but Price certainly doesn’t stint in this area. Both stories are excellent and qualify Price as one of the major pulp weird fiction writers. Price may be largely forgotten by everyone except for hardcore pulp fans but on the strength of these stories he’s due for rediscovery.

No comments:

Post a Comment