Monday, May 2, 2016

Night & Demons (2013) by David Drake

Night & Demons (2013) by David Drake, containing the following stories:

  • The Red Leer (1979): Deftly characterized 'werewolf' story with a science-fictional twist.
  • A Land of Romance (2005): Enjoyable, twee nod to one of Drake's favourite writers, L. Sprague de Camp.
  • Smokie Joe (1977): A horror story not for the squeamish.
  • Awakening (1975) 
  • Denkirch (1967): The venerable August Derleth bought this early Drake story for Arkham House. It's a slight but enjoyable pastiche of Derleth and Lovecraft.
  • Dragon, The Book (1999)
  • The False Prophet (1989): The longest story involving Drake's classical Roman times characters Vettius and Dama (V&D), who repeatedly stumble into supernatural situations.
  • Black Iron (1975): V&D
  • The Shortest Way (1974): V&D
  • Lord of the Depths (1971)
  • The Land Toward Sunset [Cormac Mac Art] (1995) : Highly enjoyable novella featuring Robert E. Howard's Celtic hero Cormac Mac Art and a remnant of Atlantis.
  • Children of the Forest (1976): Marvelous 'cryptid' story set in late medieval Europe.
  • The Barrow Troll (1975)
  • Than Curse the Darkness (1980): One of the ten or fifteen greatest Cthulhu Mythos stories not written by H.P. Lovecraft. Drake's attention to the details of history creates a Belgian Congo turned into a house of horrors, not by ancient gods, but by European atrocities committed in the name of the rubber trade.
  • The Song of the Bone (1973)
  • The Master of Demons (1975)
  • The Dancer in the Flames (1982): Viet Nam horror.
  • Codex (2003)
  • Firefight (1976): One of Drake's horror stories informed by his time in Viet Nam.
  • Best of Luck (1978): Short-short resembles the superior "Something Had to Be Done."
  • Arclight (1973): Viet Nam horror.
  • Something Had to Be Done (1975): Brilliant horror story draws on Drake's Viet Nam time to deal with a very old horror trope.
  • The Waiting Bullet (1997): A nod to Drake's friend and mentor Manly Wade Wellman in its rural mountain setting.
  • The Elf House (2004)
  • The Hunting Ground (1976): A great piece of urban horror pits a crippled Viet Nam vet against... something. Reads like a blueprint for elements of the Predator and Alien movies. 
  • The Automatic Rifleman (1980): Drake nods to Fritz Leiber with the title of this science-fiction story, and to Leiber's Changewar series in the story's premise.
  • Blood Debt (1976)
  • Men Like Us (1980): Great piece of post-apocalyptic science fiction that uses some of the most persistent Atomic and Golden Age science-fiction tropes in refreshingly new ways. 
  • A Working Bibliography of David Drake's Writing (2012) by Karen Zimmerman 

* The note "A shorter version of this volume appeared in 2007 as Balefires" is found on this book's copyright page, and was published by Night Shade Books. The added stories are: "Dragon, the Book", "The Land Toward the Sunset", "Codex" and "The Waiting Bullet".

One of the great bargains of all time in its mass-market paperback version. Night & Demons collects a tonne of the prolific, thoughtful Drake's short works from the past 40 years. They fall broadly into the horror and dark fantasy genres, though science fiction also plays a part on its own or in several of the horror stories. Along with the stories comes about a hundred pages of Drake's musings on the genesis of the stories. The recollections are both amusing and informative. Highly recommended.

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