Saturday, January 13, 2007

Dark City

If at times you feel a sense of foreboding, a sinister undercurrent, in the course of day-to-day living in a large modern city, look to Fritz Leiber to have your suspicions confirmed. His 1941 short horror story 'Smoke Ghost' serves as the template for the urban horror subset, shockingly ahead of its time. Do search it out (and try Harlan Ellison's 'The Whimper of Whipped Dogs' as a 1973 companion piece). The sacrifices of city life will change its meaning, slightly.

Fritz Leiber was a fascinating writer who is probably more well-known for his sword and sorcery (his original term) books with his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser/Lankhmar series, but his horror writing was incredibly prescient, witty and surprising. His novels 'Conjure Wife' and 'Our Lady of Darkness' (1953 and 1977 respectively) manage all this, with OLOD having, for me, an added melancholy tone as it contained shades of Leiber's own life that are particularly affecting. But they will also frighten you, very much.

For more about Leiber, there is a very comprehensive website.

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