A Season in Carcosa (2012)


Miskatonic River Press
hardcover, paperback, eBook

Cover art Daniele Serra


When Joe Pulver approached S. T. Joshi about doing an anthology like his now-famous tome Black Wings, only for Robert Chambers’ King in Yellow, Joshi had only one thing to say: “You do it, Joe.”

So he did.

And here it is: A Season In Carcosa.

H.P. Lovecraft. Karl Edgar Wagner. Peter Straub. Those are a few of the names that stand tall in our genre and when it comes to Robert W. Chambers and his King in Yellow they agree, Chambers’ beguiling tales of the King In Yellow and Carcosa are among the best in “weird” fiction. Miskatonic River Press and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. are proud and delighted to present an anthology of all new tales inspired by Chambers.

In haunted and splintered minds… Minds shackled to lonely places…
In the unbound shadows infesting hearts of beautiful woman with frantic sensations…
In an old house where biblical thrived…
In threadbare truths, disturbed by despair, cobwebbed with illusions…
In far cold Carcosa…
Lies madness.

In A Season In Carcosa readers will find the strange and mysterious places of heart and mind that spring from madness, and those minds and the places touched by it are the realms that are mined. Chambers’ legacy of the worms and soft decay that spring from reading the King In Yellow play stir both new and established talents in the world of weird fiction and horror to contribute all new tales that pay homage to these eerie nightmares. In Carcosa twilight comes and minds lost in the mirrors of lust and fear, are awash in legacies of shadows, not mercy. . .

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Table of Contents:

Haunting the pages of this tome are the following voices:

Joel Lane “My Voice is Dead”
Simon Strantzas “Beyond the Banks of the River Seine”
Don Webb “Movie Night at Phil’s”
Daniel Mills “MS Found in a Chicago Hotel Room”
Gary McMahon “it sees me when I’m not looking”
Ann K. Schwader “Finale, Act Two”
Cate Gardner “Yellow Bird Strings”
Edward Morris “The Teatre & Its Double”
Richard Gavin “The Hymn of the Hyades”
Gemma Files “Slick Black Bones and Soft Black Stars”
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. “Not Enough Hope”
Kristin Prevallet “Whose Hearts are Pure Gold”
Richard A. Lupoff “April Dawn”
Anna Tambour “King Wolf”
Michael Kelly “The White-Face at Dawn”
Cody Goodfellow “Wishing Well”
John Langan “Sweetums”
Pearce Hansen “The King is Yellow”
Laird Barron “D T”
Robin Spriggs “Salvation in Yellow”
Allyson Bird “The Beat Hotel”

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The King in Yellow, a series of vaguely connected short stories having as a background a monstrous and suppressed book whose perusal brings fright, madness, and spectral tragedy, really achieves notable heights of cosmic fear’—H. P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature

These are seasons of madness and delusion, experiences stained and tainted by The King in Yellow, Carcosa, the Yellow Sign, and the mysterious Play itself…
From Paris to New York, in lonely hearts and broken minds, the river of Night’s dreaming flows and when the Yellow Sign appears, sane departs for the dim shores where the cloudwaves break.
Come join the puppets who discover there’s no refuge or exit from dark desire and dangerous visions.
A Season in Carcosa features all new tales in tribute to the creations of Robert W. Chambers by Allyson Bird, Joel Lane, Laird Barron, John Langan, Gary McMahon, Gemma Files, Don Webb, Cate Gardner, Richard Gavin, Simon Strantzas, and many others.

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This Yellow Madness”

Robert William Chambers (May 26, 1865 – December 16, 1933).
The King in Yellow. The Yellow Sign. Dim Carcosa. Suicide Chambers. Cassilda and the other beguiling characters in The Play . . . Haunting seeds of weird fiction that inspired Lovecraft, Derleth, Karl Edgar Wagner, and still infects writers today.
Influenced, in part, by Ambrose Bierce, Edgar Allen Poe, and it can be argued, the French “Decadents”, Chambers created a small body of stories, some even term it a mythos, linked by a king in pallid, tattered robes, the madness-inducing “The King In Yellow” play, the Yellow Sign, and collected them into a volume published in 1895, called
The King in Yellow. His are tales lightly-salted with Nihil and ennui, and ripe with madness, haunting beauty, and eerie torments, you’ll recall I mentioned Bierce, Poe, and the “Decadents”.
Robert M. Price, in his excellent,
The Hastur Cycle (Chaosium 1997), traces some of the core elements of Chambers creations from the first mentions of Carcosa, Hali, and Hastur, in Bierce to Wagner (His “The River of Night’s Dreaming” is KIY canon and one of the finest weird tales ever written! And I’m not alone on this, Peter Straub in his intro to KEW’s brilliant collection, In A Lonely Place [Warner Books 1983] said so as well! !!) and Blish. Two years after The Hastur Cycle was published I asked Bob to co-edit a collection I wanted to call, The Pallid Mask. He agreed and we began to assemble works to include and Bob penned an intro, but we lost our publisher. A decade later at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, OR I pitched this book to S. T. (Joshi), who was very interested in editing it, but he got buried and it came back to me. S.T. said, “You should do it yourself. Who would be better?” In my fantasies, Datlow! !! But I didn’t have the courage to ask her. The thought of me editing this tome sent me over the edge into true madness. Yet here it is. Having seen the Yellow Sign long ago (I sat by a large body of water in upstate, NY, reading the “The Yellow Sign” by full moonlight, not far from Chambers’ home not knowing about it or him; I was sixteen at the time) and having become a fanatical member of the Society of the Yellow Sign (some even say, it’s leader), I needed to see this book happen.
Many of the tales that were to be included in
The Pallid Mask found their way into Peter Worthy’s fine Rehearsals For Oblivion Act 1 (Dimensions Books 2006). Yet, I still wasn’t happy. I wanted more KIY tales. New ones. I had lists of writers and my what if ______ ___ did this, or what if ___ _____ did something like that?
My need fed on me and I was finally called to the court.
Bob had said it was a good idea. S.T. was all for it. I sat looking at my Chambers artifacts and holding my copy of
The King in Yellow (no, it’s not a 1st edition! !!) and the King’s madness commanded me, Do it!
So I scratched out my notes, looked at my list of writers, many who had been on my list for a long time, and went begging.
Here’s what I wished, begged for:
No reprints. No HPL anything. The Lovecraftian mythos is not part of the KIY oeuvre… Exception, ghouls, MU could have copy of KIY play. I do not want to someone to write the play. I am interested in tales based on the canon, or that tip their hat to it, or riff off it. This is a book about madness, altered realities, splintered minds, and what is behind the mask.
The canon as I see it: RWC “The Repairer of Reputations”, “The Mask”, “In the Court of the Dragon”, “The Yellow Sign”, “The Demoiselle D’Ys”, “The Street of Four Winds”, “The Prophet’s Paradise”, “The Street of the First Shell”; Karl Edward Wagner “The River of Night’s Dreaming”; Michael Cisco “He Will be There”; James Blish “More Light”; Vincent Starrett “Cassilda’s Song”; Ann K. Schwader “Tattered Souls”, “Postscript: the King In Yellow”, “A Phantom Walks”.
Style is wide open. Noir. Bruno Schultz, Burroughs, Ligotti, Sci-Fi, New Weird, dark fantasy, David Lynch, the Quays, POETICS!, surrealism, Ellroy, Vachss…
Setting and place, any—almost, R’lyeh is out. Urban, desert, cabin, NYC, Paris, Texas in 1885…
Tales could/should touch on – Suicide chambers, the Dynasty, the play, the characters from the play, madness, the Yellow Sign. Paris. Painting/the arts in general [musical adaptations—what would Julie Taymor’s KIY be like?; Robert Wilson stages play; modern poets/musicians looking at the play]. Carcosa, masks, the war w/ Alar . . .
On the following pages you’ll see what forms of madness the talented contributors have staged for you. Please dress warmly as you embark for the shores of madness. Upon arrival you’ll note there is, in vales of the Winter Lantern, a clinging chill in the air.

(a certain) bEast
Berlin, Germany
FEB 2012

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A Season in Carcosa arrives in Berlin