Darker Companions (2017)

DC PS

edited bv Scott David Aniolowski  and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

 PS Publishing
hardcover and eBook

 

Welcome to DARKER COMPANIONS, a celebration of Ramsey Campbell.

The year 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Ramsey Campbell’s first fiction collection, THE INHABITANT OF THE LAKE AND LESS WELCOME TENANTS. The Arkham House book, published in 1964 when he was just 18, was actually his second appearance at Arkham House, the first being in 1962’s August Derleth-edited anthology DARK MIND, DARK HEART, his first professional sale as an author. To commemorate the impressive event, I thought it only fitting to assemble an anthology of stories in tribute to Ramsey, written by some of his many fans and friends currently working in the field of the weird.
Here’s the line-up in all of of its perverse pleasure:

Introduction: Hymns from the Church in High Street by Scott David Aniolowski
Holoow by Michael Wehunt
The Long Fade into Evening by Steve Rasnic Tem
Asking Price by S.P. Miskowski
Author! Author? by John Llewellyn Probert
Meriwether by Michael Griffin
The Entertainment Arrives by Alison Littlewood
Premeditation by Marc Laidlaw
A Perfect Replica by Damien Angelica Walters
There, There by Gary McMahon
We Pass from View by Matthew M. Bartlett
Meeting the Master by Gary Fry
Saints in Gold by Kristi DeMeester
This Last Night in Sodom by Cody Goodfellow
The Whither by Kaaron Warren
Uncanny Valley by Jeffrey Thomas
The Dublin Horror by Lynda E. Rucker
The Sixth Floor by Thana Niveau
The Carcass of the Lion by Christopher Slatsky
The Granfalloon by Orrin Grey
Little Black Lamb by Adam L G Nevill

ND art - Marsh's Symbol

Introduction: The Influence of the Hungry Moon by Scott David Aniolowski

This is the third time I’ve written this, struggling to decide what needs to be said and how best to say it. My first draft was a lengthy history of Ramsey Campbell’s career, scholarly and frankly rather dull. Others have done it before me and have done it better. The second attempt was a discussion of the themes associated with Ramsey’s work: urban decay, body horror, mental torment and instability and the outside turned inward. That didn’t really seem quite appropriate for the introduction to this book, either, so draft number two went off into cyber-limbo. Finally, I decided that the best thing was something short and to the point: a few words about the thoughts and process that lead up to the book you now hold.

The year 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Ramsey Campbell’s first fiction collection, The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants. The Arkham House book, published in 1964 when he was just 18, was actually his second appearance in an Arkham House book, the first being in 1962’s August Derleth-edited anthology Dark Mind, Dark Heart, his first professional sale as an author. To commemorate the impressive event, I thought it only fitting to assemble an anthology of stories in tribute to Ramsey, written by some of his many fans and friends currently working in the field of the weird.

The original germ of the idea was to pay homage to The Inhabitant of the Lake, however on consideration that seemed too restrictive for such a momentous occasion, and there are already plenty of Cthulhu anthologies out there; my very first foray into editing was a Ramsey Campbell Cthulhu tribute anthology in 1995 to coincide with his guest of honor appearance at the second NecronomiCon in Danvers, Massachusetts. The second incarnation of the idea was to do an anthology inspired by the early Campbell short stories as collected in The Inhabitant of the Lake, Demons by Daylight and Scared Stiff. That seemed more wide-ranging and would include material from the pivotal point in Ramsey’s career when he shook off the bewitchment of Lovecraft and found his own true voice. This was when I got Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. involved; realizing the scope and breadth of the idea, I decided a co-editor would be invaluable in helping to keep all the moving parts organized and going in the right direction. I had previously worked with Joe when I accepted and helped get two of his anthologies to press as the fiction editor at a now-defunct small press. I really liked what Joe had done and had great respect for him. We had similar tastes in literature, thought alike on numerous topics, and had already worked together successfully, so I knew Joe was the one and only choice to be my partner in crime for the Campbell tribute idea. He was thrilled with the idea and immediately agreed; ultimately we decided to do a career-spanning retrospective tribute, no holds barred. The next step was discussing it with Ramsey, who gave the go-ahead and his blessing for us to use any of his creations, nothing was off limits! Peter Crowther at PS Publishing seemed the obvious choice of publisher as he has such a longstanding relationship with Ramsey Campbell, and he liked the idea and immediately accepted the project.

Joe and I each compiled a wish-list of authors whom we wanted to invite to contribute. We compared notes, merged lists, and found that we had far too many names, even just taking into account those we’d had on both our lists. We debated all the names and finally had a list we both agreed would be our starting point. A great deal of thought and discussion went into the line-up for this book. There were several key points we insisted on, and from the start it was our goal to have a diverse, international mix of contributors. We sought out authors who were fans of Ramsey’s and had been influenced by his body of work — folks whom we knew would put their hearts into it because they wanted to be a part of this tribute and not just to make a sale. Our only edict was that this was not going to be another Cthulhu book as there were already so many, but as it was a part of Ramsey’s career we couldn’t completely ignore it and did include something for the Cthulhu fans.

To our delight, just about everyone accepted our invitation, with a few declining due to timing conflicts with other projects. As the stories began to come in Joe and I were excited with what we saw. It wasn’t long before all the slots were filled and we had to stop sending out invitations, and in the end there were still enough author names left on our list to fill a second volume! At long last Joe and I were able to assemble our table of contents, which he did with significant care and consideration. Like composing a piece of music to be played by some outré orchestra, works were put in a particular sequence to achieve a certain dark and haunting melody, sometimes unsettling and other times full of wonder. Darker Companions is our opus in honor of Ramsey Campbell and his long and esteemed career.

I’ll take up no more of your time, as you are here to enjoy our unnerving orchestra, and not to listen to me wittering on. Likewise, I’ll not go into details about the tales collected here, but instead just let you discover the eerie magic of each note of our dusky symphony. Joe and I are humbled and blessed at the caliber of the tales crafted for us by such an illustrious gathering of talented wordsmiths, and we sincerely hope that you, the reader, feel the same thrill that we did reading each one, like opening some special, dark gift.

On behalf of Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. and me, we wish you Unpleasant Dreams. Enjoy the music.

Scott David Aniolowski

Lockport, NY

July 2016