*STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GODS*
When the ghost club was sent to me, I didn’t know what to expect let alone one simple factor… I didn’t know anything about William Meikle, and his large and monstrous contribution to horror and weird fiction, which yet once again I must be punished for.
After being sent the synopsis, I actually got quite excited when I saw imitation stories from Kipling, Stoker, Verne, Stevenson, and more. The anthology even had one of my favorite short story writers, H.G. Welles, let alone the occult scholar, Helena Blavatsky – the latter I had been a student on her writings for at least 20 plus years as my father in -Law was a member of her Theosophical Society and a high-ranking member in the mid-60s and onwards.
Today I’ll be taking a look at how William Meikle cunningly and charismatically channeled legend heavy weight giants of Victorian fiction. The first tale in this incredible ambitious anthology, is where Davis makes a friend by Robert louis Stevenson.
INCREDIBLY AMBITIOUS ANTHOLOGY
The tale is very autobiographical, and Meikle certainly knows his history on Stevenson. Something I imagine Stevenson could have written himself. A lot of Victorians at the time were known to move to topical places due to the warmer climate, which seems to eliminate problems like asthma and many horrid chest affiliations. The story itself resembles some of the great Guillermo del Toro aka Devil’s Backbone in the showing of the tale, and in fact reminded me of some of James Herbert’s best ghostly efforts.
The High Bungalow by Rudyard Kipling
Kipling was known for his tales of man and beast. A man of the brotherhood investigates noises and finds a trap door into which just happens to be few centuries old Freemasonry lodge. In fact, the tale reminded me of some of Lovecraft’s efforts in the simple way that Meikle is really great in laying down a late-night mystery from the first person.
The immortal memory by Leo Tolstoy takes place in Russia as one would expect from Tolstoy’s story, which even has Catherine The Great to boot in “The House of the Dead by Bram Stoker”, which is devised via journal entries and letters. And whilst reading the story, one can smell the quintessential scent of fine brandy and finely grounded tobacco… sweet smelling aroma of Stoker’s fine-tuned Victorian vocab, once a jackass by Mark Twain, as Meikle whips us up into some fine cream wit of the late great Mark Twain and offering some comic relief to the anthology.
Farside by Herbert George Wells – in which an inventor creates a device that can view people’s auras. This is possibly the best story in the book and barks a similar resemblance to Lovecraft’s Beyond The Wall of Sleep. A fine short tale that would have made even Welles himself proud of.
Angry ghost by Oscar Wilde
“You had a dream, boy, and dreams are something you would do well to ignore—and suppress altogether, for dreams will make a good boy into a bad man faster than just about anything.” This sums up the Oscar Wilde story in a nutshell, a great piece of writing “The Black Ziggurat by Henry Rider Haggard” tells the tale of a man’s encounter with an ancient African civilization which will leave the reader feeling very small in the schemes of things.
Born of Ether – Helena P. Blavatsky
Tells of an interesting tale in the pursuit of a mystic adept who seeks enlightenment. Traveling to the far east he learns the highs and lows of knowledge, and the importance of what many seekers call the Jacob’s Ladder effect as he climbs the mountains of Gnosis… “to know thy self”. He learns that great spiritual truths are not abounding upwards or downwards, but inwards Blavatsky would have been happy I think to some degree but I feel strongly that a tale of this nature needed more guidance for its viewer as many, are unfamiliar with the effects of opium and its effects on developing the Jungian theory of the shadow self, and other aspects within the kingdom of shadows, but Meikle manages to steer the ship away from the storm turning it into quite a nice shadow play.
The Scrimshaw Set – ‘Henry James’
James, an avid chess player and a haunted chess set adds allurement to this wonderful Victorian ghost tale. Meikle imitates superbly James prolific prose. At the Molenzki Junction by Anton Chekov intrigued me, and is a well-deserved read the story made me want to devour more of Chekov’s work.
I’m not really sure if I have ever read anything by Anton Chekov, so I can’t speak to style but if this story is representative of his real stories I am certainly going to be looking him up.
To the Moon and Beyond – ‘Jules Verne
Perhaps a personal favorite due to the fact it transports the reader back to the Victorian age at ease age more evidently, and uses sci-fi of the Victorian flavor to beef up the taste buds of the tale.
The Curious Affair on the Embankment – ‘Arthur Conan Doyle’ the tale completes and I will use the words again “ambitious anthology”. Doyle, who narrates the intros of each tale, ends with a story of magic a subject that haunted his later prose years.
Some last words wrapping up this anthology…
William Meikle does a wonderful job of adding a certain tribute to channeling the masters of Victorian fiction, and if you can ponder that thought for a second the idea itself is quite creepy. The tome itself would make for a wonderful graphic novel – something of the Alan Moore variety.
I recommend this, but preferably under strict conditions of an old Victorian house, and don’t forget to keep that lava lamp burning because you may just need more light.