.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Poe's Lightouse edited by Christopher Conlon

Poe's Lightouse: All New Collaborations with Edgar Allen Poe edited by Christopher Conlon. Baltimore, Maryland: Cemetery Dance Publications, 2006. ISBN: 1-58767-128-X

At his death, Edgar Allen Poe left a recently begun fragment of a story, titled “The Lighthouse” by George Edward Woodbury, who published it in his 1909 biography The Life of Edgar Allan Poe. Read the original fragment here.

Now Christopher Conlon has put together a collection of stories by various authors, each based in some fashion, more or less, on the Poe fragment. There are twenty-three (23) stories in all, including one by the editor himself. I have to confess that I didn't recognize very many of the anthology's authors. Names I did recognize include Kage Baker, Mike Resnick and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.

The concept is certainly an intriguing one, but the actual execution leaves something to be desired. The basic problem, I think, is in the Poe fragment itself. There just isn't enough “there” there. A man consigned to spend a year alone in a lighthouse. That's about it, really, and although there are hints of more, few of the authors are able to weave them into anything of substance.

The only real hint of anything supernatural comes in this line: “I could half fancy there was some peculiarity in the echo of these cylindrical walls — but oh, no! — this is all nonsense.” There is also a hint of physical danger: the base of the lighthouse building is described as extending 20 feet or so below sea level into the ground, and “the sea has been known to run higher here than any where with the single exception of the Western opening of the Straits of Magellan.”

There are also a couple of oblique references to someone named De Grät, who apparently had difficulty in obtaining this posting for the man in the lighthouse, and who also made some prophecy or other, presumably having to do with the effects of the isolation on the new keeper. There is a dog, Neptune, to keep the man company, and another acquaintance named Orndoff, who luckily is NOT present to hassle with his "intolerable gossip — not to mention that everlasting mëerschaum."

That's about it, so far as elements to work with go. The various writers take a variety of tacks, but few of them really exploit even these few hints that they are given in a way that seems truly worthy of the other tales by Poe with which we are so familiar. I was disappointed, frankly, in most of these stories, but I didn't feel it was so much the fault of the authors as it was in the flatness, the basic inadequacy of what they were given to work with.

Only marginally recommended, primarily for those who just HAVE to read anything related to the inimitable Poe.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home