Michel Houellebecq, author of the controversial novel Platform (2003), pays tribute to H.P. Lovecraft in his extended 1991 essay, H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, translated from the French by Dorna Khazeni. In his introduction, Stephen King tells of an idea for a story he never wrote inspired by the Providence Gentleman. The book also reprints two Lovecraft stories, "The Call of Cthulhu" and "The Whisperer in the Dark." (Believer [www.believermag.com], $18 paper 248p ISBN 1-932416-18-8)
Two major collections will please fans of fantasist Clark Ashton Smith (1893—1961): Red World of Polaris: The Adventures of Captain Volmar, edited by Ronald S. Hilger and Scott Connors and including the title tale, which was lost for nearly 50 years, plus two other Captain Volmar short stories (Night Shade [www.nightshadebooks.com], $27 124p ISBN 1-892389-47-9), and Star Changes: The Science Fiction of Clark Ashton Smith, edited by Scott Connors and Ronald S. Hilger, which contains such celebrated tales as "The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis" and "The Dweller in the Gulf" and uses the author's preferred texts wherever possible (Darkside [www.darksidepress.com], $45 256p ISBN 0-9740589-7-1).
Robert E. Howard's The Black Stranger and Other American Tales, edited by Steven Tompkins, includes the title Conan novella along with a dozen other tales that exhibit the prolific pulp writer's full range. As Tompkins argues in his scholarly introduction, Howard (1906—1936) rooted his tales of gothic horror and sword-and-sorcery in the American pioneer experience. (Univ. of Nebraska, $35 384p ISBN 0-8032-2421-4; $17.95 paper ISBN 0-8032-7353-3)
Sekenre: The Book of the Sorcerer by Darrell Schweitzer (The Mask of the Sorcerer) collects all the author's popular stories about the wizard who poses as a 15-year-old street urchin but is really an ancient adept serving the Shadow Titans. Such tales as "The Sorcerer's Gift" and "The Giant Vorviades" include full-page illustrations by veteran fantasy artist Steve Fabian. (Wildside [www.wildsidepress.com], $17.95 paper 244p ISBN 0-8095-1078-2)