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The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror

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In the 1930s, William Sloane wrote two brilliant novels that gave a whole new meaning to cosmic horror. In To Walk the Night, Bark Jones and his college buddy Jerry Lister, a science whiz, head back to their alma mater to visit a cherished professor of astronomy. They discover his body, consumed by fire, in his laboratory, and an uncannily beautiful young widow in his In the 1930s, William Sloane wrote two brilliant novels that gave a whole new meaning to cosmic horror. In To Walk the Night, Bark Jones and his college buddy Jerry Lister, a science whiz, head back to their alma mater to visit a cherished professor of astronomy. They discover his body, consumed by fire, in his laboratory, and an uncannily beautiful young widow in his house—but nothing compares to the revelation that Jerry and Bark encounter in the deserts of Arizona at the end of the book. In The Edge of Running Water, Julian Blair, a brilliant electrophysicist, has retired to a small town in remotest Maine after the death of his wife. His latest experiments threaten to shake up the town, not to mention the universe itself.


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In the 1930s, William Sloane wrote two brilliant novels that gave a whole new meaning to cosmic horror. In To Walk the Night, Bark Jones and his college buddy Jerry Lister, a science whiz, head back to their alma mater to visit a cherished professor of astronomy. They discover his body, consumed by fire, in his laboratory, and an uncannily beautiful young widow in his In the 1930s, William Sloane wrote two brilliant novels that gave a whole new meaning to cosmic horror. In To Walk the Night, Bark Jones and his college buddy Jerry Lister, a science whiz, head back to their alma mater to visit a cherished professor of astronomy. They discover his body, consumed by fire, in his laboratory, and an uncannily beautiful young widow in his house—but nothing compares to the revelation that Jerry and Bark encounter in the deserts of Arizona at the end of the book. In The Edge of Running Water, Julian Blair, a brilliant electrophysicist, has retired to a small town in remotest Maine after the death of his wife. His latest experiments threaten to shake up the town, not to mention the universe itself.

30 review for The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jon Recluse

    This omnibus edition, contains the short novels To Walk The Night (1937) and The Edge of Running Water (1939), the only long fiction output of forgotten author William Sloane (1906-1974). The reissue of these novels is long overdue, and cause for celebration. Despite their age, these stories are a breath of fresh air...remarkable works that casually ignore genre boundaries, allowing the stories to go where they must, moving from mystery, to science fiction, to horror with subtle ease. From the This omnibus edition, contains the short novels To Walk The Night (1937) and The Edge of Running Water (1939), the only long fiction output of forgotten author William Sloane (1906-1974). The reissue of these novels is long overdue, and cause for celebration. Despite their age, these stories are a breath of fresh air...remarkable works that casually ignore genre boundaries, allowing the stories to go where they must, moving from mystery, to science fiction, to horror with subtle ease. From the mysterious burning death of a college professor in To Walk The Night, to a widower's attempt to contact his late wife via an electric "seance" machine in The Edge of Running Water, Sloane tells his tales rationally, in a clear and concise prose style that is refreshingly accessible and vastly more chilling, with the kind of snappy, smart dialogue that has become so rare in fiction these days, just the right dash of humor and pacing that is damn near pitch perfect. The only downside is that these are the only novels Sloane ever wrote. Truly a shame. Highest possible recommendation for all fans of engaging, well written fiction. Trivia Tidbit: The Edge of Running Water was adapted into the Boris Karloff film The Devil Commands (Columbia Pictures, 1941)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Janie C.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the two novels that are presented within this single volume. Though both novels were published in the 1930's, there is no shortage of character development or intrigue to provide innovative and engrossing scenarios for today's readers. In "To Walk the Night," a college professor dies under mysterious circumstances. The late professor's wife appears, seemingly out of nowhere, to charm an old friend of the professor and to sweep him off his feet. Something is not quite right, I thoroughly enjoyed the two novels that are presented within this single volume. Though both novels were published in the 1930's, there is no shortage of character development or intrigue to provide innovative and engrossing scenarios for today's readers. In "To Walk the Night," a college professor dies under mysterious circumstances. The late professor's wife appears, seemingly out of nowhere, to charm an old friend of the professor and to sweep him off his feet. Something is not quite right, however, and the ensuing story is both captivating and ominous. "The Edge of Running Water" involves a scientist's experimental quest to communicate with the dead. The story revolves around the characters that accompany the scientist in his old and isolated house on the water. The remoteness of the location brings a sense of dread to the atmosphere, and the surrounding townspeople pose a threatening hint of unease to the outsiders. The experiment itself is disquieting in nature, and distrust between some the characters brings high tension Both of these stories work well due to the lack of genre restrictions. Both contain elements of horror, mystery and science fiction. The characters are relatable, and the writing keeps the movement within both novels flowing well and smoothly. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an immersive and imaginative reading experience.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    A short take: These two books rocked me. In both, Sloane leverages a standard plot and spins a creepy--and creeping--story that draws you towards a single moment of revelation that truly horrifies. In the last decade, or so, I've read a large number of horror novels, and few of them amount to even half the stature that Sloane achieves in these novels. One element that I loved is how Sloane combines the mundane with the uneasy. In each novel, a principle character is aware that something A short take: These two books rocked me. In both, Sloane leverages a standard plot and spins a creepy--and creeping--story that draws you towards a single moment of revelation that truly horrifies. In the last decade, or so, I've read a large number of horror novels, and few of them amount to even half the stature that Sloane achieves in these novels. One element that I loved is how Sloane combines the mundane with the uneasy. In each novel, a principle character is aware that something fundamentally wrong is happening within his life, yet he continues to eat, shop and deal with heartfelt matters. The horrific element is not the "star" of the story; it is the splinter in what would otherwise be a normal life. If Sloane had wrote other books, I would hunt them down; that said, these two books, alone, constitute a remarkable legacy. More thoughts: For all of my praise, it occurs to me, now, that I was probably in the perfect mood and mindset to read these books. I could see other fans of weird fiction picking these ups and finding the slow-burn dull and the reveals trifling. To recommend these books, I would have to know a reader's tastes well.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Randolph

    Two rather obscure sf novellas by William Sloane. To Walk the Night is the better of the two. We're never sure who or what Selena is and Sloane wisely leaves things vague. There are hints but never any surety. The creepiness relies heavily on this ambiguity and it works for the most part. The main thing that holds the piece back is some clumsy plotting as if Sloane had this good idea but wasn't quite sure how to completely flesh it out. Sloane wastes opportunities to layer the eeriness more Two rather obscure sf novellas by William Sloane. To Walk the Night is the better of the two. We're never sure who or what Selena is and Sloane wisely leaves things vague. There are hints but never any surety. The creepiness relies heavily on this ambiguity and it works for the most part. The main thing that holds the piece back is some clumsy plotting as if Sloane had this good idea but wasn't quite sure how to completely flesh it out. Sloane wastes opportunities to layer the eeriness more completely and the whole thing just doesn't move forward like it should. Sloane does leave some room for sympathy with the Selena-being which gives the story a complexity that most of these kind of stories of otherworldly possession don't have. The Edge of Running Water has some potential but Sloane wastes it in a plodding middle meant to gradually increase the suspense but is really only treading water most of the time. There is a clumsy romance between an older man and a younger woman that seems to partake of some fantasy Sloane wanted to include but it just distracts and is embarrassing at times. It does nothing for the story. The creepy medium, Mrs. Walters, is the only three dimensional character and the author relies mostly on some clunky stereotypes to flesh out the rest of the cast. The "mad scientist" Julian, obsessed with speaking to his dead wife, isn't even interesting and consists mostly of stock mannerisms. The most notable feature of the story is Julian's stumbling onto a black hole generator in his efforts to contact his dead wife, which is way ahead of its time for 1936. I suspect that this was the seed of the novella but Sloane just uses a formula to flesh the rest out. The most compelling moment is certainly when the protagonist stares into the "nothingness" that is the black hole itself. Both novellas have their moments but are just too full of mediocrity otherwise to stand out in the end.

  5. 5 out of 5

    RJ from the LBC

    The Rim of Morning collects the two published novels of William Sloane, both of which contain science-fiction, horror and mystery elements distilled into "cosmic horror." Sloane's first novel - To Walk the Night - moves slowly, with a very subtle buildup of small clues and minor happenings carefully crafted to build a sense of dread in the reader. Like the stories of "Weird" authors such as Lovecraft and Blackwood, the ultimate horror emerges from a suggestion that humanity's place within the The Rim of Morning collects the two published novels of William Sloane, both of which contain science-fiction, horror and mystery elements distilled into "cosmic horror." Sloane's first novel - To Walk the Night - moves slowly, with a very subtle buildup of small clues and minor happenings carefully crafted to build a sense of dread in the reader. Like the stories of "Weird" authors such as Lovecraft and Blackwood, the ultimate horror emerges from a suggestion that humanity's place within the realm of existence might be more tenuous than we expect, as well as an inference of powerful mostly-unknown beings that might play a terrible part in our future. Sloane's second, and final, novel - The Edge of Running Water - is more polished than its predecessor. The "cosmic horror" plot has more of a mystery vibe this time around, and the flip side of the often slow pacing is a gradually building suspense that pays off in a more satisfying conclusion that still leaves plenty to the imagination. Despite populating the story with recognizable caricatures (the befuddled professor, the redneck townies, the love interest, etc.) Sloane invests them with enough humanity to give the reader an interest in their various fates.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    What a great find and a spectacular set of old-school horror novels. These are masterfully done and make me genuinely sad that Sloane didn't write more. These books are real genre mashups, with bits of noir and mystery thrown in. Excellently atmospheric, with both centering on scientists in search of something they probably shouldn't find. If you don't read horror or think you don't like it or it's too scary, you'll be surprised at these books. Recommended for fans of Shirley Jackson.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shy

    The book that got me back into reading! Before this I hadn't been able to finish reading anything more than the back of a shampoo bottle in over 4 years. It's written in a very modern way. I only wish the author would have written more. This should be a genre of its own. The novel has elements of cosmic horror, noir, and mystery. All perfectly balanced. I read the stories in order and found myself liking The Edge of Running Water more. While I found it enjoyable to read and easy to visualize, I The book that got me back into reading! Before this I hadn't been able to finish reading anything more than the back of a shampoo bottle in over 4 years. It's written in a very modern way. I only wish the author would have written more. This should be a genre of its own. The novel has elements of cosmic horror, noir, and mystery. All perfectly balanced. I read the stories in order and found myself liking The Edge of Running Water more. While I found it enjoyable to read and easy to visualize, I wasn't afraid... that is until I was in bed that night trying to sleep. The imagery in both novels slowly creeps into your mind until you find it expanding out like a dark cloud that will color your perception of everyday life events.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I had a lot of fun reading the first of these two novels, To Walk the Night, over the past week, during my annual bout of pseudo-bronchitis. It begins in-media-res, with our narrator, Berkely Bark Jones, having just finished a drive to the home of his friend Jerry Listers father, off of Long Island Sound. He knows the house well, and in fact has a room there that is kept for him even when hes away, because Jerrys father, whom Bark calls Dad, basically adopted him as an adolescent, due to Barks I had a lot of fun reading the first of these two novels, To Walk the Night, over the past week, during my annual bout of pseudo-bronchitis. It begins in-media-res, with our narrator, Berkely “Bark” Jones, having just finished a drive to the home of his friend Jerry Lister’s father, off of Long Island Sound. He knows the house well, and in fact has a room there that is kept for him even when he’s away, because Jerry’s father, whom Bark calls “Dad”, basically adopted him as an adolescent, due to Bark’s parents being absent. Bark is there to explain to Mr. Lister, who is a scientist and a man of reason, why his son Jerry, after recently getting married, has committed suicide (hold your jokes). Naturally, it’s a long story. The novel, most of which is composed of Bark’s monologue, delivered with occasional interruptions from Dr. Lister as they sit behind the house in the dark and Dr. Lister sips sherry, reads for a while like the Hardy Boys on acid. Bark and Jerry, in addition to being friends from adolescence, are recent graduates of the same northeastern university. They return to the university one weekend to attend a football game; afterwards, Jerry suggests they look in on an old professor who was his sort of mentor. Jerry was the only man in their year, Bark says, who took professor LeNormand’s class in Celestial Mechanics. LeNormand, we are given to understand, almost always works alone; has no interest in women, socializing or other such frivolities; and was recently embroiled in a controversy because he’d written a paper that his peers in the scientific community took shits on. What was the paper about? Oh, just refuting Einstein about something or other- Bark tried to read the paper, couldn’t understand it. When the two friends arrive at the professor’s laboratory, they find him dead. Not only is he dead, but it appears that a fire has burned out most of his upper body. Why hasn’t it burned the rest of him? Why not the chair they find his body sprawled over? Maybe he lit a cigarette or a pipe, accidentally put it in his shirt pocket, and…? No, doesn’t seem likely. They report the death and give their statements to both the university president (who “puts” them “on (your) honor, as U. men”) and a detective Parsons, both of whom find the boys’ story (that there was no one else in the laboratory when they arrived, that LeNormand was dead when they found him) so unlikely that it is probably true. A couple of days later, Parsons asks them if they’d be willing to visit and speak with Professor LeNormand’s widow- maybe they can offer her some comfort. She’s asked for them specifically, after hearing that they found LeNormand’s body. But wait- Professor LeNormand was married? Jerry, who worked closely with LeNormand, can’t believe it. But it’s true- he’s been married for the past three months, although none of his colleagues at the university can remember having met the woman before that time. When Bark and Jerry do meet her, Bark finds her strange. How he finds, or found, her strange, is something that he struggles to articulate exactly to Dr. Lister. William Sloane published To Walk the Night, the first of his two novels, in 1937, and a small part of my enjoyment of the book consisted of the great old-fashioned usage of language. Bark worries, for example, that he and Jerry will get into a “row.” Jerry tells him not to be a “damn fool.” Some readers may complain that the language is ‘dated’, but I loved reading it. And then there’s this sentence, which absolutely boggles my mind: “I’d been drinking so much that my hand trembled every time I picked up a glass, and several mornings I had to go to a barbershop rather than risk shaving myself.” Uh, is it really such an egregious breach of decorum to not shave on one particular morning? So egregious that you would have to go…to the barbershop? I barely have time in the mornings to get coffee at McDonald’s before work, never mind going to the barbershop. Chances are no one will even notice. And if you’re really drinking that much, haven’t you probably already stopped observing such social niceties? That sentence, more than anything, reminded me that I was reading about a different time. Anyway, Jerry and professor LeNormand’s widow, Selena, fall in love. Or rather, they are drawn to each other in some occluded, sinister way that no one quite understands, and decide to get married. There are things about Selena that don’t make sense to Bark, but he finds it hard to pinpoint specific examples. There’s no smoking gun, and this is both part of To Walk the Night’s theme and Bark’s (unnecessary) justification for telling this long story; maybe if he meticulously goes over every seemingly unrelated, picayune memory and event, things will start to add up. But he continually warns Dr. Lister, who is indescribably composed while staring into the darkness and sipping his sherry but who understandably wants the full story about the circumstances under which his son committed suicide, that it may be better not to put all the pieces together; Jerry, he warns, found the answer, and look what happened to him. Nevertheless, his story paints a picture of Selena that becomes eerie. Why is it that when she speaks, for example, she never seems to make an allusion or a reminiscence? How is it that she is educated and intellectually curious enough to be fascinated by ancient Arabic treatises on math, but won’t discuss her past or where she received her education? How did she know to pull that emergency break in the car, right before a bus came out of nowhere and almost hit them? And then there is the strange story that detective Parsons shares with Bark, and him alone, some time after LeNormand’s death. Parsons first confesses that he has no leads or suspects in the case. Then he tells Bark that earlier in the year, a family from South Carolina- a father, mother and daughter- was on vacation in New York. The daughter, Parsons explains to Bark, was an “idiot”- not the term we’d use today, naturally- named Luella Jamison. The parents left her alone in the car for a few minutes at a gas station, and when they returned she had disappeared. The disappearance, Parsons explains, took place only a couple of days before LeNormand and Selena got married. Just a coincidence, of course. But there’s an old picture of Luella Jamison that Parsons shows Bark. The family didn’t have anything recent, unfortunately. But even in an old picture, doesn’t Luella Jamison look a little bit like…? Bark’s attempts to explain to Jerry why he thinks there’s something not exactly right about Selena go about the way you’d expect your attempt to explain to a friend why you don’t like his or her significant other would go- that is, poorly. After the wedding, Jerry and Selena decide to move to New Mexico for a year, so Jerry can work on his thesis without disruption. They live in an isolated house on the edge of a mesa, surrounded by desert; the closest town is called Los Palos. For a while, Bark doesn’t hear from them. And then he receives a telegram from Jerry, asking him to come as soon as possible. To Walk the Night reminds me of some of the other short, powerful novels/novellas I’ve read that have involved love triangles (to use the term loosely), and a couple of which also involve deserts: The End of the Road by John Barth, Point Omega by Don DeLillo, The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles and The Quiet American by Graham Greene. A comparison/contrast with Lovecraft is pretty much unavoidable, in part because the back of the book (and the physical book itself, by the way, published by the New York Review of Books, is fucking beautiful- just look at that cover) tells us that “In the 1930s, William Sloane wrote two brilliant novels that gave a whole new meaning to cosmic horror”, and Lovecraft is the only author I associate with this term. The sentence suggests that the term had a meaning before these novels, which could be true…so what does it refer to? I don't know. But I’ve personally decided to take it to refer to something like this well-known quote from Lovecraft’s ‘The Call of Cthulu’: "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age." Voyaging too far beyond the placid island of ignorance turns out to be, in a way, what killed LeNormand as well. I think it’s interesting that this novel was published, as I mentioned, in 1937, not long before the atomic bomb was created and subsequently used, and not long after they split the atom for the first time. It’s also interesting that the novel’s eerie denouement comes in the desert of New Mexico, near a town called Los Palos. From what I can tell, there is no such town in New Mexico. There is however a place called Los Alamos, which is where they had the Manhattan Project; but not until 1942. In The Edge of Running Water, Sloane’s other novel, a scientist in a small town in Maine is rumored among the locals to be working on ‘some kind of death ray’; according to Wikipedia, a ‘death ray’ is also one of the rumors that people believed about what was being worked on in Los Alamos; again, however, The Edge of Running Water was published in 1939. Strange. But the aspect of the Lovecraft quote that I think is equally relevant with regards to To Walk the Night is the part about the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents being the most merciful thing in the world; this is reflected in the narrator's reluctance to do just that, for fear of some dreadful knowledge. Stephen King tells us in the introduction (which you should wait to read until after you’ve finished the novel) that Sloane once met Carl Jung, and was surprised to discover that Jung had read To Walk the Night, in an earlier form as a play, and liked it. I remember reading one of Jung’s case studies, in which he described a patient who had a disturbing recurring dream. It was a dream in which the patient would be alone in a completely dark room with unknown boundaries, and, in the course of looking for the way out, would find a crying baby, its face smeared with feces. Creepy dream, I've always remembered it. Anyway, I also remember that Jung’s take on it was that it suggested a ‘latent psychosis’, and he advised the patient to discontinue psychoanalysis. The implication being that it would be better for this patient not to learn to deeply about himself. I don’t know if this is standard psychological practice, but it's a pretty frightening idea. One major difference between Sloane and Lovecraft is that Sloane is just in my opinion a much better writer. He creates memorable characters, good dialogue, and To Walk the Night has some beautiful descriptions of the southwest: “If you are used to the little landscapes of Long Island, of New Jersey, even of upstate New York, it takes quite a while to realize the real size of Western scenery. The southernmost peak of the range across the valley was probably as far from where I sat as New York is from Philadelphia. And there was scarcely a thing to catch the eye between me and it…The ridges, the sharp, unweathered angles of the rocks, the wild, jumbled rise and fall of the land gave me a sense of isolation. Man was a stranger to this sort of country; it belonged on some airless planet circling sunward of the earth.” Which is pretty much exactly what a close friend once told me about that area of the country. I also enjoyed the second novel, The Edge of Running Water, but not as much. Stephen King disagrees with me. It's about an aging electrophysicist whose wife dies. He can't get over it, and tries to invent a machine that will enable him to communicate with the dead, which is clearly a bad idea. The story's kind of maudlin. I wouldn’t have been surprised to read that William Sloane went on to write more novels, or maybe episodes of The Twilight Zone. He worked as an editor, and apparently managed the university press at my alma mater, but it sounds like he never wrote anything else after these two novels. I wonder why.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Khashayar Mohammadi

    I absolutely adore Sloane's storytelling. I've always been a huge fan of retrograde narration in Horror, and this book does it better than most. HOWEVER, in my personal opinion, the endings seemed to diverge from the general theme of "Cosmic Horror". If it wasn't for the last 5% of each story, this book could have been my favorite work of Horror.

  10. 5 out of 5

    ashley c

    Simple, effective storytelling, cosmic horror, crisp prose. 4.5 stars. Two simple stories told with intent to ignite an existential fear in readers. Similar to the likes of Jeff VanderMeer and James Smythe, Sloane combines a number of genres, not letting the story to be too focused on one, but rather allows the story to go where it naturally goes.These are stories with a very focused plot, circling around the experiences of a few individuals. Again, like the two authors, Sloane does not give you Simple, effective storytelling, cosmic horror, crisp prose. 4.5 stars. Two simple stories told with intent to ignite an existential fear in readers. Similar to the likes of Jeff VanderMeer and James Smythe, Sloane combines a number of genres, not letting the story to be too focused on one, but rather allows the story to go where it naturally goes.These are stories with a very focused plot, circling around the experiences of a few individuals. Again, like the two authors, Sloane does not give you the satisfaction of knowing everything. It's the foundation for cosmic horror - the fear that you're encountering something much bigger than you and forever out of your very human grasp of understanding.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ronald Morton

    A year ago it would have seemed to me ridiculous to assume that there are some facts it is better not to know, and even today I do not believe in the bliss of ignorance or the folly of knowledge. But this one thing is best left untouched. It rips the fabric of human existence from throat to hem and leaves us naked to a wind as cold as the space between the stars. The fringe of that cold touched me once. I know what I am talking about. Im a big fan of the nyrb imprint; they put out a ton of cool A year ago it would have seemed to me ridiculous to assume that there are some facts it is better not to know, and even today I do not believe in the bliss of ignorance or the folly of knowledge. But this one thing is best left untouched. It rips the fabric of human existence from throat to hem and leaves us naked to a wind as cold as the space between the stars. The fringe of that cold touched me once. I know what I am talking about. I’m a big fan of the nyrb imprint; they put out a ton of cool stuff, with a wide reach. Reissuing these two long out of print “cosmic horror” novels by basically a footnote of an offer is a great service. Bit stories are solid; neither are classics of the form, but Sloan could write, and both stories are well paced - I stole much time to finish the first this morning and the to profess through second during the day. The term “cosmic horror” is one that I like, and that I feel fits the lovecraftian space really well - these are both more cosmic-horror-adjacent though; the first takes its horror more from the basics existence of that which is other, while second is more of a Herbert-West-lite (different focus, no resurrections) “science crossing into mysticism can be scary” type tales. But they’re good, and they’re fun, and I’m always glad to read these sorts of yarns.

  12. 5 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    Oh, man, these are just terrific, spooky tales that are better than Lovecraft! Where Lovecraft is ponderous and idiotically repetitive in his language, Sloane is succinct and simple, letting the horror slowly unfold in an almost banal or casual manner. And there is much horror to be had in these two novels (his only two novels). I must warn the reader, though: these two stories are of the old school and what I mean by that is there are no venomous lesbian werewolves, covetous transgender succubi Oh, man, these are just terrific, spooky tales that are better than Lovecraft! Where Lovecraft is ponderous and idiotically repetitive in his language, Sloane is succinct and simple, letting the horror slowly unfold in an almost banal or casual manner. And there is much horror to be had in these two novels (his only two novels). I must warn the reader, though: these two stories are of the old school and what I mean by that is there are no venomous lesbian werewolves, covetous transgender succubi with English degrees, or any kind of beautiful teenage messiahs born to a human father and a leprechaun mother. Instead, in the first selection, you get a locked-room mystery, in an observatory, no less, involving an astronomer, a strange and sourceless white fire and his creepy beautiful wife. In the second selection, you get a physicist determined to break down the barrier between the living and the dead through his experiments in rural Maine. I can't recommend these enough.

  13. 5 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    Math from beyond the stars and radio signals from beyond death feature in these two pulp cosmic novels from Mr. Sloane. Excellently, literately written. Lovecraft slowed down, but made human--an excellent tradeoff. I'm not sure why these books haven't been made into movies yet. They're both filled with magnificent settings, relateable characters, and nice plot twists.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Polansky

    Pre-war horror seems to have needed to be, essentially, less horrifying than its modern version. That is to say that youre much more likely (as in these) to have a story framed around something more uncanny than violent or terrifying. These two short novels are skillfully constructed, the writing is definitely a notch above most of Sloanes contemporaries (damning with faint praise) but probably most readers will find the underlying revelations, not to put too fine a point on it, not that scary? Pre-war horror seems to have needed to be, essentially, less horrifying than its modern version. That is to say that you’re much more likely (as in these) to have a story framed around something more uncanny than violent or terrifying. These two short novels are skillfully constructed, the writing is definitely a notch above most of Sloane’s contemporaries (damning with faint praise) but probably most readers will find the underlying revelations, not to put too fine a point on it, not that scary? It’s an interesting counterpoint to Lovecraft, for instance, whose prose is pretty squalid but whose nightmares were so horrifying that they somehow managed to compensate for his lack of professional comptence. These are better in all regards, except for not having enough sting. Then again, the sting is the point of a horror story, isn’t it? Still, it holds up better than 90% of horror fiction of its time. Keep.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    the fact these two stories were written in 1937 and 1939 makes this book, which collects the two, all the more incredible... the first story, 'To Walk The Night', holds its unspoken and horrible sense of dread all the way through... i loved this story, with its otherworldly undertones from the beginning... Sloane i quite the writer for this time period, and i haven't read many stories that hold my attention and emotions so well without resorting to explicitness or extravagance... 'The Edge Of the fact these two stories were written in 1937 and 1939 makes this book, which collects the two, all the more incredible... the first story, 'To Walk The Night', holds its unspoken and horrible sense of dread all the way through... i loved this story, with its otherworldly undertones from the beginning... Sloane i quite the writer for this time period, and i haven't read many stories that hold my attention and emotions so well without resorting to explicitness or extravagance... 'The Edge Of Running Water' is an altogether different tale, it speeds along with a sense of unstoppable but benign forcefulness... the tile threw me until i finished the story, then it kinda slammed into me with a feeling of awe for how well Sloane carried off the tale... echoes of 'The Twilight Zone', 'Tales From The Darkside', Laird Barron, Ambrose Bierce, ghosts, and a strong feeling of dreadful otherness...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    290216: two short books from the 1930s i have never heard of, intro by stephen king, but the phrase 'cosmic horror' makes me think of hp lovecraft- whom i like sometimes, but this work is entirely too sane, direct, clear, and nowhere near as stylistically cyclopean... actually like king... so, good but not great...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    These are dark literary works that truly transcend genre. I was amazed by how well they've held up--they hardly seem dated at all.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marc Hall

    Remarkable book I picked this up on a whim after reading an intriguing description on the NYRB site. While it was described in rather glowing terms, I was still expecting somewhat turgid and dated prose surrounding interesting but thin ideas. I was completely wrong. Both novels are intellectually lively, posing questions far ahead of most fantastic fiction from the era. Also, Sloane clearly feels no obligation to follow genre conventions or audience expectations; he doesn't even feel any Remarkable book I picked this up on a whim after reading an intriguing description on the NYRB site. While it was described in rather glowing terms, I was still expecting somewhat turgid and dated prose surrounding interesting but thin ideas. I was completely wrong. Both novels are intellectually lively, posing questions far ahead of most fantastic fiction from the era. Also, Sloane clearly feels no obligation to follow genre conventions or audience expectations; he doesn't even feel any obligation to clear up the mysteries he sets up. There are some clunky bits, primarily products of the era. The male, white, upper-class, well-educated protagonists are casually chauvinistic, but to his credit, the leading women are also strong, independent characters who contribute almost equally to the stories. To go into much detail about the plots would miss the point. These are stories about rational people, and how they react to a suddenly irrational world.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Buhs

    A pair of solid stories about cosmic horror. William Sloane was best known as an editor and publisher, but towards the beginning of his career, in the 1930s, he published two novels, rooted in Lovecraftian cosmic horror, but pushing beyond the generic conventions. There are obvious similarities between the two; indeed, it's not unfair to seem them as remixes of each other. Both stories are told from the perspective of the protagonist's friend--it's Nick telling the story, not Jay Gatsby. Both A pair of solid stories about cosmic horror. William Sloane was best known as an editor and publisher, but towards the beginning of his career, in the 1930s, he published two novels, rooted in Lovecraftian cosmic horror, but pushing beyond the generic conventions. There are obvious similarities between the two; indeed, it's not unfair to seem them as remixes of each other. Both stories are told from the perspective of the protagonist's friend--it's Nick telling the story, not Jay Gatsby. Both narrators admit to themselves that they are, if not pusillanimous, then very cautious. In both cases, their good friend is a genius, who is drawn by a woman of mysterious background into events that show the puniness of our human world. Both end with the Gatsby character dead, the window to the wider universe (momentarily) closed, and domestic order mostly re-established. The first of these stories, "To Walk the Night," builds suspense better, in my opinion, than the second--but the pay-off is not as good. It is framed conventionally, for stories of the time, a recounting of some past event, the witness describing it to a man of impeccable scientific reasoning ability who, in the end, is stumped, scientific rationalizations unequipped to deal with the story. This conceit seems a bit old-fashioned, but Sloane handles it well, using the discussion between the two narrators to break up the narrative, allowing them to push and probe a bit, and foreshadow events to come. (It is worth noting that Stephen King wrote the introduction to these novels; he said he liked the second one best. I do not know King's history with the stories, but structurally "To Walk the Night" is very similar to "From a Buick 8"--King's story is framed the same way, with a story told to pass on a secret about a cosmic horror. The ending of that book, though, is cheap beyond words.) There are other crotchets that remind the reader of the story's vintage. It is annoying to hear the president of Princeton continually referred to as "Prexy." The female characters are never fully realized. But these are minor offenses, and the story can be read more easily today than most of the "Weird Tales"-esque stories. Sloane is a good stylist. The narrative is solidly structured. He doles out new bits of information at just the right pace to increase the intrigue, without ever seeming to withold it just for the sake of creating mystery. At the heart of the story is a Princeton astronomer who mysteriously self-combusts in his observatory--and his equally mysterious recent wedding to an odd woman know on can quite figure out. There are elements of H. Rider Haggard's "She," here, but the story is not breathless. Nor is it overly wrought in the way of Lovecraft. As King points out in the introduction, Sloane successfully combines science fiction and mystery--the genre conventions were just hardening at this time, making the fluidity more imaginable, but, I would think, harder to publish--and ultimately leading to a glimpse of the cosmic realm that dwarfs our human perceptions. In this case, the culprit is a disembodied mind--from another planet or dimension is never specified--that can wink into our world and take over a human body, possess it. The intelligence is vast, the power immense, but it is also shaken to learn that there are pleasures that can only be experienced in the span of a human life. The second story, "The Edge of Running Water," similarly blends mystery, science fiction, and horror. Here there is a mad scientist type (and his spiritualist sidekick) who is trying to build a machine that will allow him to talk to the dead--in the gothic surroundings of Maine, where the people are cramped: scheming Yankee peddlers, but with mean souls, not expansive con men. (Again, one wonders when King came across these stories.) There is a defined subplot here, the narrator falling in love with the protagonists' kid sister. (There's a hint of Robert Spencer Carr's later work here, the melodrama giving realism to the outrageous parts of the story, though Sloane is much more competent than Carr: if he kept at it, he could have broken into the Post much earlier than Carr did.) For my money, the suspense in this second novel does not build as well as the first; there are lots of forebodings, but fewer pay-offs. Instead, Sloane is forced to circle around his point several times, which leads to repetition rather than increasing dread. The story, though, is similarly well constructed, the characters mostly believable (the men more than the women), and Sloane is comfortable letting in some air, some hints at real life: it is not all horror, all weirdness. Indeed, it is the contrast that makes the weirdness feel genuinely odd--a different strategy than Lovecraft, then, and his ilk, who concentrated on the weirdness, and the language necessary to make it legible to the limited human perceptions. The climax here is better than in the first book, I think. There's something that seems non-serious about a disembodied mind--it makes me think instantly of a giant brain, floating in the air. What we have here is the mad scientist created what he thought was a radio to the dead, but ended up being a rip in the very fabric of the time-space continuum. True cosmic horror, then. While Sloane's language is never as ornate as Lovecraft and Smith and Derleth, it is still precise, and he captures the horror because of the contrast with everyday life: swimming and flirting and eating and sweeping floors. The NYRB did well to reprint these.

  20. 5 out of 5

    John

    The two novels contained in The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror by William Sloane are surprisingly satisfying. Well-written and displaying a strong command both of style and the standards of the scifi horror genre, these works present an interesting look into the early history of such work. They function well as science fiction and even better as mysteries and tales of horror. These novels make me wonder how much influence Mr. Sloane might have had on the genre if he'd continued his The two novels contained in The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror by William Sloane are surprisingly satisfying. Well-written and displaying a strong command both of style and the standards of the scifi horror genre, these works present an interesting look into the early history of such work. They function well as science fiction and even better as mysteries and tales of horror. These novels make me wonder how much influence Mr. Sloane might have had on the genre if he'd continued his career as an author. Instead, he turned away from writing and spent most of his life as an editor and publisher. In his introduction, Stephen King lauds Mr. Sloane's work as cross-genre, mashing up scifi and horror decades before cross-genre was all the rage, as it is today. I think Mr. King is wrong about this. Science fiction has a long history of finding terror in the territory it explores. Scifi horror stories were incredibly popular in the late '30s. Look also at the mass market pulp magazines of the Golden Age and prior, or the scifi movies on the '40s, '50s, and '60s—there are innumerable tales of monsters and creeping fear in the scifi canon. The fear of technology and aliens, mutated monsters and doomsday weapons, is deeply rooted. Science pushes us beyond the limits of what we know. It stands to reason that science has long been a focal point for our fear of the unknown. Science has always presented as much threat as opportunity, and scifi has had the pulse of that from the beginning. Mr. Sloane wasn't creating ahead-of-his-time genre mash-ups with these novels. Rather, his goal was to take the popular scifi horror tales of his time and elevate them to a higher level of literature. In this, he largely succeeded. Both novels are well-conceived and plotted, letting the suspense simmer just the right amount of time before the crisis comes to a boil. The Edge of Running Water is notably superior to To Walk the Night, being more confident and commanding in tone and style. If I'm disappointed by anything in these novels, it's that the climax of The Edge of Running Water strikes me as too small and somewhat anticlimactic. I expected mass destruction and got small-scale ruin, instead. I must keep in mind, though, that my expectations have been conditioned by giant SF movie spectaculars and this novel was written in 1939. The ending was probably sufficiently shocking for its time. Beyond that, I'm surprised most of all by how well these stories hold up to modern expectations. It's to be expected that the characters occasionally speak and behave in ways that seem dated, and the technology on display is closer to the Steam Age than the Digital Age. But the works still feel fresh and vibrant. The central themes still resonate. They don't feel stale. I'm particularly impressed by how Mr. Sloane wrote his female characters. Being works from the late '30s, one expects a certain pre-feminist depiction of women. Instead, he presents women who are smart, strong, and capable. Women who are very much the equal of the men. Women who have personalities as varied as the men. In short—women who are believable people and not just femmes to compliment the men. Compared to much of the scifi from this era, it puts Mr. Sloane far ahead of his contemporaries. The Rim of Morning is worth reading for the glimpse it provides into the history of the scifi horror genre. More importantly, it's worth reading because these novels are good.

  21. 4 out of 5

    James Hold

    Whatever you might think of porno movies, you must admit they don't waste time getting to the effing point. TO WALK THE NIGHT, the first story in this set, is not porn nor is it in any hurry to get to the point. In Chapter 1 a man arrives home, talks to the butler, admires the furnishings, watches some fireflies, and goes out onto the porch. In Chapter 2 he flashbacks to when he and a friend went to a football game. (Are you getting excited yet?) Chapter 3 they go to the observatory, find their Whatever you might think of porno movies, you must admit they don't waste time getting to the effing point. TO WALK THE NIGHT, the first story in this set, is not porn nor is it in any hurry to get to the point. In Chapter 1 a man arrives home, talks to the butler, admires the furnishings, watches some fireflies, and goes out onto the porch. In Chapter 2 he flashbacks to when he and a friend went to a football game. (Are you getting excited yet?) Chapter 3 they go to the observatory, find their old professor dead, and talk. Finally they call somebody. Then they talk some more. Chapter 4 the police arrive and they talk. Chapter 5 I don't know what happened because my patience had run out and I marked it DNF. Honestly, I can appreciate a slow build as much as the next guy but this is tortuous. I know there's some rave reviews saying it's the greatest horror novel ever, but when in the hell does it happen? If you want me to read your book you better grab me in the first two or three pages. I gave up after 60. My loss I'm sure... Maybe. There's a second book here, THE EDGE OF RUNNING WATER, but after this I don't care. I have plenty of other things on my to-read list than to wade this swamp.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barry Hammond

    This volume consists of two classics from the late 1930's: "To Walk The Night," and "The Edge Of Running Water." I'd never heard of the author, William Sloane, previously but he had an interesting life, teaching at the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference for many years, working in publishing, and being an editor for two SF anthologies in the 1950's, and being the manager of The Rutgers University Press from 1955 until his death. Both novels in this collection are excellent and very striking. I don't This volume consists of two classics from the late 1930's: "To Walk The Night," and "The Edge Of Running Water." I'd never heard of the author, William Sloane, previously but he had an interesting life, teaching at the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference for many years, working in publishing, and being an editor for two SF anthologies in the 1950's, and being the manager of The Rutgers University Press from 1955 until his death. Both novels in this collection are excellent and very striking. I don't think anything else like them has ever been written. While they owe something to the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft, they are much more modern in style and both contain elements of the crime and literary novel as well. The author also seems very familiar with the real science of the time, both Einstein physics theory and electrical developments. He is equally at home with modern dialogue, character and literary references, that were beyond the pulp writers of the time. However, the focus is on horror and he is certainly a master of that. These are unique and fascinating books and I highly recommend them. Read the novels first then go to Stephen King's informative introduction as he has several interesting points to make about both volumes. Really classic stuff. The New York Review Classics series has done readers a great favor by making these books available once again. - BH.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    From TO WALK THE NIGHT: "All the way back there was an emptiness inside me. A Sunday Weltschmerz, due, I suppose, to nervous fatigue. Perhaps a few more drinks or a couple of soda mints would have cured the feeling of foreboding which haunted me, but I don't believe so." AND "After a lot of argument between Grace and me we took a cab to Barney's. It's a small place, east, in the middle Fifties, but the thing I liked about it was that the music was never too loud and somewhere Barney had picked up From TO WALK THE NIGHT: "All the way back there was an emptiness inside me. A Sunday Weltschmerz, due, I suppose, to nervous fatigue. Perhaps a few more drinks or a couple of soda mints would have cured the feeling of foreboding which haunted me, but I don't believe so." AND "After a lot of argument between Grace and me we took a cab to Barney's. It's a small place, east, in the middle Fifties, but the thing I liked about it was that the music was never too loud and somewhere Barney had picked up the idea that people can be amused in other ways than by bawdy jokes and undressing girls" (106). From THE EDGE OF RUNNING WATER: "There was something in the way, the only thing, I suspect, that can come between a man and a woman when they love each other, and it was to lie between us not only then but later. The sundering thing was fear. You can love when you are cold, hungry, sad, switfly frightened, even when you are otherwise bored, as honeymoons go to show, but not when you are afraid. And I was afraid" (354).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jason Golomb

    For the full review, please visit fantasyliterature.com New York Review Books Classics has just packaged two novels by renowned author, editor and teacher William Sloane into a single offering, The Rim of the Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror. Sloane is not an author Id previously known, probably due to the fact that these stories are two of only three novels that he ever published. Stephen King contributes a short but impeccable introduction, providing a tight analysis of the stories and For the full review, please visit fantasyliterature.com New York Review Books Classics has just packaged two novels by renowned author, editor and teacher William Sloane into a single offering, The Rim of the Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror. Sloane is not an author I’d previously known, probably due to the fact that these stories are two of only three novels that he ever published. Stephen King contributes a short but impeccable introduction, providing a tight analysis of the stories and windows into Sloane’s background and style. Sloane wrote and edited primarily supernatural mystery/scifi, but is known in literary worlds as a writing teacher. The first of these novels, To Walk the Night, is a Lovecraftian tale of the investigation into an apparent murder and suicide. This is the much stronger of these two stories. It’s a heavy, moody, genre-bending mystery that drips with molasses-dread and alone is worth the full price of the book. The second is The Edge of Running Water, also mystery-based — the tale of an obsessed professor determined to find a way to communicate with his recently departed wife. Each story is about 200 pages long. I’ve reviewed them separately below. To Walk the Night A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep – From Endymion (A Thing of Beauty) by John Keats The first story is a weighty and serious scifi/mystery, with Greek tragedy in its tone from the outset. Sloane borrows generously from the myth of Selene, goddess of the moon, who asks Zeus to keep her beautiful human lover, Prince Endymion, forever young. To Walk the Night is suggestive of this myth, though, and not too literal, but it’s fun to catch Sloane’s references to the ancient story sprinkled liberally throughout this novel. The story opens as our primary narrator, Berkeley (called Bark), journeys to bring his best friend’s ashes home following his suicide. Jerry Lister’s death weighs heavily on Bark, and forms the narrative momentum for the initiation of the story. In many ways, this is a 1930s CSI, as Bark must work back through recent events, piece by piece, to uncover all the details and identify what’s pertinent and relevant to Jerry’s suicide. Through Bark, Sloane dramatically builds the density and importance of the full backstory and makes clear the dread and imperative nature of the need to find the true reason why Jerry shot himself. Bark reflects on the complexity of events leading up to the suicide and remembers an “atmosphere of strangeness, even of terror, which was so much a part of my life while these events were in progress.” To Walk the Night feels very gothic: there is a dark and deep polished walnut-tone vibe to Bark’s narration and exposition. The mythological themes are set early, though I only caught the first Selene clue in retrospect, upon reviewing my notes. Not all references are directly related to the story of Selena and Endymion, but the suggestion is always there… sometimes a little deeper under the surface than other times. Bark dissects his recent trauma as part of a late-night discussion with his informally-adoptive father, Dr. Lister – also Jerry’s father. Bark ponders: Nothing in life, I think, ordinarily happens in great, thunderous episodes of obvious and romantic force. Life is a series of small things, and most of them mean much or little depending on how the observer thinks of them. It’s these small things, combined with some larger clues, that feed the narrative and drive the plot. Bark tells of a visit that he and Jerry made to a former professor — a misunderstood, antisocial, introverted and clearly obsessed scientist (Sloane seems to have been enamored with this character-type). The young men found Professor LeNormand, who had been working late and alone at the campus observatory, on fire and apparently murdered. This is the core mystery around which the remaining narrative revolves. And it’s at this point that we meet our goddess of the moon: Selena. Selena LeNormand is the professor’s widow and she’s just downright bizarre. In no way does she behave like a normal human, let alone someone who just lost the love of her life. She’s tall, lithe but strong, and thought by many to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Selena’s repeatedly thought of as more than statuesque, but statue-like. Her age is indeterminate, but she’s compared to the “Greek girls in the frieze of the Parthenon.” Sloane’s writing weeps with loaded language. Language that’s very purposeful in its dramatic flair, while implying things beyond the range of normal human activity: In the silences that lay between us I heard the bumbling of an insect against the glass of the lamp and the faint slither of water moving on the beach below us. Instead of doors, he refers to ‘portals’. There are suggestions of ghosts and that something horrible laying just out of sight. A shooting star “plummets down like a tear of light and vanished in the dark above the Sound.” Tables are described as altars. Likewise, the vocabulary reeks of symbolism and weighted meaning. The names, for example: Bark is the strength of the story, and like his namesake, his role is uber-protector of his friend and of that which is normal and sane. Jerry’s actual name is Jeremiah… and like his namesake, the prophet, his role is as a revealer, working to expose the truth of his former mentor. LeNormand was a French tarot reader famous during the reign of Napoleon, and like their namesake, both the professor and Selena are, in their own respects, seers beyond normal human perception. This is a dark any enjoyable read, with enough literary and narrative weight to stick with the reader days after its completion.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Don't hit me. I think he could have used an editor. Both stories start off with far, far too much scene building for my taste. Still, once the stories get going, there are creeps and chills. Not really horrors by today's standards. (view spoiler)[People engulfed in flame with eyes twitching? Living bodies used as vehicles for alien entities? Holes in the space-time fabric? Been there, done that. ;) (hide spoiler)] But from a sci-fi perspective, still very good questions about the nature and limits Don't hit me. I think he could have used an editor. Both stories start off with far, far too much scene building for my taste. Still, once the stories get going, there are creeps and chills. Not really horrors by today's standards. (view spoiler)[People engulfed in flame with eyes twitching? Living bodies used as vehicles for alien entities? Holes in the space-time fabric? Been there, done that. ;) (hide spoiler)] But from a sci-fi perspective, still very good questions about the nature and limits or boundaries of experienced reality even today. There are worse things imaginable than bug-eyed monsters from space. So if you are into horror, go elsewhere. Sci-fi lovers should feel right at home.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tricia Gadd

    It's not really "cosmic horror" so much as a "who-dun-it" with a sci-fi theme. The stories are a whole lot of fun to read, but pretty forgettable.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Wow. Believe the Stephen King recommendation, and read this book. Both novels contained in it blew me away.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Clay

    This book -- comprised of two novels, "To Walk the Night" and "The Edge of Running Water" -- are strangely familiar. Not the plots or the characters, per se, but rather the feel of the stories. It's almost as through I have seen them before. Written in the late 1930's, both stories have the brisk pace and well-drawn and accessible cadence of a superior 1940's thriller. Though, that descriptor really does both tales a disservice. There are elements of a who-dunit, but without the noir trappings. This book -- comprised of two novels, "To Walk the Night" and "The Edge of Running Water" -- are strangely familiar. Not the plots or the characters, per se, but rather the feel of the stories. It's almost as through I have seen them before. Written in the late 1930's, both stories have the brisk pace and well-drawn and accessible cadence of a superior 1940's thriller. Though, that descriptor really does both tales a disservice. There are elements of a who-dunit, but without the noir trappings. They often get bundled into either the science fiction or horror genres, but certainly neither story can be limited by either of those categories. In the end both tales are journeys of obsessive desire and the horror of discovery at the end of that road. Yes, at the core, the center of the stories, there is a bit of SF. But that nugget is clearly science-based (albeit, 1930's science) and not the stuff of fantasy or space operas. As well, the subtitle, "Two Tales of Cosmic Horror," and the employment of Stephen King to author a forward, smacks more of a marketing ploy than an accurate framing of Willian Sloane's work. (BTW, read King's forward afterwards as he has included spoilers in his text.) It is amazing to me that neither of these two tales were picked up by either Hollywood or (more seemingly appropriately) the British film industry. Both stories are tailor-made for cinema, though I suspect that that time has passed. The novels in "The Rim of the Morning", if at all dated, are only so in very superficial ways. Both are intelligent stories, with well-developed characters, cast in initially common settings that -- with mounting tension -- grow increasingly surreal until the final denouement; endings that balance relief with questions, understanding with deeper mysteries implied. There are no explosions (well, okay, one towards the end of "The Edge of Running Water"), no gun play, and no super heroes, so today's producer would likely want to "modernize" the stories for the appetites of current movie-goers. I for one say: leave the mysteries on paper and firmly tucked in the corner of space-and-time whence they now occupy. They are well-nigh perfect as is.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Norm

    First of all, I want to say a Big Thank You to New York Review of Books for reprinting these 2 gems in a one-volume edition. I had a hardcover copy of it once, so it's great to see the 2 books together again... and with a great cover. I remember reading, years ago - in a book on writing Genre Fiction - that these 2 works could be used as text-books on how to write a novel. I agree. I read each novel only once, "Edge" back in 1982 and "To Walk" about 15 years later, but I still remember the vivid First of all, I want to say a Big Thank You to New York Review of Books for reprinting these 2 gems in a one-volume edition. I had a hardcover copy of it once, so it's great to see the 2 books together again... and with a great cover. I remember reading, years ago - in a book on writing Genre Fiction - that these 2 works could be used as text-books on how to write a novel. I agree. I read each novel only once, "Edge" back in 1982 and "To Walk" about 15 years later, but I still remember the vivid - and in one or two cases - literally hair-raising scenes. The author uses clear and precise prose to introduce characters, set the scenes and slowly build the suspense. Even though the books were published in 1937 and 1939, the prose is very modern and readable and the cosmic horrors are presented in anything but purple pulpish-ness, making them much more effective, I think, than the usual genre offerings. These 2 books, perhaps more than any other "modern" works, stirred in me that "Sense of Wonder" and I look forward to reading them again. Stephen King's Introduction (thank you, Mr. King) to this volume is enticing and I hope this new edition, with Mr. King's urging, will gain Mr. Sloane at least a few more fans. He deserves to be remembered. NOTE: "The Edge of Running Water" was the basis for a 1941 film called "The Devil Commands", with Boris Karloff.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I can't believe I've only recently heard of this writer, this late in my reading "career". This is Old School science fiction (as in very Old School, as it was published in 1937), blended with horror of a different flavor. The novel touches on man's atavistic fear of the vast, unknown, uncharted outer space, but the events occur on Planet Earth. Otherworldly events happen to earth-bound characters in very ordinary settings, and the juxtaposition is effectively unsettling. This is a science I can't believe I've only recently heard of this writer, this late in my reading "career". This is Old School science fiction (as in very Old School, as it was published in 1937), blended with horror of a different flavor. The novel touches on man's atavistic fear of the vast, unknown, uncharted outer space, but the events occur on Planet Earth. Otherworldly events happen to earth-bound characters in very ordinary settings, and the juxtaposition is effectively unsettling. This is a science fiction horror blend, told a little ahead of its time. Remember, the Space Race, Star Trek, Lost in Space, and The Twilight Zone are still decades away at the time of this novel's incarnation. The one flaw in the novel, for me, is that the tale is told from the perspective of an unimaginative, slightly self centered, ultimately unlikable protagonist. This means that while reading scenes meant to focus on another character or event, I often found myself peeved at the narrator's attitude. The unappealing personality of the narrator seemed an unneeded diversion. Still, it's a good read. Think Shirley Jackson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ray Bradbury teaming up to write an unsettling campfire tale.

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