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Shadows Bend: A Novel of the Fantastic and Unspeakable Paperback – 1 Oct 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 311 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; Ace Ed edition (1 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441007651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441007653
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.1 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,438,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

H.P. Lovecraft and his colleague, Robert E. Howard, must prevent an inhuman infant from unleashing the dread Cthulhu.

Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Even when two writers write well, collaboration is an itchy thing. Unless the pair is deliberately writing two different voices, they must carefully mesh their styles and dialog into a seamless narrative designed to maintain the illusion that the book you are holding is a cohesive and unified whole. When done well, it can be a beautiful thing; two voices telling the same tale, adding idea to idea and raising the entire project to a sublime place.
If the writers are unqualified hacks, however, the mess resembles the result of a Creative Writing 101 final after the TA trips while carrying the manuscripts.
Can you guess into which category "Shadows Bend" falls?
Unqualified ha...I mean, writers David Barbour and Richard Raleigh have imagined a world in which two famous pulp writers meet in order to drop a coin into the jukebox from Hell in order to prevent the end of the world as we know it. "Oh," you think. "It's going to be that kind of novel."
Though HP Lovecraft and "Conan" creator Robert E. Howard never met, Barbour and Raleigh ask us to imagine that they did. Also, that Cthulhu and the rest of the Old Ones are real and trying to rend the fabric of time and space in order to occupy our universe. Also, that any godlike being would think our universe was worth occupying, but that's another matter completely.
It's an interesting premise, interesting enough to get me to plunk down my money and take my chance. But the result is something less than promised.
Lovecraft and Howard set off on a nostalgia tour down Route 66 in order to destroy "the artifact" that would allow the Old Ones into our parking space.
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Format: Paperback
I think Patrick was a little harsh in his review. The book isn't that bad, & by the way, it was never stated anywhere that Glory read any HPL or REH, she'd only read CAS, & then only his poetry. She actually stated in the book that she couldn't get past the lurid covers of Weird Tales, & so hadn't read any of the works of her two companions. I didn't find the portrayal of REH as inconsistent as Patrick, & felt they did an above average job of capturing the personalities of the real life writers, as far as it's possible to tell.

There is, however, one glaring error that really brought me up short. At one point in the story REH makes reference to 'Sonja' who, HPL explains to Glory, is Bob's female version of Conan. REH actually only wrote one story about Red SonYa of Rogatino, "The Shadow of the Vulture", an historical fiction, set in the 16th century. Roy Thomas & Barry (Windsor) Smith used this as the very loose basis of the character 'Red SonJa', they introduced in the Marvel Comics version of Conan The Barbarian in the early 70's.

Such an abyssmal error cast strong doubts on their knowledge of HPL, REH, CAS & their works, which undermines the believability of their portrayal in this book
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Format: Paperback
A cthulhu-Fiction road trip adventure based on a meeting that almost happened between Two of Weird Tales magazine's "Three Musketeers" ( and the third one pops up later ! ) ! Well , t this was a fun ,in the humorous sense, book and the two Authors seemed to be fans of the main characters ! And also that the characters seem to have been have been charicatured ! - Nitpicking here we go ; If you are a fan of Cthulhu-fiction in general , you will probably enjoy this book , but if you like me , are a true fan of REH and HPL , you may just find that this book is pretty boring and based on iffy source/heresay material from the late Mr.deCamp and comic adapted REH heroes ! Again , if you want to read true accounts , or works of the two great pulp writers , it would be better for you to search for S.T.Joshi's Lovecraft studies or/and Novalyn Price-Ellis's "The One Who Walked Alone" book , her account of REH ect ! Cheers Isaacson .
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Format: Paperback
Thankfully the authors, while obviously enthusiasts for the two writers featured as characters, keep enough distance that the story does not get bogged down in minutae. The story moves briskly with both humour and some poignancy. The characters are somewhat close to charicature much of the time - we do not get to know the people any better by reading this and, I suspect, that is not the intention. As with both Howard and Lovecraft themselves the story is the thing. Some purists may nitpick but this is generally a fun read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Novel of the Superficial and Ineffectual 22 Feb. 2001
By Chris Jarocha-Ernst - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In short, this is mind candy, no less entertaining than a good fannish Cthulhu Mythos story, but not what I would have expected from people who claim to be HPL/REH fans. The basic idea is a good one: bring the "Three Musketeers of WEIRD TALES" (Howard, Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith) together against creatures of the Mythos. Unfortunately, it's full of missteps (for one, the authors claim Howard created "Red Sonja", actually a 1970s comic-book invention based on a similarly named character from one of REH's historical stories). If you don't know much about REH/HPL, this won't bother you, but then why would you buy this book? Plotwise, it shambles along, like the menaces of the story, fantastic and unspeakable but ultimately disappointing.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A misfire... 16 Nov. 2000
By Rory Coker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's a good idea, marred by inept execution and literary inexperience. The three titans of WEIRD TALES, Lovecraft, Howard and Ashton Smith, accompanied by the Whore with a Heart of Gold that no fanboy fiction is complete without, tackle the invasion of Earth by Lovecraft's own Old Ones. There are a number of problems that distracted me from enjoying the read: (1) Lovecraft and Howard tend to be played for laughs. For instance, Lovecraft lived off cold pork and beans in the privacy of his hovel, but his feelings of social superiority were such that he would never dream of doing such a thing in public. And Howard comes off as singularly obtuse and clueless throughout. (2) Although the real Lovecraft loved to vary his speaking style to suit the audience, the Lovecraft of this book speaks always in a "precious" literary style which the authors' own ignorance of English tends to turn into gibberish in spots. Only Clark Ashton Smith comes over as a fairly well-rounded portrait of a real author.
The main problem is that the book has no plot. If the aim of the transdimensional shadow men is to get someone to place the stone Loveman sent to Lovecraft into a slot in a cave, it beggars even transdimensional reason that they do everything in their transdimensional powers to PREVENT the characters from getting to the slot in the cave! Everything could have been wrapped up in chapter 2, and all else is foot-dragging.
Apart from the red-haired harlot with the heart of gold, there is another terrible cliche in the novel, namely the all-wise Indian shaman, who foresees everything, but like the transdimensional shadow beings, has a singularly back-handed and contraverse way of helping our heroes! I kept expecting him to say, "Try not. Do, or do not!"
The adventure takes place just shortly prior to the real deaths of Howard and Lovecraft, and these deaths are woven into the novel's plot or lack thereof--- some will question the good taste or lack thereof in forcing real-life tragedies into the service of a pretty juvenile fiction.
This is only a hair above the "fan fiction" that nerds, dweebs, fanboys and other losers used to circulate at science fiction and comic book conventions, and nowadays tends to be posted on fanboy websites. There is even the requisite mention of nerd-fave singer and pianist Tori Amos, although this is thankfully confined to an appendix.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A Novel of Horrible and Unspeakable Fantasy 3 Dec. 2001
By Patrick Burnett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Even when two writers write well, collaboration is an itchy thing. Unless the pair is deliberately writing two different voices, they must carefully mesh their styles and dialog into a seamless narrative designed to maintain the illusion that the book you are holding is a cohesive and unified whole. When done well, it can be a beautiful thing; two voices telling the same tale, adding idea to idea and raising the entire project to a sublime place.
If the writers are unqualified hacks, however, the mess resembles the result of a Creative Writing 101 final after the TA trips while carrying the manuscripts.
Can you guess into which category "Shadows Bend" falls?
Unqualified ha...I mean, writers David Barbour and Richard Raleigh have imagined a world in which two famous pulp writers meet in order to drop a coin into the jukebox from Hell in order to prevent the end of the world as we know it. "Oh," you think. "It's going to be that kind of novel."
Though HP Lovecraft and "Conan" creator Robert E. Howard never met, Barbour and Raleigh ask us to imagine that they did. Also, that Cthulhu and the rest of the Old Ones are real and trying to rend the fabric of time and space in order to occupy our universe. Also, that any godlike being would think our universe was worth occupying, but that's another matter completely.
It's an interesting premise, interesting enough to get me to plunk down my money and take my chance. But the result is something less than promised.
Lovecraft and Howard set off on a nostalgia tour down Route 66 in order to destroy "the artifact" that would allow the Old Ones into our parking space. Along the way they meet Glory, a college-educated former prostitute who has read the works of Lovecraft and Howard, as well as that of Clarke Ashton, who makes a brief appearance later, who joins them in their travels. Terrible things happen. They save the universe. Blah blah blah.
My quibbles with this novel are large, broad ones. Well, I have small, subtle ones, but I won't bore you with them unless you write and ask for them. First, it appears that Raleigh and Barbour did not even read one another's work as they wrote. In some chapters Robert Howard, a Texan, is portrayed as a fellow with a decent command of English. In others, he nearly eats the scenery by aw-shucksin' his way through his dialog like a cartoon cowboy. Second, do I really need to point out how damned unlikely it is that a woman in the late thirties would be educated in medieval literature, read pulp fiction and work as a prostitute? Third, Lovecraft is written as though he were Oscar Wilde or Quentin Crisp. Fourth, why didn't someone tell Barbour and Raleigh that Southwestern Indians aren't the cool mystical minority they once were? Fifth, well, the ending is so lame you won't believe it. I would assume that the reason a writer would want to include historical characters in a modern novel is because he has something to say about that person, or that person is just the right character on which to hang the plot. In this novel, Barbour and Raleigh might just as well have written about *me*. *I* can slip a coin into a slot, too. And I bet I would have picked the right one the first time out.
If you're a Lovecraft or Howard fan, you might want to read this, but my guess is that it would be just too painful to see these two men massacred in print like this. If you read only one book using Lovecraft and Howard as characters this year, um, on second thought, read something else.
Super Reader 25 Mar. 2008
By Blue Tyson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard vs Cthulhu

What the hell else do you need me to tell you?

If you do, and you are perhaps more familiar with The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril (also featuring Lovecraft), then the aforementioned is very much in the tradition of this book, except Shadows Bend does not suffer from the sometimes tedious diversions in the other book.

Lovecraft, it appears, is in serious need of help, and there are only two men he believes are likely to be of use, or believe him, so:

"Lovecraft turned away and took the three steps down into Cross Plains, Texas, this unwitting way station. It wasn't much of a town, just a place where some roads and power lines seemed to converge for no apparent reason. The few buildings-storefronts and professional addresses-all faced each other, as if to keep the reality of the empty landscape at bay."

"The man's flesh seemed nearly blue against his soiled white clothes, and he seemed to have been out in the storm for quite a while, or perhaps he was terrified of the gun, because he was shivering so violently it seemed unlikely he could keep his hands up. He had an odd expression on his face, but Howard couldn't tell if it was terror or some weird and maniacal amusement. His lips moved hesitantly for a split second, and then, in an entirely unconvincing attempt at a Southern drawl, he said, "Howdy there, Two-Gun Bob."

Howard and his father looked at each other. The Doctor's expression suggested he thought they had an escapee from some asylum, but Howard's eyes suddenly went wide, and his jaw swung open. "Lovecraft!" he said. "How did-What in the Sam Hill are you doin' out here?"

He does tell him, about the artifact of power with him, and the fact that they could also use the advice of Clark Ashton Smith. So, with the aid of Lovecraft's father's insistence, it is a Weird Tales roadtrip.

"Howard grinned, breaking the tension. "Oh, come on, HP. You don't really think Smith found the Necronomicon.' 'No, not precisely. The original is long lost, as you know. But this is surely a translation of the mad Arab's text. I am absolutely convinced of it after the events I've experienced over the past several days."

Gaining the help of a woman along the way, they arrive to discover:
"Smith noticed their puzzled expressions...he unwrapped the bundle and there it was, the mythic book come to life. The binding was a lightly tanned vellum like material, but clearly not vellum. It was stamped in a weathered crimson color, the letters embossed so long ago their depth was nearly gone NECRONOMICON and Abdul Alhazred.
...
Lovecraft ran his fingers over the book, tentatively stroking the cracked cover. "I still find its authenticity rather dubious. What did the dealer say?"

"It's bound in human skin. Slivers of bone in the spine, and the bookmark is made of bleached human hair."

Lovecraft quickly drew his hand away. "And how would an antiquarian bookseller establish all this?"

"He happens to be the son of a prominent mortician, HP."

Minions of Cthulhu have dogged them on their trip to see Klarkash-ton, and a confrontation awaits.

3.5 out of 5
Great Concept, Poor Execution 5 July 2007
By SCP Reno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I grabbed this book off the shelf thinking "What a great idea". I still love the idea, which increases the disappointment with the book. The characterizations are flat, with the portrayal of Clark Ashton Smith being the strongest. And that seems at odds with the rather quiet life he lived compared to his portrayal as a "know all the right moves" seducer of women. While REH and his father were not close and his father could be a self-serving man. The father appears to have stepped out of the House of Usher. This is his regular portrayal, not the dream, which would be understandable.

HPL and REH seemed to be a Crosby/Hope road team but with much more pettiness, cynicism, and bitterness. Hey, these guys are the heroes... we're supposed to like them. Glory is a role for extending disagreements and conversations for artificial tension and then gradually develops as a deaux ex machina (in a very contrived sense which "spins" the climax into a minor event).

I expected chills and tight writing. This is supposed to be about demons claiming the world as their own and ending our world/existence. I Love The Idea! What happened? Where is the danger? Would demons/otherworld beings need a car or disguise themselves as a car? Can you really sucker punch a "devil"? I don't want to be harsh, but it was an idea of such promise... and failed to deliver.

If you're still with me... I'm glad I read it. I would have kept wondering how the story worked. If the idea grabs you, you may want to read it to satisfy your own curiosity... or you may just want to (re)read the fantastic original stories of HPL, REH, and CAS.
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