The Dreamer in Fire and Other Stories
By Sam Gafford
For a decade or more, Sam Gafford has been quietly developing a reputation as a writer willing and able to fuse supernatural horror with psychological suspense, resulting in tales of grim power and penetrating insight into aberrant states of mind. H. P. Lovecraft is the focus of many of the stories in this book, Gafford's first collection of short stories. With rare poignancy and delicacy, Gafford puts the figure of Lovecraft himself‚ either real or imagined‚ on stage in such stories as "Passing Spirits," where the Providence writer's terminal cancer is addressed; "'The Dreamer in Fire,'" where a mysterious writer very much in the Lovecraft mold is the focus of a pseudo-scholarly analysis; "Casting Fractals," in which Lovecraft's work serves as an uncannily accurate prophecy of the cataclysmic events that followed after his death; and "Weltschermz," where a character takes Lovecraft's dark vision of the world a bit too seriously.
Other stories show the diversity of Gafford's inspirations. "The Adventure of the Prometheus Calculation" is a new Sherlock Holmes tale‚ one that does not end well for that famous detective. In "'How Does That Make You Feel?'" a patient undergoing psychiatric analysis imagines himself a pulp superhero from the 1940s‚ but is it only his imagination? And "The Land of Lonesomeness" evokes the final days of William Hope Hodgson on the bloody fields of Flanders.
Sam Gafford (1962-2019) was one of the world's leading scholars on the life and work of William Hope Hodgson. He edited several anthologies of Hodgson's works and published Sargasso, the literary magazine dedicated to Hodgson.