The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror – William Sloane
NYRB Classics – 2015 (originally published as a collection in 1964)
This week’s book is The Rim of Morning by William Sloane. It contains To Walk the Night (1937) and The Edge of Running Water (1939), Sloane’s only novels. Both books went through several editions in the 50 years after they were published, and some of the covers are awesome, but other blogs have done posts about that, and I have nothing to add. The books were out of print for the 90s and early 2000s, but NYRB put out this collection with a new introduction a few years ago.
To Walk the Night
Two lads witness a scientist spontaneously combusting, and then one of them marries the scientists widow. She is a babe, but she’s also a real weirdo. This puts strain on the lads’ friendship.
Stephen King wrote the introduction to The Rim of Mourning. From what I know about his tastes, I’m not surprised King liked this book. It reads like a combination of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Leiber’s Conjure Wife. It walks that line between sci-fi and horror nicely, and I really got into it after a few chapters. It’s suspenseful and very easy to read.
I found the ending a little underwhelming. The way the story is set up ensures no real surprises, but the explanation given (or at least hinted at) felt a bit flat. It was still enjoyable enough.
The Edge of Running Water
The second novel starts off fairly similar to the first. A lad goes to his friend’s house to help him with an experiment. When he gets there, he finds there are two women living in the house too. One is his friend’s sexy sister in law, and the other is a really annoying person who is helping with the experiment.
The nature of the experiment is not immediately discussed, but it involves a machine that makes a really upsetting noise. It turns out that the lad was trying to build a machine to let him talk to his dead wife, but he ends up making something much, much worse.
I quite enjoyed this book, but it’s very slow. The whole thing occurs over the period of 3 days or so, and I’m sure big chunks could have been cut. I enjoyed the brooding atmosphere though, and I found this one a bit creepier than To Walk the Night.
The supernatural elements of both books are not explicitly defined, and I think this is why these books get categorised as “cosmic horror”. They’re good. You should read them.