Lost upon a lonely road in the thickly forested coastlands of Maine, your automobile is now stuck in a muddy rut on the soft shoulder of the road. Stranded, and the wind has begun to rise in the dark firs. If only you could find a telephone!
Just then you see a pale light from a high turret in a great structure on the headland, a vast Gothic manor built of granite. You clamber through the firs and hawthorne up the steep hillside to the house, invisible branches and thorns clawing at your clothes as if to hold you back. Strident echoes answer the ringing of the iron knocker on the heavy door... but none else. Flickering amber lamplight casts fantastic shadows upon the dark paneled walls of the corridors as you venture within, your furtive steps resounding lonely and hollow from the unseen depths of the vast mansion. Darkness hovers o'erhead within the recesses of the coffered ceiling. Faint scratching and knocking sounds emanate from behind the wainscoting.
A brilliant flash of lightning from the rising storm outside momentarily silhouettes the stark lines of the lancet windows of the lofty great hall, etching the image in your blinded sight. But what was that tenebrous other shape limned against the effulgent glare, lurking just ahead in the darkness... a shape not quite human?
My Web Pages Dedicated to Cinema...
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I am an English Literature and Mechanical Engineering graduate of Auburn University, drawn equally by Imagination and Reason. Earlier in life, I seriously considered a career as a nuclear physicist, a professor of history, a novelist, an archeologist or paleontologist or an independent film director. Life is too short... now nearing retirement, some of these I definitely will not get around to.
Among my interests are literature and film belonging to the detective, suspense, espionage, horror, gothic, fantasy and sci-fi genres. I have web pages (links above) devoted to the best horror, suspense, sci-fi and western films and plan similar sites for noir-action and fantasy.
My favorite horror authors are M. R. James, Arthur Machen, Edgar Allan Poe, E. F. Benson, H. P. Lovecraft, Nathaniel Hawthorne and J. Sheridan LeFanu. Within fantasy the list includes Sax Rohmer, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, J. R. R. Tolkien, Poul Anderson and Fritz Leiber. I don't read much sci-fi but my favorites have always been H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, John W. Campbell, Jr., Isaac Asimov, John Wyndham and Colin Wilson, along with one very fine novel by John Steakley.
Detective fiction and crime mystery are another literary genre interest of mine. Favorite authors include Edgar Allen Poe, Wilkie Collins, (of course) Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr, Dashiell Hammett and my absolute favorite of all, the marvelous Raymond Chandler. More recently I have devoured almost the entire works of gritty crime author Michael Connolly, whom my wife and I were fortunate enough to meet in 2012. I have posted a web site dedicated to the literary James Bond of Ian Fleming (see above).
Writing fiction in the horror and fantasy genres is a lifelong pasttime. I'm currently working on an unusual vampire novel (Rathcoombe Manor © figures in that story) and a thinking man's high fantasy novel (adventures of a barbarian with brains as well as brawn). Looking forward to retirement...
My taste in music runs the gamut from classical and Latin guitar to alternative and progressive rock. I am especially fond of "classical" music of the Romantic and early Modern periods (think Rimsky-Korsakov, Liszt, Smetana, Ravel, Sibelius, Debussy, etc.), and I confess to an abiding fondness for 80s New Wave and Techno. I am also a fan of electric blues (from Albert King to Peter Green) and classic jazz from the 50s and 60s (John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Art Pepper, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, etc.).
In a similar vein, I like art and poetry of the Romantic and Victorian periods. John Keats is my favorite Romantic poet, although Shelley's Ozymandias is probably my favorite poem from the Romantics. The Pre-Raphaelite works of fantastic or medieval subjects (e.g., La Belle Dame sans Merci in its various manifestations) and of Orientalist painters (notably Ludwig Deutsch) are my favorites. I also like Maxfield Parrish. Among American artists, my favorites are Howard Pyle, N. C. Wyeth, Frederic Remington and Philip R. Goodwin, whose art can be seen as romantic or impressionistic expressions of the life of the adventurous, whether in the Medieval past, on the Spanish Main or on the vast sweep of the American prairie frontier. My favorite living artist is Frank Frazetta.
Possibly stirred by my Victorian and Western nostaglia, I have always favored shooting sports and big game hunting, though I can be a rather extreme environmentalist. Life is more paradoxical than logical and I am comfortable with contradiction. I enjoy wilderness camping and hiking, and support the protection of wilderness areas from encroachment by civilization.
I am also interested in nearly anything scientific, ranging from the marvels of the 19th century (I am a steam-punk at heart) to the mysteries of astrophysics, quantum mechanics and the elusive theory of everything. See the link above for my pages devoted to Alabama dinosaurs and terminal ballistics.
Disclaimer and Notice of Copyright
All the opinions expressed on this webpage and my other personal webpages are those of the author, who has an ascerbic and ironic sense of humor. The author assumes no responsibility for any misapprehension or confusion on the part of the viewer, nor for any emotional or psychological distress, either real or purported. Rathcoombe, Rathcoombe Manor and Ulfhere are copyrighted by the author.
Originally posted 3 January 1998 -- All rights reserved