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The Three Impostors and Other Stories: Vol. 1 of the Best Weird Tales of Arthur Machen (Call of Cthulhu Fiction) (v. 1) Paperback – June, 2007


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The Three Impostors and Other Stories: Vol. 1 of the Best Weird Tales of Arthur Machen (Call of Cthulhu Fiction) (v. 1) + The White People and Other Stories: Vol. 2 of the Best Weird Tales of Arthur Machen (Call of Cthulhu Fiction) + The Terror and Other Stories: Vol. 3 of The Best Weird Tales of Arthur Machen (Call of Cthulhu Fiction)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chaosium Inc. (June 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568821328
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568821320
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Lament, repent....oh mortal you.
Scott Briggs
This slim volume collects together various Machen classics including The Great God Pan and The Shining Pyramid.
J. L. Probert
Moreover, this hyper atmospheric writing style extends to stories that take place outside the city as well.
Jeffrey Leach

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on November 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
Arthur Machen (1863-1947), an English author best known for his eerie stories about supernatural creatures and situations, served as a major influence on later explorers of the macabre. H.P. Lovecraft, for example, cited Machen as an authority and even wrote articles about him on occasion. The introduction to this compilation of some of Machen's best stories, written and edited by S.T. Joshi, underscores the author's ability to shock his Victorian contemporaries, who blasted his works publicly by labeling them obscene. Joshi argues the ridiculousness of this criticism, for Machen actually was an orthodox Anglo-Catholic who presented the concepts of nature as a corrupted influence that only civilization with its strict rules can negate. That's one way to view Machen's work: with a lot of scholarly blather. For most horror fans, it simply does not matter whether this author used horror as a means to support the social status quo. What is important is that Machen wrote cracking good stories that are not only eerie but also inspired future writers in the genre.
The best story in this collection is arguably the first one, "The Great God Pan." This horrific tale boils down to one sublime theme: don't mess with Mother Nature. A doctor performs a brain experiment on a young lady with absolutely horrific results, although the scope of the terror isn't widely known at first. As the story unfolds, we discover that this woman had a physical experience with something beyond our realms of perception, something so bizarre that our frail little minds can barely grasp the implications of such an unholy union. The result is a child, a very special child with a very evil character.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Some of the best prose I have ever had the intense pleasure of reading. Machen's works, and especially this novel, are essential reading for anyone who appreciates stylish occult horror over the merely grotesque. He was a master craftsman at weaving together ancient Celtic and pre-Celtic legend with the gothic and macabre themes of witchcraft and the paranormal. Machen was one of the great masters of macabre and fantasy literature and it's a crime that his works aren't more available.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By J. L. Probert on July 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
This slim volume collects together various Machen classics including The Great God Pan and The Shining Pyramid. What makes it invaluable, however, is the title story, or rather series of stories. The Three Imposters is constructed somewhat in the style of the anthology horror pictures of the seventies such as 'From Beyond the Grave', with various short stories being strung together using a crude framework of continuing characters. Some of these stories have been available for some time (the Novel of the Black Seal is in Chaosium's own Hastur Cycle Volume) but it's been many years since it's been possible to read them in their correct context. If you've never read the weird and stylish stories of the man who was born in Wales, failed his exams to get into the Royal College of Surgeons, and so went onto to write tales of shape-shifting demons and tentacle-sprouting mutated humans, all way before Lovecraft, then here's your chance to get stuck in.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Scott Briggs on April 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
I can't give this collection a higher rating--I'd give it
eight stars if I could. And that's not even because I'm
acquainted with the editor of this volume! Which I am,
but I've been into Arthur Machen since the early 1980s when
I got into him via getting into H. P. Lovecraft and Co.
at that time. Since Machen is a primary influence on Lovecraft,
Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard and others of the circle
and even far outside that circle, anyone who's seriously
interested in classic horror/supernatural fiction could not
do better than to familiarize themselves with this volume,
at the very least. Every piece in this collection is sterling,
but my personal favorite are the main tales within tales that
comprise "The Three Imposters," most remarkably "The Novel of
The Black Seal," a strange tale of the legendary "little people" or faeries of the Welsh hills that Machen knew so well from
his childhood. These aren't "nice" faeries, but rather malevolent ancient beings who despise any trespass on their
territories under the earth. This tale was the basis of
a well-known song by the gothic rock band Bauhaus entitled
"Hollow Hills," which takes its eerie inspiration directly from
events in Machen's tale. A fine song and a fine tribute to
a master storyteller.
Lament, repent....oh mortal you. indeed! repent and go
buy this collection! don't waste time and put down that
dreary Anne Rice novel you were gonna buy instead....you will
not be sorry you did so.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Guillermo Maynez on August 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
This review is only about the title story, or rather, short novel. It is a circular story, as it ends where it begins. Characters have multiple identities and strange coincidences abound. It is a macabre joke, a foundational book of the cosmic horror a la Lovecraft and his Ctulhu mysteries. It is also a peak of the late Victorian era and much more. What makes it more than a genre story is the poetic quality of its literature. There are paragraphs that would make little perfect prose poems.

Along several months, or years, Dyson and Phillips meet different persons, who have in common the search for a shy and nervous young man with a little black moustache and big spectacles. Each one of these persons tells his or her story in inserted chilling tales, full of the imagery that would later become cliche. This is no cheap horror: it has a great sense of humor, it is not about axe-grinding nor about phantoms and exorcisms. It is pure cosmic horror, the horror of hidden forces and obscure memories of a remote past. It is a horror of strange gatherings and incognoscible conspiracies. The inserted stories are often compiled independently of their contextual frame: "The novel of the Dark Valley" is an adventure in the loneliness of the Rocky Mountains, with a pre-Kafkian touch that makes you go pale. "The novel of the Black Seal" happens in the Welsh wilderness, with a mad scientist and beings from the past. "The novel of the Iron Maiden" includes a collectionist of instruments of torture. "The novel of the White Powder" is about a substance that transforms humans into something indefinible and horrific. Finally, ""The story of the Spectacled Young Man" closes the circle and "explains" everything.

Like a good Englishman, Machen is a master of the understatement.
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