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Alone with the Horrors [Paperback]

Ramsey Campbell , J.K. Potter
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 15 1994
Ramsey Campbell is perhaps the world's most honored author of horror fiction. He has won four World Fantasy Awards, ten British Fantasy Awards, three Bram Stoker Awards, and the Horror Writers' Association's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Three decades into his career, Campbell paused to review his body of short fiction and selected the stories that were, to his mind, the very best of his works. Alone With the Horrors collects nearly forty tales from the first thirty years of Campbell's writing, including several award-winners.

Campbell crowns the book with a length preface-revised for this edition-which traces his early publication history, discusses his youthful correspondence with August Derleth, and illuminates the influence of H.P. Lovecraft on his work.
Alone With the Horrors provides readers with a close look at a powerful writer's development of his craft.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Review

"Some of the best short fiction written in the last half century."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Alone with the Horrors


"Some of the best short fiction written in the last half century." (Publishers Weekly (starred review)) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ramsey Campbell has won more awards than any other living author of horror or dark fantasy, including four World Fantasy Awards, nine British Fantasy Awards, three Bram Stoker Awards, and two International Horror Guild Awards. Critically acclaimed both in the US and in England, Campbell is widely regarded as one of the genre's literary lights for both his short fiction and his novels. His classic novels, such as The Face that Must Die, The Doll Who Ate His Mother, and The Influence, set new standards for horror as literature. His collection, Scared Stiff, virtually established the subgenre of erotic horror.

Ramsey Campbell's works have been published in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and several other languages. He has been President of the British Fantasy Society and has edited critically acclaimed anthologies, including Fine Frights. Campbell's best known works in the US are Obsession, Incarnate, Midnight Sun, and Nazareth Hill.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Hits Sept. 8 2011
By Jonathan Stover TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Good Lord, it's really almost time for another Campbell survey collection, given that his professional writing career is about to turn 50! This collection takes us from Campbell's Lovecraftian derivative phase through the development of his own unique voice and use of settings (a certain amount of decaying industrial England for the latter, but not universally so). Campbell's antecedents are fairly clear (H.P. Lovecraft; the modern, urban ghost stories of Fritz Leiber; the classic tales of M.R. James; and a touch of the eternally ambiguous Robert Aickman); the disturbing, occasionally comic, pervasively hallucinatory prose style is pretty much all Campbell.

I'm not sure any horror writer since M.R. James has gotten more productive mileage out of things glimpsed but not properly seen; no one has consistently described even the most normative of objects and landscapes in a manner which suggests both psychological trauma and the invasion of a world-altering Otherness completely inimical to human beings. Something is always on the verge of breaking through -- through the walls of the world or the world of the sane mind. Here, even a dress ("The Fit") or the noise between the radio stations ("Hearing is Believing") can become a source of terror. But there's a grandeur to much of the terror, as there really should be: Lovecraft would have approved.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be alone with this book Dec 17 2006
By E. A. Lovitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I couldn't possibly read "Alone with the Horrors" straight through in one sitting. Ramsey Campbell has the gift of isolating his readers from their comfortable surroundings (I read these stories sitting next to our Christmas tree, surrounded by snoring cats), and plunging them into a freezing, lightless abyss. I wouldn't recommend more than one or two stories at a time. Those readers already depressed should not read them at all. I've become literally ill reading some of this author's stories, e.g. "The Guide," "The Chimney," and "The Companion"---not grossed out as after a Stephen King story, but sick with horror. There has not been an author of supernatural terror like this one since the heyday of M.R. James.

Although "Alone with the Horrors" is an almost complete compendium of Campbell's short fiction from 1961 - 1991, such tales as "The Guide" are excluded as they were written in a style not entirely his own ("The Guide" was written after the manner of M.R. James.) The following is a sample of the included stories:

"The Tower of Yuggoth" (1961) - My advice to editors of short story collections is, for the new reader's sake, don't arrange the stories in order by date written. Campbell's first published story is a Lovecraft pastiche, complete with the scion of a decayed New England family tottering about the sinister, moon-lit swamps, and doing unspeakable business with the Elder Gods. He is driven mad by the sight of "the ebony void of space" and the creatures that crawl about there, but he lives long enough (naturally) to gasp out twenty pages of Lovecraftian drivel. I wish the rule-of-exclusion had been applied to "The Tower of Yuggoth" instead of "The Guide."

(There are so many humans doing business with the Elder Gods these days, you'd think They'd form a franchise and open outlets at the local malls.)

"The Interloper" (1968) - Two schoolboys visit "The Catacombs" during lunch break. It turns out not to be a music club. If Ramsey Campbell really had teachers like the ones he depicts in this story (be sure to read his introduction to this collection), I can understand where he gets the inspiration for his horror fiction. Don't let your kids read this story. They'll never go back to school.

"The Companion" (1973) - So much great horror takes place at carnivals, and this story is one of the best. It scared the bejaysus out of Stephen King (see his nonfiction book on horror, "Danse Macabre") and it did the same to me.

"The Chimney" (1975) - A young boy is afraid of what might come down the chimney in his bedroom on Christmas Eve. I thought I had wrung all of the terror out of this story once the boy grew up and became a librarian, but I was wrong. "The Chimney" saves its gut-punch for the very end.

"Hearing is Believing" (1979)--Have you ever had a dream with multiple awakenings, each one more horrible than the last? In a sense, this story epitomizes the whole book. It is "The Tower of Yuggoth" distilled by twenty-eight years of practice into something much more horrible than any tentacled thing that cracked open the sky above New England.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best ever Aug. 28 2007
By S J Buck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ramsey Campbell has produced some of the greatest short horror stories ever written. Most of them are in this volumn.
Mostly Campbell is influenced by H P Lovecraft rather than explicit gore or gratuitous violence - although there are always exceptions! So his writing style is completely different from say Stephen King, but both are masters of short horror fiction in their different ways.

The stories within are as scary as horror fiction can get. Amongst my favourites are "In the Bag", and perhaps best of all "The Companion". You know how with some novels (King on occasions is an example) after reading through hundreds of pages you get to the end and think - is that it? I.e. the ending never quite leaves you satisfied despite the brilliance of the story telling before (again King). Well you won't get this with Campbell's short stories, his end with a punch, metaphorically a knock-out one to your head...

Another splendid volumn to get if this one becomes unavailable is Dark Companions which contains many of the same stories. You'll probably only get this 2nd hand but its worth searching out.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good collection of campbells work Jan. 27 2014
By Trevor fournier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very nice collections of Campbell's work for those not yet familiar with the author, as well as those who are and merely want a collection of his short stories ,
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasury of terror April 28 2013
By Harcohen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a wonderful collection, both for those new to Campbell, as well as old fans. I've been reading him since the late 80s, early 90s. I've often heard Campbell described as British in style, but that would be like describing Stephen King as American in style when there is so much more to his work. Even compared to other British horror writers, Campbell is a Tiger of different stripes. While he started out heavily under the influence of Lovecraft, he moved in a direction far away from the Mythos and created something truly his own. The typical Campbell story, or novel, works more on nerves than gore. He can etch a character with the slightest phrase, not unlike Le Carre. But also, like Le Carre, class often comes up in Campbell's work. Where the typical American horror writer may use characters who are comfortable in upper middle class surroundings, Campbell shows how class struggle deeply affects the psychology of his characters. No matter how fantastic the supernatural trappings of his work, Campbell sets it very firmly in a real world, which makes the horrors, Earthly or supernatural, that much more effective. Read him, but only with the lights on, even though he can still scare you in the light of day.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some real gems in this collection Feb. 13 2013
By Alex M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ramsey Campbell is undeniably famous in the works of contemporary horror fiction, so I had high expectations for this "best of" collection.
Certainly several stories did not disappoint: "The Interloper"; "The Man in the Underpass"; "Mackintosh Willy", and others.

However, as vivid and powerful as Ramsey's writing is, many of the stories spend too much time fleshing out the psychological terror of the principal character with little else happening. If you read more than two at a time, you'll certainly feel the fatigue set in.

Additionally, Ramsey uses the word "slither" in almost every story, and rarely does it make sense. Characters slither from one room to another, or slither down the street, etc.
It may seen nit-picky, but in the introduction, Ramsey mocks himself for overuse of the word "eldritch" in his first tale.

I found "eldritch" to be much less annoying, as it was contained to one story.

Overall, the book is worth purchasing for the stories that work, because they work very well. Just don't expect to be blown away with every new tale...
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