EBOOK DOWNLOAD The Shadow People AUTHOR Margaret St. Clair
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F land of Cockaigne Profoundly strangeA book of two very distinct halves The first half of The Shadow People is a descent into a subterranean Hell in Earth An underground world filled with emaciated semi human denizens who rape and fight but rarely kill one another and where humans are captured from the overworld to serve as playthings and food for the underground s silent barely sentient creatures of impulseThe creatures themselves pose little direct threat fearful as they are of steel and the underworld s real danger is the intoxicating allure of its ingestible hallucinatory depression a drug so potent and which creates a hopelessness so pervasive that even the underworld s own creatures have given themselves over to its luxuriant sorrowThe second half changes pace and tone completely morphing into a weird macabre drama that takes place in a vaguely dystopian near future America where everyone talks in whispered half truths about things they can t even be sure are half trueIt pulls in sci fi wicca classical literature social decay urbanisation and conspiracy theories all while keeping the trauma of the characters who visited the underworld at the centre of the narrativeBoth halves play with the theme of myth and legend in fascinating ways and the whole book is suffused throughout with a strange grim psychedelia It feels almost like something David Lynch would come up with if he was concerned less with Americana and with American folklore Deeply weird but very goodOne of those rare few books that contains a truly uniue truly alien truly strange world and for that alone it s worth a read Weird fiction indeed Published in 1969 this novel from Margaret St Clair one of the few well known female SF writers from the last century concerns a race of dark elves who live in a sprawling subterranean world of caverns tunnels and waterfalls called Underearth They occasionally visit the surface to steal things and kidnap people and the narrative begins with one such kidnapping I enjoyed the writing uite a bit but my appreciation at not knowing exactly where the tale would go next was also the biggest weakness at times it came across as disjointed and meandering Still I was never bored with this very odd somewhat dated story 35 stars I had associated this book as drawing from or referencing the Shaver Mystery mythos a statement that on reflection is exaggerated at best There are similarities evil subhumans living in the secret places under the earth the implications of their growing influence in the outer world the unveiling of the secret knowledge to the everyday characters and a sort of dreamlike paranoia and sense of persecution But this work seems drawn from Celtic or Northern European mythology of the traditional view of elves in an evil gremlin sense combined with the mythological aspects of a visit to the underworld with all the travails and conditions for entry and departureAt least for the book s first half It s not clear what St Clair had in mind for the remainder Dick Aldridge emerges from Underearth some years later to find a world unpleasantly changed and bearing some of the miasma and despair that pervades the subsurface While it is suggested that the influence of Underearth is somehow responsible and there are indications of machinations of at least one green elf St Clair fails to make the connection explicit and meaningful and to expand upon the themes of the first half Instead it loses its way and delivers an unsatisfyingly abrupt endingHonestly an injection of Shaver Mystery would have done the story some good Are the green elves manipulating society to make the outer world like their homeland Is Dick seeing the world through eyes poisoned by Underearth or perhaps by mental illness Can we as reader really trust his narration. Ey hungered for human flesh The earth was to be their stockyards and mankind their meatCover art by Jeffrey Catherine Jon.
0 but I think it may have had to do with monetary reasons Science Fiction and Fantasy became big sellers in the Age of Auarius Authors are often forced to write to pay the bills Although the genesis of this novel may have been in the back of her mind for years the second part seems to have been created for the specific era it was writtenThe Shadow People is very much a product of it s time 1969 but it has influences which go back to the early part of the last century and beyond As if Arthur Machen had wandered into the Fill Ballroom Gary Gygax one of the creators of the Dungeons and Dragons game lists it as an influence St Clair uotes selectively from Robert Kirk s 17th century tract on faeries The Secret Commonwealth I suspect she used Commonwealth as a guide while writing this novelBut enough with my speculations Dame St Clair is no longer with us so she can t clear up all my wondering about her motivationsThe Shadow People begins with the Summer of Love in California although no specific years are given The narrator Dick Aldridge works for a hip newspaper in the Berkley area His girlfriend Carol is an up and coming photographer Although they are deeply in love one night Carol storms out of Dick s apartment after an argument She s gone for several days and Dick decides to check out her basement flat He finds evidence of a struggle and decides to go to the police After the police shuffle him off Dick takes a bus out to Monterrey to see if she s staying with an older couple they both know perhaps a stand in for the author and her husband Dick finds the isolated house vacant with no sign of Carol or the older couple but plenty of uncollected mail in the box And on the way back he runs into a fringe character known as Carl Hood who mentions Carol may have left the skin of the worldStill searching for Carol he later encounters Fay the maid at his room in the Shasta Hotel She also mentions that Carol may have left the skin of the world Now Dick has to know what this all means and begs Fay to tell him She doesn t tell him much about who abducted Carol but does show him th Very definitely a creature of 1969 Berkeley CA written by one of the elder stateswomen of SF writing at the time this is a tightly written urban horror fantasy novel Kind of a cross between the films Labyrinth The Descent and Strange Days although it preceded all three There are other reviews that go into great length about how the book s tonal shift deaden it s pace and take away from it If you think of it as William S Burroughs ORPHEUS AND EURODYCE you ll be much closer to its core I managed to track down a used copy of this book mentioned in Gygax s infamous Appendix N of inspirational reading I an eminently readable prose style and a story that easily kept my attention and interest I find many of the elements that were influential in the creation of DD and other early fantasy RPGs elements of fantasy even though it is set in a modern ishnear future world for 1969 an underground world encompassing the entire world a proto Underdark called the Underearth a race much like the drow even called elves in some cases and their pets orcs and ettins the detailed descriptions of their underground existence including the addictive atter corn that provides a hallucinogenic foodstuff and the source of the don t eat anything in the faerie world superstition etc I was reminded of modules like B4 The Lost City with its underground world inhabited by hallucinating Cynideceans and D1 2 Descent into the Depths of the Earth great stuff The stink of flesh was mingled with the atter corn There must be an abundance of both for the smell to come to me so strongly Plenty of meat and plenty of intoxicant meal to elf eyes the place to which the upward sloping passage led must seem a sort Beneath the surface of the earth Until now their only form of nourishment had been a strange hallucinogenic grain Now th.
What an odd read Enjoyed it though Very 60s Decent read can t remember if this is Appendix N but it s related and pertinent Well crafted I suppose in a way that is unsettling Pretty shortThere is a arring transposition from late 60 s hippie culture to fantasy underworld to gonzo robot police state which some have suggested is a mental health trope but I don t see it Maybe a metaphor for addiction and the rise of computer controlled fascism may be apt YMMV of course I liked it because it hints at much deeper things but doesn t really pause except for one part right near the end to give any serious explanation The tidied ends actually detract from the story some to my mindThe character of Carol is grating but I suppose maybe as a symbolic maiden or something she fits the bill Worth a read if you have a spare couple of hours Ad copy lie THE INVASION OF THE HALLUCINOGENIC PEOPLE FROM UNDEREARTH They had existed from time immemorial hidden in a space warp far beneath the surface of the earth Until now their only form of nourishment had been a strange hallucinogenic grain Now they hungered for human flesh The earth was to be their stockyards and mankind their meat Of this the entire back cover copy only the second sentence is not a lie either outright or by implication The front cover says They came from the Underearth to take over the world This too is a lie by implication The fact is this isn t a story about invasion unless a story about a serial killer is a story about war What it is in all probability is one of the strangest stories you will ever read It s about the search for protection safety and security in a world out of control Two worlds actually each representing a side in St Clair s perception of the world or the US in 1969 the hippies where else underground and the Man oppressive government on the surface Others have said that the story falters in the second half the half spent above ground Certainly it does if all St Clair is interested in is the strangeness of Underearth and the creatures who populate it But she s after something else something And to her credit she goes for it blasting both sides with eual venom I mention this only because I think it s worthwhile to stick with the book to the end and because it s easy not to What sells the book to the genre fan and this story contains elements of fantasy horror the occult and even science fiction is Underearth Fortunately this all by itself makes the book worthwhile Yes it s that weird But if that s all you re in for then you ll be left unsatisfied Although in a shadowy dystopian sort of way the first half is really a story unto itself about a guy who s life suddenly spins out of control gets worse before it gets better then ultimately spins out of control again Art lie The cover art has nothing whatsoever to do with the story Yes a sword figures in the plot and yes it is called Merlin s sword But any resemblance to the kind of sword and sorcery conjured up by the artwork is ust that superficial Clearly given the fact that almost nothing on the covers of this book is true the publishers Dell had little faith in it selling on its own merits Make of that what you will but I think it s a shame For those who enjoy dark fantasy and the occult I think reading The Shadow People is time well spent Weird story about hippies elves an underworld and a distopian society I ve not read any of Margaret St Clair s stories before so I didn t really know what to expect going in to this novel It was written in 1969 and parts of it were good while other parts seemed to slip and go nowhere It s of a 25 star read and of interest to fans of fantasy books from the 60s and 70s Margaret Sinclair turned to writing books in the 1960 s I don t know why her short story output declines after 196. THE INVASION OF THE HALLUCINOGENIC PEOPLE FROM UNDEREARTHThey had existed from time immemorial hidden in a space warp far.
EBOOK DOWNLOAD The Shadow People AUTHOR Margaret St. Clair
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