Hippocampus Press

Small Press Spotlight

Introduction to Hippocampus
Interview with Derrick Hussey
Selected Publications

Founded in 1999, Hippocampus Press specializes in horror and classic science fiction, with an emphasis on the pulp writers of the 1920-30s. Based from publisher Derrick Hussey’s library-like home in Manhattan, Hippocampus approaches their work with an enthusiastic sense of mission, bringing to light the writers who influenced the pulps as well as preserving the nonfiction and poetry of their core authors, H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. Closely associated with the tireless litterateur S.T. Joshi, Lovecraft’s leading biographer and an expert in early twentieth century fiction, Hippocampus is known for the amount of research and scholarship they bring to their titles, most featuring introductions, notes and annotations.
Recently, Hippocampus gained the rights to publish two previously “lost” novels: The Sword of Zagan by Clark Ashton Smith, and The Pleasures of a Futuroscope by Lord Dunsany. The future will bring the collected essays of H.P. Lovecraft, a study of weird fiction by S.T. Joshi, and works by M.P. Shiel, Algeron Blackwood, and Samuel Loveman.


In December 2003, Allen Ruch and Gabriel Mesa of The Modern Word talked to publisher Derrick Hussey, founder of Hippocampus Press.

The Modern Word: Obviously, you have a great love of pulp fiction! Why do you think pulp fiction is important, and what in particular draws you to the horror pulps of the 1920s and 1930s?

Derrick Hussey: Pulp fiction is important to me because I enjoy it on a number of different levels. There’s the sheer escapist value of it, and also the pleasure I derive from the style of narrative. Why specifically I’m drawn to the horror pulps, I couldn’t really say. I just am. Some people like the fight stories best, some like the detective stories. I prefer the weird ones. I also enjoy reading the letters and essays of my favorite authors, especially H.P. Lovecraft, who has a lot to say on a great variety of topics, and generally says it in an entertaining fashion. Whether what he has to say is “important” in any sense other than because it makes for enjoyable reading, I can’t say with absolute certainty, but we go on the assumption that it is. What I do know is that if we don’t preserve and study this stuff now, future generations will have a much harder time deciding what of it was important, because the bulk of it will be lost or will have crumbled away.

In the world of letters, H.P. Lovecraft is a somewhat controversial figure. Although he is granted more critical attention in Europe, this is not the case in the United States. And yet, he seems to be a “guilty pleasure” for so many people who enjoy so-called “serious literature.” First of all, why do you think Lovecraft is an important writer; and secondly, why do you think he is not taken as seriously as an Edgar Allan Poe or Ambrose Bierce?

H.P. Lovecraft generally achieved much higher literary standards than most of the pulp writers, although he has been neglected by American literary scholarship. While certainly some of this attitude is a result of the literary ghetto in which he first saw professional publication (i.e. the pulps), still, scholarly neglect can also be traced to celebrated critic Edmund Wilson’s negative comments on HPL in his 1945 New Yorker article “Tales of the Marvellous and the Ridiculous,” in which he wrote, among other things, “The only real horror in most of these fictions is the horror of bad taste and bad art. Lovecraft was not a good writer.” Following the Lovecraft Centennial Conference in Providence in 1990 we have seen an increase in Lovecraft scholarship, and many excellent releases, including S.T. Joshi’s monumental biography HP Lovecraft: A Life and a number of annotated editions of Lovecraft’s work from Dell and Penguin, all marketed as “literature.” Lovecraft’s reputation is steadily being rehabilitated, and I’m glad to be able to participate in this. Most attention remains focused, however, on Lovecraft’s fiction, itself only a small portion of his entire literary output. With the release of more letters volumes, for instance, and the million-plus words of our Collected Essays series, perhaps a more rounded view of Lovecraft as a truly significant man of letters will emerge.

You founded Hippocampus Press after a meeting with S.T. Joshi. Was this the sole inspiration, or had you previously considered entering the publishing field?

I’ve been a fan of weird fiction since my teens, when I discovered the works of H.P. Lovecraft in a used copy of The Lurking Fear. During that period, weird fiction was a solitary pleasure for me; I had no companions in my pastime. I eventually became aware of Arkham House, a publishing company founded by August Derleth after Lovecraft’s death to preserve Lovecraft’s fiction. They released the first and for a long time the only definitive editions of Lovecraft’s work. So, I found out about Arkham House, and purchased the complete set of Lovecraft’s fiction and Selected Letters. When I first moved to Manhattan in 1989, I had heard of S.T. Joshi in connexion with Arkham House, and I had read some works by Lovecraft’s best friend Frank Belknap Long, but had no idea he was still alive. Still, I had no concept of the burgeoning field of Lovecraft studies; much less that Joshi, Long and others were at that time meeting regularly for dinner not two blocks from where I lived!

In the mid 1990s I began working at an academic publisher, and also began to explore the Internet and encounter fellow Lovecraft enthusiasts there. About that same time I met S.T. Joshi. The circumstances were these: a handwritten Lovecraft letter, written to Clark Ashton Smith in the late 1930s when Lovecraft was writing “The Shadow out of Time,” had been offered for sale to me and I wanted to get it authenticated. I asked around on the Internet and soon received a reply from David E. Schultz who put me in touch with Joshi. At that point I was not really aware of the Lovecraft scholarship movement.

Joshi mentioned to me that he and Schultz would like to get a copy of the letter, as it was unpublished. He explained that there was an effort being made to construct an online database with the full text of as many of Lovecraft’s extant letters as possible, and he was looking for volunteer typists to enter the data from the original Arkham House typed transcripts which were the source of the Selected Letters series. Gaining access to unpublished Lovecraft material was quite appealing to me, and I volunteered my services. Joshi began supplying me with the Arkham House transcripts and over the next several years I transcribed around seventy-five Lovecraft letters for him, mostly to Frank Belknap Long and Robert E. Howard.

During this period I met a number of the Lovecraft fans in the New York City area, including Scott Briggs, Stefan Dziemianowicz, and Ben P. Indick, who called themselves the New Kalem Club and were in the habit of meeting for dinner about once a month or so. I attended these meetings and later joined the Esoteric Order of Dagon amateur press association, known colloquially as EOD. As you are perhaps aware, Lovecraft was an enthusiastic participant in the amateur press movement. In Lovecraft’s day the amateur press was a launching pad for aspiring writers seeking to hone their craft, receive feedback on their work and ultimately graduate to professional status. It didn’t work all that well, honestly, and Lovecraft himself is probably the greatest success story to come out of the amateur journalism or “ajay” movement. Although Lovecraft stopped publishing his own journal The Conservative when he became a professional, he maintained an interest in and contact with the aspiring writers of the amateur press for the duration of his life, as the first volume of his collected essays, Amateur Journalism, will attest. Likewise, in EOD many of our members are already published authors, so for them it is more of a labor of love than the proving ground it was in Lovecraft’s day.

If I may interrupt – would you say a few words about the EOD?

In the EOD each of roughly 30 members creates a quarterly magazine of Lovecraftian interest. It could contain book or movie reviews, philosophical discourses on Lovecraft’s writings, discussion of projects undertaken and completed, new research done on some aspect of the pulps, or just a “day-in-the-life” snapshot of the affairs of that particular fan. Each person approaches it from his own perspective, and since we are a diverse and international group the mailings are fascinating and wide-ranging in topic. Each prints up enough copies so that each member can have one, then sends them to S.T. Joshi, who holds the post of Official Editor. He is responsible for collating the mailings and distributing them, and running the very minor affairs of dues and submission requirements.

OK, back to founding Hippocampus....

In 1997 I attended my first NecronomiCon in Providence, RI, meeting many more Lovecraft scholars and EOD members. I left energized for much more work in the Lovecraft field. Unfortunately there were hardly any more letters to transcribe so I devoted myself to making my fanzine as good as possible, with mixed results. In 1999, having recently left the academic publisher for personal reasons, I met joined S.T. and Scott Briggs for dinner and during the meal S.T. remarked to me that if I cared to start a small press, he would give me permission to publish his annotated version of the Lovecraft essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature.” Although it was a slow process getting established, and I required a fair amount of exhortation from Joshi to get motivated, I knew it was a unique opportunity. Thus began the process of forming Hippocampus Press.

For those out there who’ve never thumbed through the Monster Manual or Gray’s Anatomy – what is a “hippocampus,” and why did you take it as the name of your press?

A hippocampus has the front end of a horse and the back end of a fish; it is essentially a sea-horse. However, the word can also refer to a part of the brain having to do, roughly speaking, with memory. However, Hippocampus Press takes its name from neither of these! The press name is a shortened version of the name of my Esoteric Order of Dagon amateur press journal (“‘zine”), “Amethystine Hippocampus.” That rather psychedelic moniker is derived from one of Lovecraft’s pet names for Frank Long, which I found during my transcription work. (In an unpublished letter to Long dated 1/8/24, Lovecraft wrote “Pegana knows we need artistick copy for The United Amateur, and that we can’t get enough from our petit amethystine hippocampus!”)

OK, I’ll bite. Why did Lovecraft refer to Long as either a “little purple seahorse” or a “little purple brain?”

It does not seem likely that he was making a reference to the story “The Purple Brain” by Hal K. Wells, since that was not published until 1933 (Astounding Stories of Super-Science, December 1933). Perhaps the idea occurred to Lovecraft while he and Robert H. Barlow were typesetting Long’s book of poetry, The Goblin Tower which contains the couplet “Argent waters check them; now they take the air, Snorting hippogriffins speeding starward there!” Of course a hippogriffin or hippogriff is not quite the same as a hippocampus; one has the front of an eagle and the back end of a horse! Still, I think it has something to do with Long’s poetry. Bookseller Gavin E. Smith, who really offers a fine assortment of books, has given us the following exegesis: “Purple is the color of royalty and brings to mind the color of wine. Wine is associated with drunkenness, and Frank Belknap Long drank alcohol. He also wrote poetry, and among Lovecraft and Long, it was to his ‘grandson’ Long that HPL deferred as a poet, perhaps deeming him more suited to being associated with the color purple than himself. If his verse came from his brain, perhaps this is why he referred to him as little purple brain.”

And your spiderweb logo?

Our spiderweb logo had a separate genesis. My lady friend Anastasia and I were going through my grandfather’s papers some years ago. I called her attention to a letter he had received on stationery bearing what ultimately became our logo. The spiderweb and fly were embossed in gold, but the spider had been done in copper, which over a century has developed an otherworldly green patina. I remarked in the most casual way something like “They just don’t make stationery like that any more.” Some time later Anastasia pilfered the letter from my files and had the die recreated, resurrecting the design from its long dormancy. She then presented me with a set of the stationery, complete with gold and copper embossing, as a Valentine’s Day gift addressed “To the fly in my web.” I was bowled over! In a few days we realized that here was the logo for Hippocampus.

What unique “needs” do you feel are met by Hippocampus Press? Also, what do you consider your essential “mission?”

My primary goal is to do good work in a field I care deeply about. That said, I agree with S.T. Joshi’s appraisal of the three basic needs of the Lovecraft community at this time, as he outlined them in his interview with Acid Logic E-zine:

“…We need a press that can issue affordable books embodying cutting-edge scholarship that will be of interest to Lovecraftians; such books could not be published commercially, because there is not a sufficiently large demand for them. Secondly, a selection of the works that influenced Lovecraft need to be made available, so that people can see how Lovecraft came to be the writer that he was. Thirdly, the work of Lovecraft’s contemporaries (Clark Ashton Smith, R. H. Barlow, and others) is oftentimes neglected, and we hope to bring this work to readers’ attention so they can envision Lovecraft as the nexus of a dynamic literary community of the 1920s and 1930s that produced some of the most distinctive horror and fantasy work in all literary history. But, as I say, many such works are not commercially viable, so a small press like Hippocampus fills a real need.”

How do you go about selecting a work to publish?

For the first couple of years I just picked projects from a list provided me by S.T. Joshi. I can’t think of a better advisor in such matters. Now that I’ve been established for a while, I am in touch with other people who propose projects and some of them interest me, and seem worthy to S.T. and other friends, and to my customers, as determined through polling my mailing list. Sometimes a project just falls in my lap, as in the case of Clark Ashton Smith’s The Sword of Zagan and Other Writings.

So, The Sword of Zagan fell into your lap, eh? Care to elaborate?

Those outside the realm of weird fiction may not be aware of the news that broke like a bombshell last year in the world of Clark Ashton Smith studies. An old friend of Smith’s named Dr. W. C. Farmer surfaced, and in his possession was a treasure-trove of unpublished Smith manuscripts! The cache included a complete short novel, The Sword of Zagan, plus numerous other stories, poems and fragments, largely in the same vein as The Black Diamonds, a previously unpublished Smith novel which Hippocampus released in 2002. There were around 200 manuscript pages. Smith scholar and biographer Scott Connors and his associate Ron Hilger went to Texas to meet Dr. Farmer and begin transcription work last fall, and when they saw the magnitude of this discovery, suggested that I head down there on the double, which I did, blank contract in hand. The book is due out in January 2004.

What message do you want the look and format of your books to convey to readers?

Some firms seem to be evolving toward the hardcover format more or less exclusively, which is not something I aspire to. I see Hippocampus generally sticking to the quality trade paperback format, which is attractive and also affordable – both to us and to our customers. I want the books to be solid, handsome and durable, professionally laid out, and with as much scholarly apparatus (footnotes, line numbers, indices, etc.) as we can reasonably expect our most scholarly patron to need. I try to use original artwork wherever possible. Our first book, Lovecraft’s The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature used Vrest Orton’s line drawing from “The Recluse” in which the essay was first published, and of course The Shadow out of Time: The Corrected Text resurrected Howard V. Brown’s magnificent cover art from that story’s first appearance in Astounding, June 1936. Our forthcoming book of letters between Clark Ashton Smith and George Sterling will include as illustrations the many drawings that Smith created and enclosed in his letters to his mentor Sterling.

Have you ever published a book only to realize you made a monumental mistake in doing so?

I wouldn’t call it a monumental mistake, but our fourth book The Metal Monster by A. Merritt has been a very slow seller, and I do wish I had earlier been aware of the benefits of print on demand technology. I published that book based on its merits – pardon the pun! – and to kick off our Lovecraft’s Library series (works which HPL enjoyed and commented upon), but we really didn’t need 1000 copies of that all at once.

What book would you like to have published that either got away from you, or was published before you started your company?

Certainly I would have enjoyed publishing the reprint of S.T. Joshi’s biography of Lovecraft. However, that massive undertaking might have been too ambitious a project for that time in our evolution as a press. The sheer effort of releasing the first edition of that work seemed to exhaust its original publisher (Necronomicon Press) almost beyond resuscitation. Also, I would have loved to acquire the recently discovered story “Red World of Polaris” by Clark Ashton Smith. Still, having landed other unpublished works by Clark Ashton Smith, and some by Lord Dunsany, and the corrected text of “The Shadow out of Time,” and others, I’ve been extremely fortunate in securing quality titles, and I can’t complain.

I understand the novel by Lord Dunsany was also recently “discovered.” It sounds like there may be a story behind that....

As I understand it, S.T. Joshi was over in Ireland, doing research at Castle Dunsany some years ago and came across the typescript of Lord Dunsany’s last major work, a novel called The Pleasures of a Futuroscope. Despite the rather Golden Age of SF sounding title, it’s not science fiction in the usual sense: no scientists saving the world, no rocket ships, and no aliens. It’s a novel of which I think Arthur Machen would have approved: lyrical, anti-technological, and philosophical. It was written shortly before Lord Dunsany’s death in 1957 and somehow had escaped publication. I have long been an admirer of his Lordship’s writings, and this was too much to pass up. I made my best offer, proposing a limited edition sewn hardcover. This stretched the limits of what I thought we could achieve, since we had previously only done paperbacks. Happily, though, we landed the contract and were able to release the book in October 2003. It is a handsome volume, and is already quite a success.

One of the more unusual of your books is an anthology of poetry by George Sterling, a disciple of Ambrose Bierce and a mentor to Clark Ashton Smith. Although he is little known today, before his suicide, he was one of America’s leading poets – H.L. Mencken claimed he was the “leading contender” for Poet Laureate. What in particular attracted you to this neo-Romantic side of the American poetic tradition? Do you feel a sense of mission to “rejuvenate” Sterling’s image, or to recontextualize his work in some way?

I think that S.T. Joshi, who edited our Sterling collection The Thirst Of Satan, feels just such a sense of mission. He is an ardent supporter of the California scene you mention, having done much notable work on Sterling, Bierce and Mencken. If Sterling is ever to be understood, or is to regain some of his lost stature, a modern collection of his poetry, providing material for study, was necessary. But personally – and I’ll sound like a philistine – I was interested in publishing this book primarily because of Sterling’s relationship to Clark Ashton Smith, and because it would serve as a vehicle for some stunning Virgil Finlay illustrations. Still, in working with the manuscript I became intimately familiar with the poems themselves, and was utterly enraptured. They are of exceeding quality, and Sterling’s work is now of much interest to me, beyond its mere associational value.

You know, the California Romantics aren't completely extinct, either. The poets Donald Sidney-Fryer and Alan Gullette, for instance, continue their tradition and are well worth a look.

You are currently working on an anthology of works by the British aesthete M.P. Shiel. As with Sterling, what in particular attracted you to Shiel, and what significance does he hold in modern literature and/or to your project?

I trust Lovecraft’s taste in weird fiction, and Lovecraft liked Shiel a lot. In fact he even called Shiel’s story “Xélucha” “a noxiously hideous fragment” – high praise indeed! We trust he meant that in a good way! At any rate, this volume, The House of Sounds and Others, will contain all of the Shiel stories which had a major influence on Lovecraft, including the entire novel The Purple Cloud, and as such was an easy choice for inclusion in our Lovecraft’s Library series, which I mentioned earlier. Also, the market is ready, since there hasn’t been a similar collection released since 1975.

In the sprawling and occasionally fractious Lovecraft community, S.T. Joshi is considered to represent the more serious, literary aspects of Lovecraft scholarship. Occasionally, this has caused some controversy, in that he tends to criticize the more frivolous aspects of that community, from Mythos pastiche to Lovecraft role-playing games. Where do you see Hippocampus Press fitting into this spectrum?

I think the “purist” stance is appropriate for S.T. Joshi. Someone’s got to hold the line, and who better? Despite his hardliner image, however, don’t forget that he has done a lot of fine work for the premier Mythos pastiche and game company, Chaosium. Thanks to S.T.’s efforts within that framework, gamers are exposed to excellent editions of important works by Arthur Machen, Robert W. Chambers, Lord Dunsany, and others. I see Chaosium’s classic fiction line as encouraging, if not a revolution, at least some evolution within the ranks of the gamers.

As for where Hippocampus fits into the spectrum, like S.T., I prefer my Lovecraft unadulterated. Still, I think there may be room for quality Mythos writing in our list. We’re going to take a test run at it next year, in fact. Right now we have several projects bubbling in secret which will appeal to the Mythos-buying audience, while still maintaining the highest literary standards.

I very much doubt we’ll get into gaming, however. Chaosium has that all sewn up as far as I can see. I was quite an avid Advanced Dungeons and Dragons player in my youth. I especially enjoyed the old Judges’ Guild modules. I played Gamma World as well, and was even into painting the lead figurines for a while there. I owe a great debt to Chaosium, too, because when I purchased the original “Call of Cthulhu” game in the early 80s, the instruction manual informed me of the existence of Arkham House.

What is the nature of your relationship with the Arkham House and Necronomicon Press?

I am a real fan and longstanding customer of both of those presses. In as fine an example of professional courtesy as I’ve ever encountered, Arkham once linked to us from their homepage! It said essentially, “While you’re waiting for our reissue of Clark Ashton Smith’s A Rendezvous in Averoigne, check out the Clark Ashton Smith poetry collection The Last Oblivion, from Hippocampus Press.” I was thrilled and wrote them a note of thanks, and heard back from April Derleth (daughter of Arkham founder August Derleth) herself, accepting my offer of a reciprocal link.

I have great admiration and enthusiasm for Necropress. There are plenty of excellent Lovecraftian projects out there and more than enough work for both of us to run our presses full time. I view Necropress as the Cthulhu of the small press scene: liable to rouse itself when the stars are right, which I hope they are eventually. But for now, I try and get all the projects I like under contract, against just such an eventuality.

Many Necropress titles are out of print. Do you have Any plans for printing reissues of Necropress publications, such as a compendium of Lovecraft Studies?

We’ve already done a revised and enlarged edition of their 1980 pamphlet Lovecraft’s Library: A Catalogue. I knew there was a high demand for the out-of-print pamphlet. I’m not sure what other Necropress items I’d like to reprint, both because the majority of their stuff is shorter in length than our usual format, plus we have new projects to pursue.

As for the journals, as you may know we published what amount to the most recent issues of the two journals, Studies in Weird Fiction #25 and Lovecraft Studies #42-43. I did those as a favor to S.T. Joshi and Lovecraftians at large, and because I thought it might be fun. I’ve read those journals for a long time. Unfortunately, Necropress didn’t really like me releasing those, and they asked me to stop after those issues, which I have. Since then, they have evidently been trying to release the journals themselves. Maybe I lit a fire under them! At a recent lecture by S.T. Joshi in Providence, Rhode Island there were copies of a Studies in Weird Fiction #26 floating around, the first Necropress publication in several years. Oddly, they haven’t begun to market it yet, but I saw it firsthand. If they’re not able to bring out Lovecraft Studies in a timely fashion, I would consider doing that one as an annual, but I encourage Necropress to get back into action before that becomes necessary.

Arkham House may be past its prime, and Necronomicon Press may never get back into action. However, Night Shade Books is publishing a series of volumes of Lovecraft letters, edited by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz. They are also publishing Lord Dunsany’s “Jorkens” stories, and as you alluded to earlier, they acquired Clark Ashton Smith’s Red World of Polaris – a book you would have liked to publish. What is your relationship to Night Shade Books? Do you see them as your principal “rival?”

First off, I don’t view Arkham House as past it prime. The closer they keep to their roots the more I will probably like their products, because that’s where my taste lies, but whether that is commercially viable for them is another matter entirely. I think their upcoming release of the Selected Letters of Clark Ashton Smith is a very good thing and I hope they continue in that field.

The editor of Night Shade Press, Jason Williams and I maintain a friendly relationship, and there surely aren’t any negative feelings there. Good-natured rivalry can be a healthy thing, I suppose, and we can congratulate one another on our respective successes. For instance, I can say, Nice job landing Red World of Polaris, and he’ll congratulate me on signing Lovecraft’s Collected Essays series. You know, there are plenty of worthy projects to be developed, more than any one press could undertake. Fans benefit with several presses being in operation, and I believe publishers benefit too; one company’s books will increase interest in another’s.

What Hippocampus publications are you the most proud of?

As a company I’d say we should be proud of each of the thirteen books so far. It’s an honor to guide these works through the publication process. We do one book at a time, and the whole team is involved on each project. Our basic team is editor S.T. Joshi, editor and typesetter David E. Schultz, cover designer Barbara Silbert, and me. Speaking personally I’m just grateful to be able to work with such great people on each of the books, because without their efforts there would be no Hippocampus. Each of our books has been a great experience for me.

The first book we did, Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature, was released at a time of great upheaval and change in my life. It’s a miracle that we were able to get that released at all. It took a whole year to do it, but we did it. Then, after the personal storms had passed, I found myself with some great people in my life, and at the helm of a fine little company, and it all helped give me a sense of purpose. I owe everything to the wonderful lady who believed in me and stood by me through many difficulties: Anastasia, whom as I mentioned also gave us our logo.

If Hippocampus Press were suddenly given unlimited funding, what would you like to do in the next few years?

I was going to say stuff like rent more office space, do more advertising, but then I realized it’s unlimited funding. I’d want to foster more study and research into the authors I believe in. Maybe I’d set up a foundation to grow the Lovecraft collection at the John Hay Library, Brown University, the new Clark Ashton Smith collection at the Bancroft Library, UC-Berkeley, and other repositories of such material. That would increase interest in our products, too, so it would pay off in the end. Maybe I’d hire a lot of editors so we could do more books per year. There are so many great projects out there, and at our current rate of six books a year, we’re already committed through 2006. Then I’d propose to Anastasia, marry her, and we’d take a world cruise on board the QE2! I could publish the books via ship to shore radio!

Selected Publications

The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature


Hippocampus Press, 2000, ISBN 0-9673215-0-6; Paperback $15.00. [Browse/Purchase]

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” With those famous words, Lovecraft inaugurated his 1927 critical survey of horror fiction, Supernatural Horror in Literature. Beginning with the ancient Greeks and patiently working his way to the likes of Arthur Machen and Lord Dunsany, Lovecraft’s seminal essay remains one of the most penetrating discussions of literary horror ever published. Edited by S.T. Joshi, this edition includes extensive notes on Lovecraft’s text, bibliographic notes on all the authors he mentions, and a very useful index. Hippocampus’ first publication, it is essential reading for any fan of weird tales, dark fantasy, or supernatural fiction.

The Shadow Out of Time


Hippocampus Press, 2001, ISBN 0-9673215-3-0; Paperback $15.00. [Browse/Purchase]

H.P. Lovecraft’s last major work, “The Shadow Out of Time” is a tale of “cosmic outsideness” – Lovecraft’s phrase for his genre-bending works of science fiction/horror. One of the most sophisticated “Mythos” stories, “Shadow” provides an alternate history for the Earth, populating its distant past with an advanced civilization of beings who colonize the bodies and minds of other races as they range across space and time. Originally published in the June 1936 edition of Astounding Stories, the original manuscript was believed lost, and the published version known to contain numerous errors and textual corruptions. In 1995, Lovecraft’s original manuscript was discovered, and with the help of S.T. Joshi, this authoritative edition was produced. With an introduction and extensive annotations by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, the book also boasts the charming original artwork from the cover of Astounding Stories. Don’t you just want to take one of those cute aliens home with you?

Lovecraft’s Library

Hippocampus Press, 2002, ISBN 0-9673215-7-3; Paperback $15.00. [Browse/Purchase]

A revised and expanded edition of a 1980 pamphlet published by Necronomicon Press, Lovecraft’s Library presents the contents of H.P. Lovecraft’s personal library, from Jacob Abbot’s Xerxes (1878) to John Russell Young’s Around the World with General Grant (1879). The Hippocampus edition includes two indexes and a list of “weird items.” While of interest only to the collector or the obsessive fan, what bibliophile doesn’t dream of having his entire library catalogued, indexed, and commented upon after his death?

The Last Oblivion

Hippocampus Press, 2002, ISBN 0-9673215-7-7; Paperback $15.00. [Browse/Purchase]

A key member of the “Lovecraft circle,” Clark Ashton Smith is best known for his weird tales and stories of epic fantasy. But he was also a poet, and while not as skilled as his mentor George Sterling, he was a much better poet than Lovecraft himself. In this volume, S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz have assembled a collection of Clark’s verse, most of it aligned along themes of fantasy, horror, or the supernatural. Color plates of Smith’s creepy artwork spice up the pages, and the end includes a useful glossary for those who can’t tell their clepsydra from their cockadrill.

The Thirst of Satan

Hippocampus Press, 2003, ISBN 0-9721644-6-4; Paperback $15.00. [Browse/Purchase]

Ambrose Bierce was his mentor, Clark Ashton Smith his devotee, and Jack London his best friend. After leaving his studies for the priesthood, he became known as the “King of San Francisco Bohemians,” and ended his own life by swallowing cyanide. At one point H.L. Mencken suggested him as the next Poet Laureate of the United States. But today, George Sterling is all but forgotten.
In this volume, set with illustrations by Virgil Finlay, S.T. Joshi collects Sterling’s more fantastic poems, from the cosmic verses of “Testimony of the Suns” to dark odes such as “The Black Vulture.” Reading them, it is easy to see why Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti called Sterling “a kind of leashed Swinburne.” His verses are rich, often bordering on decadence, and clearly show the influence of poets such as Swinburne, Poe, and Baudelaire. Although Modernism may have driven a stake through the heart of Romanticism, those who appreciate a good sonnet turned upon macabre themes will find much to enjoy in this volume, despite its lurid cover and somewhat unfortunate title.

The Pleasures of a Futuroscope


Hippocampus Press, 2003, ISBN 0-9721644-8-0; Hardcover $32.95. [Browse/Purchase]

Recently discovered, The Pleasures of a Futuroscope is Lord Dunsany’s last novel, written in 1955 and taking as its subject the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. Its unnamed narrator uses a “futuroscope” – a device found in Dunsany’s earlier works – to peer 500 years ahead into London’s grim future, where he observes the struggle for survival among a race of post-Apocalyptic primitives. Combining a classic adventure story with Dunsany’s mistrust of modern civilization and his near-pagan Luddism, the book is told in long, winding sentences that describe the events from a distance – a device that adds a curious sense of voyeuristic detachment. (In his insightful introduction, Joshi remarks that the narrator’s experience “could be considered the first ‘reality’ show.”) While some readers may find Dunsany’s decidedly old-fashioned prose a bit off-putting, there’s a certain charm to the book that is nevertheless compelling – its cautious, mid-century naïveté is almost nostalgic, an echo from a more innocent era when the bomb was still young.

Collected Essays

Hippocampus Press, 2004-06. [Browse/Order Subscription]

Over the course of 2004-06, Hippocampus will be publishing five volumes of Lovecraft’s essays: Volume I: Amateur Journalism, Volume II: Literary Criticism, Volume III: Travel, Volume IV: Science, and Volume V: Philosophy & Autobiography. Available in three formats, cloth-bound, paperback, or CD-ROM, Hippocampus is offering a discounted subscription through its web site, with delivery of each volume as it is printed.


Hippocampus Press Homepage – The official homepage of Hippocampus Press, where you may explore current publications and explore what’s planned for the future.

Hippocampus Newsletter – Sign up for the Hippocampus Press newsletter at Yahoo Groups.

Interview with S.T. Joshi – Online at Acid Logic, Joshi discusses H.P. Lovecraft, pulp fiction, Hippocampus Press, and doughnuts.

H.P. Lovecraft Scriptorium Page – Joshi’s introduction to Lovecraft at The Modern Word.