A Night in the Lonesome October. A Night in the Lonesome October. By Roger Zelazny, Illustrated by Gahan Wilson. Rediscovered Classics. FICTION. When I encountered this line for the first time, on page 2 of Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October, I cracked up. I didn’t get the line’s. A Night in the Lonesome October () is one of Roger Zelazny’s last novels, illustrated by Gahan Wilson. In an October in the late 19th century, a small .

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Part of the enjoyment of A Night in the Lonesome October comes zelaznny recognizing obvious characters and puzzling over the identities of the elusive ones. Then upon re-reading the novel last year, I became determined to identify everyone. When I stumbled upon the connection to Virginia Woolf a writer whose works Zelazny admiredI knew that I had a new essay to write. But the identity game may never end.

Only Zelazny knew for certain who was who or did he? Some readers may dispute my conclusions and others may not want help unmasking the characters. And what better place for it than an issue of Lovecraft eZine that is offered in tribute to the novel and the author? And he proceeded to tell me the story of how a number of the proper rober are attracted to the proper place in the proper year on a night in the lonesome October when the moon shines full on Halloween and the way may be opened for the return of the Elder Gods to Earth, and of how some of these people would assist in the opening of the way for them while others would strive to keep the way closed.

For ages, the closers have won, often just barely, and there were stories of a shadowy man, half-mad, a killer, a wanderer, and his dog, who always showed up to attempt the closing. He conceived it in as a story to be illustrated by Gahan Wilson but abandoned it when Wilson declared that he was too busy to participate. Wilson did the illustrations, including a portrayal of Zelazny as Holmes and Wilson as Watson on the back of the dustjacket.

This is a difficult novel to summarize without giving too much away: And yet it has a subtlety that may be overlooked by the casual reader as Zelazny drops literary references which provide additional insights into what is really going on. The novel consists of a prologue followed by diary entries for each of the 31 days of October. A cult tradition has evolved to re-read the book each October, a chapter a day, and to attempt to deduce the identities of the tantalizingly familiar characters.

For the book is rich with borrowed characters from real life and classics of literature and screen.

Some are obvious, but others are not. The skies they were ashen and sober; The leaves they were crisped and sere— The leaves they were withering and sere; It was night in the lonesome October Of my most immemorial year…. The poem lends appropriate atmosphere to what follows. Zelazny loved B movies, and so there are probably many unnameable and forgettable films receiving a nod.

Zelazny specifies one movie by mentioning Larry Talbot c. Chambers incorporated the ruins of Carcosa into his book of stories The King in Yellowand in turn Lovecraft later added it to his Cthulhu mythos.

A Night in the Lonesome October – Zelazny Roger

Halloween fits the timeline of Sherlock Holmes and Jack octobre Ripper, although is when the notorious murders attributed to Jack occurred in the Whitechapel district of London. The main characters of the novel consist of lonesomme Players as well as their familiars, animals which can talk to each other and to w masters nighr one hour after every midnight. His owner Jack possesses and is sometimes possessed by a cursed knife blade.

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Jack is, of course, Jack the Ripper, who terrorized London in the autumn of by slaying women with a knife and mutilating their bodies afterward. In this novel, Jack needs certain body parts—ingredients—for potions and tools that will help him ngiht the Gateway shut. In true Zelazny fashion, Jack may be more than he seems, a long-lived or immortal being.

Zleazny and Jack twice refer to troubles at an earlier ritual enacted in Dijon, France. Together with Jack, her name enables a pun that is not voiced lonesoms the end when she accompanies Jack up the sloping terrain. Morris and MacCab are a pair of grave robbers who steal body parts as tools to use in the final ritual. They are based on real-life William Burke and William Hare who, during the s in Edinburgh, operated as serial killers and grave robbers body snatchersand sold the corpses to the medical school.

Also, given his penchant for old movies, Zelazny may have based the characters not on Burke and Hare directly but instead on the film The Body Snatcher which starred Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Larry Talbot is a werewolf who cultivates and talks to exotic plants; until the end of the novel it is not clear whether he is a Player or not.

Larry Talbot was the lycanthrope in the film The Wolf Man. Moreover the film Werewolf in London mentioned a mariphasa plant which is an antidote to lycanthropy, and this is likely the plant that Zelazny has Talbot use.

Zelazny portrays Rastov as an alcoholic with the snake Quicklime sometimes living in his belly. This is a reference to unproven assertions that Rasputin practiced mithridatism, which involved consuming low doses of snake poison in order to become resistant to assassination attempts. The name Quicklime is appropriate zelzzny a novel that is frequently beset with rotting corpses, body parts, and blood. Calcium oxide quicklime has been frequently portrayed in B films as a substance that will hasten decomposition of corpses when in fact it helps preserve them.

Its main use is to obscure the smell of decay.

Are you ready for a night in the lonesome October?

Owen is described as a druid who harvests mistletoe and bears a sickle as his power rune. That his familiar is a squirrel may allude to the Norse legend of Ratatoskr, a messenger squirrel who runs up and down the world tree Yggdrasil.

The Vicar Roberts tries to kill other Players with his crossbow and bears an old pentacle bowl, a powerful tool to be used in the final ritual. He plans to murder his stepdaughter Lynette in a ritual sacrifice that will increase his power to open the Gateway.

He possesses a ring of power and that his familiar is a bat is not surprising. Frankenstein and the monster that he assembles from body parts and shocks into life. Bubo is a wannabe imposter whose name refers to the swollen groin glands that are caused by the Black Death, a disease transmitted by fleas that can be carried by rats. Some readers have asserted that Good Doctor refers to Isaac Asimov.

The confusion probably arises among people who mistakenly believe that Frankenstein refers to the monster and not his creator.


The Good Doctor is Dr. As far as we know, Dr. Asimov stuck to his typewriter and never created any monsters from used body parts. They spend the novel trying to determine what is going on with Watson suffering injuries such as being nipped on the leg lonesomee Snuffand end up assisting Snuff and Jack at the climax.

Zelazny portrays a Holmes who outdoes himself with exceptional disguises. He not only becomes the woman Linda Enderby but transforms himself into a werewolf in order to help save Lynette and the world at the end.

He also deduces that Snuff is intelligent and capable of speech. Three unnamed vivisectionists begin to torture the narrator Snuff before he is rescued and Jack eliminates them. I will not have them misread by a poseur!

The descriptions of the three vivisectionists are somewhat reminiscent of the Three Stooges: One of the characters grabs Snuff by the ear and twists it painfully. However, these three characters speak in broad, low-class British accents whereas the Three Stooges were American.

The dedication implies that Snuff owes inspiration to Chum, Buff, and other dogs in the stories of Albert Payson Terhune. But in a late chapter several literally dropped clues reveal a more important inspiration for him. Snuff is saved from the vivisectionists, and shortly thereafter he and Jack are attacked at home. Let me count the ways. Both were involved in protests against vivisection during that era.

The biography is said to work on three levels: Snuff and Flush share similar short names which are also action verbs. Harper, David, and Lynn Marie Stockman.

A Night in the Lonesome October – Wikipedia

Halloween Blue Moons Art Versus Craft in Writing. In the daytime Kovacs is an Endocrinologist specialist in diseases involving glands and hormones and an academic clinician scientist who studies bone metabolism. He lives in Paradise, Newfoundland, Canada. Copiously researched and your conclusions exhaustively supported.

Really enjoyed this piece. Thanks for the kind words. Patterns and Allusions in The Chronicles of Amber. I thought this essay justified the price of a Kindle copy of issue 18 all by itself! Just said so on Goodreads, too. Thanks for sharing it with Lovecraft eZine readers. Thanks for the comment. He died in Albert succeeded Victoria upon her death in But no doubt I could be mistaken. My favorite poet Edna St. Thanks for commenting and pointing out the line from your favorite poet.

Is there a forum for Zelazny fans somewhere for questions like this? You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email.

A Night in the Lonesome October

Notify me of new posts via email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Octobeer how your comment data is processed. An essay by Dr. About the essay, in his own words: The skies they were ashen and sober; The leaves they were crisped and sere— The leaves they were withering and sere; It was night in the lonesome October Of zelazhy most immemorial year… The poem lends appropriate atmosphere to what follows. So who are they?

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