Portrait of author William Hope Hodgson.

British author William Hope Hodgson, the son of a minister, spent his part of early life at sea, though he did not remain there. He was killed in World War I.

He wrote horror, occult detective stories, sea stories, science fiction, and poetry, among other things. His science fiction, horror, and occult detective stories have a unifying underlying cosmology.

Speculative Fiction

Mr. Hodgson's speculative fiction includes:

  • The House on the Borderland — A science fiction novel containing the fullest explication of his fictional cosmology.
  • The Night Land — a voluminous work of science fiction about the far future, written in a pseudo-archaic style.
  • Carnacki the Ghost-Finder stories — a series of short stories involving an occult detective.
  • Sea horror stories of varying length, like The Boats of the Glen Carrig and "A Voice in the Night."
  • Assorted other horror stories.

Reading Mr. Hodgson's Work

If you like H.P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood's "The Willows," or Robert W. Chambers' The King in Yellow, you might like Mr. Hodgson's speculative fiction.

I recommend that you start with any of his sea horror stories, or The House on the Borderland. If you like those, you might like The Night Land.

The Night Land is a strange, flawed, and brilliant book. My suggestions for reading it are:

  1. Start it. If you can't abide the first chapter, skip to the second. Reading the first chapter gives a feeling of depth to the rest of the book. But the rest of the book can be read without it.
  2. If you like Mr. Hodgson's other works, but you can't stand The Night Land's presentation even after you get to the second chapter, try James Stoddard's The Night Land: A Story Retold. This modernizes the language and approach, while keeping to the original story. The cost of modernization is that you lose the atmosphere created by Mr. Hodgson's odd pseudo-archaic language.

© 2015 by Kate Coady.