There Shall Be No Darkness

Twelve years ago I cited James Blish’s “There Shall Be No Darkness” as the best werewolf short fiction bar none, but unlike the quite unrelated Lovecraftian tale “Than Curse The Darkness,” I couldn’t find TSBND online to post or excerpt here.

Now that’s changed. Full text at the link; the story begins at page 6. I’ve excerpted the first third of the novella in images below the fold, as well, to whet your appetite.

I love everything about this story: the drawing-room mystery in the donjon-like Scottish manor house, melting the Mexican silver into slugs in a kitchen crucible, the “American T-47” automatic rifles, obviously M-16 analogues (circa 1952, mind) — or perhaps they were meant to be the AK-47, “discovered” by the West in ’53. And of course the delightful endocrinology angle. The miracle of the internet means single movements of obscure pieces like “the Wolf’s Glen scene from von Weber’s Der Freischuetz” can enhance the mood, and references such as “that panel on the Isenheim Altar that showed the Temptation of St. Anthony” can be, well, referenced. It is the thinking man’s werewolf story.

And of course, the tale can also be enjoyed as a parable with all sorts of meaning in the light of the global cultural, political, or institutional destabilization of your choice. I like thinking of the character Foote as representing the cranky artiste types found in each century; sensitive to the zeitgeist, they presciently warn the elites of the coming danger, but are no more than impotent voyeurs as events progress and it all comes crashing down anyway.

A few nights ago, with the wind howling in a rare California thunder-and-hailstorm, I decided to reread TSBND in front of a roaring fire, with a glass of Ardbeg Uigeadail and a nice Davidoff cigar. The addition of von Weber’s weird piece made for a spooky backdrop indeed; happily my Kit Gun’s still snug in its case somewhere nearby.

Enjoy.

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