How I Spent November 2022

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Well, this was the month when my new employment situation finally caught up with me. I was busy, but not with my creative projects. I’m hoping to make up for lost time over the remainder of the year.

Articles published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for December and beyond:

December22

Werewolf Wednesday: Jean Grenier on Trial (1610)

LaConference

The seventeenth-century werewolf Jean Grenier has turned up a few times in this series, but always in second-hand accounts. I thought it was time I put the spotlight on a historical text that covers his case: La conférence du droict francois avec le droict remain, published in 1610. Any translation errors in the below summary are mine.

The document describes an incident from May 1603 in which a court hears about a series of gruesome infanticides that a boy named Jean Grenier claims to have committed in the form of a wolf.

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Should the Dragon Awards Introduce a Porno Category?

A recent turn of events persuaded me that the Dragon Awards should introduce a category for Best Pornographic Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror Novel. Before I go on, though, I should probably establish what the Dragon Awards are (they’re an SF/F prize handed out annually at Dragon Con and voted on via a free online poll) and just which events led me to my conclusion…

Until recently the Dragons had seven book categories, ranging from big genres (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, YA/Middle Grade) to rather more niche areas (Alternate History, Media Tie-In, Military Science Fiction and Fantasy). But just this month the Dragons announced a shake-up ready for next year’s awards. A new category, Best Illustrative Book Cover, will be introduced; the game categories have been mashed into one another (so Best Mobile Game and Best PC/Console Game are now conjoined as Best Digital Game and so forth), as have the comic categories; and two book categories — Best Media Tie-In and Best Military Science Fiction/Fantasy — have been dropped altogether.

Not everyone is happy with these changes. Or, more accurately, with that last change.

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Werewolf Wednesday: Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal on Lycanthropy (1849)

Sergent-Bertrand-vampire

The below article, entitled “Lycanthropy”, comes from the August 25 1849 edition of Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal. The piece treats werewolves as a western equivalent to the ghouls of the Arabian Nights, and suggests that tales of vampires, werewolves and ghouls stem from a single psychological source. In making this argument, the author discusses the familiar rogues’ gallery of alleged vampire Arnold Paole, alleged werewolf Jean Grenier and probable necrophile François Bertrand, the last of these being the main case study.

The article is an example of how broad the concept of clinical lycanthropy was during the nineteenth century. Today, the term is used in a stricter sense to refer to people who believe that they have the ability to transform into animals. As this article shows, however, the concept was once associated with a broader range of bestial compulsions. Had Bertrand’s corpse-violating crimes taken place today, then he would likely be described as ghoulish; I can also imagine tabloids likening him to a vampire, given his fondness for cemeteries and coffins. But I rather doubt that people would equate him with a werewolf.


WHOEVER has read the ‘Arabian Nights’ Entertainments’ will be acquainted with the words goul and vampyre. A goal was believed to be a being in the human form, who frequented graveyards and cemeteries, where it disinterred, tore to pieces, and devoured the bodies buried there. A vampyre was a dead person, who came out of his grave at night to suck the blood of the living, and whoever was so sucked became a vampyre in his turn when he died.

Both these persuasions have been rejected by the modern scientific world as altogether unworthy of credence or inquiry, although, about a century ago, the exploits of vampyres created such a sensation in Ilungary, that they reached the ears of Louis XV, who directed his minister at Vienna to report upon them. In a newspaper of that period there appeared a paragraph to the effect that Arnold Paul, a native of Madveiga, being crushed to death by a wagon, and buried, had since become a vampyre, and that he had himself been previously bitten by one.

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Sacrament by Steve Stred (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)

Cover of Sacrament by Steve Stred

Sacrament is the third instalment of Steve Stred’s Father of Lies sequence, the first novellas being Ritual and Communion (a fourth story, the short “Eucharist”, was subsequently included in the omnibus edition). The villain of the series is Father, a cult leader who has made communion with demons and transformed into a distorted goat-legged being – “A dark God from the cosmos in the flesh!” His desire is to grasp Abaddon’s Box so that he can open the Black Heavens and obtain immortality alongside his faithful flock. “And to think”, says Father to his acolytes, “some of you doubted me!”

Opposing Father is Professor Bianchi, whose family has been blighted by the evil priest’s machinations. His father Adam, who lost his legs to the cult, is so filled with rage that he refuses to let his son refer to him as “Father”, the word having been tainted by the evil priest. Bianchi’s mother, having been used by the priest as a broodmare, is in an even worse state:

She lay exposed on the bed, naked and weathered. Her one human leg had wasted away, now pushed awkwardly under her animal appendage. The two pronged hoof shifted subtly […] The wrinkles and folds of her abdomen weren’t enough to hide the jagged scar that went from hip to hip, the gloating reminder of the child Father had cut forth from her in one of his failed ritual attempts. Her formerly large breasts were now hanging over her ribs, the deflated fatty sacs of flesh and nipple resting in the crook of her elbows. Her arms bent slightly so that the dried corpse of a fetus was cradled in her hands.

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Werewolf Wednesday: Notes on Lycanthropy (1802)

WilliamWerewolf

The August 1802 edition of The Scots Magazine includes a letter on the topic of lycanthropy. Although the author makes early digressions into the Lazzaroni of Naples (I’m unfamiliar as to this area of werewolf folklore) and Ethiopian were-hyenas, the general focus is on British werewolves.


Sir,

Among the popular superstitions of Scotland, there seems to have been one, the traces of which are now almost obliterated, the origin of which might be a subject of curious and entertaining discussion. Lycanthropy, or the belief of the occasional transformation of magicians, and sometimes of other persons by the power of magicians, seems formerly to have been very extensively diffused.

In Germany, the belief was at one time quite current, and is alluded to by various authors. Among the Lazzaroni of Naples, the manners of whom have too much verisimilitude to the idea, this transformation was very recently believed. [James] Bruce found a similar notion prevalent in Abyssinia; and relates that the inhabitants of Gondar imagined the hyænas that infested their streets by night, and were accustomed to prey on mangled carcasses, were individuals of the Jewish tribes of Samen, transformed into the shape of that ferocious animal.

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Midnight in the City of the Carrion Kid by James C. Carlson (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)

MidnightintheCityCarrion

When it begins, Midnight in the City of the Carrion Kid gives little indication of just how bizarre it will eventually become. When we are introduced to heroin addict Alistair, his girlfriend Eden and his dealer Angel – and the characters’ dialogue points out to us the irony of people involved with the drugs trade having names like “Eden” and “Angel” – it threatens to be no more than a heavy-handed jaunt through inner-city squalor. As it transpires, however, this opening sequence is Dorothy’s Kansas, and there is an extremely twisted Oz in store for us.

After passing out from his latest fix, Alistair regains his senses to find that Eden has gone missing. When he goes looking for her, he runs into a band of monstrous nuns:

Peering from the nuns’ black veils are the pale, grotesque visages of nightmares. One has Saint Christopher medals lodged in the ravaged cavities that once housed her eyes. In her right hand, she clutches the wooden handle of a rusty-headed hammer. Beside her, the lidless, shriveled eyes of an especially twitchy nun stare dryly from her head. The corners of her mouth have been carved upward into a permanent smiling wound. In each bloody hand, she wields a sizable shard of glass like a deadly transparent dagger. The next noun looks as though her face has been crudely molded out of clay but never given features.

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Werewolf Wednesday: Glossographia (1656)

Peter Stubbe

This week’s snippet of werewolf history comes from Thomas Blount’s Glossographia, an early dictionary published in 1656. Besides The Damnable Life and Death of Stubbe Peeter (1590) the Glossographia is the earliest text I’ve covered for this series, and it specifically mentions the Stubbe Peter/Peter Stumpp case in its entry on the word “Werewolf”:

Werewolf or Were-wolf (were in the old Sax. was sometimes used for man) this name remains still known in the Teutonick, and is as much as to say Man-wolf; which is a certain Sorcerer, who having anointed his body with an Ointment, made by instinct of the Devil, and putting on a certain inchanted Girdle, does not only to the view of others, seen as a Wolf, but to his own thinking, hath both the shape and nature of a Wolf, so long as he wears the said Girdle, and accordingly worries and kills humane creatures. Of these sundry have been taken in Germany, and the Netherlands. One Peter Stump, for being a Were-wolf and having killed Thirteen Children, Two Women, and One Man, was at Bedhur, not far from Cullen, in the year of 1859 [sic], put to a very terrible death.

The year given for Stumpp’s execution is an obvious typo: he was killed in 1589, not 1859.

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