I’ve seen Frank Belknap Long’s name in books and magazines countless times over the decades, but I’ve read very little by him. The title of his story “The Hounds of Tindalos” sounded familiar to me, so I decided to give it a try. It was published originally in the March 1929 issue of WEIRD TALES, reprinted in the July 1937 issue of WT, in AVON FANTASY READER #16 in 1951, and in many collections and anthologies since then. I read it in THE CTHULHU MYTHOS MEGAPACK, an e-book anthology published by Wildside Press.
I’m not well versed enough in all the Mythos stuff to know exactly how “The
Hounds of Tindalos” is connected to Lovecraft’s work, so I read it as I would
any other yarn, looking to be entertained. And I was. It’s the tale of Frank
Chalmers, a student of the occult who is convinced that through a combination
of drugs and mathematics that he can see into both the past and the future. He
enlists the aid of a friend of his, the narrator of the story, who is supposed
to pull him out of his drug-induced trance if things start to go wrong.
Well, don’t things always go wrong in stories like this? There are things man was not meant to know, after all, and when you stare into the abyss, be careful that the abyss doesn’t stare back at you. (Hint: It always does.) So when Chalmers discovers cosmic horrors beyon his ken, those horrors discover him, as well, and decide to follow him back to our earth.
I can see where this is a Lovecraftian story, but Long spins his yarn with a lot more dialogue and narrative drive than the Lovecraft stories I’ve read so far, but also without the really creepy style at which Lovecraft was so skilled. As a result, “The Hounds of Tindalos” is faster and more fun but lacks some of the impact of Lovecraft’s tales. I enjoyed it quite a bit anyway and am glad I read it.
I do have a very indirect connection with Frank Belknap Long. In the Sixties and Seventies, he worked for Leo Margulies’ Renown Publications and was the associate editor of MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE for quite a while. Not while I was selling to MSMM, however. Sam Merwin Jr. came in to run the magazine a few years before I started submitting stories there, but if I’d gotten around to it a little earlier, I might have gotten rejection slips from Long, too.