The Voice In The Night by William Hope Hodgson

July 28, 2012
Filed under: Online Audio 

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If you want some idea as to what William Hope Hodgson’s short story, The Voice In The Night, is about first think of Samuel Taylor Cooleridge’s The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.

Then imagine it told at night.

Now collapse that imagined story down to a simple love story.

Let it shiver, pulse, and flow.

Add in a white mist, legions of creeping sporelings, and now imagine all that as if it was written by H.P. Lovecraft.

Now you have an idea.

SF historian Sam Moskowitz, in his introduction to it in Science Fiction By Gaslight, had some high praise for William Hope Hodgson and The Voice In The Night.

“Of the dozens of authors who wrote science fiction by gaslight, Hodgson is one of the very few a portion of whose work will endure … Within the limited range of mounting and sustaining a peak of unrequited horror, [he] achieved heights of genius.”

I’m not sure that this horror tale is going to make you think it’s SF. That’s not what I thought of when I heard it. But Moskowitz is right.

It also, I think, ably demonstrates that horror need not involve a hint violence. That said, The Voice In The Night does have violation in the form of the bloodless monster of the natural world. Others have called it a “minor classic” and I agree, it goes into the sublimely creepy depths of horror.

“Mr. Hodgson is perhaps second only to Algernon Blackwood in his serious treatment of unreality. Few can equal him in adumbrating the nearness of nameless forces and monstrous besieging entities through casual hints and insignificant details, or in conveying feelings of the spectral and the abnormal” – H.P. Lovecraft – from Supernatural Horror In Literature

LibriVoxThe Voice In The Night
By William Hope Hodgson; Read by James Christopher
1 |MP3| – Approx. 27 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: July 11, 2009
A fisherman aboard a ship caught in the doldrums of the North Pacific, on night watch in a fog-bank, hears a voice call out from the sea. The voice asks for food, but it insists it can come no closer, that it fears the light, and that God is merciful. In payment for the food it tells a tale more frightening than any I’ve ever heard around a campfire. First published in the November 1907 issue of Blue Book Magazine.

PseudopodPseudopod 250: The Voice In The Night
By William Hope Hodgson; Read by Wilson Fowlie
1 |MP3| – Approx. 39 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Pseudopod
Podcast: October 7, 2011
A fisherman aboard a ship caught in the doldrums of the North Pacific, on night watch in a fog-bank, hears a voice call out from the sea. The voice asks for food, but it insists it can come no closer, that it fears the light, and that God is merciful. In payment for the food it tells a tale more frightening than any I’ve ever heard around a campfire. First published in the November 1907 issue of Blue Book Magazine.

Tales To TerrifyTales To Terrify No. 29: The Voice In The Night
By William Hope Hodgson; Read by Lawrence Santoro
1 |MP3| – Approx. 50 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Tales To Terrify
Podcast: July 26, 2012
A fisherman aboard a ship caught in the doldrums of the North Pacific, on night watch in a fog-bank, hears a voice call out from the sea. The voice asks for food, but it insists it can come no closer, that it fears the light, and that God is merciful. In payment for the food it tells a tale more frightening than any I’ve ever heard around a campfire. First published in the November 1907 issue of Blue Book Magazine.

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Illustration by Franz Altschuler for it’s appearance in Playboy, July 1954:
The Voice In The Night by William Hope Hodgson - Illustrated by Franz Altschuler in Playboy, July 1954

Posted by Jesse Willis

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