Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mastermind Of Horror

Published in 1965, this collection is Fontana paperback’s second attempt to reinvent H.G. Wells as a horror writer; the first was The Valley of Spiders. Mind you, with ‘The Cone’ they definitely had a point:

He clung, crying, to the chain, pulling himself up from the burning of the cone . . . A rush of suffocating gas whooped up at him and when the momentary red had passed . . . there was a charred, blackened figure, its head streaked with blood, clutching and fumbling at the chain - and writhing in agony . . .

This vividly nasty little squib about revenge and a blast furnace really spooked me when I first encountered it, age 11, in one of the green-backed volumes of the Everyman edition of Wells’s work. Not only because Wells describes the torment of the furnace owner’s rival with an almost indecent relish, but also because I happened to live next door to a small iron foundry, and never again could look at its smelter with the same innocence.


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