Inside the Starry Wisdom Library

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BACKGROUND

Regular readers of my blog are likely aware of my contributions to P.S. Publishing’s Starry Wisdom Library. This unique volume, inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark”, is a facsim

ile auction catalog consisting of lots from the fictitious Church of Starry Wisdom’s extensive library of occult literature. On the book’s official website, editor Nate Pedersen poses these questions:

What if, on the eve of disbanding, the Church of Starry Wisdom organized a rare book auction of the various tomes in their collection? What if the accompanying auction catalogue was privately published and privately circulated, disappearing for over a century until its recent rediscovery in the archives of Miskatonic University? What if we could read the 1877 original today?

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A detail of the block for “She Who Binds the Dead in Chains.”

 

The answers are contained in the pages of The Starry Wisdom Library. Convincingly modeled after an 19th century auction catalog, the book contains descriptions of the most valuable editions in the Church’s library, a collection of forty-four illuminating essays by “learned personages” of occult literature, and a series of six original woodcut illustrations by yours truly.

Enthusiasts of Lovecraft will recognize their favorite Mythos titles—such as “De Vermis Mysteriis,” “Pnakotic Manuscripts,” and the “Necronomicon”—in the summary of lots, each accompanied by a detailed essay from contemporary horror luminaries including Nick Matamas, Molly Tanzer, and Joe Pulver. Interspersed with these scholarly expositions are the half dozen woodcuts created exclusively for The Starry Wisdom Library, depicting characters and creatures both directly and indirectly from Lovecraft’s oeuvre: Tsathoggua devouring human sacrifices, the Scorpion Goddess and her mate Nekhebkau torturing the damned, Xolotl assisting a departed man along his passage into the afterlife, and the King in Yellow beckoning from the shore of Lake Hali. The result is “an enormously valuable and fascinating piece of ephemera detailing the infamous collection of rare occult books in all of its dark and foreboding glory.”

Coloring "El Que Protege El Camino."

Coloring “El Que Protege El Camino.”

REVIEWS

TeleRead user Paul St. John Mackintosh pronounces The Starry Wisdom Library “the weirdest book I’ve read of late, and I say that as a regular reviewer of weird fiction.” He continues, “The quality of the design and production is matched by the attention to detail in the catalog entries, which frame each bizarre imagined history of the volume in question with a persuasively accurate physical description.”

Reviewer David Goudsward agrees: “The book’s graphic design and six large illustrations perfectly evoke the funereal undercurrent of high Victorianism.”

PURCHASE

The Starry Wisdom Library can be purchased directly from P.S. Publishing and retails for £20 (or about US$30.25).

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The Starry Wisdom Library was made possible by the contributions of Scott David Aniolowski, Glynn Barrass, Edward P. Berglund, Allyson Bird, Scott Brents, Jesse Bullington, Ramsey Campbell, Matt Cardin, S.J. Chambers, Michael Cisco, Carrie Cuinn, Gemma Files, Richard Gavin, Christopher Hanson, Daniel Harms, Stephen Graham Jones, John Langan, Andrew Leman, Livia Llewellyn, Nick Matamas, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Edward Morris, Scott Nicolay, Robert M. Price, W.H. Pugmire, Joe Pulver, Pete Rawlik, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Ann K. Schwader, Darrel Schweitzer, Robin Spriggs, Simon Strantzas, Molly Tanzer, Keith Taylor, Karin Tidbeck, Donald Tyson, Genevieve Valentine, Kali Wallace, Kaaron Warren, Don Webb, Jeff Wells, and F. Paul Wilson.

A freshly printed "Tsathoggua" coming off the block.

A freshly printed “Tsathoggua” coming off the block.