Frank Belknap Long, Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, and E. Hoffman Price were all part of the famous Lovecraft Circle. They all experimented with Lovecraftian-style stories before finding their own voices and moving on to other things. Yet much of Long's later writing was routine space opera and formula romances. His early stories, oddly enough, are among his best.
In 1946, Arkham House published a collection of twenty-one supernatural and science fiction stories by Frank Belknap Long called _The Hounds of Tindalos_, along with a lovely cover by Hannes Bok depicting one of these angular monsters. Later paperback collections dropped three stories and split the remainder into two parts: _The Hounds of Tindalos_ (1963) and _The Dark Beasts_ (1964). This book is the 1963 paperback, consisting of nine stories published between 1928 and 1945. Four of the stories are from _Weird Tales_, four from _Unknown_, and one from _Thrilling Wonder Stories_.
While Long often drew directly from Lovecraft for the basic ideas for his tales, there are some differences. Long's stories tend to have a beginning, a middle, and an end-- as opposed to Lovecraft's tales that are often little more than extended beginings. Also, Long's style of writing tends to be crisper, clearer, and more modern. There is one exception. In "The Black Druid," the style seems to be Lovecraftian to the point of parody:
It is true that Mr. Benefield was, in some respects, an odd-looking man. His hair was absurdly long and it descended upon his forehead in a circular, antiquated bang; his hat was two sizes too small for his immoderately large head-- a brachycephalic head, although he boasted twenty generations of Saxon forebears-- and his socks, which his wife had purchased for him, were of heavy wool, and unsupported by garters they bulged above his shoes like the elephantine folds on the torso of an Abyssinian eunuch. (27)
If Mr. Benefield seems to be a touch Lovecraftian, there is a much more direct connection in a chiller called "The Space Eaters". The narrator is named Frank, and his friend is a writer of horror stories named Howard who once recieved "precisely three hundred and ten letters of indignation from local readers when [his story] appeared in the _Partridgeville Gazette_" (36). He is obsessed with the idea of a horror "that is utterly unearthly" (39), that comes from another dimension, and that cannot be percieved but which "_can eat [its] way to us from space_" (39). And by George, wouldn't you know it... Something does. Other tales of extradimensional horrors of this sort are "The Peeper," about a keyhole columnist from the Other Side and "The Hounds of Tindalos," about some very determined creatures from the world of non-Euclidian geometry who like to hunt down time travelors.
Two stories are a bit on the science fictional side. They are "Dark Vision," about the man who undergoes an electric shock and suddenly begins to see the worst in other people; and "Golden Child," a kid's-eye romp with fantastic creatures amongst the canals of Mars. There remain two pieces from _Unknown_-- "Grab Bags Are Dangerous" and "The Elemental"-- about two magical items that give more than the owners wanted. Like "Golden Child," they are good fun.
Several stories in this collection refer to Dr. John Dee. Dr. Dee was a real-life alchemist who lived during the time of Queen Elizabeth. He was part charlatan and part legitimate scientist. He ordered that the most up-to-date and accurate maps be placed in all ships in the English Navy-- which gave that country the edge in maritime affairs for years to come. I was glad to see his name evoked to help defeat a formidable monster. All in all, a good collection of stories. Nothing classic, but certainly solid entertainment.