I’ve come up with an analogy that sums up my feelings about author Frank Belknap Long. If H.P. Lovecraft and C.L. Moore are AMC or FX, if Robert E. Howard is HBO, if Frank Herbert or Dan Simmons are PBS, then Frank Belknap Long is CBS. There’s nothing wrong with his writing. He was competent. He was prolific. Occasionally, he even had some interesting ideas. But he was not exciting, challenging, or great. Reading story after story from Long, I can’t help but think of him as a filler writer, the guy whose story rounds out an issue of Weird Tales when there were a few pages left to fill.
With The Hounds of Tindalos, Long himself takes us on a guided tour of his early work. It is occasionally interesting to read the author’s thoughts on his stories, where he was in his career or what inspired him. More often than not, his introductions read like his stories…bland.
There were a couple highlights. The most obvious one is the titular story, The Hounds of Tindalos, which will likely keep his name in the Lovecraftian cosmos for all eternity. While it has a couple wonky bits, it’s a great story. The Space Eaters and Step into my Garden both feature some good ideas, but neither rises to the level of great story. The rest is filler. An anthology of filler from a filler writer.