Weekly 5 : Five Things to Read Before The Scarlet Gospels

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The Scarlet Gospels is coming out May 19, 2015 (That’s this year!) — only 15 years after Clive Barker first announced it (then a short story) in response to his disappointment with Hellraiser direct-to-video sequel, Hellraiser Inferno.

So we know that both  Harry D’Amour and Pinhead will be featured prominently in the upcoming “Scarlet Gospels” but where do we start to get prepared?  Both these characters feature prominently in stories, movies and comic books, after all.

Like a lot of people, I flipped when I saw that Harry D’Amour was in the new Boom Studios Hellraiser comic.  Could this comic be giving us hints about what’s to come in The Scarlet Gospels?  I’ve been friends with Mark Miller since he started with Seraphim Films, and so I went right to the source and asked him via text message.  March 12, 2012.

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So there you have it!  You only have 5 stories to read.  2 Short stories, one novella and 2 novels.  Let’s jump right in.

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The Last Illusion

The very first Harry D’Amour story.  First published in the UK in Books of Blood Volume 6 (at the end of Cabal in the US).  This story is very different from its film adaptation, Lord of Illusions.  Harry D’Amour is pulled into supernatural events as he has to protect the corpse of Phillip Swan (a magician who made a faustian bargain) from the forces of Hell taking it, and claiming his soul forever.  Swan had insulted Hell, or “The Gulfs” by taking the power they gave him (enough to kill god) and using it to entertain people as a stage magician.  While the movie may not be very faithful to the story, the character of Harry D’Amour is.


Lost Souls

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First published in Time Out Magazine December 1985 issue.  This story was subtitled: “A Christmas Horror Story”.  Yes, this story is available to read on the Internet but to me that always felt like cheating.  I want to own them all.  So you can also find this 1985 story in a compilation (out of print) called “Cutting Edge.”  It has also appeared in Lost Souls issue 0, then in 1999 it appeared in “Dark Detectives” Hardcover and limited editions.  In 2006 it was included in “The British Fantasy Society: A Celebration” trade paperback, and most recently in 2013 “Mammoth Book of Angels and Demons” paperback.

This story establishes Harry D’Amour’s relationship and run-ins with demons and with “The Gulfs” which is the Barkerian phrase for Hell.  While chasing down a demon called Cha’Chat, D’Amour uncovers the rumor of the coming of a messiah.  Plots to kill this in-utero savior come from both the Gulfs and from the Catholic Church as well.

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The Hellbound Heart

First Published in Night Visions Compilation in 1986.  It was only a year before the novella was adapted to Clive Barker’s most famous movie, Hellraiser.  So now that we can expect the continuity to come from the novel, not the movie — Here are a few key differences: Pinhead has jeweled pins in his head, rather than nails, and has an androgynous voice, rather than the deep voice of Doug Bradley.  The world they come from is still mysterious and scary, but don’t expect the diamond leviathan and a labyrinth.

The Hellbound Heart was released in US and UK paperback, and later in 2007  in Hardcover 20th Anniversary Edition by Earthling Press.  Fitting then that there’s going to be a limited edition of Scarlet Gospels by Earthling Press this year.


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The Great and Secret Show

The 1988 Novel doesn’t have our hero detective until the very end, but it does teach us all about something that may be very important, Quiddity, the Ephemeris and the Iad Uroboros.  Why are these things important?  The inclusion of Harry D’Amour means that they exist in his world.  Quiddity is the dream sea that we all visit three times in our lives; the moment we’re born, the first night we sleep with the person we’re in love with, and the night before we die.  The ephemeris are islands in the dream sea, and beyond the dream see is a kind of chaotic terrifying world of the Iad Uroboros.


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Everville (The Second Book of the Art) published in 1994 by Harper Collins is an important one, because Harry D’Amour takes a more prominent position, and the novel attempts to reconcile how Harry comes from a world of the Gulfs, Hell and demons and enters a world of Quiddity.  It turns out the demons have been tricking him, and they are from a place across the dream sea.  Can we reconcile this as easily as Harry D’Amour can?



Honorable Mention:

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The creature employed by Immacolata, known as “The Rake” was a pitiful creature, formerly a man :

“He summoned surgeons from some nether-world.”  Clive is clearly throwing us a little fan service here, but it also means that if he’s referring to the Cenobites, that the Hell isn’t the same place as the hell of the gulfs.


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On Amen’s Shore

You get a little more extra credit for reading this short story, published in Demons and Deviants in 1992.  It’s a story about the the dream sea, and how it connects our world to another parallel world.  No Pinhead or Harry D’Amour, but you get to learn a little more about how the Dream Sea works, and the worlds it connects.

So now we have three Hells (The Gulfs, The world of the Iad Uroboros, and the strange Torture dimension of the cenobites)!  How will these all come together in the Scarlet Gospels?  I can’t wait to find out.  You don’t have to read all these stories to enjoy the upcoming novel, but it might ease the pain of waiting a little.

P.S.  The featured image is from Pinhead Vs. Martial Law.  That is not something you need to read before Scarlet Gospels.  That was both a joke and a red herring.


There are 13 comments

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  1. Robert Ridenour

    Great Weekly Five Ryan!!! Luckily I’ve read all of that stuff in the past few months to be prepared. I’ll have to search down the story for Omen’s Shore though. And it’s funny that you mention the scene out of Weaveworld with the Rake. I’m reading that at the moment and I totally got the nod Barker was going for there. It brought a smile to my face. Can’t wait for the Scarlet Gospels.

  2. Robert Ridenour

    Just read the the section for the ‘D’Amour and the Devil’. And the last two hundred pages. It goes by pretty fast too.

    • Ryan Danhauser

      Hi Shane,

      I’d like to think so, but there aren’t any lines or passages that overtly say so. I’d like to think the In Ovo is also the place beyond the Quiddity where the Iad Uroboros live, or that the Sea of Isabella is connected to the Dream Sea, but he doesn’t go out and say it.

      Clive once told Phil and Sarah Stokes who run his web site, that he had an idea for a book that would connect everything together. Some day we may yet see that.

  3. Jack

    Don’t quote me but I’m pretty sure Barker has said that the Pinhead in ‘The Scarlet Gospels’ is going to be Doug Bradley’s version over the androgynous jeweled one from the original novella.

    • Ryan Danhauser

      Welcome Jack,

      That’s interesting. If you ever find that quote, we’d love to see it. That seems to fit with Clive’s saying that he wanted to say goodbye to Pinhead.

  4. Jack

    I suppose this is kind of vague but I think at minimum his comments in the latter indicate Bradley is what he thinks of when he sees the character.

    “And one of the interesting things I’m playing with in this text is, I’m playing with a character that everybody’s familiar with. Mostly people are familiar not from the words, and so I’m very aware when I bring this man on the page that he trails movies with him, that it’s his movie reputation that he brings on stage, on the page with him.””

    “Scarlet Gospels is a bloody big book. I have done three drafts on it, each one of which has been 4,000 pages of handwritten material. This is a very dark book, even by my standards, and I wanted it to be my definitive visit to Hell. I also wanted it to be my farewell to what I will always think of as Doug’s Pinhead. Whenever I bring the character to mind, it’s Doug’s face I see.”

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