Weekly 5 : Five Things to Read Before The Scarlet Gospels
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.