At the age of 11, William Hope Hodgson scared the living daylights out of me with his otherworldly, night-dwelling creatures, the swine things, from The House on the Borderland. Every time I would look at a window at night I couldn’t help but imagine the squinting eyes of a swine thing staring in at me. This short story from Hodgson, Demons of the Sea, narrated by Mark Saintonge, describes an encounter at sea with an entirely different breed of creatures, equally malign and thoroughly repugnant in their own way.
Over a lifespan cut short at 40 years by an artillery shell in World War I, William Hope Hodgson creating numerous novels, short stories, and essays, often delving into a genre sometimes called fantastic fiction (a blend of fantasy, science fiction, and what today is generally called magical realism). Many of his works are set at sea, building on experiences that Hodgson gained as a sailor during his early years. His work achieved critical acclaim, but he struggled to make a living over his lifetime. His literary estate was kept alive by his wife, Bessie, and his work has influenced a number of modern writers, including Gene Wolfe, Greg Bear, China Miéville, and Elizabeth Massie.