I agree that 'The Alchemist' clearly is a juvenile story (i.e. the narrative technique isn't fleshed out yet and contains numeral 'mistakes') and also that at least the first paragraph consists of nice evocative sentences. I was curious what S.T. Joshi had to say about this tale, so I looked it up in his 'The Weird Tale'. He's actually quiet positive about this story because of how Lovecraft handles the supernatural in a (according to him) innovative way: first the 'typical' supernatural explanation seems to be a familiy curse (so, sorcery), but then the typical HPL-way of wanting to use a natural explanation causes the solution of a living human being, killing the aristocratic scions. Then, Joshi explains, Lovecraft puts the supernatural back in by having this alchemist to prolong his life unnaturally. I myself think that this latter was way to obvious in the tale (but yes, Lovecraft still had to learn better story telling techniques). On the other hand Joshi's take on it in itself (as a new way of approaching the supernatural) is interesting. He also points at the typical Lovecraftian archetype of 'the very old man' which has its starting point in this tale (and indeed he has given one of his tales the name 'The Terrible Old Man'). I think this is something to go back to when discussing other HPL tales, like 'The Picture in the House' or 'Cool Air'.
Trying to decide which Wolfe short story collection to buy: The Best of Gene Wolfe or The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories (or another one, I think I saw at least one more available on my Nook). I already own The Fifth Head of Cerberu s (all three novellas), so I don't need that included. I'm currently listening to the podcasts about The Death of Doctor Island . Recommendations? Pro or con?
I think there has to be something more sinister going on ashore. The robotics technician is pretty obviously murdered. How does someone cut his wrists "almost to the bone" and then hang himself or vice-versa? Missing the big drop-off in the canyon could be explained as a genuine error, a recent tectonic event (though you think someone would mention that), or deliberate lying by the administrator. Maybe I've been too well trained by the last four years to take anything at face value. Could Jacova Angevine's book's title Waking Leviathan be a reference to the power of the state, related to Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan ? Several parts of this story talk about state and non-state power like nuclear weapons.