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Beneath the surface of the earth Until now their only form of nourishment had been a strange hallucinogenic grain Now th. Weird story about hippies elves an underworld and a distopian society I ve not read any of Margaret St Clair s stories before so I didn t really know what to expect going in to this novel It was written in 1969 and parts of it were good while other parts seemed to slip and go nowhere It s of a 25 star read and of interest to fans of fantasy books from the 60s and 70s Sottomissione now their only form of The Isles not read any of Margaret St Clair s stories before so I didn t really know what to expect going in to this KING novel It was written in 1969 and parts of it were good while other parts seemed to slip and go Ty jesteś moje imię nowhere It s of a 25 star read and of interest to fans of fantasy books from the 60s and 70s

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The Shadow People

THE INVASION OF THE HALLUCINOGENIC PEOPLE FROM UNDEREARTHThey had existed from time immemorial hidden in a space warp far. Margaret Sinclair turned to writing books in the 1960 s I don t know why her short story output declines after 1960 but I think it may have had to do with monetary reasons Science Fiction and Fantasy became big sellers in the Age of Auarius Authors are often forced to write to pay the bills Although the genesis of this novel may have been in the back of her mind for years the second part seems to have been created for the specific era it was writtenThe Shadow People is very much a product of it s time 1969 but it has influences which go back to the early part of the last century and beyond As if Arthur Machen had wandered into the Fill Ballroom Gary Gygax one of the creators of the Dungeons and Dragons game lists it as an influence St Clair uotes selectively from Robert Kirk s 17th century tract on faeries The Secret Commonwealth I suspect she used Commonwealth as a guide while writing this novelBut enough with my speculations Dame St Clair is no longer with us so she can t clear up all my wondering about her motivationsThe Shadow People begins with the Summer of Love in California although no specific years are given The narrator Dick Aldridge works for a hip newspaper in the Berkley area His girlfriend Carol is an up and coming photographer Although they are deeply in love one night Carol storms out of Dick s apartment after an argument She s gone for several days and Dick decides to check out her basement flat He finds evidence of a struggle and decides to go to the police After the police shuffle him off Dick takes a bus out to Monterrey to see if she s staying with an older couple they both know perhaps a stand in for the author and her husband Dick finds the isolated house vacant with no sign of Carol or the older couple but plenty of uncollected mail in the box And on the way back he runs into a fringe character known as Carl Hood who mentions Carol may have left the skin of the worldStill searching for Carol he later encounters Fay the maid at his room in the Shasta Hotel She also mentions that Carol may have left the skin of the world Now Dick has to know what this all means and begs Fay to tell him She doesn t tell him much about who abducted Carol but does show him the path to an underground world where his girl friend may have been taken And so begins the crux of the bookDick taking food with him Fay has warned him against eating or drinking anything in the underworld makes the perilous journey underground from an isolated cellar to vast caverns until he crosses a subterranean river into the world of the silent people Along the way he picks up an enchanted sword which appears to be a Wiccan ceremonial sword from the description which pulses when it senses danger And there is plenty of danger in this underworldThe underworld is populated by elves who a distantly related to humans They come in several varieties gray black green and white All are dangerous but to each other than to the humans on the surface On occasion they make foraging trips to the bright worldsurface and steal whatever they need They feed primarily on atter corn a bitter meal made with psychoactive fungus which produces hallucinogenic effects But they also feed on human flesh when they can get it Dick is attacked by them several times but they seem to be incapable of much group action since any blood spilled during a confrontation drives them into attacking each otherI don t want to spoil too much of the plot but Dick does eventually make it back to the surface He finds three years have passed time passage being different in the underworld the Summer of Love suashed and the forces of reaction in control The novel shifts gears at this point turning into another winter of our discontent book This is what leads me to believe the first section was mostly written years before the second with the latter written to make the narrative relevant to the current target audienceAnd it s the above ground final section of the book where it runs out of gas There s some kind of nascent fascist state in formation but we never get much of a picture of it People are reuired to wear ID tags but you never find out how this came about in the three years Dick was underground other than a brief mention of law and order politicians There s rioting in the street and some mentions of government conspiracies The book even mentions the CIA may want the atter corn for chemical warfare but this reads as an afterthought instead of a crucial plot deviceFinally three years have allowed robotic devices to be created which can police the population and run bulldozers There s a few pages where Dick discovers how the hills around Berkley where removed accidentally on purpose and used to fill in the San Francisco Bay This came about in three years I know people believed anything was possible in the 60 s the US did put a man on the moon but such a time scale is pushing the willing suspension of disbeliefWhat really frustrated me were the characters of Carl Hood and Fay Carl turns out to be some sinister figure with connections above and below ground But you never really find out who or what he s working with or toward Fay has information about the underworld than she lets on but her role in the novel is never fully resolved There s defiantly a relation between both characters but we don t find out what it is till the end of the book And we never find out how said relationship figures into the big pictureIn conclusion The Shadow People is a good book but could ve been a great one We may never know why a writer of Margaret St Clair s caliber left so many loose ends in the novel But she did create a horrifying vision of the underworld which influenced many writers

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Ey hungered for human flesh The earth was to be their stockyards and mankind their meatCover art by Jeffrey Catherine Jon. Very definitely a creature of 1969 Berkeley CA written by one of the elder stateswomen of SF writing at the time this is a tightly written urban horror fantasy novel Kind of a cross between the films Labyrinth The Descent and Strange Days although it preceded all three There are other reviews that go into great length about how the book s tonal shift deaden it s pace and take away from it If you think of it as William S Burroughs ORPHEUS AND EURODYCE you ll be much closer to its core


10 thoughts on “The Shadow People

  1. says:

    I had associated this book as drawing from or referencing the Shaver Mystery mythos a statement that on reflection is exaggerated at best There are similarities evil subhumans living in the secret places under the earth the implications of their growing influence in the outer world the unveiling of the secret knowledge to the everyday characters and a sort of dreamlike paranoia and sense of persecution But this work seems drawn from Celtic

  2. says:

    Margaret Sinclair turned to writing books in the 1960's I don't know why her short story output declines after 1960 but I think it may have had to do with monetary reasons Science Fiction and Fantasy became big sellers in the Age of Auarius Authors are often forced to write to pay the bills Although the genesis of this novel may have been in the back of her mind for years the second part seems to have been created for the specifi

  3. says:

    Weird fiction indeed Published in 1969 this novel from Margaret St Clair one of the few well known female SF writers from the last century concerns a race of 'dark elves' who live in a sprawling subterranean world

  4. says:

    Weird story about hippies elves an underworld and a distopian society I've not read any of Margaret St Clair's sto

  5. says:

    ''The stink of flesh was mingled with the atter corn There must be an abundance of both for the smell to come to me so strongly Plenty of meat and plenty of intoxicant meal—to elf eyes the place to which the upward sloping passage led must seem a sort of land of Cockaigne''Profoundly strangeA book of two very distinct ha

  6. says:

    Ad copy lie THE INVASION OF THE HALLUCINOGENIC PEOPLE FROM UNDEREARTH They had existed from time immemorial hidden in a sp

  7. says:

    I managed to track down a used copy of this book mentioned in Gygax's infamous Appendix N of inspirational reading I an eminently readable prose style and a story that easily kept my attention and interest I find many of the elements that were influential in the creation of DD and other early fantasy RPGs element

  8. says:

    Decent read can't remember if this is Appendix N but it's related and pertinent Well crafted I suppose in a way that is unsettling Pretty sho

  9. says:

    Very definitely a creature of 1969 Berkeley CA written by one of the elder stateswomen of SF writing at the time this is a tightly written urban horror fantasy novel Kind of a cross between the films “Labyrinth

  10. says:

    What an odd read Enjoyed it though Very 60s

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