I do believe in ghosts: life after death is too important to trivialise.
March 20, 2013 11:43 AM   Subscribe

RIP British horror writer James Herbert, author of the modern classic of the genre The Rats among many others. posted by fearfulsymmetry (24 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

posted by Fizz at 11:47 AM on March 20, 2013

I've had the experience of seeing a ghost. It's just like having a dream. There may be some rational physiological explanation for why your consciousness felt a certain way to you at a certain time... but that doesn't explain what a dream feels like, or similarly, what seeing a ghost feels like.

posted by colie at 11:49 AM on March 20, 2013

I'm sure if he wanted to haunt us, it would be terrifying.

posted by Raunchy 60s Humour at 11:51 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've always felt The Spear was sort of the ur-text behind Hellboy. And both The Rats and The Fog feel like road trip versions of horror stories, where we follow the monster from place to place, like it was Huck Finn getting into mischief on the Mississippi, but instead of snake oil salesmen and batty poets, everybody just dies incredibly horribly.

Which seems like a pretty good way to write a book.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:52 AM on March 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

The Fog is a great read. I still have my battered paperbacks.
posted by marxchivist at 12:18 PM on March 20, 2013

posted by Renoroc at 12:30 PM on March 20, 2013

Aw, fuck. I grew up reading my mum's dog-eared (heh) old copy of Fluke. I discovered Creed a bit later and wore it out with my nascent sexual imaginings. His words pretty much define that weird and wonderful time in my life. I'm sad he left us too early.

posted by fight or flight at 12:41 PM on March 20, 2013

posted by lucien_reeve at 1:02 PM on March 20, 2013

Couple of years ago I did The Rats trilogy via audio books... one time I was out walking whilst listening and passed this house/cottage that faced right onto the pavement. Just as I got level this little jack russell type dog jumped up at the window barking. I nearly had a heart attack.

And back in the day The Fog seriously fucked my shit up, like the Rats it has some school scenes that are utterly off the scale - mind blowing when to read when still a school kid. Picked up a very battered copy off a freebie table at a con a bit back... was pleased to see it opened right on the legendary lesbian scene.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:11 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hopefully his tombstone will be glossy black with his name embossed in huge gold letters.

(maybe an eyeball or some blood as well.)
posted by Artw at 1:21 PM on March 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

Hopefully his tombstone will be glossy black with his name embossed in huge gold letters.

Well he did used to design all his book covers and publicity (being an ex advertising art director)

James Herbert + Shaun Hutson = Garth Marenghi
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:32 PM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

My school approved of us reading the bible and selected classics. James Herbert's books were passed around surreptitiously until they fell apart. I like to think there are a number of locked rooms in my memory where I have hidden some of my recollections from them.
posted by rongorongo at 1:44 PM on March 20, 2013

Hopefully his tombstone will be glossy black with his name embossed in huge gold letters.

I love tombstones done in superglossy black marble with all-caps serif font gold chiselled letters, and many of them are.
posted by colie at 2:16 PM on March 20, 2013


Sad news. Time to re-read them all. He got me into horror. Stealing my uncles version of Rats to getme through Christmas with the relatives.
posted by gonzo_ID at 2:53 PM on March 20, 2013

I've started reading a bit of Herbert lately on my eReader and, y'know, for what it is, it's good stuff, and I'd certainly take one of his rollicking tales over a Stephen King finger-number any day of the week.

For some reason I thought his bibliography was absolutely enormous but Wikipedia says 20-something books (which is still a great output) so I guess I'm thinking of somebody else. Regardless:

posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 3:30 PM on March 20, 2013

"Breakfast" freaked the bejesus out of me when I first read it .
posted by Lucinda at 7:02 PM on March 20, 2013

Some of the earlier books are only a quid on the kindle (UK) btw... reread some of them a bit back and they still pretty much hold up, more than the later ones imho (and actually offer some interest social insights into the era in which they were written... in between on the gore, sex and general mayhem)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:48 AM on March 21, 2013


I was never a fan. I read him as a teen, and have a few books unread on my shelves. Never quite connected, I always felt his ghost stories were bloated and I annot say for sure if I'd read The Rats or seen the movie (I believe both) but I have the Cricket Hall series to watch anyway.

Anyway, I was working on a post, but couldn't get happy with it, so I'll dump it in its unfinished state here:

James Herbert OBE, writer of The Rats, The Fog and others, has died at his home in Sussex at the age of 69.
One of the new wave of 1970s horror writers.

His penultimate novel, The Secret of Crickley Hall, was a ghost story that was recently adapted for the BBC by Dr Who director Joe Aherne and starring Suranne "Sexy/TARDIS" Jones.
He sold more than 42 million copies, and his final novel, Ash, was just published last week.

I like the Topless Robot link, personally.
posted by Mezentian at 7:52 AM on March 21, 2013

Also: Stephen King loses bet to horror writer James Herbert.

I was trying to find a source for King calling Herbert a master of punk. So...

According to James Herbert, he and a friend where sharing a few drinks at a hotel before heading off to bed when the friend noticed a shadowy figure pass by the doorway. Herbert did not see the image, but continued to watch. Within 10 minutes the shadowy figure walked back past the door – but this time Herbert was watching.

Is there a person this hasn't happened to in some form?
posted by Mezentian at 7:54 AM on March 21, 2013

I always saw him as en English version of Stephen King, with more explicit sex scenes. He certainly kept me, er, occupied during my teenage years, and it's sad to hear of his transition to the other side.
posted by Myeral at 9:13 AM on March 21, 2013

posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:07 AM on March 22, 2013

From the Guardian obituary:

The film and TV versions of Herbert's other novels were not always successful: The Survivor (1981), directed by David Hemmings and starring Robert Powell, was shot in Australia and heavily cut for UK release. Rats (1982), released in the US as Deadly Eyes, featured dachshunds in rodent costumes

Beware of THE DACHSUNDS! They want your leftovers!

posted by rongorongo at 2:37 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

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