Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Ligotti, Thomas

(1953-    ) US writer and publisher's editor who has established a cult following for his special brand of Horror. TL first came to attention in the Small-Press magazine Nyctalops with "The Chymist" (1981); that magazine's publisher, Harry O Morris, issued TL's first collection, Songs of a Dead Dreamer (coll 1986; exp 1989 UK). The book remains the best example of TL's fiction. Although his work is Gothic in mood (> Gothic Fantasy), it is surreal (> Surrealism) in perception, with most events seen through the distorted perspective of its doomed narrator. TL has borrowed many images from the early German Cinema, especially in "Dr Voke and Mr Veech" (1983 Grimoire), about a doctor who brings dummies to life (> Dolls), which is reminiscent of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919). His work shows influences from Edgar Allan Poe, H P Lovecraft, Robert Aickman, Henry James and Sheridan Le Fanu, which he has managed to incorporate into a mixture with which he can paint variegated portraits of fear. TL's fiction is the closest to dark Magic Realism of any North American writer. His concentration of images does not work at novel length, although his second book, Grimscribe: His Lives and Works (coll 1991 UK), was presented as a novel, consolidating a series of first-person narratives. TL's other collections are The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein & Other Gothic Tales (coll 1994 chap) and Noctuary (coll 1994 UK). A retrospective selection, with some new stories, is «The Nightmare Factory» (coll 1996). [MA]

further reading: Dagon #22/#23, September/ December 1988; Crypt of Cthulhu #68, Hallowmass 1989; WT Winter 1991/2.

Thomas Ligotti

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.